Today is January 8th

Today's highlight in history:

In 1948, William Lyon Mackenzie King became the Commonwealth's longest serving prime minister, with 7,825 days in office. He retired later in the year.

Also on this date:

In 1324, explorer Marco Polo died at 70.

In 1438, the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches met at the Council of Ferrara-Florence in an effort to form an alliance that would save Constantinople from the Turks. A temporary union was reached, but Constantinople fell anyway in 1453, ending the Byzantine Empire.

In 1642, astronomer Galileo Galilei died in Arcetri, Italy at the age of 70.

In 1800, the first soup kitchens were opened in London, England, for the relief of the poor.

In 1815, an American force commanded by Andrew Jackson defeated British troops at the "Battle of New Orleans" -- the closing engagement of the War of 1812.

In 1869, the first suspension bridge over the Niagara Gorge was opened to traffic at Queenston, Ontario.

In 1879, the first issue of "La Gazette d'Ottawa" was published.

In 1889, Dr. Herman Hollerith of New York patented the first electrically operated computer to process information. The company he formed to market the invention would become IBM.

In 1912, the African National Congress was founded by Pixley Seme in Cape Province, South Africa. It was originally called the South African Native National Congress.

In 1918, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson outlined his 14 points for a post-First World War peace settlement.

In 1926, Ibn Saud, founder of Saudi Arabia, was proclaimed king of the Hejaz.

In 1941, Lord Robert Baden-Powell, who founded the Boy Scout and Girl Guides movements, died at 83.

In 1941, the federal government announced the RCMP would register all Japanese Canadians in British Columbia for security reasons. They were later moved inland to detention camps.

In 1954, the first crude oil reached Sarnia, Ont., through a pipeline from Edmonton.

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

In 1961, Canadian Gordon Lonsdale and four others were arrested for spying at the British Navy's Underwater Establishment in Portland, Dorset.

In 1963, U.S. President John F. Kennedy officiated at the unveiling of Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" at the National Gallery of Art in Washington. It was the first time France had lent the painting to another country.

In 1969, a panel of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences agreed there was no evidence that UFO's are intelligently guided spacecraft from beyond Earth.

In 1976, Chinese Premier Chou En-lai died at the age of 78.

In 1982, Statistics Canada announced that Canada's jobless rate at the end of 1981 was 8.6 per cent -- matching a post-war record.

In 1986, all Libyan assets in the United States were frozen by President Ronald Reagan because of what he called Libya's support of international terrorism.

In 1986, the Rev. Frank Stone, a Roman Catholic priest and pioneer in religious broadcasting, founder of Toronto's Catholic Information Centre and co-founder of Inter-Church Communication and Religious Television Associates, died in Toronto at age 80.

In 1990, Canada formally joined the Organization of American States as its 33rd member. Jean-Paul Hubert was appointed ambassador to OAS.

In 1991, the federally funded Citizen's Forum on Canada's Future held its first satellite town hall meeting. Two dozen people, from Saint John, N.B., to Vancouver, participated. The Forum, headed by Keith Spicer, was mandated to take the pulse of the country. It lasted eight months, cost $27 million and identified seven major areas of concern: national identity, the economy, native peoples, Quebec, provincial equality, multiculturalism and political leadership.

In 1996, former French president Francois Mitterand died at 79. The Socialist leader guided France through 14 turbulent years spanning the end of the Cold War.

In 1996, Fisheries Minister Brian Tobin announced he was quitting federal politics to run for the job of Newfoundland premier. The popular Tobin was the only candidate to replace Clyde Wells as provincial Liberal leader. Tobin returned to the federal cabinet as industry minister in 2000 but retired from federal politics in January 2002.

In 1998, a state of emergency was declared in more than 18 Ontario municipalities, including Ottawa-Carleton, and in Montreal due to the worst ice storm in living memory. The storm, which began Jan. 5th, knocked out power to 1.3 million households in Quebec and Eastern Ontario, some of them until early February. It also caused more than two dozen deaths and over $1-billion in insurance claims.

In 2000, a 54-year-old grandmother who had eight children and 15 grandchildren, gave birth to triplets -- three daughters -- in Yakima, Wash.

In 2002, Dave Thomas, who founded the Wendy's hamburger restaurant chain, died at 69.

In 2003, Billy Van, a comic actor who starred in CBC television's "Nightcap" in the 1960's and the "Hilarious House of Frightenstein" in the 1970s, died in Toronto at age 68.

In 2003, a U.S. Airways Express commuter plane crashed at the Charlotte, N.C., airport, killing all 21 people on board.

In 2003, a Turkish Airlines jet crashed in Turkey, killing 75 people.

In 2004, Libya agreed to compensate family members of victims of a 1989 bombing of a French passenger plane over the Niger desert that killed 170 people.

In 2007, Graham James, the junior coach convicted in 1997 of sexually abusing his players in a case that rocked the hockey world from house leagues to the NHL, was pardoned by the National Parole Board. It didn't become public knowlegde though until April 2010 when a previously unknown accuser contacted Winnipeg police.

In 2009, Vancouver-based Teck Cominco Ltd. cut 1,400 jobs globally, including 550 in Canada, because of slumping demand for coal and plunging commodity prices.

In 2009, three Canadians set a world record for the fastest journey across Antarctica to the South Pole. Ray Zahab, Kevin Valley and Richard Weber arrived at the South Pole after trekking 1,130 km on skis, snowshoes and on foot through the frozen continent. It took the men 33 days, 23 hours and 30 minutes to complete the journey from Hercules Inlet on the Ronne Ice Shelf to the pole.

In 2009, a new Greek government was sworn in after month-long countrywide riots, the worst civil unrest Greece had seen in decades.

In 2010, 71-year-old Canadian impressionist Rich Little, famous for his takes on American presidents and celebrities, became a naturalized U.S. citizen at a ceremony in Las Vegas.