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The almanac

By United Press International

Today is Friday, April 24, the 114th day of 2009 with 251 to follow.

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

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Those born on this date are under the sign of Taurus. They include English novelist Anthony Trollope in 1815; artist Willem de Kooning in 1904; U.S. poet laureate Robert Penn Warren in 1905; actresses Shirley MacLaine in 1934 (age 75) and Jill Ireland in 1936; singer, actress and director Barbra Streisand and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, both in 1942 (age 67); and actors Eric Bogosian in 1953 (age 56) and Michael O'Keefe in 1955 (age 54).


On this date in history:

In 1704, the Boston News Letter became the first American newspaper to be published on a regular basis.

In 1800, the U.S. Congress established the Library of Congress.

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In 1877, U.S. troops moved out of New Orleans, ending the North's military occupation of the South following the Civil War.

In 1981, IBM introduced its first personal computer.

In 1986, the Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Warfield Simpson, for whom England's King Edward VIII gave up his throne, died in Paris at age 89.

In 1987, genetically altered bacteria, designed to prevent frost damage, were sprayed on a California strawberry field in the first test of such biotechnology in nature.

In 1991, the first U.N. peacekeeping forces were deployed along the Kuwait-Iraq border.

Also in 1991, Freddie Stowers, a World War I corporal, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor to become the first African-American to receive the highest medal for valor in combat.

In 1995, the "UNAbomber" struck with a mail bomb that killed Gilbert Murray, president of the California Forestry Association, in Sacramento.

In 1996, the Palestinian National Council voted to drop its official commitment to the destruction of Israel.

In 1997, with ratification by the U.S. Senate, the United States became the 75th country to approve the Chemical Weapons Convention.

In 2003, North Korea announced it had nuclear weapons and had begun making bomb-grade plutonium.

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In 2004, Greek Cypriot voters overwhelmingly rejected a U.N. plan for the reunification of the divided Mediterranean island.

In 2005, Benedict XVI was installed in Rome as the 265th Roman Catholic pope, promising to continue the policies of John Paul II.

In 2006, three coordinated bomb blasts shattered part of the popular Egyptian resort town of Dahab, killing a reported 30 people and injuring more than 115 others.

Also in 2006, police in Kansas and Alaska report breaking up two plots by middle school and high school students for school massacres hours before they were to begin.

In 2007, Toyota overtook General Motors as No. 1 in global vehicle sales from January to March largely because of increased demand for fuel-efficient cars.

Also in 2007, Mexico City lawmakers voted to legalize abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, a landmark decision in the largely Roman Catholic country.

In 2008, the U.S. government reported new home sales fell 8.5 percent in March to their lowest level since the 1990s. The housing backlog was reported to be the largest since 1981.

Also in 2008, Iraq's largest Sunni bloc, known as Tawafiq, rejoined Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Cabinet after a yearlong boycott.

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A thought for the day: Erica Jong wrote: "Everyone has a talent. What is rare is the courage to nurture it in solitude and to follow the talent to the dark places where it leads."

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