The almanac

By United Press International  |  Feb. 14, 2012 at 3:30 AM
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This is Tuesday, Feb. 14, the 45th day of 2012 with 321 to follow.

This is Valentine's Day.

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

Those born on this date are under the sign of Aquarius. They include statesman and abolitionist Frederick Douglass in 1818; Medal of Honor recipient Julian Scott in 1846; suffrage leader Anna Howard Shaw in 1847; comedy legend Jack Benny in 1894; actor Thelma Ritter in 1905; sports announcer Mel Allen, football coach Woody Hayes and labor leader Jimmy Hoffa, all in 1913; broadcaster Hugh Downs in 1921 (age 91); hockey Hall of Fame member Bernie Geoffrion in 1931; actor/singer Florence Henderson in 1934 (age 78); New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 1942 (age 70); writer Carl Bernstein in 1944 (age 68); dancer/actor Gregory Hines in 1946; magician Raymond Joseph Teller, of Penn and Teller, in 1948 (age 64); opera star Renee Fleming in 1959 (age 53); actors Meg Tilly in 1960 (age 52), Simon Pegg in 1970 (age 42) and Freddie Highmore in 1992 (age 20); and musician Rob Thomas in 1972 (age 40).

On this date in history:

In 1779, British navigator and explorer James Cook, first known European to reach the Hawaiian Islands, was stabbed to death by Hawaiian natives while investigating the theft of a boat.

In 1849, James Polk became the first U.S. president to be photographed while in office. The photographer was Mathew Brady, who is famous for his Civil War pictures.

In 1859, Oregon was admitted as the 33rd member of the United States.

In 1886, the West Coast citrus industry was born. The first trainload of oranges left Los Angeles for eastern markets.

In 1903, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt signed a law creating the Department of Commerce and Labor.

In 1912, Arizona was admitted to the 48th member of the United States.

In 1920, the League of Women Voters was formed in Chicago.

In 1929, in what became known as the "St. Valentine's Day Massacre," gunmen believed to be working for Prohibition-era crime lord Al Capone killed seven members of the rival George "Bugs" Moran gang in a Chicago garage.

In 1933, an eight-day bank holiday was declared in Michigan in a Depression-era move to avert a financial panic. A total of $50 million was rushed to Detroit to bolster bank assets.

In 1949, Israel's legislature, the Knesset, was convened for the first time.

In 1979, Iranian guerrillas stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, trapping Ambassador William Sullivan and 100 staff members. Forces of the Ayatollah Khomeini later freed them but the incident foreshadowed the embassy takeover in November.

In 1989, Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini, offended by "The Satanic Verses," called on Muslims to kill its British author, Salman Rushdie. He offered a $1 million reward for Rushdie's death, sending the writer into hiding. Tehran rescinded the death sentence in 1998.

In 1990, 90 people were killed and 56 injured in the crash of an Indian Airlines Airbus 320, about 50 yards short of the runway in Bangalore, India.

In 1993, six people were killed in a modern Valentine's Day massacre in a Bronx, New York, neighborhood where area residents ignored the gunfire.

In 1994, a convicted serial killer who admitted killing 55 people was executed by firing squad in a Russian prison.

In 2004, at least 25 people died and 100 others were injured when a giant glass roof collapsed at the largest city water park in Moscow. Authorities suspected faulty construction.

Also in 2004, Iraqi insurgents overwhelmed a police station west of Baghdad, killing 23 people and freeing dozens of prisoners.

In 2005, former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated. Twenty-one others died with him.

Also in 2005, a gas explosion in a Chinese mine killed 214 people, the worst reported Chinese mining disaster since the 1949 communist revolution.

And, an estimated 59 people were killed and some 210 people were injured during a fire at a mosque in Iran.

In 2006, a senior Iranian nuclear official confirmed the country had resumed enriching uranium, considered a first step in nuclear production.

In 2008, a former student at Northern Illinois University opened fire in a lecture hall at the school, killing six students and wounding 15 others before killing himself.

In 2009, in a reversal to previous testimony in the Ron Blagojevich impeachment proceedings, Roland Burris, chosen by Blagojevich to succeed President Barack Obama in the Senate, admitted the former Illinois governor's brother asked him for campaign funds.

In 2010, at least 10 civilians were killed when a U.S. rocket strike in Afghanistan went awry.

In 2011, U.S. President Barack Obama proposed a $3.8 trillion budget for the coming fiscal year that rankled congressional critics who claimed it tried to do too much while not sufficiently cutting the deficit.

Also in 2011, Chevron, the U.S. multinational energy company, was ordered to pay $8.6 billion to clean up oil pollution in a rain forest area in northeastern Ecuador, reported to be the largest environmental damage court ruling to date.

A thought for the day: Jerome K. Jerome said, "It is always the best policy to speak the truth, unless, of course, you are an exceptionally good liar."

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