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Today in history: April 27

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

Today is Thursday, April 27, the 117th day of 2006. There are 248 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On April 27, 1937, the nation’s first Social Security checks were distributed.

On this date:
In 1509, Pope Julius II excommunicated the Italian state of Venice. (The pope lifted the ban in February 1510.)

In 1521, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan was killed by natives in the Philippines.

In 1805, during the First Barbary War, an American-led force of Marines and mercenaries captured the city of Derna, on the shores of Tripoli.

In 1822, the 18th president of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant, was born in Point Pleasant, Ohio.

In 1865, the steamer Sultana exploded on the Mississippi River near Memphis, Tenn., killing more than 1,400 Union prisoners of war.

In 1965, broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow died in Pawling, N.Y., at age 57.

In 1967, Expo ’67 was officially opened in Montreal by Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson.

In 1973, during the Watergate scandal, Acting FBI Director L. Patrick Gray resigned.

In 1978, convicted Watergate defendant John D. Ehrlichman was released from an Arizona prison after serving 18 months.

In 1986, a video pirate calling himself “Captain Midnight” interrupted a movie on HBO with a printed message protesting de-scrambling fees. (Captain Midnight turned out to be John R. MacDougall of Florida, who was fined and placed on probation.)

Ten years ago: Tens of thousands of refugees streamed home to southern Lebanon after a U.S.-brokered cease-fire silenced the guns in the 16-day Israel-Hezbollah war.

Five years ago: The U.S. Navy resumed military exercises on Vieques island in Puerto Rico, drawing protesters. A Russian court sentenced American Fulbright scholar John Tobin to three years and one month in prison after convicting him of drug possession, purchase and distribution; Tobin, who maintained his innocence, was later paroled and released.

One year ago: Touting technology as a way to solve the country’s energy problems, President Bush called for construction of more nuclear power plants and urged Congress to give tax breaks for fuel-efficient hybrid and clean-diesel cars. Russian President Vladimir Putin became the first Kremlin leader to visit Israel. The Airbus A380, the world’s largest jetliner, made its maiden flight.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Jack Klugman is 84. Actress Anouk Aimee is 74. Announcer Casey Kasem is 74. Actress Judy Carne is 67. Opera singer Judith Blegen is 65. Rhythm-and-blues singer Cuba Gooding is 62. Singer Ann Peebles is 59. Rock singer Kate Pierson (The B-52’s) is 58. Rhythm-and-blues singer Herbie Murrell (The Stylistics) is 57. Actor Douglas Sheehan is 57. Rock musician Ace Frehley is 55. Pop singer Sheena Easton is 47. Actor James Le Gros is 44. Rock musician Rob Squires (Big Head Todd and the Monsters) is 41. Singer Mica Paris is 37. Rock singer-musician Travis Meeks (Days of the New) is 27.

Thought for Today: “There is nothing in the universe that I fear but that I shall not know all my duty, or shall fail to do it.” — Mary Lyon, American educator (1797-1849).