The almanac

By United Press International  |  April 12, 2008 at 3:30 AM
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Today is Saturday, April 12, the 103rd day of 2008 with 263 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 American statesman Henry Clay in 1777; opera singer Lily Pons in 1898; bandleader Lionel Hampton in 1908; actress/dancer Ann Miller in 1923; jazz keyboard player Herbie Hancock in 1940 (age 68); actor Ed O'Neill in 1946 (age 62); author Tom Clancy, talk show host David Letterman and actor Dan Lauria, all in 1947 (age 61); actor/singer David Cassidy in 1950 (age 58); actor Andy Garcia in 1956 (age 52); country singer Vince Gill in 1957 (age 51); and actresses Shannen Doherty in 1971 (age 37) and Claire Danes in 1979 (age 29).

On this date in history:

In 1861, the Civil War began when Confederate troops opened fire on Fort Sumter, S.C.

In 1935, "Your Hit Parade" premiered on radio.

In 1945, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the longest serving president in U.S. history, died of a cerebral hemorrhage at Warm Springs, Ga., three months into his fourth term. About three hours later, Harry Truman was sworn in as chief executive.

In 1955, U.S. health officials announced that the polio vaccine developed by Dr. Jonas Salk was "safe, potent and effective."

In 1961, the Soviet Union launched the first manned spacecraft. Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit the Earth and return safely.

In 1981, the first U.S. space shuttle flight was launched. The flight of Columbia was the first U.S. manned space mission since July 1976.

In 1990, under pressure from environmentalists, three top U.S. tuna canneries -- Heinz, Van Camp and Bumblebee -- announced "dolphin-safe" tuna-catching practices.

In 1992, the European Community announced that a cease-fire accord had been reached in Europe's newest nation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, a former Yugoslav republic. The truce didn't last.

In 1993, NATO warplanes began enforcing a no-fly zone over embattled Bosnia-Herzegovina, marking the first time the alliance's forces were used outside its traditional defense area.

In 1994, Israel and the PLO agreed that 9,000 Palestinian police would be stationed in Jericho and the Gaza Strip after the Israeli military withdrawal.

In 1999, a federal judge in Little Rock, Ark., found U.S. President Bill Clinton in contempt of court for lying during his sworn deposition in January 1998, when he testified that he hadn't had sexual relations with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Clinton was fined $1,202.

In 2002, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, after hearing European foreign ministers demand an immediate Israeli pullback from the West Bank, met with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon but reached no removal timetable.

Also in 2002, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was overthrown in a military coup but was returned to office two days later riding a wave of public sentiment.

In 2003, Gen. Amir al-Saadi, Saddam Hussein's top science adviser, denied Iraq had any weapons of mass destruction and surrendered to U.S. forces.

In 2004, Iraqi insurgents released 12 hostages of different nationalities in response to pleas by Sunni Muslim clerics.

In 2005, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made a surprise visit to Iraq and urged the quick formation of a new government.

In 2006, the French Parliament voted to replace a controversial labor law that triggered nationwide rioting among youth who feared unjustified dismissals.

In 2007, the U.S. Senate passed a bill to fund more research on embryonic stem cells, but supporters fell short of the votes needed to override an expected presidential veto.

And, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., whose novels such as "Slaughterhouse-Five" resonated with a generation, died in New York at the age of 84.

A thought for the day: Martha Grimes said, "We don't know who we are until we see what we can do."

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