The almanac

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

Today is Thursday, April 30, the 120th day of 2009 with 245 days 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 Taurus. They include German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss in 1777; Hungarian composer Franz Lehar, who wrote the operetta "The Merry Widow," in 1870; actresses Eve Arden in 1908 and Cloris Leachman in 1926 (age 83); country singer Willie Nelson in 1933 (age 76); actor Gary Collins in 1938 (age 71); actress Jill Clayburgh in 1944 (age 65); Sweden's King Carl Gustav XVI in 1946 (age 63); actor Perry King in 1948 (age 61); film director Jane Campion ("The Piano") in 1954 (age 55); and actors Johnny Galecki ("Roseanne") in 1975 (age 34) and Kirsten Dunst in 1982 (age 27).

On this date in history:

In 1789, George Washington was inaugurated as the first president of the United States.

In 1803, the United States more than doubled its land area with the Louisiana Purchase. It obtained all French territory west of the Mississippi River for $15 million.

In 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt became the first U.S. president to appear on television when he was televised on opening day at the New York World's Fair.

In 1945, the burned body of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler was found in a bunker in the ruins of Berlin. Also that day, Soviet troops captured the Reichstag building in Berlin.

In 1948, 21 nations of the Western hemisphere formed the Organization of American States.

In 1967, Muhammad Ali was stripped of his world heavyweight boxing championship title when he refused to be drafted into the military.

In 1970, U.S. President Richard Nixon announced he was sending U.S. troops into Cambodia to destroy the "sanctuaries" from which communist forces from North Vietnam were sending men and material into South Vietnam.

In 1975, South Vietnam unconditionally surrendered to North Vietnam. The communists occupied Saigon and renamed it Ho Chi Minh City.

In 1990, U.S. educator Frank Reed was freed after a 3 1/2-year ordeal as hostage of extremists in Lebanon, becoming the second abducted American freed in Beirut in just more than a week.

Also in 1991, political talks between Roman Catholic nationalists and Protestant unionists in Northern Ireland opened. They were the first such discussions in 15 years.

And in 1991, Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui ended 43 years of emergency rule, authorized elections and renounced the use of force to reunify China.

In 1993, Monica Seles, the world's No. 1 women's tennis player, was stabbed in the back and wounded by a self-described fan of No. 2 ranked and arch rival Steffi Graf during a match in Germany.

In 1995, U.S. President Bill Clinton announced the suspension of all U.S. trade with Iran to protest funding of terrorism.

In 1998, a grand jury indicted Webster Hubbell and his wife on tax evasion charges, Hubbell, a close friend and associate of U.S. President Bill Clinton, accused Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr of having him indicted so he would lie about the president.

Also in 1998, the U.S. Senate approved the applications of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to join NATO.

In 2002, the United States sent 1,000 more troops to eastern Afghanistan along the Pakistan border in an effort to prevent Taliban and al-Qaida forces from regrouping.

In 2003, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said his government wouldn't support the proposed "road map" peace plan until Palestinians stopped anti-Israel violence. But, he said he favored creation of a Palestinian state.

In 2004, the White House condemned alleged mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. troops at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad as intolerable and "despicable."

In 2005, the bodies of 113 people, nearly all women and children, were found in a mass grave in southern Iraq.

Also in 2005, Jennifer Wilbanks, a Georgia woman who attracted national attention when she vanished days before her wedding, turned up in New Mexico, claiming to have been abducted but later admitting she was a "runaway bride."

In 2006, Israel's Prime Minister-designate Ehud Olmert denounced the president of Iran as a psychopath in a newspaper interview and compared him to Adolf Hitler.

Also in 2006, two rebel factions in Sudan rejected a peace agreement in the Darfur conflict. Officials estimate the bloody fighting had killed at least 180,000 and driven more than 2 million from their homes.

In 2007, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was severely criticized by a government commission report for his leadership in the 2006 conflict with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

In 2008, the U.S. Federal Reserve lowered federal fund rates by a quarter point to 2 percent, seventh interest rate cut in seven months. The U.S. Commerce Department meanwhile said first quarter consumer spending was down dramatically, cutting economic growth to 0.6 percent.

A thought for the day: an anonymous wag said, "Bad habits are like a comfortable bed, easy to get into but hard to get out of."

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