The Almanac

By United Press International   |   May 24, 2007 at 3:30 AM

Today is Thursday, May 24, the 144th day of 2007 with 221 to follow.

The moon is waxing. The morning stars are Mars, Jupiter, Neptune and Uranus. The evening stars are Mercury, Venus and Saturn.

Those born on this date are under the sign of Gemini. They include French journalist and revolutionary Jean Paul Marat in 1743; British Queen Victoria in 1819; hostess and party-giver Elsa Maxwell, credited with introducing the "scavenger hunt," in 1883; actress Lilli Palmer in 1914; comedian Tommy Chong of Cheech and Chong in 1938 (age 69); musician Bob Dylan in 1941 (age 66); actor Gary Burghoff ("M*A*S*H") in 1943 (age 64); singer Patti LaBelle (born Patricia Louise Holte) in 1944 (age 63); actress Priscilla Presley, former wife of Elvis Presley, in 1945 (age 62); actor Alfred Molina in 1953 (age 54); singer Rosanne Cash in 1955 (age 52); and actress Kristin Scott Thomas in 1960 (age 47).

On this date in history:

In 1626, the Dutch West Indies Trading Co. bought the island of Manhattan from the Indians, paying with goods worth about $24.

In 1844, the first U.S telegraph line was formally opened between Baltimore and Washington.

In 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was opened to the public, linking Brooklyn and Manhattan Island.

In 1935, the first night major league baseball game saw the Cincinnati Reds beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 2-1, at Crosley Field in Cincinnati.

In 1962, Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter became the second American to orbit the Earth, circling it three times.

In 1983, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled private religious schools that practice racial discrimination are not eligible for church-related tax benefits.

In 1987, 250,000 people jammed San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge on its 50th anniversary -- temporarily flattening the arched span.

In 1990, the U.S. Navy reopened the much-criticized probe of the USS Iowa explosion that killed 47 sailors, citing a test that showed the blast could have been an accident.

In 1991, Israel began a mass evacuation of 14,500 Ethiopian Jews from Ethiopia to Israel. The operation took 36 hours.

In 1993, the archbishop of Guadalajara, Mexico, was killed at Guadalajara's airport when his car was caught in a shootout between rival drug cartels.

In 2003, residents of Kirkuk in northern Iraq went to the polls in what the U.S. commander of the region called "the beginning of the process of democratization" for the post-war country.

In 2005, the U.S. House of Representatives approved by a significant margin a bill to provide more funding for embryonic stem-cell research.

In 2006, Iran was reported stepping up its call for direct talks with the United States over its nuclear program.

Also in 2006, the U.S. Postal Service began allowing companies to create their own branded postage stamps in an attempt to reverse a decline in first-class mailings.

A thought for the day: Oscar Wilde wrote, "Arguments are to be avoided; they are always vulgar and often convincing."

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