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Undated -- 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. (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, US 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 US 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.

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