Today is Friday, May 18, the 139th day of 2012 with 227 to follow.
The moon is waning. Morning stars are Jupiter, Neptune, Mercury and Uranus. Evening stars are Saturn, Mars and Venus.
Those born on this date are under the sign of Taurus. They include Persian poet Omar Khayyam in 1048; Russian Czar Nicholas II in 1868; English philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell in 1872; German architect Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus, in 1883; Italian operatic singer Ezio Pinza in 1892; film director Frank Capra ("It Happened One Night," "It's a Wonderful Life") in 1897; composer Meredith Willson ("The Music Man") in 1902; blues singer Big Joe Turner in 1911; singer Perry Como and director/screenwriter Richard Brooks ("Key Largo," "Elmer Gantry"), both in 1912; British ballet star Margot Fonteyn in 1919; Pope John Paul II, born Karol Wojtyla, in 1920; actors Pernell Roberts in 1928 and Robert Morse in 1931 (age 81); Mad magazine cartoonist Don Martin in 1931; Baseball Hall of Fame members Brooks Robinson in 1937 (age 75) and Reggie Jackson in 1946 (age 66); British rock keyboardist Rick Wakeman in 1949 (age 63); country singer George Strait in 1952 (age 60); and actors Chow Yun-Fat in 1955 (age 57) and Tina Fey in 1970 (age 42).
On this date in history:
In 1652, Rhode Island legislators passed a measure making slavery illegal. It was the first such law in North America.
In 1860, the Republican Party nominated Abraham Lincoln for U.S. president at its convention in Chicago.
In 1896, U.S. Supreme Court handed down the Plessy vs. Ferguson decision that determined "separate but equal" racial policies are constitutional.
In 1897, Bram Stoker published "Dracula."
In 1933, the U.S. Congress created the Tennessee Valley Authority for flood control and rural electrification.
In 1944, Allied troops captured Monte Cassino in Italy after one of the longest and bloodiest battles of World War II.
In 1979, a U.S. court jury in Oklahoma City awarded $10.5 million to the estate of Karen Silkwood, a laboratory technician contaminated by radiation at a Kerr-McGee plutonium plant in 1974.
In 1980, Mount St. Helen's in southwestern Washington state erupted, blowing the top off the mountain and killing at least 55 people.
In 1990, East and West Germany signed a treaty for economic, monetary and social union. West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl said the pact marked the "birth of a free and unified Germany."
In 1991, chemist Helen Sharman became the first Briton in space when she blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome aboard a Soviet spacecraft.
In 1992, the 27th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution took effect, banning pay raises for federal legislators until the following Congress meets.
Also in 1992, bandleader Lawrence Welk, whose bubbly champagne dance music brought him wide popularity and made him a millionaire, died at age 89.
In 1994, the last Israeli soldiers pulled out of the Gaza Strip as Palestinian police took their place.
In 2004, Sonia Gandhi, a member through marriage of India's dominant political family, declined to accept the post of prime minister after her Indian National Congress party won an upset victory in parliamentary elections.
In 2004 sports, Randy Johnson, Arizona's 40-year-old lefthander, pitched a perfect game in a 2-0 win over Atlanta, the oldest major league pitcher to accomplish the feat.
In 2005, the White House confirmed that a grenade found on May 10 in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi was capable of exploding and had posed a threat to U.S. President George Bush who spoke nearby. Earlier, officials said it was a harmless training device.
In 2006, the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly passed a $2.7 trillion federal budget bill, similar to a Senate version the day before. The Senate also approved building 370 miles of heavy fencing along the Mexican border for $1 billion.
Also in 2006, a wave of bombings, executions and kidnapping swept Iraq with as many as 26 soldiers, police and civilian killed. Fifteen members of Iraq's tae kwon do Olympic team were reported kidnapped.
In 2007, an explosion at a historic mosque in Hyderabad, India, followed by police shooting to control rioters left a dozen people dead and more than 50 injured.
Also in 2007, Chiquita Brands International was fined $25 million for paying alleged right-wing Colombian terrorist groups $1.7 million over seven years for protection. Several other U.S. companies reputedly followed suit.
In 2009, the Hubble Space Telescope was returned to orbit after astronauts finished five spacewalks in a mission to repair and refurbish the 19-year-old instrument and possibly keep it running at least until 2014.
In 2010, police said a Pakistani army major had been arrested in the failed attempt to set off a bomb in New York City's Times Square.
In 2011, Spaniards joined the ranks of the restless as thousands rallied in Madrid to demand political and social change. Police called it peaceful.
Also in 2011, unhappy Americans who rebuffed congressional incumbents in November still were dismayed with Capitol Hill, a new USA Today-Gallup Poll indicated. Sixty-three percent voters said most members of Congress don't deserve to be returned to office.
A thought for the day: Lewis Mumford wrote, "Our national flower is the concrete cloverleaf."