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Today in history: March 31

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

Today is Friday, March 31, the 90th day of 2006. There are 275 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
One year ago, on March 31, 2005, Terri Schiavo, 41, died at a hospice in Pinellas Park, Fla., 13 days after her feeding tube was removed in a wrenching right-to-die dispute that engulfed the courts, Congress and the White House and divided the country.

On this date:
In 1880, Wabash, Ind., became the first town in the world to be illuminated by electrical lighting.

In 1889, French engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel unfurled the French tricolor from atop the Eiffel Tower, officially marking its completion.

In 1917, the United States took possession of the Virgin Islands from Denmark.

In 1933, Congress authorized the Civilian Conservation Corps.

In 1943, the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Oklahoma!” opened on Broadway.

In 1945, the Tennessee Williams play “The Glass Menagerie” opened on Broadway.

In 1949, Newfoundland entered confederation as Canada’s 10th province.

In 1968, President Johnson stunned the country by announcing he would not seek another term in office.

In 1976, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that coma patient Karen Anne Quinlan could be disconnected from her respirator. (Quinlan, who remained comatose, died in 1985.)

In 1986, 167 people died when a Mexicana Airlines Boeing 727 crashed in a remote mountainous region of Mexico.

Ten years ago: Russian President Boris Yeltsin announced a halt to combat operations in Chechnya, limited troop withdrawals and a willingness to hold indirect talks with the rebels’ leader.

Five years ago: Riot police laid siege to Slobodan Milosevic’s villa in an attempt to bring the former Yugoslav president to justice. But a defiant Milosevic rejected a warrant, reportedly telling police he wouldn’t “go to jail alive.” (He was taken into custody the next day.)

One year ago: A damning report by a presidential commission concluded the United States knew “disturbingly little” about nuclear and biological threats from dangerous adversaries. The World Bank approved Paul Wolfowitz as its new president. South Carolina defeated Saint Joseph’s, 60-57, in the NIT championship game. Chicken entrepreneur Frank Perdue died in Salisbury, Md., at age 84.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor William Daniels is 79. Hockey Hall-of-Famer Gordie Howe is 78. Actor Richard Chamberlain is 72. Country singer-songwriter John D. Loudermilk is 72. Musician Herb Alpert is 71. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) is 66. Actor Christopher Walken is 63. Comedian Gabe Kaplan is 61. Former Vice President Al Gore is 58. David Eisenhower is 58. Actress Rhea Perlman is 58. Rock musician Angus Young (AC/DC) is 51. Actor Marc McClure is 49. Actor William McNamara is 41. Actor Ewan McGregor is 35.

Thought for Today: “What is it to be a gentleman? The first to thank and the last to complain.” — Serbian proverb.