The almanac

By United Press International   |   April 18, 2008 at 3:30 AM

Today is Friday, April 18, the 109th day of 2008 with 257 to follow.

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

Those born on this date are under the sign of Aries. They include Italian duchess Lucrezia Borgia in 1480; lawyer Clarence Darrow in 1857; conductor Leopold Stokowski in 1882; actors Barbara Hale in 1921 (age 87), Hayley Mills in 1946 (age 62), James Woods in 1947 (age 61), Rick Moranis in 1953 (age 55), Eric Roberts in 1956 (age 52) and Jane Leeves ("Frasier") in 1961 (age 47); late night talk show host Conan O'Brien and actor Eric McCormack ("Will & Grace"), both in 1963 (age 45); and actress Melissa Joan Hart in 1976 (age 32).

On this date in history:

In 1775, American patriot Paul Revere began his famed ride through the Massachusetts countryside, crying out "The British are coming!" to rally the Minutemen.

In 1906, an earthquake struck San Francisco, collapsing buildings and igniting fires that destroyed much of what remained of the city. By the time it was over three days later, almost 500 people were dead and more than a quarter of a million were homeless.

In 1923, Yankee Stadium opened in New York.

In 1942, U.S. planes bombed the Japanese mainland for the first time during World War II.

In 1945, journalist Ernie Pyle, America's most popular World War II correspondent, was killed by Japanese machine-gun fire on the island of Ie Shima in the Pacific.

In 1949, the Republic of Ireland formally declared itself independent from Britain.

In 1980, Rhodesia became the independent African nation of Zimbabwe.

In 1983, the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, was severely damaged by a car-bomb explosion that killed 63 people, including 17 Americans.

In 1992, an 11-year-old Florida boy sued to "divorce" his natural parents and remain with his foster parents. The boy eventually won his suit.

In 1993, the U.N. Security Council voted to toughen sanctions against Serbia because of its support for Bosnian Serbs trying to carve an ethnically pure state out of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

In 1996, gunmen killed 18 people and wounded 15 more in an attack on tourists at the Egyptian pyramids.

In 2002, former U.S. Sen. Bob Kerrey, D.-Neb., revealed that at least 13 civilians were killed by his U.S. Navy unit in a Vietnamese village in 1969.

Also in 2002, actor Robert Blake was arrested in the slaying of his wife in Los Angeles. After a 2005 trial, he was acquitted.

In 2003, Abu Dhabi TV aired videotape showing a man who appeared to be Saddam Hussein greeting a crowd of supporters as coalition forces entered Baghdad.

In 2004, in one of his first acts as Spain's new prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero issued orders withdrawing all 1,300 Spanish troops from Iraq.

In 2005, the leaders of archrivals India and Pakistan issued a joint statement saying peace between the two nuclear powers was "irreversible."

In 2006, two members of the Duke University lacrosse team were arrested and charged with raping a dancer who had performed at a team party. A third player was charged later. All were later exonerated and all charges dropped.

Also in 2006, thousands of people were evacuated in the Balkans as the rain and snow-swollen Danube River reached a 111-year high.

In 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court, on a 5-4 vote, upheld a 2003 law banning so-called partial-birth abortion, a procedure performed usually late in pregnancy.

Also in 2007, a reported 127 people were killed and 148 were wounded in a suicide car bomb explosion near a Baghdad market.

A thought for the day: Edward W. Howe said, "If you don't learn to laugh at troubles, you won't have anything to laugh at when you grow old."

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