Today is Friday, March 20, the 79th day of 2009 with 286 to follow.
This is the first day of spring.
The moon is waning. The morning stars are Mercury, Mars, Neptune, Uranus and Jupiter. The evening stars are Venus and Saturn.
Those born on this date are under the sign of Pisces. They include Roman poet Ovid in 43 B.C.; adventurer and writer Edward Judson, originator of the dime novel, writing as Ned Buntline, in 1823; Norwegian dramatist Henrik Ibsen in 1828; psychologist B.F. Skinner in 1904; actor/bandleader Ozzie Nelson in 1906; former New York Mayor Abe Beame in 1906; British actor Michael Redgrave in 1908; actor, producer, director Carl Reiner in 1922 (age 87); Fred Rogers (TV's "Mister Rogers") in 1928; actor Hal Linden ("Barney Miller") in 1931 (age 78); singer/songwriter Jerry Reed in 1937; former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in 1939 (age 70); former hockey star Bobby Orr in 1948 (age 61); actor William Hurt in 1950 (age 59); filmmaker Spike Lee and actress Theresa Russell, both in 1957 (age 52); and actress Holly Hunter in 1958 (age 51).
On this date in history:
In 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe's anti-slavery novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin" was published.
In 1854, in what is considered the founding meeting of the Republican Party, former members of the Whig Party met in Ripon, Wis., to establish a new party to oppose the spread of slavery into the western territories.
In 1963, a volcano on the East Indies island of Bali began erupting. The eventual death toll exceeded 1,500.
In 1976, San Francisco newspaper heiress and kidnapping victim Patty Hearst was convicted of bank robbery.
In 1977, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and her son, Sanjay, lost their parliamentary races in India's general elections.
In 1986, the Dow Jones industrial average closed at more than 1,800 for the first time.
In 1987, the federal government approved the sale of AZT, a treatment but not a cure for AIDS.
In 1991, Baghdad was warned to abide by the cease-fire after U.S. fighter jets shot down an Iraqi jet fighter in the first major air action since the end of the Persian Gulf War.
In 1995, 12 people were killed and more than 5,000 made ill by a nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system. Members of a religious sect were blamed.
In 1996, the world learned of "mad cow" disease from a British government report questioning the safety of British beef.
In 1997, the Liggett Group, fifth-largest U.S. tobacco company, agreed to admit that smoking was addictive and caused health problems and that the tobacco industry had sought for years to sell its products to children as young as 14.
In 2001, five days after explosions destroyed one of its support beams, the largest oilrig in the world collapsed and sank off the coast of Brazil.
In 2002, U.S. President George Bush's visit to Peru was preceded by a car bomb explosion outside the U.S. Embassy in Lima that killed nine and injured 30.
Also in 2002, the office of the special prosecutor Robert Ray announced there wasn't enough evidence that either former U.S. President Bill Clinton or his wife Hillary Rodham Clinton had committed crimes in connection with the failed Whitewater real estate venture in Arkansas.
In 2003, early ground combat in the Iraq war found U.S. soldiers heading north toward Baghdad and U.S. and British Marines going northeast toward Basra, Iraq's second largest city.
Also in 2003, Brian Patrick Regan, a retired Air Force master sergeant, was sentenced to life in prison for offering to sell intelligence secrets to Saddam Hussein and the Chinese government.
In 2004, thousands rallied worldwide against the 1-year-old U.S. presence in Iraq.
Also in 2004, after narrowly escaping assassination the day before, Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian was re-elected with about 50 percent of the vote.
In 2005, more than 30 Shiite Muslim worshippers were killed and many more injured when a bomb exploded at a shrine in the village of Fatehpur, Pakistan.
Also on this date in 2005, which was Palm Sunday, ailing Pope John Paul II appeared at his window in the Vatican but didn't speak.
In 2006, reports from Iraq said that over a two-week period, nearly 200 bodies were found in Baghdad, apparent victims of execution or torture.
In 2007, the U.S. Senate voted 94-2 to strip U.S. President George Bush of the power to bypass the confirmation process for U.S. attorneys.
Also in 2007, an early morning nursing home fire in southern Russia killed at least 62 people and injured 30 others.
And, former Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan was hanged in Baghdad for his part in the 1982 deaths of 148 Shiites.
In 2008, groups around the United States, including universities and churches, responded enthusiastically to Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama's call for a national dialogue on race.
Also in 2008, despite China's claims of calm in Tibet, various reports indicated Tibetan protests against Chinese rule were spreading to other regions.
A thought for the day: "Don't knock the weather. If it didn't change once in a while, nine out of 10 people couldn't start a conversation." Kin Hubbard said that.