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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 Friday, Nov. 18, the 322nd day of 2005. There are 43 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On Nov. 18, 1903, the United States and Panama signed a treaty granting the U.S. rights to build the Panama Canal.

On this date:
In 1820, U.S. Navy Captain Nathaniel B. Palmer 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 1928, the first successful sound-synchronized animated cartoon, Walt Disney’s “Steamboat Willie,” starring Mickey Mouse, premiered in New York.

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 912 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 1999, 12 people were killed when a bonfire under construction at Texas A&M University collapsed.

In 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled, 4-3, that the state constitution guaranteed gay couples the right to marry.

Ten years ago: With no relief in sight from a budget impasse that forced a partial federal shutdown, the House rebelled against Republican leaders during a raucous Saturday session and voted to oppose formally adjourning the chamber until Monday. (GOP leaders put the chamber into recess anyway.)

Five years ago: George W. Bush’s campaign fiercely attacked the hand-recounting of votes in Florida’s presidential election, depicting a process riddled with human error and Democratic bias; Al Gore’s lawyers defended the effort in papers filed with the state Supreme Court.

One year ago: Former President Clinton’s library opened in Little Rock, Ark.; in attendance were President Bush, former President Bush and former President Carter. Former Ku Klux Klansman Bobby Frank Cherry, who was convicted of killing four black girls in a racially motivated bombing of a Birmingham, Ala., church in 1963, died in prison at age 74. Britain outlawed fox hunting in England and Wales. Composer Cy Coleman died in New York at age 75.

Today’s Birthdays: Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, is 82. Actor Brad Sullivan is 74. Actress Brenda Vaccaro is 66. Actress Linda Evans is 63. Actress Susan Sullivan is 61. Country singer Jacky Ward is 59. Actor Jameson Parker is 58. Actress-singer Andrea Marcovicci is 57. Rock musician Herman Rarebell is 56. Singer Graham Parker is 55. Actor Delroy Lindo is 53. Comedian Kevin Nealon is 52. Actress Elizabeth Perkins is 45. Singer Kim Wilde is 45. Rock musician Kirk Hammett (Metallica) is 43. Rock singer Tim DeLaughter is 40. Actor Owen Wilson is 37. Singer Duncan Sheik is 36. Actress Peta Wilson is 35. Actress Chloe Sevigny is 31. Country singer Jessi Alexander is 29. Rapper Fabolous is 26. Rapper Mike Jones is 25.

Thought for Today: “If an historian were to relate truthfully all the crimes, weaknesses and disorders of mankind, his readers would take his work for satire rather than for history.” — Pierre Bayle, French philosopher and critic (1647-1706).