The almanac

By United Press International   |   Feb. 17, 2009 at 3:30 AM
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Today is Tuesday, Feb. 17, the 48th day of 2009 with 317 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 mail order retailer Aaron Montgomery Ward in 1843; engraver Frederick Ives in 1856; Texas oil millionaire H.L. Hunt in 1889; sportscaster Red Barber in 1908; author Margaret Truman Daniel, daughter of U.S. President Harry Truman, in 1924; actors Hal Holbrook in 1925 (age 84) and Alan Bates in 1934; pro football star-turned-actor Jim Brown in 1936 (age 73); actors Brenda Fricker in 1945 (age 64), Rene Russo in 1954 (age 55), Richard Karn ("Home Improvement") in 1956 (age 53) and Lou Diamond Phillips in 1962 (age 47); basketball superstar Michael Jordan in 1963 (age 46); and actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt ("3rd Rock from the Sun") in 1981 (age 28).

On this date in history:

In 1801, the U.S. House of Representatives chose Thomas Jefferson as the third president of the United States after he and Aaron Burr tied in the Electoral College. It took 35 House ballots before Jefferson won and Burr became vice president.

In 1817, Baltimore became the first U.S. city with gas-burning street lights.

In 1909, Apache leader Geronimo died while under military confinement at Fort Sill, Okla.

In 1979, "A Prairie Home Companion," hosted by Garrison Keillor, made its debut on National Public Radio.

In 1986, Johnson and Johnson halted production of all non-prescription drugs in capsules following the death of a Peekskill, N.Y., woman from cyanide-laced Extra-Strength Tylenol.

In 1993, in an address to a joint session of Congress, U.S. President Bill Clinton called on Americans to "summon the courage to seize the day" and implored the nation to adopt deep government cuts and tax hikes to renew the troubled economy.

In 1994, former U.S. Treasurer Catalina Vasquez Villalpando, pleaded guilty to obstructing the investigation of influence peddling at the Department of Housing and Urban Development in the 1980s.

In 2002, a series of raids by communist rebels left 137 dead in Nepal.

In 2003, when security guards used pepper spray to break up a fight at a packed Chicago social club the ensuing panic by patrons resulted in 21 deaths as the crowd stampeded for the exits.

In 2004, gay marriages continued in San Francisco in defiance of state law after two judges declined to rule on efforts to halt the practice.

In 2005, U.S. President George Bush nominated John Negroponte to be the first director of national intelligence.

In 2006, more than 1,000 people were believed killed in a mudslide that covered a village on Leyte in the central Philippines.

In 2007, a bomb exploded in a judge's chamber in southwestern Pakistan, killing the judge and 13 others.

Also in 2007, 22-year-old Prince Harry of England was ordered to the front lines in Iraq along with his British army unit. He didn't go, however, since his presence was deemed a potential danger to his unit.

In 2008, the province of Kosovo declared independence from Serbia as thousands of ethnic Albanians celebrated in the streets but some others resorted to violent protest. The United States and several other nations, including Britain, Germany, and France, recognized Kosovo as a sovereign and independent state.

Also in 2008, a suicide bomber attacked a crowded dogfight near Kandahar in Afghanistan, killing about 80 people, including a local police chief, and injuring nearly 100.

A thought for the day: Aldous Huxley wrote, "Experience is not what happens to you; it's what you do with what happens to you."

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