Today is Wednesday, March 30, the 89th day of 2011 with 276 to follow.
The moon is waning. The morning stars are Mercury and Jupiter and the evening stars are Venus, Mars, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus.
Those born on this date are under the sign of Aries. They include Spanish painter Francisco Jose de Goya in 1746; German chemist Robert Bunsen, inventor of the Bunsen gas burner, in 1811; English author Anna Sewell ("Black Beauty") in 1820; English social reformer Charles Booth in 1840; Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh in 1853; Irish dramatist Sean O'Casey in 1880; philanthropist Brooke Astor in 1902; former CIA Director Richard Helms and singer Frankie Laine, both in 1913; TV host Peter Marshall in 1926 (age 85); actors Richard Dysart in 1929 (age 82), John Astin in 1930 (age 81) and Warren Beatty in 1937 (age 74); basketball Hall of Fame member Jerry Lucas in 1940 (age 71); rock musician Graeme Edge in 1941 (age 70); British blues/rock guitarist Eric Clapton in 1945 (age 66); actors Robbie Coltrane in 1950 (age 61) and Paul Reiser in 1957 (age 54); and singers MC Hammer in 1962 (age 49), Tracy Chapman in 1964 (age 47), Celine Dion in 1968 (age 43) and Norah Jones in 1979 (age 32).
On this date in history:
In 1842, Dr. Crawford Long became the first physician to use anesthetic (ether) in surgery.
In 1858, U.S. patent granted to Hymen Lipman for a pencil with an attached eraser.
In 1867, U.S. Secretary of State William Seward reached an agreement with Russia for the purchase of Alaska for $7.2 million in gold.
In 1870, the 15th Amendment, granting African-American men the right to vote, was adopted into the U.S. Constitution.
In 1923, the Cunard liner "Laconia" arrived in New York City, the first passenger ship to circumnavigate the world, a cruise of 130 days.
In 1975, the South Vietnamese city of Da Nang fell to North Vietnamese forces.
In 1981, U.S. President Ronald Reagan was shot by John Hinckley Jr. outside a Washington hotel. White House press secretary James Brady, a Secret Service agent and a Washington police officer also were wounded. Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity.
In 1998, Armenian Premier Robert Kocharian was elected president in a runoff election in the former Soviet republic.
In 1999, a jury in Oregon awarded $81 million in damages to the family of a smoker who had died from lung cancer. A state judge reduced the punitive portion to $32 million.
In 2003, an Iraqi spokesman said that 4,000 volunteers from 23 countries were ready to carry out suicide attacks against the U.S.-led coalition.
In 2005, Vatican officials said Pope John Paul II had a nasal feeding tube inserted after reportedly having trouble swallowing. The next day the 84-year-old pontiff was given the last rites of the Roman Catholic Church.
In 2006, journalist Jill Carroll, a freelance reporter for The Christian Science Monitor, was freed in Baghdad after being held for 82 days by kidnappers.
In 2007, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Palestinian refugees wouldn't be allowed to return to their original homes in what is now Israel, one of the provisions listed by Arab leaders as necessary to normalize relations.
In 2008, radical Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr ordered his militia to end military action in Basra in exchange for amnesty for his supporters and other concessions.
Also in 2008, flooding in Tanzania mines killed at least 75 men, government officials said. Many of the victims appeared to have been engulfed by rising water as they worked.
In 2009, police at Lahore, Pakistan, said at least 10 people died in the eight-hour standoff with gunmen who stormed a police academy. Some reports put the death toll at 26 with more than 50 injured.
In 2010, gunmen killed 10 students, ages 8 to 21, when they apparently failed to stop at a checkpoint, similar to those used by drug traffickers, in the Mexican state of Durango while en route to pick up government scholarships.
Also in 2010, the United States reported plans to spend an additional $1 billion to rebuild earthquake-ravaged Haiti's infrastructure and re-create its fragile government.
A thought for the day: it was Mark Twain who said, "Principles have no real force except when one is well-fed."