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The almanac

By United Press International

Today is Thursday, March 26, the 85th day of 2009 with 280 to follow.

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

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Those born on this date in history are under the sign of Aries. They include poet Robert Frost in 1874; playwright Tennessee Williams in 1911; French composer/conductor Pierre Boulez in 1925 (age 84); former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in 1930 (age 79); actors Leonard Nimoy in 1931 (age 78), Alan Arkin in 1934 (age 75) and James Caan in 1940 (age 69); author Erica Jong in 1942 (age 67); author/journalist Bob Woodward in 1943 (age 66); singers Diana Ross in 1944 (age 65) and Teddy Pendergrass in 1950 (age 59); actors Vicki Lawrence in 1949 (age 60) and Martin Short in 1950 (age 59); TV personality Leeza Gibbons in 1957 (age 52); and actress Jennifer Grey in 1960 (age 49).


On this date in history:

In 1859, astronomers reported sighting a new planet in an orbit near Mercury. They named it Vulcan, now believed to have been a "rogue asteroid" making a one-time pass close to the sun.

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In 1953, U.S. medical researcher Dr. Jonas Salk announced on a national radio show that he had successfully tested a vaccine against poliomyelitis, the virus that causes the crippling disease of polio.

In 1971, East Pakistan achieved independence as Bangladesh.

In 1975, the city of Hue in South Vietnam fell to the North Vietnamese army.

In 1979, Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty at the White House, ending 30 years of hostilities.

In 1991, Mali's dictator was overthrown in violent overnight military coup. Fifty- nine people died.

Also in 1991, the Pakistani hijackers of a Singapore Airlines jet were killed by government commandos in Singapore. The passengers and crew members were safe.

In 1992, former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson was sentenced to six years in prison for raping a teenage beauty pageant contestant.

Also in 1992, Soviet cosmonaut Serge Krikalev, after spending 313 days in orbit aboard the Mir space station, returned to Earth a citizen of a new country, Russia. While he was in space, the Soviet Union had crumbled.

In 1993, Russia's Congress of People's Deputies, called into session by an impeachment-minded parliament, backed away from a bid to unseat President Boris Yeltsin.

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In 1997, 39 members of the Heaven's Gate religious cult were found dead in a large house in Rancho Mirage, Calif., in an apparent mass suicide.

In 1998, Bill Clinton became the first U.S. president to visit South Africa.

In 1999, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the euthanasia advocate, was convicted of second-degree murder in an Oakland County, Mich., courtroom for the videotaped "medicide" of a man suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease.

In 2000, acting Russian President Vladimir Putin was elected president by a more than 20 percent margin.

In 2003, fierce hand-to-hand combat with bayonets broke out between Iraqi citizens and Saddam Fedayeen in the southern city of Basra. Meanwhile, more than 1,000 soldiers parachuted into northern Iraq seeking to unite the anti-Saddam Kurds.

In 2005, the family of Terri Schiavo said no more federal appeals on behalf of the brain-damaged Florida woman were planned after a judge rejected an emergency plea to have her feeding tube reinserted. The battle had reached the White House and the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 2006, reports say discovery of the bodies of 30 beheaded men in Iraq suggested death squads were becoming out of control.

Also, in 2006, Ukraine's opposition Regions Party won the parliamentary elections, with former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich returning to his post under President Viktor Yushchenko.

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And, Scotland banned smoking in all public places. A BBC poll found about 21 percent of adults surveyed said they would ignore the law.

In 2007, U.S. President George Bush met with chairmen of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler to discuss alternative fuels. Bush wanted gasoline consumption reduced by 20 percent over the next decade.

Also in 2007, rival leaders of Northern Ireland met for the first time to work out a power-sharing government.

In 2008, the space shuttle Endeavor completed a 16-day mission that included building a portion of a new lab and a 12-foot tall maintenance robot at the international space station.

Also in 2008, the U.S. company AEY, Inc., holder of a $300 million federal contract to furnish arms to Afghanistan, was suspended for allegedly selling old and unusable weapons and other reputed offenses.


A thought for the day: "There is nobody so irritating as somebody with less intelligence and more sense than we have." Don Herold said that.

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