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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 Monday, April 16, the 106th day of 2007. 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 Franklin D. 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 1996, Britain’s Prince Andrew and his wife, Sarah, the Duchess of York, announced they were in the process of getting a divorce.

Ten years ago: Police in Israel recommended indicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for breach of trust in an influence-trading scandal. (However, prosecutors later decided against pursuing charges against Netanyahu, citing a lack of proof.)

Five years ago: The Supreme Court overturned two major provisions of the Child Pornography Prevention Act, saying the government went too far in trying to ban “virtual” child pornography. Actor Robert Urich died in Thousand Oaks, Calif., at age 55.

One year ago: In his first Easter message as pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI urged nations to use diplomacy to defuse nuclear crises and prayed that Palestinians would one day have their own state alongside Israel.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Barry Nelson is 87. Pope Benedict XVI is 80. Actor Peter Mark Richman is 80. Actress-singer Edie Adams is

78. Singer Bobby Vinton is 72. Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II is 67. Basketball Hall-of-Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is 60. Singer Gerry Rafferty is 60. Actress Ellen Barkin is 53. Singer Jimmy Osmond is

44. Rock singer David Pirner (Soul Asylum) is 43. Actor-comedian Martin Lawrence is 42. Actor Jon Cryer is 42. Rock musician Dan Rieser is 41. Actor Peter Billingsley is 36. Actor Lukas Haas is 31.

Thought for Today: “The only graceful way to accept an insult is to ignore it; if you can’t ignore it, top it; if you can’t top it, laugh at it; if you can’t laugh at it, it’s probably deserved.” — Russell Lynes, American author (1910-1991).