The Almanac

By United Press International

Today is Saturday, May 20, the 140th day of 2006 with 225 to follow.

This is Armed Forces Day.


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

Those born on this date are under the sign of Taurus. They include William Thornton, architect of the Capitol building in Washington, in 1759; first lady Dolly Madison, wife of the fourth U.S. president James Madison, in 1768; French novelist Honore de Balzac in 1799; English philosopher and economist John Stuart Mill in 1806; German-born inventor Emile Berliner, inventor of the flat phonograph record, in 1851; actor James Stewart in 1908; Israeli military commander and politician Moshe Dayan in 1915; comedian George Gobel in 1919; actor Anthony Zerbe in 1936 (age 70); British singer/songwriter Joe Cocker in 1944 (age 62); singer/actress Cher in 1946 (age 60); Ronald Prescot Reagan, son of former President Reagan, in 1958 (age 48); and actor Bronson Pinchot in 1959 (age 47).


On this date in history:

In 1506, Christopher Columbus died in Spain.

In 1927, Charles Lindbergh took off from New York in his single-engine monoplane, "The Spirit of St. Louis," bound for Paris. He landed 33 1/2 hours later, completing the first solo, non-stop trans-Atlantic flight.

1974, Judge John Sirica ordered U.S. President Richard Nixon to turn over tapes and other records of 64 White House conversations on the Watergate affair.

In 1989, Chinese Premier Li declared martial law in Beijing in response to heightened student demonstrations in Tiananmen Square.

In 1991, national elections in India sparked political violence that left 40 dead and hundreds injured.

In 1992, convicted killer Roger Keith Coleman, who waged an unprecedented media blitz to win a new trial but failed to pass a lie detector test in his final hours, died in Virginia's electric chair for raping and killing his sister-in-law.

In 1993, U.S. President Bill Clinton signed the so-called motor voter bill, making it easier to register to vote.

In 1995, the two-block stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House was closed to traffic.

In 1996, the United Nations agreed to let Iraq sell oil for the first time since the Gulf War if it complied with the terms of the cease-fire.


In 1999, a high school student in Georgia opened fire on his classmates, wounding six of them before surrendering to school authorities. The same day, President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Rodman Clinton met in Littleton, Colo., with students, teachers and families of the victims of the previous month's deadly shootings at Columbine High School.

In 2002, East Timor, a small Pacific Coast nation, gained its independence from Indonesia.

In 2003, North Korea warned that South Korea would suffer an "unspeakable disaster" if it supports Washington's hard-line stance over Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.

In 2004, U.S. forces and Iraqi police raided the Baghdad offices of key U.S. ally and Shiite leader Ahmed Chalabi. He had been accused of having misinformed the Pentagon about the situation in pre-war Iraq and was accused in one report of passing U.S. intelligence to Iran.

In 2005, first lady Laura Bush opened a Middle East tour in Jordan, followed by appearances in Israel, the West Bank and Egypt. She encountered some demonstrators at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Also in 2005, latest Pentagon figures show the Iraq war and occupation had claimed over 1,623 troops, including 1,244 killed in action so far.


A thought for the day: Nietzsche said, "Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies."

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