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Friday, December 26, 2008


Today is Friday, Dec. 26, the 361st day of 2008.
There are five days left in the year.
The seven-day African-American holiday Kwanzaa begins today.
This is Boxing Day.

Today's Highlight in History:

  • One hundred years ago, on Dec. 26, 1908, Jack Johnson became the first African-American boxer to win the world heavyweight championship as he defeated Canadian Tommy Burns in Sydney, Australia. (Johnson's victory sparked a search for a "great white hope" who would reclaim the title; Jess Willard accomplished the feat in 1915.)

On this date:

  • In 1776, the British suffered a major defeat in the Battle of Trenton during the Revolutionary War.
  • In 1799, former President George Washington was eulogized by Col. Henry Lee as "first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen."
  • In 1917, during World War I, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation authorizing the government to take over operation of the nation's railroads.
  • In 1941, Winston Churchill became the first British prime minister to address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress.
  • In 1944, during the World War II Battle of the Bulge, the embattled U.S. 101st Airborne Division in Bastogne, Belgium, was relieved by units of the 4th Armored Division.
  • In 1947, heavy snow blanketed the Northeast, burying New York City under 26.4 inches of snow in 16 hours; the severe weather was blamed for some 80 deaths.
  • In 1972, the 33rd president of the United States, Harry S. Truman, died in Kansas City, Mo., at age 88.
  • In 1996, 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey was found beaten and strangled in the basement of her family's home in Boulder, Colo. (To date, the slaying remains unsolved, despite a widely publicized "confession" by John Mark Karr.)
  • In 2004, more than 200,000 people, mostly in southern Asia, were killed by a tsunami triggered by a powerful earthquake beneath the Indian Ocean.
  • In 2006, former President Gerald R. Ford died in Rancho Mirage, Calif., at age 93.

Ten years ago:
  • President Clinton, in his weekly radio address, urged Congress to lower the blood-alcohol limit for drunken driving nationwide to .08 percent.

Five years ago:
  • An earthquake struck the historic Iranian city of Bam, killing at least 26,000 people.
  • Three snowboarders were killed in an avalanche in Provo Canyon, Utah.

One year ago:
  • Six people were found dead at a rural property east of Seattle; the property owners' daughter and her boyfriend were arrested. (Michele Anderson and Joseph McEnroe face charges of aggravated first-degree murder in the shootings of three generations of Anderson's family.)
  • Francesca Lewis, the sole survivor of a plane crash in Panama, was reunited with her family after rescue workers brought the 12-year-old American girl out of a remote mountain area.
  • Joe Dolan, one of Ireland's first pop music stars, died in suburban Dublin at age 68.

Today's Birthdays:
  • Actor Donald Moffat is 78.
  • Actor Caroll Spinney (Big Bird on TV's "Sesame Street") is 75.
  • Rhythm-and-blues singer Abdul "Duke" Fakir (The Four Tops) is 73.
  • Record producer Phil Spector is 68.
  • "America's Most Wanted" host John Walsh is 63.
  • Country musician Bob Carpenter (The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) is 62.
  • Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk is 61.
  • All-Star baseball player Chris Chambliss is 60.
  • Humorist David Sedaris is 52.
  • Rock musician James Kottak (The Scorpions) is 46.
  • Country musician Brian Westrum (Sons of the Desert) is 46.
  • Rock musician Lars Ulrich (Metallica) is 45.
  • Actress Nadia Dajani is 43.
  • Rock musician J is 41.
  • Country singer Audrey Wiggins is 41.
  • Rock musician Peter Klett (Candlebox) is 39.
  • Rock singer James Mercer (The Shins; Flake) is 38.
  • Actor-singer Jared Leto is 37.
  • Rock singer Chris Daughtry is 29.
  • Rhythm-and-blues singer Ryan Shaw is 28.
  • Actor Zach Mills is 13.

Thought for Today:
"What you cannot find on earth is not worth seeking."
Norman Douglas, Scottish author (1868-1952).

"Let's all be careful out there!"