The almanac

By United Press International   |   Feb. 17, 2010 at 3:30 AM

Today is Wednesday, Feb. 17, the 48th day of 2010 with 317 to follow.

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

Those born on this date are under the sign of Aquarius. They include mail order retailer Aaron Montgomery Ward in 1843; engraver Frederick Ives in 1856; Texas oil millionaire H.L. Hunt in 1889; sportscaster Red Barber in 1908; author Margaret Truman Daniel, daughter of U.S. President Harry Truman, in 1924; actors Hal Holbrook in 1925 (age 85) and Alan Bates in 1934; pro football star-turned-actor Jim Brown in 1936 (age 74); singer Gene Pitney in 1940); political activist Huey P. Newton in 1942; actors Brenda Fricker in 1945 (age 65), Rene Russo in 1954 (age 56), Richard Karn ("Home Improvement") in 1956 (age 54) and Lou Diamond Phillips in 1962 (age 48); basketball superstar Michael Jordan in 1963 (age 47); and actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt ("3rd Rock from the Sun") and heiress Paris Hilton, both in 1981 (age 29).

On this date in history:

In 1801, the U.S. House of Representatives chose Thomas Jefferson as the third president of the United States after he and Aaron Burr tied in the Electoral College. It took 35 House ballots before Jefferson won and Burr became vice president.

In 1817, Baltimore became the first U.S. city with gas-burning street lights.

In 1867, the first ship passes through the Suez Canal.

In 1904, Giacomo Puccini's "Madama Butterfly" premiered in Milan, Italy.

In 1909, Apache leader Geronimo died while under military confinement at Fort Sill, Okla.

In 1933, Newsweek magazine published its first issue.

In 1968, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame opened in Springfield, Mass.

In 1979, "A Prairie Home Companion," hosted by Garrison Keillor, made its debut on National Public Radio.

In 1986, Johnson and Johnson halted production of all non-prescription drugs in capsules following the death of a Peekskill, N.Y., woman from cyanide-laced Extra-Strength Tylenol.

In 2002, a series of raids by communist rebels left 137 dead in Nepal.

In 2003, when security guards used pepper spray to break up a fight at a packed Chicago social club the ensuing panic by patrons resulted in 21 deaths as the crowd stampeded for the exits.

In 2004, gay marriages continued in San Francisco in defiance of state law after two judges declined to rule on efforts to halt the practice.

In 2005, U.S. President George W. Bush nominated John Negroponte to be the first director of national intelligence.

In 2006, more than 1,000 people were believed killed in a mudslide that covered a village on Leyte in the central Philippines.

In 2007, a bomb exploded in a judge's chamber in southwestern Pakistan, killing the judge and 13 others.

Also in 2007, 22-year-old Prince Harry of England was ordered to the front lines in Iraq along with his British army unit. He didn't go, however, since publicity about his presence was deemed a potential danger to his unit.

In 2008, the province of Kosovo declared independence from Serbia as thousands of ethnic Albanians celebrated in the streets but some others resorted to violent protest. The United States and several other nations, including Britain, Germany, and France, recognized Kosovo as a sovereign and independent state.

Also in 2008, a suicide bomber attacked a crowded dogfight near Kandahar in Afghanistan, killing about 80 people, including a local police chief, and injuring nearly 100.

In 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama signed the $787 billion stimulus package into law, hoping to create 3.5 million jobs for Americans in the next two years. Most Republican lawmakers argued it contained too much "pork-barrel" spending and not enough tax cuts.

Also in 2009, General Motors and Chrysler asked for an additional $14 billion from the government to keep from going bankrupt. That made their total request to $39 billion.

A thought for the day: Aldous Huxley wrote, "Experience is not what happens to you; it's what you do with what happens to you."

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