The almanac

By United Press International  |  May 14, 2008 at 3:30 AM
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Today is Wednesday, May 14, the 135th day of 2008 with 231 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 English portrait painter Thomas Gainsborough in 1727; Scottish reformer Robert Owen in 1771; opera coloratura soprano Patrice Munsel in 1925 (age 83); singer Bobby Darin in 1936; filmmakers George Lucas ("Star Wars") in 1944 (age 64) and Robert Zemeckis ("Forrest Gump") in 1952 (age 56); and actor Tim Roth in 1961 (age 47).

On this date in history:

In 1643, King Louis XIV, who would be known as "The Sun King," became ruler of France.

In 1796, Dr. Edward Jenner, a rural England physician, tested his smallpox vaccine on a healthy 8-year-old boy.

In 1804, one year after the United States doubled its territory with the Louisiana Purchase, the Lewis and Clark expedition left St. Louis on a mission to explore the Northwest from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean.

In 1904, the Olympic Games were held in the United States for the first time, in St. Louis.

In 1942, the U.S. Congress established the WAACs, the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps, for World War II duty.

In 1948, Jewish Agency Chairman David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the State of Israel, establishing the first Jewish state in 2,000 years.

In 1973, the United States launched Skylab, its first manned orbiting laboratory.

In 1988, a church bus was hit by a pickup truck going the wrong way on a road near Carrollton, Ky., killing 27 bus passengers, mostly teenagers.

In 1990, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev ruled illegal Estonia's and Latvia's declarations of transition toward independence.

In 1991, U.S. President George H.W. Bush nominated Robert M. Gates for director of the CIA, a position he was denied four years earlier due to the Iran-Contra investigation.

In 1992, Lyle Alzado, NFL lineman-turned-actor/businessman, died of brain cancer, which he had blamed on steroid abuse.

In 1997, Russia and the NATO nations agreed on a treaty that cleared the way for NATO expansion to the east.

In 1998, Frank Sinatra died after suffering a heart attack. He was 82.

Also in 1998, a U.S. judge dismissed involuntary manslaughter charges against a former FBI agent in the 1992 shooting at the cabin of white separatist Randy Weaver in Ruby Ridge, Idaho.

In 2000, hundreds of thousands of mothers and other gun-control advocates marched in Washington and several other cities, demanding "sensible" gun laws and mourning the loss of children to gun violence. It was known as the "Million Mom March."

In 2002, three gunmen killed 34 people in Jammu, capital of India's disputed state of Kashmir. A Pakistan-based militant group was blamed.

In 2003, sheriff's deputies in Victoria, Texas, found as many as 100 people stuffed into a truck operated by smugglers of illegal aliens. Nineteen had died of the heat.

Also in 2003, the second bombing in two days in Chechnya killed 16 people.

In 2004, U.S. authorities released 315 Iraqi prisoners from Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison amid the investigation into alleged prisoner abuse by U.S. soldiers.

Also in 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to block gay marriages in Massachusetts, making it the only state at the time to allow same-sex weddings.

In 2006, convicted Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui began serving his life sentence at a maximum-security federal prison in Colorado.

Also in 2006, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia would not return to Cold War policies but would instead patiently develop relations with the West.

In 2007, plans were announced to return the Chrysler auto maker to U.S. ownership. The German company DamlerChrysler said it would sell 80.1 percent of its Chrysler division to a U.S. private equity firm for $7.4 billion.

A thought for the day: William Hazlitt said, "Spleen can subsist on any kind of food."

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