The Almanac

By United Press International   |   April 16, 2005 at 3:30 AM

Today is Saturday, April 16, the 106th day of 2005 with 259 to follow.

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

Those born this date are under the sign of Aries. They include French writer Anatole France in 1844; aviation pioneer Wilbur Wright in 1867; movie legend Charlie Chaplin in 1889; British actor Peter Ustinov in 1921; composer/conductor Henry Mancini in 1924; jazz flutist Herbie Mann in 1930 (age 75); singer Bobby Vinton in 1935 (age 70); former basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1947 (age 58); actors Ellen Barkin in 1955 (age 50), and Jon Cryer and Martin Lawrence, both in 1965 (age 40); and Tejeno singer Selena (Quintanilla) in 1971.

On this date in history:

In 1862, Congress abolished slavery in the District of Columbia.

In 1947, in Texas City's port on Galveston Bay, a fire aboard the French freighter Grandcamp ignited ammonium nitrate and other explosive materials in the ship's hold, causing a massive blast that destroyed much of the city and claimed nearly 600 lives.

In 1972, Apollo 16 blasted off on an 11-day moon mission with three American astronauts aboard.

In 1975, the government of Cambodia asked the communist insurgents for a cease-fire and offered to turn power over to them.

In 1991, the first Jewish settlement under the Israeli government opened in the occupied territories, defying a U.S. request to stop such settlement activity in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

In 1992, the House Ethics Committee released the names of more than 300 check-bouncers, ending an inquiry into the House bank scandal that rocked Congress and raised havoc in election campaigns.

Also in 1992, the FDA ruled silicone breast implants may be returned to market, but only with severe restrictions limiting them to women who have urgent need.

In 1998, tornadoes killed 10 people in Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee.

In 1999, hockey legend Wayne Gretzky announced his retirement from the NHL after 21 years.

In 2002, the premier and members of his Dutch government resigned after a report faulted them, along with the United Nations, for a 1995 massacre of 7,500 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica, Bosnia.

In 2003, the price tag on the war in Iraq so far was put at more than $20 billion by the Defense Department's comptroller who said the Pentagon would likely spend another $10 billion before traditional combat operations were over. Cost of the ongoing operation in Afghanistan was reported at about $1.2 billion a month.

In 2004, the United States evacuated its diplomats and their families from Saudi Arabia because of reported terrorist threats.

A thought for the day: cartoon character Ziggy advises, "You can complain because roses have thorns, or you can rejoice because thorns have roses."

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