The almanac

By United Press International
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Today is Sunday, March 18, the 78th day of 2012 with 288 to follow.

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


Those born on this date are under the sign of Pisces. They include John C. Calhoun, the first U.S. vice president to resign that office, in 1782; Grover Cleveland, 22nd and 24th president of the United States, in 1837; Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov in 1844; German engineer Rudolf Diesel, inventor of the engine that bears his name, in 1858; British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in 1869; clairvoyant and therapist Edgar Cayce in 1877; actors Edward Everett Horton in 1886 and Robert Donat in 1905; winemaker Ernest Gallo in 1909; auto race promoter Andy Granatelli in 1923 (age 89); actor Peter Graves in 1926; authors George Plimpton in 1927 and John Updike in 1932; former South African President F.W. de Klerk in 1936 (age 76); country singer Charley Pride in 1938 (age 74) and singer/songwriter Wilson Pickett in 1941; Olympic gold medal-winning skier Ingemar Stenmark in 1956 (age 56); singer Irene Cara in 1959 (age 53); actor/singer Vanessa Williams in 1963 (age 49); Olympic champion skater Bonnie Blair in 1964 (age 48); and singer and actor Queen Latifah in 1970 (age 42).


On this date in history:

In 1922, Mahatma Gandhi was sentenced to six years in prison for civil disobedience against the British rulers of India.

In 1926, the worst tornado in U.S. history roared through eastern Missouri, southern Illinois, and southern Indiana, killing 695 people, injuring some 13,000 others and causing $17 million in property damage.

In 1931, the first electric razor was marketed by Schick, Inc.

In 1937, a natural gas explosion at a public school in New London, Texas, killed 410 people, most of them children.

In 1962, France and Algeria signed a cease-fire agreement ending a seven-year civil war and bringing independence to the North African country.

In 1965, Soviet cosmonaut Alexi Leonov became the first person to walk in space.

In 1992, hotel queen and convicted tax cheat Leona Helmsley was sentenced to four years in prison.

In 1993, Contra rebels freed five hostages held at the Nicaraguan Embassy in Costa Rica after the two sides agreed to begin talks to end the 10-day siege.

In 1995, Michael Jordan announced he was returning to professional basketball and the Chicago Bulls after a 17-month break, during which he had tried a baseball career.


In 2003, on the eve of war with Iraq, the U.S. State Department listed 30 countries as members of a "coalition of the willing" supporting military intervention but only the United States, Britain and Australia were known to be providing troops.

In 2004, a top U.S. scientist told lawmakers that all bovines slated for consumption should be tested for mad cow disease which he called "the greatest threat to the safety of the human food supply in modern times."

In 2005, doctors removed the feeding tube keeping Terri Schiavo alive after a wide-ranging fight over the brain-damaged Florida woman's care that involved U.S. President George Bush and Congress.

Also in 2005, news reports said Ukraine admitted to exporting missiles, designed to carry nuclear warheads, to Iran and China.

In 2006, an estimated 500,000 people took to the streets in French cities and towns for the largest protest against a new labor law. It allows employers to dismiss workers under the age of 26 for any reason during the first two years on the job.

In 2007, Israel's Cabinet voted unanimously to boycott the new Hamas-dominated Palestinian unity government.

In 2008, Barack Obama, the front-runner in a tight race for the Democratic presidential nomination, denounced the "profoundly distorted" view of U.S. racial relations in controversial remarks by his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, but said he couldn't reject the man himself. Wright's comments ignited a political firestorm.


In 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama announced a $75 billion plan to help struggling homeowners refinance mortgages and prevent foreclosure. He claimed the plan would help housing prices return to earlier values and improve struggling neighborhoods.

In 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama signed a jobs-stimulus measure into law, providing $17.5 billion in tax cuts and other employer incentives and shifted $20 billion to boost transit programs.

In 2011, government troops used deadly force on crowds of demonstrators seeking government reform in Syria and Yemen. The largest of several Syrian protests took place in Daraa where 30 people were reported killed. A crackdown in the Yemeni capitol of Sanaa left at least 40 people dead.

A thought for the day: "Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or doing it better." John Updike said that.

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