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Today is Thursday, March 12, the 72nd day of 2020. There are 294 days left in the year.

Today’s highlight

On March 12, 1980, a Chicago jury found John Wayne Gacy Jr. guilty of the murders of 33 men and boys. (The next day, Gacy was sentenced to death; he was executed in May 1994.)

On this date

In 1864, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant assumed command as General-in-Chief of the Union armies in the Civil War.

In 1912, the Girl Scouts of the USA had its beginnings as Juliette Gordon Low of Savannah, Ga., founded the first American troop of the Girl Guides.

In 1913, Canberra was officially designated the future capital of Australia.

In 1925, Chinese revolutionary leader Sun Yat-sen died in Beijing.

In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered the first of his 30 radio addresses that came to be known as “fireside chats,” telling Americans what was being done to deal with the nation’s economic crisis.

In 1947, President Harry S. Truman announced what became known as the “Truman Doctrine” to help Greece and Turkey resist Communism.

In 1955, legendary jazz musician Charlie “Bird” Parker died in New York at age 34.

In 1987, the musical play “Les Miserables” opened on Broadway.

In 1993, Janet Reno was sworn in as the first female U.S. attorney general. A three-day blizzard that came to be known as “The Storm of the Century” began inundating the eastern third of the U.S. A series of bombings in Mumbai, India, killed 257 people (the explosions were allegedly masterminded by India’s most wanted man, Dawood Ibrahim).

In 1994, the Church of England ordained its first women priests.

In 2003, Elizabeth Smart, the 15-year-old girl who vanished from her bedroom nine months earlier, was found alive in a Salt Lake City suburb with two drifters, Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee. (Mitchell is serving a life sentence; Barzee was released from prison in September 2018.)

In 2009, disgraced financier Bernard Madoff pleaded guilty in New York to pulling off perhaps the biggest swindle in Wall Street history.

Ten years ago: Two suicide bombers killed 55 people in near simultaneous blasts in Lahore, Pakistan, the fourth attack in a week. Lindsey Vonn capped a historic season with her third straight overall World Cup title in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

Five years ago: Two Ferguson, Missouri, police officers were shot and wounded in front of the police department during a protest; U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder denounced the shooter as a “damn punk.” NASA launched its Magnetospheric Multiscale spacecraft on a billion-dollar mission to study the explosive give-and-take of the Earth and sun’s magnetic fields.

One year ago: More countries, including the entire European Union, grounded the Boeing jetliner involved in two deadly crashes or banned the plane from their airspace; leaving the United States one of the few remaining operators of the Boeing 737 Max 8. Prosecutors said Hollywood stars Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were charged along with nearly 50 other people in a scheme in which wealthy parents bribed college coaches and other insiders to get their children into some of the most elite schools in the country. (Huffman pleaded guilty to fraud and conspiracy and served 12 days in a federal prison.) With just 17 days to go before Britain’s scheduled departure from the European Union, the British Parliament rejected the deal, delivering a blow to Prime Minister Theresa May’s authority as leader. (May would step down as Conservative Party leader in June.)

Notable birthdays

Politician, diplomat and civil rights activist Andrew Young is 88. Actress Barbara Feldon is 87. Former broadcast journalist Lloyd Dobyns is 84. Actress-singer Liza Minnelli is 74. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, is 73. Singer-songwriter James Taylor is 72. Former Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., is 72. Rock singer-musician Bill Payne (Little Feat) is 71. Actor Jon Provost (TV: “Lassie”) is 70. Author Carl Hiaasen is 67. Rock musician Steve Harris (Iron Maiden) is 64. Actress Lesley Manville is 64. Actor Jerry Levine is 63. Singer Marlon Jackson (The Jackson Five) is 63. Actor Jason Beghe is 60. Actor Courtney B. Vance is 60. Actor Titus Welliver is 58. Former MLB All-Star Darryl Strawberry is 58. Actress Julia Campbell is 57. Actor Jake Weber is 57. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., is 52. Actor Aaron Eckhart is 52. CNN reporter Jake Tapper is 51. Rock musician Graham Coxon is 51. Country musician Tommy Bales (Flynnville Train) is 47. Actor Rhys Coiro is 41. Country singer Holly Williams is 39. Actor Samm Levine is 38. Actress Jaimie Alexander is 36. Actor Tyler Patrick Jones is 26. Actress Kendall Applegate is 21.

Thought for today

“A proverb is a short sentence based on long experience.” — Miguel de Cervantes, Spanish novelist, dramatist and poet (1547-1616).