The Almanac

By United Press International   |   May 20, 2004 at 3:30 AM

Today is Thursday, May 20, the 141st day of 2004 with 225 to follow.

The moon is waxing. The morning stars are Neptune, Uranus, Mercury and Pluto. The evening stars are Venus, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn.

Those born on this date are under the sign of Taurus. They include William Thornton, architect of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., in 1759; First Lady Dolly Madison, wife of the fourth U.S. president James Madison, in 1768; French novelist Honore de Balzac in 1799; English philosopher and economist John Stuart Mill in 1806; German-born inventor Emile Berliner, inventor of the flat phonograph record, in 1851; actor James Stewart in 1908; Israeli military commander and politician Moshe Dayan in 1915; comedian George Gobel in 1919; actor Anthony Zerbe in 1936 (age 68); British singer/songwriter Joe Cocker in 1944 (age 60); singer/actress Cher in 1946 (age 58); Ronald Prescot Reagan, son of former President Reagan, in 1958 (age 46); and actor Bronson Pinchot in 1959 (age 46).

On this date in history:

In 1506, Christopher Columbus died in Spain.

In 1927, Charles Lindbergh took off from New York in his single-engine monoplane, "The Spirit of St. Louis," bound for Paris. He landed 33 ½ hours later, completing the first solo, non-stop trans-Atlantic flight.

1974, Judge John Sirica ordered President Nixon to turn over tapes and other records of 64 White House conversations on the Watergate affair.

In 1989, Chinese Premier Li declared martial law in Beijing in response to heightened student demonstrations in Tiananmen Square.

In 1991, national elections in India sparked political violence that left 40 dead and hundreds injured.

In 1992, convicted killer Roger Keith Coleman, who waged an unprecedented media blitz to win a new trial but failed to pass a lie detector test in his final hours, died in Virginia's electric chair for raping and murdering his sister-in-law.

In 1993, President Clinton signed the so-called "motor voter" bill, making it easier to register to vote.

In 1995, the two-block stretch of Pennsylvania Ave. in front of the White House was closed to traffic.

In 1996, the U.N. agreed to let Iraq sell oil for the first time since the Gulf War if it complied with the terms of the cease-fire.

In 1999, a high school student in Georgia opened fire on his classmates, wounding six of them before surrendering to school authorities. The same day, President and Mrs. Clinton met in Littleton, Colo., with students, teachers and families of the victims of the previous month's deadly shootings at Columbine High School.

In 2002, East Timor, a small Pacific Coast nation, gained its independence from Indonesia.

In 2003, North Korea warned that South Korea would suffer an "unspeakable disaster" if it supports Washington's hard-line stance over Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.

A thought for the day: Nietzsche said, "Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies."

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