The almanac

By United Press International  |  April 17, 2008 at 3:30 AM
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Today is Thursday, April 17, the 108th day of 2008 with 258 to follow.

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

Those born on this date are under the sign of Aries. They include American industrialist and financier J.P. Morgan in 1837; Danish author Karen Blixen ("Out of Africa"), who wrote under the name Isak Dinesen, in 1885; Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in 1894; novelist and playwright Thornton Wilder in 1897; actor William Holden in 1918; television journalist Harry Reasoner in 1923; music promoter Don Kirshner in 1934 (age 74) and actress Olivia Hussey in 1951 (age 57).

On this date in history:

In 1421, the sea broke the dikes at Dort, Holland, drowning an estimated 100,000 people.

In 1521, Martin Luther was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church after refusing to admit to charges of heresy.

In 1524, Italian navigator Giovanni Verrazano discovered New York Harbor.

In 1790, American statesman, printer, scientist and writer Benjamin Franklin died in Philadelphia at age 84.

In 1961, a force of anti-Castro Cuban rebels began what was to end as the ill-fated "Bay of Pigs" attempt to overthrow Cuba's new Communist government.

In 1964, Jerrie Mock of Columbus, Ohio, became the first woman to complete a solo flight around the world.

In 1970, with the world anxiously watching via television, Apollo 13, a U.S. lunar spacecraft that suffered a severe malfunction on its journey to the moon, safely returned to Earth.

In 1989, the Polish labor union Solidarity was granted legal status after nearly a decade of struggle and suppression, clearing the way for the downfall of Poland's Communist Party.

In 1991, the Dow Jones industrial average closed at more than 3,000 for the first time.

In 1993, a federal court jury convicted two Los Angeles police officers of violating Rodney King's civil rights in the black motorist's 1991 arrest and beating. Two other officers were acquitted.

In 2000, with an eye toward China, the Clinton administration decided not to sell Taiwan all the weapons it had requested.

In 2001, Mississippi voters, by a 2-1 ratio, decided to keep their state flag, which includes the Confederate battle cross in the upper left-hand corner.

In 2003, billionaire philanthropist John Paul Getty Jr. died at a London hospital. Getty, who was being treated for a chest infection, was 70.

In 2004, the U.S. General Accounting Office, looking into the oil-for-food program, administered by the U.N. for Iraq, estimated the Saddam Hussein regime collected more than $11 billion in kickbacks and illegal sales.

Also in 2004, the Israeli army confirmed it had killed the new Hamas leader, Abdel Aziz Rantissi, who had headed the militant group less than a month after his predecessor also was assassinated.

In 2005, 115 Roman Catholic cardinals gathered in the Vatican to begin the selection of a new pope.

In 2006, former Illinois Gov. George Ryan, a Republican, was convicted of 18 felony counts, including racketeering conspiracy and tax and mail fraud.

Also in 2006, at least 63 people were killed when a bus full of Mexican tourists plunged nearly 800 feet off a cliff in eastern Mexico between Vera Cruz and Mexico City.

In 2007, thousands of people gathered on the Virginia Tech campus to mourn the 32 students and staff members slain by a student armed with two handguns who also killed himself, U.S. President George Bush led a national mourning for the victims.

Also in 2007, murder charges against one U.S. Marine accused in the deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians have been dropped in return for his testimony against seven other Marines.

A thought for the day: Rudyard Kipling wrote, "Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind."

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