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Today in history: February 7

Celebrity birthdays, highlights in history, plus more facts about this day
/ Source: The Associated Press

Today is Tuesday, Feb. 7, the 38th day of 2006. There are 327 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On Feb. 7, 1812, author Charles Dickens was born in Portsmouth, England.

On this date:
In 1904, a fire began in Baltimore that raged for about 30 hours and destroyed more than 15-hundred buildings.

In 1906, 100 years ago, Pu Yi, the last emperor of China, was born in Beijing.

In 1936, President Roosevelt authorized a flag for the office of the vice president.

In 1944, during World War II, the Germans launched a counteroffensive at Anzio, Italy.

In 1964, The Beatles began their first American tour as they arrived at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

In 1974, the island nation of Grenada won independence from Britain.

In 1984, space shuttle astronauts Bruce McCandless II and Robert L. Stewart went on the first untethered space walk.

In 1986, the Philippines held a presidential election marred by charges of fraud against the incumbent, Ferdinand E. Marcos.

In 1986, Haitian President-for-Life Jean-Claude Duvalier fled his country, ending 28 years of his family’s rule.

In 1999, Jordan’s King Hussein died of cancer at age 63; he was succeeded by his eldest son, Abdullah.

Ten years ago: During a Central America tour, Pope John Paul II received a warm welcome in Nicaragua, his first visit there since 1983.

Five years ago: The Senate voted to release $582 million in dues owed the United Nations. The space shuttle Atlantis blasted off on a trip to the international space station. Jean-Bertrand Aristide was sworn in as Haiti’s president. Death claimed singer-actress Dale Evans at age 88 and author Anne Morrow Lindbergh, wife of aviator Charles Lindbergh, at age 94.

One year ago: President Bush proposed a $2.57 trillion budget that would erase scores of programs but still worsen federal deficits by $42 billion over the next five years. Defrocked priest Paul Shanley, the most notorious figure in the sex scandal that rocked the Boston Archdiocese, was convicted of repeatedly raping and fondling a boy at his church during the 1980s. (Shanley was sentenced to 12 to 15 years in prison.) Ellen MacArthur, a 28-year-old Englishwoman, broke the solo around-the-world sailing record, completing the 26,000-mile circumnavigation after 71 days, 14 hours, 18 minutes and 33 seconds at sea.

Today’s Birthdays: Country singer Wilma Lee Cooper is 85. Author Gay Talese is 74. Actor Miguel Ferrer is 51. Reggae musician Brian Travers (UB40) is 47. Actor James Spader is 46. Country singer Garth Brooks is 44. Rock musician David Bryan (Bon Jovi) is 44. Comedian Eddie Izzard is 44. Actor-comedian Chris Rock is 41. Actor Jason Gedrick is 39. Actor Ashton Kutcher is 28. Actress Tina Majorino is 21.

Thought for Today: “Human beings are the only creatures who are able to behave irrationally in the name of reason.”— Ashley Montagu, English anthropologist (1905-1999).