Today is Monday, April 16, the 107th day of 2012 with 259 to follow.
The moon is waning. The morning stars are Neptune, Mercury and Uranus. The evening stars are Saturn, Mars, Jupiter and Venus.
Those born this date are under the sign of Aries. They include French writer Anatole France in 1844; aviation pioneer Wilbur Wright in 1867; movie legend Charlie Chaplin in 1889; British actor Peter Ustinov in 1921; writer Kingsley Amis in 1922; composer/conductor Henry Mancini in 1924; Pope Benedict XVI in 1927 (age 85); actor Edie Adams also in 1927; football Hall of fame member Dick "Night Train" Lane in 1928; jazz flutist Herbie Mann in 1930; singers Bobby Vinton in 1935 (age 77) and Dusty Springfield in 1939; basketball Hall of Fame member Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1947 (age 65); actors Ellen Barkin in 1954 (age 58); Jon Cryer and Martin Lawrence, both in 1965 (age 47) and Peter Billingsley in 1971 (age 41); Tejeno singer Selena (Quintanilla) in 1971; and singer Akon in 1973 (age 39).
On this date in history:
In 1862, the U.S. Congress abolished slavery in the District of Columbia.
In 1947, in Texas City's port on Galveston Bay, a fire aboard the French freighter Grandcamp ignited ammonium nitrate and other explosive materials in the ship's hold, causing a massive blast that destroyed much of the city and claimed nearly 600 lives.
In 1963, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote "Letter from Birmingham Jail" while imprisoned in Alabama for protesting segregation.
In 1972, Apollo 16 blasted off on an 11-day moon mission with three U.S. astronauts aboard.
In 1975, the government of Cambodia asked communist insurgents for a cease-fire and offered to turn power over to them.
In 1990, Dr. Jack Kevorkian helped in his first assisted suicide.
In 1991, the first Jewish settlement under the Israeli government opened in the occupied territories, defying a U.S. request to stop such settlement activity in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
In 1992, the U.S. House of Representatives ethics committee released the names of more than 300 check-bouncers, ending an inquiry into the House bank scandal that rocked the U.S. Congress and raised havoc in election campaigns.
Also in 1992, the FDA ruled silicone breast implants may be returned to market but only with severe restrictions limiting them to women who have urgent need.
In 1999, hockey legend Wayne Gretzky announced his retirement from the NHL after 21 years.
In 2002, the premier and members of his Dutch government resigned after a report faulted them, along with the United Nations, for a 1995 massacre of 7,500 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica, Bosnia.
In 2005, Sudan said initial oil drilling operations in the troubled Darfur region indicated there is abundant oil in the area.
In 2006, Iranian officials said they had 40,000 suicide bombers ready to attack U.S. and British targets in the Middle East if Iran's nuclear facilities are attacked.
In 2007, a Virginia Tech senior, on a sudden campus shooting rampage, killed 27 fellow students and five faculty members before shooting himself fatally.
In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision, ruled that Kentucky's method of execution by lethal injection didn't violate the constitutional bar against cruel and unusual punishment.
In 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama made his first foray as chief U.S. executive to Latin America, stopping in Mexico City for discussions with President Felipe Calderon on illegal arms trafficking and drug-related violence.
Also in 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama announced plans for a high-speed rail system connecting U.S. cities with $8 billion in stimulus funds set aside for the effort.
In 2010, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission accused Goldman Sachs of fraud, alleging in a lawsuit that the banking giant sold securities that were stacked against the buyer.
In 2011, a vicious rash of tornadoes and violent storms skipped through 14 states leaving a reported 46 dead and many others homeless. In what was called one of the worst tornado outbreaks ever recorded, weather officials reported 241 twisters over a 3-day period, mostly in the South, where North Carolina had 22 deaths.
Also in 2011, the Cuban government staged a festive military parade in Havana to mark the 50th anniversary of the repulsion of the U.S.-backed Bay of Pigs invasion.
A thought for the day: cartoon character Ziggy advises, "You can complain because roses have thorns or you can rejoice because thorns have roses."