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Today in history: June 24

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

Today is Saturday, June 24, the 175th day of 2006. There are 190 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On June 24, 1948, Communist forces cut off all land and water routes between West Germany and West Berlin, prompting the western allies to organize the massive Berlin Airlift.

On this date:
In 1314, the forces of Scotland’s King Robert I defeated the English in the Battle of Bannockburn.

In 1509, Henry VIII was crowned king of England.

In 1647, Margaret Brent, a niece of Lord Baltimore, was ejected from the Maryland Assembly after demanding a place and vote in that governing body.

In 1793, the first republican constitution in France was adopted.

In 1908, the 22nd and 24th president of the United States, Grover Cleveland, died in Princeton, N.J., at age 71.

In 1940, France signed an armistice with Italy during World War II.

In 1968, “Resurrection City,” a shantytown constructed as part of the Poor People’s March on Washington, D.C., was closed down by authorities.

In 1975, 113 people were killed when an Eastern Airlines Boeing 727 crashed while attempting to land during a thunderstorm at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

In 1983, the space shuttle Challenger — carrying America’s first woman in space, Sally K. Ride — coasted to a safe landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

In 1987, comedian-actor Jackie Gleason died at his home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., at age 71.

Ten years ago: A jury ordered the city of Philadelphia to pay $1.5 million in damages for the bombing of MOVE headquarters in 1985 that killed 11 people.

Five years ago: Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon arrived in the United States for talks with President Bush. Karrie Webb won the LPGA Championship by two strokes to become the youngest woman to complete the Grand Slam.

One year ago: Despite growing anxiety about the war in Iraq, President Bush refused to set a timetable for bringing home U.S. troops and declared, “I’m not giving up on the mission. We’re doing the right thing.” Officials said tests confirmed the second case of mad cow disease in the United States. Ventriloquist Paul Winchell died in Moorpark, Calif., at age 82.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Al Molinaro is 87. Comedian Jack Carter is 83. Movie director Claude Chabrol is 76. Actress Michele Lee is 64. Musician Mick Fleetwood is 64. Actor-director Georg Stanford Brown is 63. Rock musician Jeff Beck is 62. Singer Arthur Brown is 62. New York Governor George Pataki is 61. Rock singer Colin Blunstone (The Zombies) is 61. Actor Peter Weller is 59. Rock musician John Illsley (Dire Straits) is 57. Actress Nancy Allen is 56. Reggae singer Derrick Simpson (Black Uhuru) is 56. Actor Joe Penny is 50. Reggae singer Astro (UB40) is 49. Singer-musician Andy McCluskey (Orchestral Manoevres in the Dark) is 47. Rock singer Curt Smith is 45. Actress Danielle Spencer is 41. Actress Sherry Stringfield is 39. Singer Glenn Medeiros is 36. Singer Solange Knowles is 20.

Thought for Today: “Man stands in his own shadow and wonders why it is dark.” — Ancient Zen saying.