The almanac

By United Press International
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Today is Wednesday, Jan. 28, the 28th day of 2009 with 337 to follow.

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


Those born on this date are under the sign of Aquarius. They include Canadian Prime Minister and statesman Alexander MacKenzie in 1822; Cuban revolutionary and poet Jose Marti in 1853; French novelist Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette in 1873; concert pianist Arthur Rubinstein in 1887; abstract expressionist painter Jackson Pollock in 1912; sculptor Claes Oldenburg in 1929 (age 80); actor Alan Alda in 1936 (age 73); ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov in 1948 (age 61); singer Sarah McLachlan in 1968 (age 41) and actor Elijah Wood in 1981 (age 28).

On this date in history:

In 1782, the U.S. Congress authorized creation of the Great Seal of the United States.

In 1878, the first commercial telephone switchboard began operation in New Haven, Conn.


In 1974, Israel lifted its siege of Suez City and turned over 300,000 square miles of Egyptian territory to the United Nations, ending the occupation that had begun during the October 1973 war.

In 1982, kidnapped U.S. Army Brig. Gen. James Dozier was rescued in Padua, Italy, after 42 days in the hands of Italian Red Brigades militants.

In 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded 72 seconds after blastoff from Cape Canaveral, killing all seven crewmembers, including civilian teacher Christa McAuliffe.

In 1993, a federal judge in Los Angeles ruled that the U.S. military's policy against homosexuals was unconstitutional because it was "based on cultural myths and false stereotypes."

In 1995, the United States and Vietnam agreed to exchange low-level diplomats and open liaison offices in each other's capital cities.

In 1997, five former police officers in South Africa admitted to killing anti-apartheid activist Stephen Biko, who died in police custody in 1977 and whose death had been officially listed as an accident.

In 2000, the U.S. government admitted that workers making nuclear weapons were exposed to radiation and chemicals that led to cancer and early death.

In 2003, at least 42 passengers burned to death when a luxury tourist bus collided head-on with a truck carrying paints and chemicals in India's eastern state of West Bengal.


Also in 2003, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his Likud Party retained power in Israeli parliamentary elections.

In 2004, the chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq told Congress "we were almost all wrong" in believing Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and called for an outside independent investigation of the apparent intelligence failure.

In 2005, Condoleezza Rice was sworn in as the 66th U.S. secretary of State. She was the first African-American woman to hold the office.

Also in 2005, European scientists confirmed the first known case of "mad cow" disease in a goat.

In 2006, British analysts predicted the price of oil could go to $90 a barrel if Iran responded to nuclear sanctions by cutting off supplies. Iran furnishes about 5 percent of the world's oil, 2.6 million barrels a day.

Also in 2006, the world's largest Islamic political group, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, urged only peaceful protests by Muslims angered over published caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in Europe.

In 2007, U.S. and Iraqi forces killed a reported 300 enemy fighters in a major battle near Najaf in southern Iraq. The U.S. military death toll for the month was set at 84.

Also in 2007, British researchers warned climate effects from global warming would be irreversible in 10 years without "serious reductions in carbon emissions."


In 2008, U.S. President George Bush delivered his final State of the Union address, focusing on the Iraq war, the uncertainty of the economy, a proposed tax rebate and another warning for Iran.

A thought for the day: Edward George Bulwer-Lytton said, "Talent does what it can; genius does what it must."

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