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Today in history: November 18

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

Today is Saturday, Nov. 18, the 322nd day of 2006. There are 43 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On Nov. 18, 1928, Walt Disney’s first sound-synchronized animated cartoon, “Steamboat Willie” starring Mickey Mouse, premiered in New York.

On this date:
In 1820, U.S. Navy Capt. Nathaniel B. Palmer and his crew discovered the frozen continent of Antarctica.

In 1883, the United States and Canada adopted a system of Standard Time zones.

In 1886, the 21st president of the United States, Chester A. Arthur, died in New York at age 56.

In 1903, the United States and Panama signed a treaty granting the U.S. rights to build the Panama Canal.

In 1936, Germany and Italy recognized the Spanish government of Francisco Franco.

In 1966, U.S. Roman Catholic bishops did away with the rule against eating meat on Fridays.

In 1978, California Congressman Leo J. Ryan and four other people were killed in Jonestown, Guyana, by members of the Peoples Temple; the killings were followed by a night of mass murder and suicide by more than 900 cult members.

In 1987, the congressional Iran-Contra committees issued their final report, saying President Reagan bore “ultimate responsibility” for wrongdoing by his aides.

In 1991, Shiite Muslim kidnappers in Lebanon freed Anglican Church envoy Terry Waite and Thomas Sutherland, the American dean of agriculture at the American University of Beirut.

In 1999, 12 people were killed when a bonfire under construction at Texas A&M University collapsed.

Ten years ago: One-time CIA station chief Harold J. Nicholson was charged with selling top secrets to the Russians for more than $120,000. (Nicholson later pleaded guilty to espionage and was sentenced to 23½ years in prison; he was spared a life sentence for cooperating with investigators.)

Five years ago: Phillips Petroleum Co. and Conoco Inc. announced they were merging in a deal to create the third largest U.S. oil and gas company.

One year ago: The Republican-controlled House spurned a call for an immediate pullout of troops from Iraq in a 403-3 vote hastily arranged by the GOP that Democrats denounced as politically motivated. Suicide bombers killed more than 50 worshippers at a pair of Shiite mosques in Iraq. Eight months after Robert Blake was acquitted at a criminal trial of murdering his wife, a civil jury decided the actor was behind the slaying, and ordered him to pay Bonny Lee Bakley’s children $30 million. Tropical Storm Gamma formed off the coast of Central America.

Today’s Birthdays: Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, is 83. Actor Brad Sullivan is 75. Actress Brenda Vaccaro is 67. Actress Linda Evans is 64. Country singer Jacky Ward is 60. Actor Jameson Parker is 59. Actress-singer Andrea Marcovicci is 58. Rock musician Herman Rarebell is 57. Singer Graham Parker is 56. Actor Delroy Lindo is 54. Comedian Kevin Nealon is 53. Actress Elizabeth Perkins is 46. Singer Kim Wilde is 46. Rock musician Kirk Hammett (Metallica) is 44. Rock singer Tim DeLaughter is 41. Actor Owen Wilson is 38. Singer Duncan Sheik is 37. Actress Peta Wilson is 36. Actress Chloe Sevigny is 32. Country singer Jessi Alexander is 30. Actor Steven Pasquale is 30. Rapper Fabolous is 27. Rapper Mike Jones is 26.

Thought for Today: “Your way of giving is more important than what you give.” — Vietnamese proverb.