The almanac

United Press International

Today is Thursday, May 15, the 136th day of 2008 with 230 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 author L. Frank Baum ("The Wizard of Oz") in 1856; French chemist Pierre Curie in 1859; author Katherine Anne Porter in 1890; former Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley in 1902; actors Joseph Cotten in 1905 and James Mason in 1909; country singer Eddy Arnold in 1918; actress Anna Maria Alberghetti in 1936 (age 72); former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in 1937 (age 71); singers Trini Lopez in 1937 (age 71) and Lainie Kazan in 1940 (age 68); filmmaker David Cronenberg in 1943 (age 65); and actor Chazz Palminteri in 1951 (age 57).

On this date in history:

In 1918, the first regular U.S. air mail service was established between Washington and New York City.


In 1930, Ellen Church became the first airline stewardess, flying on a United Airlines flight from San Francisco to Cheyenne, Wyo.

In 1940, nylon stockings went on sale in U.S. stores for the first time.

In 1941, the jet-propelled Gloster-Whittle E 28/39 aircraft flew over Cranwell, England, in the first successful test of an Allied aircraft using jet propulsion.

In 1962, Mercury astronaut Gordon Cooper was launched into space atop an Atlas rocket and completed 22 orbits.

In 1969, Justice Abe Fortas, under fire for a money deal with jailed financier Louis Wolfson, resigned from the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 1972, Alabama Gov. George Wallace was shot and seriously wounded at a presidential campaign rally in Laurel, Md. Partially paralyzed but still a Southern political power for years, he died in 1998.

In 1988, Soviet forces began their withdrawal from Afghanistan in compliance with the Geneva accords.

In 1990, at an auction, Japanese millionaire Ryoei Saito bid a record $82.5 million for Van Gogh's 1890 "Portrait of Dr. Gachet." Two days later, he spent $78.1 million for Renoir's 1876 "Au Moulin De La Galette," also a record.

In 1991, Edith Cresson, a Socialist and former trade minister, became the first woman prime minister of France.


In 1992, the United States warned Saddam Hussein that allied military forces may "respond" if his troops attempted to repress Kurdish elections in northern Iraq.

In 2002, the White House said that President George W. Bush had received a CIA briefing in August 2001, the month before the terrorist attack on New York and Washington, warning that Osama bin Laden planned to hijack airplanes but nothing was said about possibly crashing them into buildings.

In 2003, authorities arrested several people who allegedly had planned attacks on the U.S. Embassy and other targets in Lebanon.

Also in 2003, New York scientists uncovered a natural cancer-fighting mechanism that could help make tumors more vulnerable to radiation therapy.

In 2004, the U.S. State Department warned that tensions in Iraq had increased the potential threat to U.S. citizens and interests abroad.

In 2005, Uzbek security forces were reported to have sealed off the center of Andijan where as many as 450 people may have been killed during anti-government protests.

In 2006, the U.S. State Department said it would restore diplomatic relations with Libya for the first time since 1980 and remove the country from its terrorism sponsors list.

In 2007, U.S. President George Bush appointed U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute to become America's first so-called "war czar," to coordinate operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Also in 2007, a national survey said Miami was the worst city in the United States for road rage. Portland, Ore., drew the most-courteous tag.

A thought for the day: Samuel Butler said, "The great pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you but he will make a fool of himself, too."

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