Today is Friday, March 31, the 90th day of 2006 with 275 to follow.
The moon is waxing. The morning stars are Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. The evening stars are Mars and Saturn.
Those born on this date are under the sign of Aries. They include French philosopher Rene Descartes in 1596; Austrian composer Franz Joseph Haydn in 1732; German chemist Robert Bunsen, inventor of the Bunsen gas burner, in 1811; boxer Jack Johnson, the first black to hold the heavyweight title, in 1878; comedian Henry Morgan in 1915; actor/singer Richard Kiley in 1922; author and motivational speaker Leo Buscaglia in 1925; United Farm Workers President Cesar Chavez in 1927; actor William Daniels, also in 1927 (age 79); former National Hockey League star Gordie Howe in 1928 (age 78); fashion designer Liz Claiborne in 1929 (age 77); author John Jakes in 1932 (age 74); actress Shirley Jones in 1934 (age 72); trumpeter/bandleader Herb Alpert in 1935 (age 71); actors Richard Chamberlain in 1935 (age 71), Christopher Walken in 1943 (age 63), Gabe Kaplan in 1946 (age 60), and Rhea Perlman in 1948 (age 58); former Vice President Al Gore Jr. also in 1948 (age 58); and actors Ed Marinaro in 1950 (age 56) and Ewan McGregor in 1971 (age 35).
On this date in history:
In 1889, the Eiffel Tower was dedicated in Paris in a ceremony presided over by its designer, Gustave Eiffel, during the Universal Exhibition of Arts and Manufacturers.
In 1948, Congress passed the Marshall Aid Act, a plan to rehabilitate war-ravaged Europe.
In 1954, the U.S. Air Force Academy was established at Colorado Springs, Colo.
In 1959, the Dalai Lama fled Chinese-occupied Tibet and was granted political asylum in India.
In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson announced he would not seek re-election and simultaneously ordered suspension of U.S. bombing of North Vietnam.
In 1971, Lt. William Calley was sentenced to life imprisonment for his part in the deaths of 22 Vietnamese civilians in what was called the "My Lai massacre."
In 1987, the State Department ordered home all 28 remaining U.S. Marine guards at the Moscow embassy after two Marines were charged with espionage.
In 1991, the Warsaw Pact formally ended as Soviet commanders surrendered their powers in an agreement between pact members and the Soviet Union.
In 1992, the U.N. Security Council voted to impose air traffic and weapons sanctions against Libya for not surrendering six men wanted by the United States, Britain, France in the bombings of a U.S. jetliner and a French plane.
In 1994, a state of emergency was declared in the South African Zulu homeland of KwaZulu following deadly fighting in the weeks before the country's first universal-suffrage elections.
Also in 1994, the PLO resumed talks with Israel on the implementation of Palestinian self-rule in the occupied territories.
In 1995, a federal judge ordered major league baseball owners to reinstate the contract that was in effect before the players' strike began.
In 1998, the U.N. Security Council voted to impose an arms embargo on Yugoslavia after unrest in the Serbian province of Kosovo turned violent.
In 1999, as the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia continued, three U.S. soldiers -- members of the peacekeeping forces in Macedonia in the process of withdrawing -- were captured by Serb troops near the Yugoslav-Macedonia border.
In 2001, Serbian police and security forces attempted to arrest former President Slobodan Milosevic at his home in Belgrade on charges of corruption while in office. Supporters massed at the compound prevented entry by government forces, sparking a standoff that lasted until the next day when Milosevic was taken into custody peacefully.
In 2003, Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri called on U.S. and British forces to withdraw immediately from Iraq because Iraqis were determined to "inflict the final defeat."
In 2004, OPEC ministers agreed to cut crude oil production despite concerns in some nations over oil prices that were near their highest level in 13 years.
Also in 2004, the International Court of Justice ruled the United States breached the rights of 51 Mexicans on death row by not telling them they had consular access.
In 2005, Terri Schiavo, a 41-year-old Florida woman in a persistent vegetative state since 1990, died 14 days after removal of her feeding tube amid a heart-wrenching legal struggle over her fate reaching all the way to the White House and the U.S. Supreme Court.
A thought for the day: J.W. Fulbright said, "In a democracy dissent is an act of faith. Like medicine, the test of its value is not in its taste, but in its effects."