The Almanac

By United Press International  |  Feb. 14, 2003 at 3:30 AM
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This is Friday, Feb. 14, the 45th day of 2003 with 320 to follow.

This is St. Valentine's Day.

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

Those born on this date are under the sign of Aquarius. They include Polish astronomer Nicholas Copernicus in 1473; suffrage leader Anna Howard Shaw in 1847; comedian Jack Benny in 1894; broadcaster Hugh Downs in 1921 (age 82); actress/singer Florence Henderson in 1934 (age 69); former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala in 1941 (age 62); journalist Carl Bernstein in 1944 (age 59); dancer/actor Gregory Hines in 1946 (age 57); magician Teller, of Penn and Teller, in 1948 (age 55); and actors Ken Wahl in 1956 (age 47) and Meg Tilly in 1960 (age 43).

On this date in history:

In 1849, James Polk became the first U.S. president to be photographed while in office. The photographer was Mathew Brady, who later became famous for his Civil War pictures.

In 1886, the West Coast citrus industry was born. The first trainload of oranges left Los Angeles for eastern markets.

In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt signed a law creating the Department of Commerce and Labor.

In 1920, the League of Women Voters was formed in Chicago.

In 1929, in what became known as the "St. Valentine's Day Massacre," gunmen believed to be working for Prohibition-era crime lord Al Capone murdered seven members of the rival George "Bugs" Moran gang in a Chicago garage.

In 1933, an eight-day bank holiday was declared in Michigan in a Depression-era move to avert a financial panic. $50 million was rushed to Detroit to bolster bank assets.

In 1979, Iranian guerrillas stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, trapping Ambassador William Sullivan and 100 staff members. Forces of the Ayatollah Khomeini later freed them but the incident foreshadowed the embassy takeover in November.

In 1989, Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini, offended by "The Satanic Verses," called on Muslims to kill its British author, Salman Rushdie. He offered a $1 million reward for Rushdie's death, sending the writer into hiding. In 1998, Tehran rescinded the death sentence.

In 1990, 90 people were killed and 56 injured in the crash of an Indian Airlines Airbus 320 50 yards short of the runway in Bangalore, India.

In 1991, allied commanders reported a surge in desertions of Iraqi soldiers.

In 1992, the Bush administration denied lying about the fate of repatriated Haitians and asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reject efforts to stop the return of thousands of boat people.

Also in 1992, on the third anniversary of his death sentence, author-in-hiding Salman Rushdie said he would no longer "go on living in a box."

In 1993, six people were systematically killed in a modern Valentine's Day massacre in a Bronx, New York, neighborhood so violent that the neighbors ignored the gunfire. In 1994, a convicted serial killer who admitted murdering 55 people was executed by firing squad in a Russian prison.

In 1996, Republican Phil Gramm withdrew from the presidential campaign.

A thought for the day: Jerome K. Jerome said, "It is always the best policy to speak the truth, unless, of course, you are an exceptionally good liar."

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