The Almanac

By United Press International  |  March 9, 2006 at 3:30 AM
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Today is Thursday, March 9, the 68th day of 2006 with 297 to follow.

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

Those born on this date are under the sign of Pisces. They include Leland Stanford, railroad builder and founder of California's Stanford University, in 1824; English novelist and poet Victoria Sackville-West in 1892; composer Samuel Barber in 1910; detective novelist Mickey Spillane in 1918 (age 88); Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, in 1934; actors Joyce Van Patten in 1934 (age 72) and Marty Ingles in 1936 (age 70); country singer Mickey Gilley also in 1936 (age 70); actors Raul Julia in 1940 and Trish Van Deere in 1943 (age 63); former world chess champion Bobby Fischer in 1943 (age 63); actresses Linda Fiorentino in 1960 (age 46) and Juliette Binoche in 1964 (age 42); football player Brian Bosworth in 1965 (age 41); and actor Emmanuel Lewis in 1971 (age 35).

On this date in history:

In 1841, at the end of a historic case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, with one dissent, that the African slaves who seized control of the Amistad slave ship had been illegally forced into slavery and thus were free under American law.

In 1862, the opposing ironclad ships, the Union's Monitor and the Confederate's Merrimac (renamed the Virginia) battled to a draw off Hampton Roads, Va.

In 1864, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant was appointed commander in chief of Union forces in the U.S. Civil War.

In 1917, several hundred Mexican guerrillas under the command of Francisco "Pancho" Villa crossed the U.S.-Mexican border and attacked the small border town of Columbus, N.M., killing 17 Americans.

In 1945, 343 U.S. bombers carrying all the incendiary bombs they could hold bombed Tokyo, killing 83,000 people and destroying 250,000 buildings over 16 square miles.

In 1959, Barbie, the popular doll, debuted in stores.

In 1967, the daughter of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, Svetlana, defected to the United States.

In 1986, the module containing the bodies of the seven astronauts killed in the Jan. 28 explosion of the shuttle Challenger was located off Florida.

In 1989, the Senate voted 53-47 against confirming John Tower as secretary of Defense.

Also in 1989, William Bennett was confirmed by the Senate as the nation's first Cabinet-level drug czar.

In 1990, Haitian dictator Gen. Prosper Avril stepped down from power under pressure and the military agreed to turn the nation over to civilian rule.

In 1991, Israeli troops fired on Palestinian protesters in the occupied Gaza Strip, wounding 55.

In 1992, a federal judge in New York announced a final $1.3 billion agreement to settle the civil suits growing out of the 1989 collapse of Drexel Burham Lambert, once the most powerful firm on Wall Street.

In 1993, gunmen linked to the former Contra rebels stormed the Nicaraguan Embassy in Costa Rica and took the ambassador and at least 18 others hostage.

Also in 1993, Rodney King testified in the federal trial of four Los Angeles police officers who were videotaped beating and kicking him.

In 2000, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., formally withdrew from the presidential race but did not endorse fellow Republican George W. Bush.

In 2003, the Secret Service sealed off streets near the White House for several hours while checking an orange 55-gallon drum roughly two blocks from the White House. It proved to be harmless.

In 2004, public support for U.S. President George Bush's economic and Iraq policies was reported at its lowest level by a Washington Post survey with 57 percent of U.S. citizens wanting a different course for the nation.

Also in 2004, John Allen Muhammad was sentenced to death for his part in one of the 10 Washington-area sniper killings in 2002.

And, a government report warned that obesity could soon become the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States.

In 2005, the White House said there were no administration plans to tap the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve Oil program to help reduce rising oil prices.

A thought for the day: Napoleon said, "History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon."

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