The almanac

By United Press International   |   Jan. 16, 2009 at 3:30 AM

Today is Friday, Jan. 16, the 16th day of 2009 with 349 to follow.

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

Those born on this date are under the sign of Capricorn. They include German philosopher Franz Brentano in 1838; Andre Michelin, the French industrialist who first mass-produced rubber automobile tires, in 1853; Canadian poet Robert Service in 1874; Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1901; singer Ethel Merman in 1909; baseball pitcher Jay "Dizzy" Dean in 1910; opera singer Marilyn Horne in 1934 (age 75); race car driver A.J. Foyt in 1935 (age 74); country singer Ronnie Milsap in 1944 (age 65); director John Carpenter in 1948 (age 61); choreographer, actress and director Debbie Allen in 1950 (age 59); and actor David Chokachi ("Baywatch") in 1968 (age 41).

On this date in history:

In 1883, the U.S. Congress passed a bill creating the civil service.

In 1919, the United States went legally "dry" as prohibition of alcoholic beverages took effect under the 18th amendment to the Constitution. The amendment was repealed in 1933.

In 1925, Leon Trotsky was dismissed as chairman of the Russian Revolution Military Council.

In 1942, screen star Carole Lombard, her mother and 20 other people were killed in a plane crash near Las Vegas. Lombard was the wife of actor Clark Gable.

In 1944, U.S. Army Gen. Dwight Eisenhower arrived in London to assume command of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe.

In 1984, U.S. President Ronald Reagan called for "peaceful competition" with Moscow. He authorized research and development on space-age weapons capable of destroying incoming nuclear missiles, the program known as "Star Wars."

In 1986, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi said Libya would train, arm and protect Arab guerrillas for Palestinian "suicide and terrorist missions," his first explicit endorsement of terrorism.

In 1987, China's No. 2 leader, Hu Yaobang, 71, was forced to resign as Communist Party chief for failing to curb student demonstrations for more democracy.

In 1990, Moscow rushed 11,000 troops to Azerbaijan and Armenia to reinforce soldiers trying to quell ethnic violence.

In 1991, the Persian Gulf War began with the allied bombing of Baghdad.

In 1993, Windsor Castle was reopened two months after a fire swept through the British landmark.

In 1994, at a Geneva news conference with U.S. President Bill Clinton, Syrian President Hafez Assad indicated a willingness to negotiate a peace treaty with Israel.

In 1997, a bomb exploded at an Atlanta building housing an abortion clinic. An hour later, after investigators and others had come to the scene, a second bomb went off, injuring six people.

In 1998, investigators for special counsel Kenneth Starr questioned former White House intern Monica Lewinsky about allegations that she had an affair with U.S. President Bill Clinton.

In 2000, British drug maker Glaxo Wellcome agreed to buy SmithKline Beecham for $76 billion, creating the world's largest pharmaceutical company.

In 2001, President Laurent Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was shot to death, reportedly by one of his bodyguards, who was killed by other bodyguards.

In 2005, U.S. President George Bush said his re-election was a ratification of what he did in Iraq and there was no reason to hold any administration official accountable.

In 2006, International Atomic Energy Agency officials said Iran's newly restarted nuclear program could enable the country to have nuclear weapons within three years.

Also in 2006, a suicide attack at a Kandahar wrestling match killed 22 civilians, reportedly the highest toll so far in the Afghan conflict.

In 2007, a U.N. report said about 34,000 Iraqis died violent deaths due to fighting and terrorist attacks in Iraq during 2006.

In 2008, officials in Islamabad put the death toll at 47 in the attack on a northwestern Pakistani military outpost by about 200 Taliban militants.

Also in 2008, Republican Bobby Jindal took over as the new governor of Louisiana, first Indian-American elected to that office in the United States. At 36, he also was the nation's youngest governor.

And, a report says the United States' roads, bridges, dams and sewer systems are in such major disrepair that fixing infrastructure could cost $1.6 trillion.

A thought for the day: In the film "Tomorrow Never Dies," James Bond said, "The distance between insanity and genius is measured only by success."

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