The almanac

By United Press International
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Today is Thursday, May 8, the 129th day of 2008 with 237 to follow.

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


Those born on this date are under the sign of Taurus. They include Jean Henri Dunant, Swiss founder of the Red Cross Society and a co-founder of the Young Men's Christian Association, in 1828; Harry Truman, 33rd president of the United States, in 1884; cornetist and bandleader Red Nichols in 1905; pianist Mary Lou Williams in 1910; blues guitarist Robert Johnson in 1911; author David Attenborough and comedian Don Rickles, both in 1926 (age 82); boxer Sonny Liston in 1932; actor/singer Rick Nelson in 1940; author Peter Benchley, also in 1940; singer Toni Tennille in 1940 (age 68); actors David Keith in 1954 (age 54) and Melissa Gilbert in 1964 (age 44); and singer Enrique Iglesias in 1975 (age 33).


On this date in history:

In 1541, Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto discovered the Mississippi River.

In 1879, George Selden of Rochester, N.Y., filed for the first patent for an automobile. It was granted in 1895.

In 1945, U.S. President Harry Truman officially declared V-E Day, the end of World War II in Europe.

In 1970, the Beatles' final original album -- "Let It Be" -- was released.

In 1972, U.S. President Richard Nixon ordered the mining of North Vietnam ports in an effort to force the communists to end the Vietnam War.

In 1984, the Soviet Union declared it would not take part in the Los Angeles Olympics, citing fears over security for its athletes. However, the move was seen as retaliation for the U.S. boycott, called because of Soviet action in Afghanistan, of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow.

In 1991, to pressure the government of El Salvador into agreeing to a cease-fire, Salvadoran leftist guerrillas sabotaged a power system, leaving the country with half its normal electrical supply.

In 1996, South Africa voted for a new constitution. Its bill of rights included the right to food, housing and education.

In 1998, the U.S. tobacco industry reached a settlement with Minnesota and with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. The deal came as the first trial of a state lawsuit against cigarette makers was about to go to the jury.


In 2002, following up on the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, FBI Director Robert Mueller told a Senate committee that the FBI had paid insufficient heed to a July memo from an agent who had warned about Arab men with possible terrorist ties taking flying lessons.

Also in 2002, Cardinal Bernard Law of the Boston Roman Catholic archdiocese said he had known in 1984 about sexual abuse charges against a former priest but had turned the matter over to aides and never followed up. The former priest, John Geoghan, was accused in 86 sexual abuse cases.

In 2003, more than 100 people were reported killed when the main cargo door of a cargo jet suddenly opened at a height of 33,000 feet over the Congo and passengers were sucked out of the plane.

Also in 2003, a tornado struck the Oklahoma City area, injuring at least 118 people and leveling hundreds of buildings and homes.

And, the World Health Organization reported the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, had reached 31 countries, including the United States, with a total of 7,053 cases.

In 2004, the body of Nick Berg, a U.S. businessman imprisoned by Iraqi militants, was found near Baghdad. A videotape depicting his beheading was shown on the Internet three days later.


In 2005, a U.S. Marine task force raided outposts in western Iraq, killing an estimated 100 insurgents.

Also in 2005, commemorations across Europe marked the 60th anniversary of the Allied victory over Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany in World War II.

In 2006, a Johannesburg judge cleared former South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma of raping a 31-year-old family friend.

And, the last known U.S. survivor of the 1912 sinking of the Titanic died of natural causes at her Shrewsbury, Mass., home. Lillian Asplund was 99.

In 2007, six Muslim men were arrested on charges of plotting a killing spree at the U.S. Army's Fort Dix in New Jersey.

Also in 2007, Northern Ireland installed a new power-sharing government linking Catholic and Protestant parties.

A thought for the day: Oscar Wilde wrote, "All that I desire to point out is the general principle that life imitates art far more than art imitates life."

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