The almanac

United Press International

Today is Friday, Feb. 13, the 44th day of 2009 with 321 to follow.

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


Those born on this date are under the sign of Aquarius. They include former first lady Bess Truman, wife of U.S. President Harry Truman, in 1885; artist Grant Wood in 1891; entertainer "Tennessee" Ernie Ford in 1919; famed test pilot Chuck Yeager in 1923 (age 86); actors Kim Novak in 1933 (age 76), George Segal in 1934 (age 75), Oliver Reed in 1938, Carol Lynley in 1942 (age 67) and Stockard Channing in 1944 (age 65); talk show host Jerry Springer, also in 1944 (age 65); musicians Peter Tork of the Monkees in 1942 (age 67) and Peter Gabriel in 1950 (age 59).

On this date in history:

In 1635, the oldest public institution in America, the Boston Latin School, was founded.

In 1861, the first Medal of Honor went to Col. Bernard Irwin, an assistant Army surgeon serving in the first major U.S.-Apache conflict.


In 1945, allied firebombing of the German city of Dresden caused a firestorm that destroyed the city and killed as many as 135,000 people.

Also in 1945, Soviet forces captured Budapest, Hungary. The 49-day battle killed more than 50,000 German troops.

In 1974, the Soviet Union expelled dissident writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

In 1984, Konstantin Chernenko succeeded the late Yuri Andropov as Soviet leader.

In 1990, the two Germanys and the Big Four powers agreed to pursue German unity.

In 1991, Iraq claimed hundreds of civilians were killed when U.S. bombs hit a building in Baghdad; the United States said the building was a heavily fortified military command center.

Also in 1991, 36 people were killed when an Ash Wednesday mass at a Mexican church turned violent.

In 1993, three men were killed and another wounded in a shooting at Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, Fla.

In 1998, Cuba began releasing 299 political prisoners following an appeal by Pope John Paul II.

Also in 1998, Nigerian troops overthrew the military junta that had ruled Sierra Leone since ousting the democratically elected government in May 1997.

In 2002, Pakistani police announced the arrest of the prime suspect in the abduction and slaying of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.


In 2003, the Bolivian capital of La Paz was plunged into chaos by protests that got out of hand. Fourteen people were killed.

In 2004, a growing number of U.S. citizens believe the Bush administration either lied or exaggerated Iraq's weapons potential as a justification for war, a Washington Post/ABC poll indicated.

In 2005, a Shiite-dominated coalition won the Iraqi parliamentary election, taking 48 percent of the 8.5 million votes cast.

Also in 2005, flooding claimed more than 70 lives in Venezuela and Colombia.

In 2006, Texas lawyer Harry Whittington, hit accidentally by birdshot pellets fired by Vice President Dick Cheney while bird hunting, suffered a minor heart attack two days later but was able to leave the hospital on the 17th. Cheney took full responsibility for the shooting.

Also in 2006, the United States was accused of violating prisoners' rights at its military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in a U.N. report.

In 2007, North Korea agreed to close its nuclear facilities in exchange for a reported $400 million package of oil and economic aid.

Also in 2007, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., said the fact he is African-American will not be the decisive factor in his bid for the White House.


In 2008, Barack Obama won votes in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia by large margins this week, strengthening his lead over Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. On the Republican side, John McCain won all three primaries as well, solidifying his lead over Mike Huckabee.

Also in 2008, the U.S. government confirmed reports that trailers supplied to survivors of hurricanes Katrina and Rita posed a possibly serious health risk because of large quantities of formaldehyde.

A thought for the day: it was Oscar Wilde who said, "Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go."

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