The Almanac

By United Press International   |   May 18, 2007 at 3:30 AM

Today is Friday, May 18, the 138th day of 2007 with 227 to follow.

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

Those born on this date are under the sign of Taurus. They include English philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell in 1872; German architect Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus, in 1883; film director Frank Capra ("It Happened One Night," "It's a Wonderful Life") in 1897; American composer Meredith Willson ("The Music Man") in 1902; singer Perry Como and director/screenwriter Richard Brooks ("Key Largo," "Elmer Gantry"), both in 1912; ballet dancer Margot Fonteyn in 1919; Pope John Paul II, born Karol Wojtyla, in 1920; actors Pernell Roberts in 1928 (age 79) and Robert Morse in 1931 (age 76); former baseball star Reggie Jackson in 1946 (age 61); country singer George Strait in 1952 (age 55); and actor Chow Yun-Fat in 1955 (age 52).

On this date in history:

In 1860, the Republican Party nominated Abraham Lincoln for U.S. president at its convention in Chicago.

In 1933, the U.S. Congress created the Tennessee Valley Authority for flood control and rural electrification.

In 1944, Allied troops captured Monte Cassino in Italy after one of the longest and bloodiest battles of World War II.

In 1979, a U.S. court jury in Oklahoma City awarded $10.5 million to the estate of Karen Silkwood, a laboratory technician contaminated by radiation at a Kerr-McGee plutonium plant in 1974.

In 1980, Mount St. Helen's in southwestern Washington state erupted, blowing the top off the mountain and killing at least 55 people.

In 1990, East and West Germany signed a treaty for economic, monetary and social union. West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl said the pact marked the "birth of a free and unified Germany."

In 1991, chemist Helen Sharmon became the first Briton in space when she blasted off from the Baikonur Space Center aboard a Soviet spacecraft,

In 1992, bandleader Lawrence Welk, whose bubbly champagne dance music made him a millionaire, died at age 89.

In 1994, the last Israeli soldiers pulled out of the Gaza Strip as Palestinian police took their place.

In 2003, Morocco's King Mohamed VI personally oversaw the investigation into the suicide bombings that killed 41 and wounded another 100 in Casablanca.

In 2004, Sonia Gandhi, a member through marriage of India's dominant political family, declined to accept the post of prime minister after her Indian National Congress party had won an upset victory in parliamentary elections.

In 2004 sports, Randy Johnson, Arizona's 40-year-old lefthander, pitched a perfect game in a 2-0 win over Atlanta. He was the oldest major league pitcher to accomplish that feat.

In 2005, the White House confirmed that a grenade found on May 10 in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi was capable of exploding and had posed a threat to U.S. President George Bush who spoke nearby. Earlier, officials said it was a harmless training device.

In 2006, the U.S. House narrowly passed a $2.7 trillion federal budget bill, similar to a Senate version the day before. The Senate also approved building 370 miles of heavy fencing along the Mexican border for $1 billion.

Also in 2006, a wave of bombings, executions and kidnapping swept Iraq with an many as 26 soldiers, police and civilian killed. Fifteen members of Iraq's tae kwon do Olympic team were reported kidnapped.

A thought for the day: Lewis Mumford wrote, "Our national flower is the concrete cloverleaf."

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