The almanac

By United Press International  |  March 22, 2012 at 3:30 AM
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Today is Thursday, March 22, the 82nd day of 2012 with 284 to follow.

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

Those born on this date are under the sign of Aries. They include Flemish painter Anthony van Dyck in 1599; author Louis L'Amour in 1908; actors Chico Marx of the Marx Brothers comedy team in 1887, Karl Malden in 1912 and Werner Klemperer and Ross Martin, both in 1920; French mime Marcel Marceau in 1923; composer Stephen Sondheim and televangelist Pat Robertson, both in 1930 (age 82); actors William Shatner in 1931 (age 81) and M. Emmet Walsh in 1935 (age 77); newspaper executive Allen Neuharth in 1924 (age 88); U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, in 1934 (age 78); singer George Benson in 1943 (age 69); British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and television journalist Wolf Blitzer, both in 1948 (age 64); sportscaster Bob Costas in 1952 (age 60); actors Lena Olin in 1955 (age 57), Matthew Modine in 1959 (age 53) and Reese Witherspoon in 1976 (age 36); and Canadian skater Elvis Stojko in 1972 (age 40).

On this date in history:

In 1791, The U.S. Congress enacted legislation forbidding slave trading with foreign nations.

In 1941, the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River began producing electric power for the Pacific Northwest.

In 1945, representatives from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Transjordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Yemen met in Cairo to establish the Arab League.

In 1968, U.S. President Lyndon Johnson recalled U.S. Army Gen. William Westmoreland as commander of U.S. troops in Vietnam and made him Army chief of staff. Gen. Creighton Abrams took over in Saigon.

In 1974, the U.S. Senate passed and sent to the states for ratification the 27th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, a measure popularly known as the Equal Rights Amendment. However, the required number of states failed to ratify it before the deadline.

In 1987, Chad troops drove Libyan forces from a key airstrip in northern Chad, apparently ending Moammar Gadhafi's seven-year occupation. The Libyans abandoned $500 million worth of Soviet-made tanks and airplanes.

In 1992, 27 people were killed when a USAir plane bound for Cleveland skidded off a runway at New York's LaGuardia Airport during a snowstorm and landed in the bay.

In 1997, Comet Hale-Bopp made its closest approach to Earth -- about 122 million miles.

In 2000, Pope John Paul II visited a Palestinian refugee camp and declared the conditions there to be "degrading."

In 2003, as the war in Iraq gained momentum, a U.S. Army maintenance convoy made a wrong turn and was ambushed. Eleven soldiers were killed and seven, including Pfc. Jessica Lynch, were captured.

In 2004, the founder and spiritual leader of the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas, Ahmed Yassin, was killed in an Israeli missile strike in the Gaza Strip.

In 2005, North Korea's government-controlled news agency claimed the country beefed up its nuclear weapons arsenal to counter U.S. security threats.

In 2006, troubled General Motors, in a reported deal with the United Auto Workers Union, said it would offer buyout and early retirement packages to each of its 113,000 unionized employees.

Also in 2006, Basque separatists who live mostly in Spain announced they were declaring a cease-fire and ending their long violent struggle for independence.

In 2007, violence erupted in Somalia between government forces and militia fighters one day after at least 22 people were killed. Hundreds of Mogadishu residents fled their homes.

In 2008, Yousaf Raza Gillani, former speaker of Parliament, was chosen prime minister of Pakistan. And, opposition candidate Ma Ying-jeou won the Taiwanese presidential election.

Also in 2008, the Bush administration bullied and threatened foreign leaders to build a show of support for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Chilean diplomat Heraldo Munoz said in a new book.

In 2009, U.S. insurance giant AIG, under criticism for planning executive bonuses while accepting bailout funds to help stay in business, promised to reduce the multimillion-dollar bonus payouts by at least 30 percent.

In 2010, the largest U.S. community organizing group, known as ACORN, announced it was disbanding because of declining revenues.

In 2011, a senior U.S. official confirmed Russia and the United States have begun exchanging nuclear stockpile information under the new arms reduction treaty.

An Israeli court sentenced former President Moshe Katsav to seven years in prison for rape and sexual harassment.

A thought for the day: U.S. Army Gen. William Westmoreland said: "The military don't start wars. Politicians start wars."

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