The Almanac

By United Press International  |  March 20, 2006 at 3:30 AM
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Today is Monday, March 20, the 79th day of 2006 with 286 to follow.

Spring begins at 1:26 p.m., Eastern time.

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

Those born on this date are under the sign of Pisces. They include Roman poet Ovid in 43 B.C.; adventurer and writer Edward Judson, originator of the dime novel, in 1820; Norwegian dramatist Henrik Ibsen in 1828; psychologist B.F. Skinner in 1904; actor/bandleader Ozzie Nelson in 1907; former New York Mayor Abe Beame in 1906; British actor Michael Redgrave in 1908; producer/director Carl Reiner in 1922 (age 84); Fred Rogers (TV's "Mister Rogers") in 1928; actor Hal Linden ("Barney Miller") in 1931 (age 75); singer/songwriter Jerry Reed in 1937 (age 69); former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in 1939 (age 67); former hockey star Bobby Orr in 1948 (age 58); actor William Hurt in 1950 (age 56); filmmaker Spike Lee and actress Theresa Russell, both in 1957 (age 49); and actress Holly Hunter in 1958 (age 48).

On this date in history:

In 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe's anti-slavery novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin" was published.

In 1854, in what is considered the founding meeting of the Republican Party, former members of the Whig Party met in Ripon, Wis., to establish a new party to oppose the spread of slavery into the western territories.

In 1963, a volcano on the East Indies island of Bali began erupting. The eventual death toll exceeded 1,500.

In 1976, San Francisco newspaper heiress and kidnapping victim Patty Hearst was convicted of bank robbery.

In 1977, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and her son, Sanjay, lost their parliamentary races in India's general elections.

In 1986, the House rejected a $100 million aid package for the Nicaraguan Contras, a major Reagan administration policy setback.

Also in 1986, the Dow Jones industrial average closed at more than 1,800 for the first time.

In 1987, the federal government approved the sale of AZT, a treatment but not a cure for AIDS.

In 1991, Baghdad was warned to abide by the cease-fire after U.S. fighter jets shot down an Iraqi jet fighter in the first major air action since the end of the Persian Gulf War.

In 1992, gay rights groups angered over the treatment of bisexual characters in the film "Basic Instinct" protested outside movie theaters.

In 1995, 12 people were killed and more than 5,000 made ill by a nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system. Members of a religious sect were blamed.

In 1996, Lyle and Erik Menendez were convicted of killing their wealthy parents in Los Angeles.

Also in 1996, the world learned of "mad cow" disease from a British government report questioning the safety of British beef.

In 1997, the Liggett Group, 5th-largest U.S. tobacco company, agreed to admit that smoking was addictive and caused health problems and that the tobacco industry had sought for years to sell its products to children as young as 14.

In 2001, five days after explosions destroyed one of its support beams, the largest oilrig in the world collapsed and sank off the coast of Brazil.

In 2002, President George Bush's visit to Peru was preceded by a car bomb explosion outside the U.S. Embassy in Lima that killed nine and injured 30.

Also in 2002, the office of the special prosecutor Robert Ray announced there was not enough evidence that either former President Bill Clinton or his wife Hillary Rodham Clinton had committed any crimes in connection with the failed Whitewater real estate venture in Arkansas.

In 2003, early ground combat in the Iraq war found U.S. soldiers heading north toward Baghdad and U.S. and British marines going northeast toward Basra, Iraq's second largest city.

Also in 2003, Brian Patrick Regan, a retired Air Force master sergeant, was sentenced to life in prison for offering to sell intelligence secrets to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and the Chinese government.

In 2004, thousands rallied worldwide against the 1-year-old U.S. presence in Iraq.

Also in 2004, after narrowly escaping assassination the day before, Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian was re-elected with about 50 percent of the vote.

In 2005, more than 30 Shiite Muslim worshippers were killed and many more injured when a bomb exploded at a shrine in the village of Fatehpur, Pakistan.

Also on this date in 2005, which was Palm Sunday, ailing Pope John Paul II appeared at his window in the Vatican but did not speak.

And, John Z. DeLorean, the high-flying General Motors executive who came to grief with his DeLorean sports car, died at the age of 80.

A thought for the day: "Don't knock the weather; 9-10ths of the people couldn't start a conversation if it didn't change once in a while." Kin Hubbard said that.

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