The Almanac

By United Press International  |  March 20, 2002 at 4:30 AM
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Today is Wednesday, March 20, the 79th day of 2002 with 286 to follow.

Spring begins today in the Northern Hemisphere at 2:16 p.m. EST.

The moon is waxing, moving toward its first quarter.

The morning star is Mercury.

The evening stars are Venus, Mars, Jupiter 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 (age 96); British actor Sir Michael Redgrave in 1908; producer/director Carl Reiner in 1922 (age 80); Fred Rogers ("Mister Rogers") in 1928 (age 74); actor Hal Linden ("Barney Miller") in 1931 (age 71); singer/songwriter Jerry Reed in 1937 (age 65); former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in 1939 (age 63); former hockey player Bobby Orr in 1948 (age 54); actor William Hurt in 1950 (age 52); filmmaker Spike Lee and actress Theresa Russell, both in 1957 (age 45); and actress Holly Hunter in 1958 (age 44).

On this date in history:

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

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 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. The Congress party also was defeated and the state of emergency in India was lifted.

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 above 1800 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 1994, the strongest of the aftershocks to the Northridge earthquake in January hit Southern California, measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale.

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.

Also in 1995, conservative commentator Pat Buchanan launched his second bid for the presidency.

In 1996, Lyle and Erik Menendez were convicted of murdering 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, the 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.

A thought for the day: "Don't knock the weather; nine-tenths 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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