The almanac

By United Press International  |  March 19, 2010 at 3:30 AM
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Today is Friday, March 19, the 78th day of 2010 with 287 to follow.

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

Those born on this date are under the sign of Pisces. They include Plymouth Colony Gov. William Bradford in 1590; Scottish explorer of Africa David Livingstone in 1813; British explorer and writer Richard Francis Burton in 1821; Marshal Wyatt Earp in 1848; jurist William Jennings Bryan in 1860; Chief U.S. Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren in 1891; "Watergate" Judge John Sirica in 1904; Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann in 1906; Hungarian chess grandmaster Laszlo Szabo in 1917; actor Patrick McGoohan in 1928; author Philip Roth in 1933 (age 77); Sirhan Sirhan, assassin of Robert F. Kennedy, in 1944 (age 66); actors Ursula Andress in 1936 (age 74), Glenn Close in 1947 (age 63) and Bruce Willis in 1955 (age 55); and film producer Harvey Weinstein in 1952 (age 58).

On this date in history:

In 721 B.C., the Roman historian Ptolemy said Babylonian astronomers noted history's first recorded eclipse: an eclipse of the moon.

In 1916, the first U.S. air combat mission in history saw eight Curtiss "Jenny" planes of the First Aero Squadron take off from Columbus, N.M., to aid troops that had invaded Mexico in pursuit of the bandit Pancho Villa.

In 1918, the U.S. Congress passed the Standard Time Act, which authorized the Interstate Commerce Commission to establish standard time zones in the United States.

In 1920, the Treaty of Versailles, establishing the League of Nations, was rejected by the U.S. Senate.

In 1931, in an effort to ease the hard times of the Great Depression, the Nevada Legislature voted to legalize gambling.

In 1942, with World War II under way, all men in the United States between the ages of 45 and 64, about 13 million, were ordered to register with the draft boards for non-military duty.

In 1953, legendary filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille won the only Academy Award of his career when "The Greatest Show on Earth," a big-budget extravaganza about circus life, was acclaimed the Best Picture of the year.

In 1979, the U.S. House of Representatives sessions were broadcast for the first time on C-SPAN.

In 1987, South Carolina televangelist Jim Bakker resigned as head of the PTL Club, saying he was blackmailed after a sexual encounter with former church secretary Jessica Hahn.

In 1991, Khaleda Zia became the first woman prime minister of Bangladesh.

In 2002, Israel completed its army's pullout of the West Bank by leaving Bethlehem one day after Israeli Prime Minister Arial Sharon met with U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney. The following day a suicide bomber killed seven Israelis on a bus.

In 2003, the U.S.-led military offensive invaded Iraq with a nighttime assault on Baghdad.

Also in 2003, the U.S. Senate rejected a proposal supported by the Bush administration to allow drilling for oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge.

In 2004, on the first anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, officials said 571 U.S. military personnel had been killed.

In 2005, Pakistan was reported to have successfully tested a nuclear-capable missile with a range of 1,250 miles.

In 2006, the disputed presidential election in Belarus sparked street protests throughout the country while international observers alleged fraud. Incumbent Alexander Lukashenko, who claimed 82.6 percent of the vote, was accused of rigging the election.

In 2007, U.S. President George W. Bush, in a speech marking the fourth anniversary of the Iraq war, said he saw some gains through the recent troop surge but it would take months to show substantial progress.

Also in 2007, a detainee at Guantanamo Bay allegedly admitted helping plan the bombings of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, and the USS Cole in Yemen.

In 2008, for the sixth time in six months, the U.S. Federal Reserve cut short term interest rates, this time to 2.25 percent, in an effort to stabilize financial markets.

Also in 2008, U.S. President George W. Bush marked the five-year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq by calling it a fight the United States "can and must win." He said removing Saddam Hussein from power "was the right decision."

In 2009, the U.S. Treasury Department announced a $5 billion program to help struggling auto parts dealers whose businesses had suffered along with major car companies.

A thought for the day: William Jennings Bryan said: "Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved."

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