The almanac

By United Press International
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Today is Sunday, March 30, the 90th day of 2008 with 276 to follow.

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


Those born on this date are under the sign of Aries. They include Spanish painter Francisco Jose de Goya in 1746; 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; former CIA Director Richard Helms in 1913; singer Frankie Laine also in 1913; TV host Peter Marshall in 1927 (age 81); actors Richard Dysart in 1929 (age 79), John Astin in 1930 (age 78) and Warren Beatty in 1937 (age 71); British blues/rock guitarist Eric Clapton in 1945 (age 63); actor Paul Reiser in 1957 (age 51); and singers MC Hammer in 1962 (age 46), Tracy Chapman in 1964 (age 44), Celine Dion in 1968 (age 40) and Norah Jones in 1979 (age 29).


On this date in history:

In 1842, Dr. Crawford Long became the first physician to use anesthetic (ether) in surgery.

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, following its ratification by the requisite three-fourths of the states, the 15th Amendment, granting African-American men the right to vote was formally adopted into the U.S. Constitution.

In 1923, the Cunard liner "Laconia" arrived in New York City, becoming 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 1995, the compromise "don't ask, don't tell, don't pursue" policy allowing homosexuals to serve in the military under certain conditions was struck down by a federal judge in New York as unconstitutional.

In 1998, Armenian Premier Robert Kocharian was elected president in a run-off 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 later 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 the ailing 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 21 Arab leaders as necessary to normalize relations.

A thought for the day: it was Mark Twain who said, "Principles have no real force except when one is well-fed."

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