Today is Monday, March 9, the 68th day of 2009. 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 1796, the future emperor of the French, Napoleon Bonaparte, married Josephine de Beauharnais (boh-ahr-NAY'). (The couple divorced in 1809.)

In 1907, Indiana's General Assembly passed America's first involuntary sterilization law, one aimed at "confirmed criminals, idiots, imbeciles, and rapists" in state custody. (This law was struck down in 1921 by the Indiana Supreme Court, but a new law was passed in 1927 that was repealed in 1974.)

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 1959, Mattel's Barbie doll, created by Ruth Handler, made its public debut at the American International Toy Fair in New York.

In 1964, the Supreme Court, in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, ruled that public officials who charged they'd been libeled by news reports could not recover damages unless they proved actual malice on the part of the news organization.

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 1989, the Senate rejected President George H.W. Bush's nomination of John Tower to be defense secretary by a vote of 53-47. (The next day, Bush tapped Wyoming Rep. Dick Cheney, who went on to win unanimous Senate approval.)

Ten years ago: RJR Nabisco Holdings Corp. announced it was getting out of the cigarette business.

Five years ago: Convicted sniper John Allen Muhammad was sentenced to death in Virginia. Former United Nations official Gerard Latortue was named Haiti's new prime minister.

One year ago: Spain's governing Socialists won a second term, but without a majority in parliament.

Today's Birthdays: Singer-actress Keely Smith is 77. Singer Lloyd Price is 76. Actress Joyce Van Patten is 75. Actor-comedian Marty Ingels is 73. Country singer Mickey Gilley is 73. Actress Trish Van Devere is 68. Singer Mark Lindsay (Paul Revere and the Raiders) is 67. ABC anchorman Charles Gibson is 66. Rock musician Robin Trower is 64. Singer Jeffrey Osborne is 61. Country musician Jimmie Fadden (The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) is 61. Actress Jaime Lyn Bauer is 60. Writer-editor Michael Kinsley is 58. TV newscaster Faith Daniels is 52. Actor-director Lonny Price is 50. Actress Linda Fiorentino is 49. Actress Juliette Binoche is 45. Rock musician Robert Sledge (Ben Folds Five) is 41. Rapper C-Murder is 38. Actor Emmanuel Lewis is 38. Actress Jean Louisa Kelly is 37. Actor Kerr Smith is 37. Rapper Chingy is 29. Actor Matthew Gray Gubler is 29. Actress Brittany Snow is 23. Rapper Bow Wow is 22. Actor Luis Armand Garcia is 17.

Thought for Today: "Conscience is the perfect interpreter of life." _ Karl Barth, Swiss theologian (1886-1966).

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