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The Almanac

By United Press International

Today is Sunday, March 18, the 77th day of 2007 with 288 to follow.

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

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Those born on this date are under the sign of Pisces. They include John C. Calhoun, the first U.S. vice president to resign that office, in 1782; Grover Cleveland, 22nd and 24th president of the United States, in 1837; Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov in 1844; German engineer Rudolf Diesel, inventor of the engine that bears his name, in 1858; British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in 1869; clairvoyant and therapist Edgar Cayce in 1877; actor Edward Everett Horton in 1886; auto race promoter Andy Granatelli in 1923 (age 84); actor Peter Graves in 1926 (age 81); authors George Plimpton in 1927 and John Updike in 1932 (age 75); former South African President F.W. de Klerk in 1936 (age 71); country singer Charley Pride in 1938 (age 69) and singer/songwriter Wilson Pickett in 1941; singer Irene Cara in 1959 (age 48); actress/singer Vanessa Williams in 1963 (age 44); Olympic skater Bonnie Blair in 1964 (age 43); and rapper/actress Queen Latifah in 1970 (age 37).

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On this date in history:

In 1922, Mahatma Gandhi was sentenced to six years in prison for civil disobedience against the British rulers of India.

In 1926, the worst tornado in U.S. history roared through eastern Missouri, southern Illinois, and southern Indiana, killing 695 people, injuring some 13,000 people, and causing $17 million in property damage.

In 1931, the first electric razor was marketed by Schick, Inc.

In 1937, a natural gas explosion at a public school in New London, Texas, killed 410 people, most of them children.

In 1962, France and Algeria signed a cease-fire agreement ending a seven-year civil war and bringing independence to the North African country.

In 1965, Soviet cosmonaut Alexi Leonov became the first person to "walk in space."

In 1989, the shuttle Discovery completed a five-day mission, landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

In 1992, hotel queen and convicted tax cheat Leona Helmsley was sentenced to four years in prison.

In 1993, Contra rebels freed five hostages they held at the Nicaraguan Embassy in Costa Rica after the two sides agreed to begin talks to end the 10-day siege.

In 1995, Michael Jordan announced he was returning to professional basketball and the Chicago Bulls after a 17-month break, during which he had tried a baseball career.

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In 1996, John Salvi was convicted of murder in the killing of two abortion clinic receptionists. He later committed suicide.

In 1997, Zaire's parliament fired Premier Leon Kengo wa Dondo and opened negotiations with rebel leader Laurent Kabila.

In 2000, opposition candidate Chen Shui-bain was elected president of Taiwan, ending more than 50 years of Nationalist Party rule.

In 2003, on the eve of war with Iraq, the U.S. State Department listed 30 countries as members of a "coalition of the willing" supporting military intervention but only the United States, Britain and Australia were known to be providing troops.

In 2004, a top U.S. scientist told lawmakers that all bovines slated for consumption should be tested for mad cow disease which he called "the greatest threat to the safety of the human food supply in modern times."

In 2005, doctors removed the feeding tube keeping Terri Schiavo alive after an wide-ranging fight over the brain-damaged Florida woman's care that involved U.S. President Bush and Congress.

Also in 2005, news reports said Ukraine admitted to exporting missiles, designed to carry nuclear warheads, to Iran and China.

In 2006, an estimated 500,000 people took to the streets in French cities and towns for the largest protest so far against a new labor law. It allows employers to dismiss workers under the age of 26 for any reason during the first two years on the job.

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A thought for the day: "Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or doing it better." John Updike said that.

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