Today is Sunday, Dec. 9, the 344rd day of 2012. There are 22 days left in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:
On Dec. 9, 1942, the Aram Khachaturian ballet "Gayane," featuring the surging "Sabre Dance," was first performed by Russia's Kirov Ballet.
On this date:
In 1608, English poet John Milton was born in London.
In 1854, Alfred, Lord Tennyson's famous poem, "The Charge of the Light Brigade," was published in England.
In 1911, an explosion inside the Cross Mountain coal mine near Briceville, Tenn., killed 84 workers. (Five were rescued.)
In 1912, longtime House Speaker Thomas "Tip" O'Neill was born in Cambridge, Mass.
In 1940, British troops opened their first major offensive in North Africa during World War II.
In 1958, the anti-communist John Birch Society was formed in Indianapolis.
In 1962, the Petrified Forest in Arizona was designated a national park.
In 1971, Nobel Peace laureate Ralph Bunche died in New York.
In 1982, special Watergate prosecutor Leon Jaworski died at his Wimberley, Texas, ranch at age 77.
In 1984, the five-day-old hijacking of a Kuwaiti jetliner that claimed the lives of two Americans ended as Iranian security men seized control of the plane, which was parked at Tehran airport.
In 1987, the first Palestinian intefadeh, or uprising, began as riots broke out in Gaza and spread to the West Bank, triggering a strong Israeli response.
In 1992, Britain's Prince Charles and Princess Diana announced their separation. (The couple's divorce became final Aug. 28, 1996.)
Ten years ago: President George W. Bush tapped railroad executive John W. Snow to be his new Treasury Secretary, three days after firing Paul O'Neill. Senate Republican leader Trent Lott apologized for remarks he'd made praising the 1948 presidential run of then-segregationist Strom Thurmond, saying, "A poor choice of words conveyed to some the impression that I embraced the discarded policies of the past." United Airlines filed for bankruptcy protection after losing $4 billion in the previous two years. (United emerged from bankruptcy protection in 2006.)
Five years ago: A young man once affiliated with a missionary school shot nine people at the school near Denver and a megachurch in Colorado Springs; four victims died and the gunman, Matthew Murray, killed himself. Pig farmer Robert "Willie" Pickton, accused of being Canada's worst serial killer, was convicted of six counts of second-degree murder, which carried a mandatory sentence of life in prison. Republican presidential candidates sought to embrace Hispanics in a Spanish-language debate in Coral Gables, Fla. The first summit between Europe and Africa in seven years came to an acrimonious end in Lisbon, Portugal.
One year ago: The European Union said 26 of its 27 member countries were open to joining a new treaty tying their finances together to solve the euro crisis; Britain remained opposed. A jury in New Haven, Conn., condemned Joshua Komisarjevsky (koh-mih-sahr-JEHV'-skee) to death for killing a woman and her two daughters during a night of terror in their suburban home. (The other defendant in the case, Steven Hayes, had also been condemned to death.) A fire at a hospital in Kolkata, India, claimed the lives of 93 people.
Today's Birthdays: Actor Kirk Douglas is 96. Actor Dick Van Patten is 84. Actor-writer Buck Henry is 82. Actress Dame Judi Dench is 78. Actor Beau Bridges is 71. Jazz singer-musician Dan Hicks is 71. Football Hall-of-Famer Dick Butkus is 70. Author Joe McGinniss is 70. Actor Michael Nouri is 67. Former Sen. Thomas Daschle, D-S.D., is 65. World Golf Hall of Famer Tom Kite is 63. Singer Joan Armatrading is 62. Actor Michael Dorn is 60. Actor John Malkovich is 59. Country singer Sylvia is 56. Singer Donny Osmond is 55. Rock musician Nick Seymour (Crowded House) is 54. Comedian Mario Cantone is 53. Actor David Anthony Higgins is 51. Actor Joe Lando is 51. Actress Felicity Huffman is 50. Crown Princess Masako of Japan is 49. Country musician Jerry Hughes (Yankee Grey) is 47. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., is 46. Rock singer-musician Thomas Flowers (Oleander) is 45. Rock musician Brian Bell (Weezer) is 44. Rock singer-musician Jakob Dylan (Wallflowers) is 43. Country musician Brian Hayes (Cole Deggs and the Lonesome) is 43. Actress Allison Smith is 43. Songwriter and former "American Idol" judge Kara DioGuardi (dee-oh-GWAHR'-dee) is 42. Country singer David Kersh is 42. Rock musician Tre Cool (Green Day) is 40. Rapper Canibus is 38. Rock musician Eric Zamora (Save Ferris) is 36. Rock singer Imogen Heap is 35. Actor Jesse Metcalfe is 34. Actor Simon Helberg is 32. Olympic gold and silver medal gymnast McKayla Maroney is 17.
Thought for Today: "Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties." — John Milton, English poet (1608-1674).
(Above Advance for Use Sunday, Dec. 9)
Copyright 2012, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.