Today is Friday, Dec. 19, the 353rd day of 2014. There are 12 days left in the year.

Highlights in history on this date:

1547 - Great Britain passes a vagabond law.

1793 - A young Napoleon Bonaparte takes Toulon, France, from the British and Spanish in his first major military victory.

1795 - Austria signs armistice with France.

1842 - The United States recognizes independence of Hawaii.

1843 - Charles Dickens' classic Yuletide tale, "A Christmas Carol," is first published in England.

1885 - Germany's dispute with Spain over Caroline Islands in Pacific is settled in favor of Spain.

1907 - A coal mine explosion in Jacobs Creek, Pennsylvania, kills 239 workers.

1909 - A civil war starts in Honduras.

1915 - British troops begin withdrawal from Suvla and Anzac troops from Gallipoli during Turkish campaign in World War I.

1932 - The British Broadcasting Corp. begins transmitting overseas with its "Empire Service" to Australia.

1941 - German dictator Adolf Hitler dismisses his chief of staff and takes personal command of the German army after military setbacks.

1946 - War breaks out in Indochina as troops under Ho Chi Minh launch widespread attacks against the French.

1951 - The New Treaty of Friendship is signed between Oman and Britain, recognizing full independence of the sultanate.

1955 - Sudan's Parliament declares independence.

1961 - Goa and two other Portuguese-controlled enclaves on India's west coast fall to forces of the Indian government.

1962 - Senegal's President Leopold Senghor takes charge of government in Dakar after ouster of the West African nation's premier.

1966 - U.N. General Assembly endorses a draft treaty banning the use of weapons of mass destruction in space.

1972 - Apollo 17 spacecraft splashes down on target in Pacific Ocean, ending U.S. Apollo program of landing men on Moon.

1978 - Indian Parliament ousts former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi from her newly elected seat and orders her jailed for contempt and breach of privilege.

1984 - Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher of Britain and Zhao Ziyang of China sign a joint declaration spelling out the terms for Hong Kong's return to Chinese sovereignty on July 1, 1997.

1985 - Muslim gunmen kidnap 10 Christians in Beirut, Lebanon, stepping up the campaign of terror.

1990 - Albanian authorities formally recognize the country's first non-communist party.

1992 - Taiwan holds its first full legislative elections after retiring hundreds of lawmakers who were elected in China in 1949 and stayed in office.

1994 - Russian helicopters and airplanes bomb Grozny, capital of the breakaway Chechnya region.

1995 - The first Russian soldiers arrive in Bosnia for a NATO-led peacekeeping mission.

1996 - Former Indian Prime Minister Narasimha Rao steps down from his last government post after corruption charges.

1998 - As U.S. forces bomb Iraq, the U.S. House of Representatives impeaches President Bill Clinton for obstructing justice and lying under oath about his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

1999 - Survivors wander through streets covered with rocks and mud as the death toll from massive mudslides and flooding in Venezuela surpasses 5,000.

2001- Jobless Argentines unleash their anger over a deep economic tailspin in a burst of looting and violence that targets supermarkets and shops on the fringes of Buenos Aires.

2002 - U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says Iraq is in "material breach" of U.N. Security Council resolutions for alleged omissions in a declaration of its weapons programs.

2003 - Libya agrees to abandon its programs pursuing internationally banned weapons, including chemical, biological and nuclear weapons as well as long-range missiles. It agrees to respect the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

2004 - Car bombs rock Iraq's two holiest Shiite cities, killing at least 62 people and wounding more than 120, while in downtown Baghdad dozens of gunmen carry out a brazen ambush, pulling out three election officials and executing them on the pavement in the middle of morning traffic.

2005 - Uganda's main opposition leader pleads not guilty to treason charges in a trial supporters claim is being staged to keep him out of 2006 presidential elections.

2006 - A Libyan court convicts five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor and condemns them to death for infecting 400 children with HIV. Nearly seven months later, they are allowed to return to Bulgaria.

2007 - Former Hyundai CEO Lee Myung-bak claims victory in South Korea's presidential election, as voters overlook fraud allegations in hopes he will revive the economy.

2008 - The Pentagon formally approves war crimes charges against Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Guantanamo detainee accused of masterminding the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole off Yemen.

2009 - After months of denials, Iran acknowledges that at least three people detained in the country's postelection turmoil were beaten to death by their jailers.

2010 - Police in Denmark and Sweden say they thwarted a terrorist attack possibly hours before it was to begin, arresting five men they say planned to shoot as many people as possible in a Copenhagen building housing the newsroom of a paper that published cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

2011 - North Koreans march by the thousands to their capital's landmarks to mourn Kim Jong Il, many crying uncontrollably in grief over the death of their "Dear Leader."

2012 - French President Francois Hollande announces a new era with Algeria — a strategic partnership among equals — during a visit to the North African nation that was once a prized colony in the French empire.

2013 — Egypt's military-backed authorities step up their crackdown on liberal icons of the 2011 uprising against President Hosni Mubarak with security forces storming the headquarters of a rights group and arresting six activists.

Today's Birthdays:

Su Tung-p'o, Chinese poet (1036-1101); Sir Ralph Richardson, British actor (1902-1983); Leonid I. Brezhnev, Soviet Communist Party chief (1906-1982); Jean Genet, French writer (1910-1986); Edith Piaf, French singer (1915-1963); Robert Urich, U.S. actor (1946-2002); Richard E. Leakey, Kenyan paleontologist (1944--); Jennifer Beals, U.S. actress (1963--); Jake Gyllenhaal, U.S. actor (1980--); Lady Sovereign, British rapper (1985--).

Thought For Today:

And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One! — the closing line of "A Christmas Carol," by Charles Dickens (1812-1870).