The Almanac

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

Today is Wednesday, May 3, the 123rd day of 2006 with 242 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 Taurus. They include Italian political philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli in 1469; British explorer John Speke, who discovered the source of the Nile, in 1827; French perfume maker Francois Coty in 1874; Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir in 1898; actress Mary Astor in 1906; Broadway gossip columnist Earl Wilson in 1907; author Earl Blackwell, who publishes an annual list of best-dressed and worst-dressed celebrities, in 1913 (age 93); folk singer Pete Seeger in 1919 (age 87); boxer Sugar Ray Robinson in 1921; singers James Brown in 1933 (age 73), Englebert Humperdinck, born Arnold Dorsey, in 1936 (age 70) and Frankie Valli in 1937 (age 69); TV personality Greg Gumbel in 1946 (age 60); magician Doug Henning in 1947; and singer/songwriter Christopher Cross in 1951 (age 55).

On this date in history:

In 1919, U.S. airplane passenger service began when pilot Robert Hewitt flew two women from New York to Atlantic City, N.J.

In 1946, the International Military Tribunals for the Far East began hearing the case in Tokyo against 28 Japanese military and government officials accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity during World War II.

In 1948, the "CBS Evening News" premiered, with Douglas Edwards as anchor.

In 1952, a ski-modified U.S. Air Force C-47 piloted by Lt. Col. Joseph O. Fletcher of Oklahoma and Lt. Col. William P. Benedict of California became the first aircraft to land on the North Pole.

In 1968, the United States and North Vietnam agreed to open peace talks in Paris.

In 1979, Margaret Thatcher and the Conservative Party won the British general election, making her the first woman prime minister of a major European nation.

In 1989, Chinese leaders rejected students' demands for democratic reforms as some 100,000 students and workers marched in Beijing.

Also in 1989, former national security aide Oliver North was found guilty on three charges but innocent of nine others in the Iran-Contra scandal.

In 1990, President George H.W. Bush canceled the modernization of NATO short-range nuclear missiles and artillery, accelerating the pace of the removal of U.S. and Soviet ground-based nuclear weapons from "the transformed Europe of the 1990s."

In 1992, police in Ames, Iowa, arrested more than 100 people after a boozy college campus spring festival got out of hand.

In 1993, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi attacked Muslim fundamentalists, saying they should be killed "like dogs."

In 1994, a federal judge in Seattle struck down Washington state's assisted-suicide law.

In 1997, a standoff by armed separatists near Fort Davis, Texas, ended with the surrender of six people, including leader Richard McLaren. Two escaped on foot; one was shot to death by police two days later.

In 1999, 76 tornadoes tore across the Plains states, killing about 50 people and injuring more than 700 others.

In 2000, the trial of two Libyan men accused in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, began in the Netherlands.

In 2002, despite signs of a gradual economic recovery, the national unemployment rate was reported to have hit 6 percent in April, highest since summer of 1994.

Also in 2002, the finance council of the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Boston withdrew from an agreement to settle claims by 86 alleged sexual abuse victims against a former priest. The council said the archdiocese could not afford the anticipated costs of up $30 million.

In 2003, nine candidates for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination got together in Columbia, S.C., to debate the issues.

Also in 2003, a Russian transport helicopter crashed in Siberia, killing 12.

In 2004, the U.S. military commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, reprimanded six commissioned and non-commissioned officers who supervised the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, where many reported abuses occurred.

In 2005, as violence continued, the Iraqi Cabinet was sworn in, more than three months after the elections.

A thought for the day: Gore Vidal said, "Apparently, a democracy is a place where numerous elections are held at great cost without issues and with interchangeable candidates."

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