Today is Friday, March 9, the 69th day of 2012. There are 297 days left in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:
On March 9, 1862, during the Civil War, the ironclads USS Monitor and CSS Virginia (formerly USS Merrimac) clashed for five hours to a draw at Hampton Roads, Va.
On this date:
In 1661, Cardinal Jules Mazarin, the chief minister of France, died, leaving King Louis XIV in full control.
In 1796, the future emperor of the French, Napoleon Bonaparte, married Josephine de Beauharnais (boh-ahr-NAY'). (The couple later divorced.)
In 1861, the Confederate Congress, meeting in Montgomery, Ala., authorized the issuing of paper currency, in the form of interest-bearing notes.
In 1916, Mexican raiders led by Pancho Villa attacked Columbus, N.M., killing 18 Americans.
In 1932, Eamon de Valera was appointed head of government of the Irish Free State.
In 1945, during World War II, U.S. B-29 bombers launched incendiary bomb attacks against Japan, resulting in an estimated 100,000 deaths.
In 1954, CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow critically reviewed Wisconsin Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy's anti-Communism campaign on "See It Now."
In 1962, the science fantasy novel "A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L'Engle was first published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
In 1977, about a dozen armed Hanafi Muslims invaded three buildings in Washington, D.C., killing one person and taking more than 130 hostages. (The siege ended two days later.)
In 1987, Chrysler Corp. announced it had agreed to buy the financially ailing American Motors Corp.
In 1992, former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin died in Tel Aviv at age 78.
In 1997, gangsta rapper The Notorious B.I.G., whose real name was Christopher Wallace, was killed in a still-unsolved drive-by shooting in Los Angeles; he was 24.
Ten years ago: Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, the 1960s black power radical formerly known as H. Rap Brown, was convicted in Atlanta of murder in the shooting death of Fulton County Sheriff's Deputy Ricky Kinchen. (Al-Amin was sentenced to life without parole.) The space shuttle Columbia's astronauts released the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit after five days of repairs. Melissa Gilbert was elected president of the Screen Actors Guild, defeating challenger Valerie Harper.
Five years ago: Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller acknowledged the FBI had improperly used the USA Patriot Act to secretly pry out personal information about Americans; they apologized and vowed to prevent further illegal intrusions. Brad Delp, lead singer for the band Boston, was found dead in his southern New Hampshire home; he was 55.
One year ago: After a trip to the International Space Station, shuttle Discovery ended its career as the most flown U.S. spaceship, returning from orbit for the last time. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation abolishing the death penalty in his state and commuting the sentences of all remaining death row inmates. Turkish television aired an interview with Moammar Gadhafi in which the Libyan leader said his countrymen would fight back if Western nations imposed a no-fly zone to prevent the regime from using its air force to bomb government opponents.
Today's Birthdays: Former Sen. James L. Buckley, Conservative-N.Y., is 89. Singer-actress Keely Smith is 80. Singer Lloyd Price is 79. Actress Joyce Van Patten is 78. Actor-comedian Marty Ingels is 76. Country singer Mickey Gilley is 76. Actress Trish Van Devere is 71. Singer Mark Lindsay (Paul Revere and the Raiders) is 70. Former ABC anchorman Charles Gibson is 69. Rock musician Robin Trower is 67. Singer Jeffrey Osborne is 64. Country musician Jimmie Fadden (The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) is 64. Actress Jaime Lyn Bauer is 63. Magazine editor Michael Kinsley is 61. TV newscaster Faith Daniels is 55. Actor Tom Amandes is 53. Actor-director Lonny Price is 53. Actress Linda Fiorentino is 52. Country musician Rusty Hendrix (Confederate Railroad) is 52. Actress Juliette Binoche is 48. Rock musician Robert Sledge (Ben Folds Five) is 44. Rapper C-Murder is 41. Actor Emmanuel Lewis is 41. Actress Jean Louisa Kelly is 40. Actor Kerr Smith is 40. Rapper Chingy is 32. Actor Matthew Gray Gubler is 32. Actress Brittany Snow is 26. Rapper Bow Wow is 25. Actor Luis Armand Garcia is 20.
Thought for Today: "Cowardice asks, Is it safe? Expediency asks, Is it politic? Vanity asks, Is it popular? But conscience asks, Is it right?" -- William Morley Punshon, English clergyman (1824-1881).