The Almanac

By United Press International  |  March 9, 2007 at 3:30 AM
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Today is Friday, March 9, the 68th day of 2007 with 297 to follow.

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

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; Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, in 1934; actors Joyce Van Patten in 1934 (age 73) and Marty Ingels in 1936 (age 71); actors Raul Julia in 1940 and Trish Van Deere in 1943 (age 64); former world chess champion Bobby Fischer in 1943 (age 64); actresses Linda Fiorentino in 1960 (age 47) and Juliette Binoche in 1964 (age 43); and actor Emmanuel Lewis in 1971 (age 36).

On this date in history:

In 1841, at the end of an historic case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, with only 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 U.S. 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 American bombers carrying all the incendiary bombs they could hold bombed Tokyo, killing 83,000 people and destroying some 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 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.

In 2004, public support for U.S. President George W. 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.

Also in 2005, Dan Rather stepped down as anchor and managing editor of "CBS Evening News." His action followed acknowledgement of major flaws in a broadcast about U.S. President George W. Bush's National Guard service.

In 2006, U.S. President George W. Bush signed the Patriot Act reauthorization, giving law enforcement tools the president said are needed to fight terrorists.

Also In 2006, scientists reported finding evidence of water on a Saturn moon.

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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