The almanac

By United Press International   |   April 4, 2009 at 3:30 AM

Today is Saturday, April 4, the 94th day of 2009 with 271 to follow.

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

Those born on this date are under the sign of Aries. They include social reformer Dorothea Dix in 1802; inventor Linus Yale, developer of the cylinder lock, in 1821; dance school founder Arthur Murray in 1895; baseball Hall of Famer Tris Speaker in 1888; author/playwright Robert E. Sherwood in 1896; broadcast news commentator John Cameron Swayze in 1906; blues musician Muddy Waters, born McKinley Morganfield, in 1915; author Maya Angelou in 1928 (age 81); actor Anthony Perkins in 1932; baseball commissioner Bartlett Giamatti in 1938; South African musician Hugh Masekela in 1939 (age 70); author Kitty Kelley in 1942 (age 67); and actors Craig T. Nelson in 1944 (age 65), Christine Lahti in 1950 (age 59) and Robert Downey Jr. in 1965 (age 44).

On this date in history:

In 1818, the U.S. Congress approved the first flag of the United States.

In 1841, U.S. President William Henry Harrison died of pneumonia after serving for one month. He was the ninth U.S. president and the first to die in office. He was succeeded by Vice President John Tyler, first person to occupy the office without being elected to it.

In 1887, Susanna Medora Salter was elected as the first woman mayor in the United States, serving for one year as head of the municipal government of Argonia, Kan.

In 1896, the Yukon gold rush began with the announcement of a strike in the Northwest Territory of Canada.

In 1949, representatives of 12 nations gathered in Washington to sign the North Atlantic Treaty, creating the NATO alliance.

In 1968, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated as he stood on the balcony of a Memphis hotel. He was 39.

In 1983, the space shuttle Challenger lifted off on its inaugural mission.

In 1991, U.S. Sen. John Heinz, R-Pa., and four others were killed when their chartered airplane collided with a helicopter over a schoolyard near Philadelphia.

In 1992, billionaire Sam Moore Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, died of cancer at 74. His retail store chain helped make him one of the world's richest men.

In 1993, U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin ended their two-day summit in Canada, with a larger than expected U.S. aid pledge of $1.62 billion.

In 2000, the Nasdaq composite index plunged 574 points (more than 13 percent) but then rose 500 points in one of the wildest days ever on Wall Street.

In 2001, former Philippine President Joseph Estrada, ousted in January during a popular uprising, was indicted for allegedly taking millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks.

In 2002, as Israel stepped up its attacks on Palestinians on the West Bank, U.S. President George Bush demanded Israelis stop and pull back.

In 2003, coalition forces encircled Baghdad and secured Saddam International Airport in overnight fighting.

Also in 2003, a published report said U.S. Marines in Iraq were tipped off about POW Jessica Lynch's location, leading to her dramatic April 1 rescue, by an Iraqi lawyer distressed at the way he saw her being treated.

In 2004, three explosions, termed a terrorist attack by the government, killed five people and hurt at least 100 others at a residential housing compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

In 2005, the body of Pope John Paul II lay in state in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome where up to 2 million people were expected over the next three days. Cause of death for the 84-year-old pontiff was said officially to be septic shock and cardio-circulatory failure.

Also in 2005, the president of Kyrgyzstan, Askar Akayev, officially resigned after being driven out by a coup a month earlier.

In 2006, an Iraqi tribunal announced that former leader Saddam Hussein will face additional genocide charges for gassing Kurds in the 1980s.

Also in 2006, prosecutors said there was no sign of foul play in the death of Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic who suffered a fatal heart attack March 11 while on trial at The Hague for war crimes.

In 2007, the U.S. military reported that sectarian violence in Iraq had declined in March by an estimated 26 percent compared to the previous month.

Also in 2007, Don Imus, a popular radio talk show host, was fired for making what was termed a sexually and racially offensive remark about the predominantly black Rutgers University women's basketball team.

In 2008, police raided a West Texas polygamist ranch owned by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and removed 400 minors after reports of sexual abuse of children.

Also in 2008, Chinese paramilitary police are reported to have killed eight people after opening fire on several hundred protesting Tibetan monks and villagers at a monastery in the Sichuan province.

A thought for the day: Plato said, "At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet."

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