Thursday, Jan. 8, the eighth day of 2015.

Today is Thursday, Jan. 8, the eighth day of 2015. There are 357 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Jan. 8, 1815, the last major engagement of the War of 1812 came to an end as U.S. forces led by Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson defeated the British in the Battle of New Orleans. (Given the slowness of communications at the time, the battle took place even though the United States and Britain had already signed a peace treaty.)

On this date:

In 1642, astronomer Galileo Galilei died in Arcetri, Italy.

In 1790, President George Washington delivered his first State of the Union address to Congress in New York.

In 1863, America’s First Transcontinental Railroad had its beginnings as California Gov. Leland Stanford broke ground for the Central Pacific Railroad in Sacramento. (The transcontinental railroad was completed in Promontory, Utah, in May 1869.)

In 1912, the African National Congress was founded in Bloemfontein, South Africa.

In 1935, rock-and-roll legend Elvis Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi.

In 1959, Charles de Gaulle was inaugurated as president of France’s Fifth Republic.

In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson, in his State of the Union address, declared an “unconditional war on poverty in America.”

In 1965, the Star of India and other gems stolen from the American Museum of Natural History in New York the previous October were recovered from a bus depot locker in Miami.

In 1975, Judge John J. Sirica ordered the early release from prison of Watergate figures John W. Dean III, Herbert W. Kalmbach and Jeb Stuart Magruder. Democrat Ella Grasso was sworn in as Connecticut’s first female governor. Opera singer Richard Tucker, 61, died in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

In 1982, American Telephone and Telegraph settled the Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit against it by agreeing to divest itself of the 22 Bell System companies.

In 1998, Ramzi Yousef (RAHM’-zee YOO’-sef), the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, was sentenced in New York to life imprisonment.

In 2011, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., was shot and critically wounded when a gunman opened fire as the congresswoman met with constituents in Tucson; six other people were killed, 12 others also injured. (Gunman Jared Lee Loughner (LAWF’-nur) was sentenced in Nov. 2012 to seven consecutive life sentences, plus 140 years.)

Ten years ago: The United States acknowledged dropping a 500-pound bomb on the wrong house during a search for terror suspects outside the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. (The military said that five people were killed; the house’s owner said 14 people died.) Marty Schottenheimer of the San Diego Chargers was named The Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year.

Five years ago: Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (OO’-mahr fah-ROOK’ ahb-DOOL’-moo-TAH’-lahb), accused of trying to blow up a U.S. airliner on Christmas, appeared in federal court in Detroit; the judge entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf. Vice President Joe Biden’s mother, Jean Biden, died in Wilmington, Delaware, at age 92.

One year ago: Emails and text messages obtained by The Associated Press and other news organizations suggested that one of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s top aides engineered traffic jams in Fort Lee in Sept. 2013 to punish its mayor for not endorsing Christie for re-election; Christie responded by saying he’d been misled by the aide, and he denied involvement in the apparent act of political payback. Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas were elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor-comedian Larry Storch is 92. Actor Ron Moody is 91. Broadcast journalist Sander Vanocur is 87. CBS newsman Charles Osgood is 82. Singer Shirley Bassey is 78. Game show host Bob Eubanks is 77. Country-gospel singer Cristy Lane is 75. Rhythm-and-blues singer Anthony Gourdine (Little Anthony and the Imperials) is 74. Actress Yvette Mimieux is 73. Physicist Stephen Hawking is 73. Singer Juanita Cowart Motley (The Marvelettes) is 71. Rock musician Robby Krieger (The Doors) is 69. Rock singer David Bowie is 68. Movie director John McTiernan is 64. Actress Harriet Sansom Harris is 60. Singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith is 51. Actress Maria Pitillo (pih-TIHL’-loh) is 50. Actress Michelle Forbes is 50. Singer R. Kelly is 48. Rock musician Jeff Abercrombie (Fuel) is 46. Actress Ami Dolenz is 46. Reggae singer Sean Paul is 42. Country singer Tift Merritt is 40. Actress-rock singer Jenny Lewis is 39. Actress Amber Benson is 38. Actor Scott Whyte is 37. Singer-songwriter Erin McCarley is 36. Actress Sarah Polley is 36. Actor Windell D. Middlebrooks is 36. Actress Rachel Nichols is 35. Actress Gaby Hoffman is 33. Rock musician Disashi Lumumbo-Kasongo (dih-SAH’-shee LUHM’-uhm-boh kuh-SAHN’-goh) (Gym Class Heroes) is 32.

Thought for Today: “Contempt for happiness is usually contempt for other people’s happiness, and is an elegant disguise for hatred of the human race.” – Bertrand Russell, English philosopher and mathematician (1872-1970).

 

Copyright 2015, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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