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Today in history: April 16

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

Today is Easter Sunday, April 16, the 106th day of 2006. There are 259 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On April 16, 1947, the French ship Grandcamp blew up at the harbor in Texas City, Texas; another ship, the Highflyer, exploded the following day. The blasts and resulting fires killed 576 people.

On this date:
In 1789, President-elect George Washington left Mount Vernon, Va., for his inauguration in New York.

In 1862, a bill ending slavery in the District of Columbia became law.

In 1912, Harriet Quimby became the first woman to fly across the English Channel.

In 1917, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin returned to Russia after years of exile.

In 1935, the radio comedy program “Fibber McGee and Molly” premiered on the NBC Blue Network.

In 1945, in his first speech to Congress, President Truman pledged to carry out the war and peace policies of his late predecessor, President Roosevelt.

In 1947, financier and presidential confidant Bernard M. Baruch said in a speech at the South Carolina statehouse: “Let us not be deceived — we are today in the midst of a cold war.”

In 1972, Apollo 16 blasted off on a voyage to the moon.

In 1986, dispelling rumors he was dead, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi appeared on television to condemn the U.S. raid on his country.

In 1991, Sir David Lean, director of “The Bridge on the River Kwai,” “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Doctor Zhivago,” died in London at age 83.

Ten years ago: President Clinton and his wife, Hillary, arrived in Japan for a three-day visit after a brief stopover in South Korea. Britain’s Prince Andrew and his wife, Sarah, the Duchess of York, announced they were in the process of getting a divorce.

Five years ago: Israel launched an air strike against a strategic Syrian radar station in Lebanon, killing three Syrian soldiers. The Oregonian of Portland won two Pulitzer Prizes. In breaking news reporting, The Miami Herald won for its coverage of the pre-dawn raid by federal agents who took custody of Elian Gonzalez; the story also produced the breaking news photography award for Alan Diaz of The Associated Press. Michael Chabon won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay”; David Auburn won for his play “Proof.” Lee Bong-ju of South Korea won the 105th Boston Marathon; Catherine Ndereba of Kenya won the women’s race for the second consecutive year.

One year ago: Marla Ruzicka, the founder of a humanitarian group to aid civilian casualties in Iraq, was killed in a car bombing in Baghdad. Cardinals meeting at the Vatican destroyed the late Pope John Paul II’s ring and lead seal to formally end his reign. Authorities in Hillsborough County, Fla., found the body of missing 13-year-old Sarah Michelle Lunde. (A suspect, David Lee Onstott, has been charged with her murder.) Actress Kay Walsh died in London at age 90.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Barry Nelson is 86. Actor Peter Mark Richman is 79. Actress-singer Edie Adams is 77. Singer Bobby Vinton is 71. Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II is 66. Basketball Hall-of-Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is 59. Singer Gerry Rafferty is 59. Actress Ellen Barkin is 52. Singer Jimmy Osmond is 43. Rock singer David Pirner (Soul Asylum) is 42. Actor-comedian Martin Lawrence is 41. Actor Jon Cryer is 41. Rock musician Dan Rieser is 40. Actor Peter Billingsley is 35. Actor Lukas Haas is 30.

Thought for Today: “The best mirror is an old friend.” — George Herbert, English author (1593-1633).