The Almanac

By United Press International   |   April 14, 2006 at 3:30 AM

Today is Friday, April 14, the 104th day of 2006 with 261 to follow.

This is Good Friday.

The moon is waning. 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 Dutch physicist Christian Huygens, founder of the wave theory of light, in 1629; congressional leader Justin Morrill of Vermont in 1810; Anne Sullivan, the "miracle worker" who taught a blind and deaf Helen Keller, in 1866; English historian Arnold Toynbee in 1889; British actor John Gielgud in 1904; Haitian dictator Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier in 1907; actors Rod Steiger in 1925 and Bradford Dillman in 1930 (age 76); country singer Loretta Lynn in 1935 (age 71); former New York City police detective Frank Serpico in 1936 (age 70); actress Julie Christie and former baseball star and manager Pete Rose, both in 1941 (age 65); and actors Robert Carlyle in 1961 (age 45); Anthony Michael Hall in 1968 (age 38) and Sarah Michelle Gellar ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer") in 1977 (age 29).

On this date in history:

In 1828, Noah Webster published his "American Dictionary of the English Language." It was the first dictionary of American English to be published.

In 1861, the flag of the Confederacy was raised over Fort Sumter, S.C., as Union troops there surrendered in the early days of the Civil War.

In 1865, John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln in a box at Ford's Theater in Washington. Lincoln died the next morning. He was succeeded by Vice President Andrew Johnson.

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan denied he was trying to overthrow the leftist Nicaraguan government.

In 1986, U.S. warplanes struck Libya in the biggest U.S. air strike since the Vietnam War. Libya claimed 40 people were killed.

In 1991, U.S. troops began withdrawing from southern Iraq into buffer zones.

Also in 1991, in a short-lived art theft, 20 major paintings by Van Gogh were stolen from an Amsterdam museum by two gunmen. The paintings were found abandoned 35 minutes later.

In 1992, a federal appeals court in New York ruled that hotel magnate Leona Helmsley, 71, must go to prison for tax evasion.

In 1993, 12 top former Communist officials went on trial charged with treason in the August 1991 coup attempt that hastened the fall of the Soviet Union.

Also in 1993, violence raged throughout South Africa as hundreds of thousands of blacks protested the slaying of popular Communist Party Chief Chris Hani.

In 1994, executives representing seven major tobacco companies told a House subcommittee that they did not believe cigarettes were addictive.

Also in 1994, in what was called a tragic mistake, two U.S. warplanes shot down two U.S. Army helicopters in northern Iraq's so-called "no fly" zone. All 26 people aboard, including 15 Americans, were killed.

In 1997, Attorney General Janet Reno declined to appoint an independent counsel to investigate whether President Bill Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign raised funds improperly.

Also in 1997, James McDougal, once a partner with then-Gov. Bill Clinton in the Whitewater Development Corp., was sentenced to three years in prison after being convicted of seeking to enrich himself with fraudulent loans.

And in 1997, comedian Ellen DeGeneres revealed she was a lesbian in an interview with Time magazine. Her ABC-TV sitcom did not long survive her revelation.

In 1998, eight members of the Republic of Texas separatist group were convicted on fraud charges in a federal court in Dallas.

In 2000, the Dow Jones industrial index fell 7.3 percent for the week in its worst performance since 1989.

In 2002, Secretary of State Colin Powell met with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in an effort to ease tensions with Israel and stop the wave of suicide bombings but was told there would be no cease-fire until the Israelis ended their military operation and pulled back.

In 2003, U.S. military officials declared that the principal fighting in Iraq was over after Marines captured Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's home town.

Also in 2003, as looting became widespread in Iraq, U.S. Marines and Iraqi policemen began joint security patrols in Baghdad.

In 2004, President George W. Bush said he will meet the June 30 deadline to transfer sovereignty to Iraq but warned the going may become more difficult.

Also in 2004, Los Angeles police said they were investigating an accusation by a man who says Michael Jackson sexually abused him nearly 20 years ago.

In 2005, several indictments were handed down in the U.N. oil-for-food program. A U.S. oil trader was charged with making kickbacks to Iraqis to win contracts.

Also in 2005, the Transportation Security Administration began enforcing a ban on all types of lighters on planes and in the secure areas of airports.

And, a wave of violence in several parts of Iraq killed about 30 people over the next three days, focusing mostly on police officers.

A thought for the day: Abraham Lincoln said, "If there is anything that a man can do well, I say let him do it. Give him a chance."

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