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HISTORYToday is Friday, Dec. 12, the 346th day of 2003. There are 19 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Dec. 12, 1787, Pennsylvania became the second state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

On this date:

In 1870, Joseph H. Rainey of South Carolina became the first black lawmaker sworn into the U.S. House of Representatives.

In 1897, "The Katzenjammer Kids," the pioneering comic strip created by Rudolph Dirks, made its debut in the New York Journal.

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In 1913, authorities in Florence, Italy, announced that the "Mona Lisa," stolen from the Louvre Museum in Paris in 1911, had been recovered.

In 1917, Father Edward Flanagan founded Boys Town outside Omaha, Neb.

In 1937, Japanese aircraft sank the U.S. gunboat Panay on China's Yangtze River. Japan later apologized, and paid $2.2 million in reparations.

In 1947, the United Mine Workers union withdrew from the American Federation of Labor.

In 1963, Kenya gained its independence from Britain.

In 1975, Sara Jane Moore pleaded guilty to a charge of trying to kill President Ford in San Francisco the previous September.

In 1985, 248 American soldiers and eight crew members were killed when an Arrow Air charter crashed after takeoff from Gander, Newfoundland.

In 2000, a divided U.S. Supreme Court reversed a state court decision for recounts in Florida's contested election, transforming George W. Bush into the president-elect.

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Ten years ago: In Russian parliamentary elections, ultranationalist parties gained strong support, causing concern among foreign governments. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO chief Yasser Arafat failed to resolve disputes over a plan to start withdrawing Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip and Jericho before a deadline.

Five years ago: The House Judiciary Committee approved a fourth and final article of impeachment, this one accusing President Clinton of abuse of power.

One year ago: President Bush publicly rebuked Senate Republican leader Trent Lott for his statement that appeared to embrace half-century-old segregationist politics, calling it "offensive" and "wrong."

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