The almanac

By United Press International  |  Jan. 17, 2008 at 3:30 AM
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Today is Thursday, Jan. 17, the 17th day of 2008 with 349 to follow.

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

Those born on this date are under the sign of Capricorn. They include American statesman, scientist and author Benjamin Franklin in 1706; British statesman David Lloyd George in 1863; Mack Sennett, director of slapstick silent films, in 1880; U.S. gangster Al Capone in 1899; English novelist Nevil Shute in 1899; actors Betty White in 1922 (age 86); singer Eartha Kitt in 1927 (age 81); actors James Earl Jones in 1931 (age 77) and Sheree North in 1933; puppeteer Shari Lewis in 1933; talk show host Maury Povich in 1939 (age 69); champion heavyweight boxer Muhammad Ali in 1942 (age 66); comedian Andy Kaufman in 1949; and comic actor Jim Carrey in 1962 (age 46).

On this date in history:

In 1806, the first baby was born in the White House, the grandson of U.S. President Thomas Jefferson.

In 1871, Andrew Hallikie received a patent for a cable car system that went into service in San Francisco in 1873.

In 1893, Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii was deposed in a bloodless revolution and a provisional government established, with annexation by the United States as its aim.

In 1917, the United States bought 50 of the Virgin Islands in the West Indies from Denmark for $25 million.

In 1950, nine bandits staged a $1.5 million robbery of a Brink's armored car in Boston.

In 1966, a U.S. B52 bomber carrying four hydrogen bombs collided with its refueling plane over Palomares, Spain, scattering radioactive plutonium over the area.

In 1977, convicted killer Gary Gilmore was executed by firing squad in Utah, the first execution since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty the previous year.

In 1987, U.S. President Ronald Reagan signed a secret order permitting the covert sale of arms to Iran.

In 1991, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported that Florida dentist David Acer had infected three patients with the AIDS virus.

In 1993, U.S. missiles attacked an Iraqi nuclear weapons facility outside Baghdad in an effort to destroy Saddam Hussein's ability to build weapons of mass destruction.

In 1994, a pre-dawn earthquake struck the Los Angeles area, claiming 61 lives and causing widespread damage.

In 1995, a powerful earthquake rocked Kobe, Japan, and the surrounding area, killing more than 5,000 people.

In 1996, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman was sentenced to life in prison and 16 others were also sentenced to jail for plotting to bomb the United Nations.

In 1998, U.S. President Bill Clinton denied in a sworn deposition that he had an affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

In 2000, almost 50,000 people marched in Columbia, S.C., to protest the flying of the Confederate battle flag over the state Capitol.

In 2001, parts of California were plunged into darkness after utility companies failed to deliver enough electrical power. The rolling blackouts affected as many as 2 million people.

In 2002, the volcano on Mount Nyiragongo, near the town of Goma in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, erupted, causing at least 45 deaths and leaving an estimated 55,000 people homeless.

In 2004, authorities placed the U.S. military death toll in Iraq at 500, including 346 in combat.

In 2005, Chinese state-run media confirmed that Zhao Ziyang, the former premier who fell from power during the 1989 Democracy Movement that resulted in the Tiananmen massacre, had died at 85.

Also in 2005, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestine Liberation Organization ordered militants to stop launching attacks on Israel.

In 2006, Baghdad kidnappers of U.S. journalist Jill Carroll threatened to kill her unless the United States freed all Iraqi women prisoners within 72 hours.

Also in 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Oregon's assisted suicide law by a 6-3 vote. It allows doctors to help mentally competent terminally ill patients end their lives.

In 2007, the White House said U.S. President Bush will go ahead with his plan to send more troops to Iraq whether Congress opposes it or not. A new poll indicated 60 percent of Americans also were against it.

Also in 2007, the Bush administration gave jurisdiction over the controversial anti-terrorist wiretapping program to a court established under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

A thought for the day: St. Augustine asked, "What, then, is time? I know well enough what it is, provided that nobody asks me; but if I am asked what it is and try to explain, I am baffled."

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