The almanac

By United Press International  |  April 1, 2009 at 3:30 AM
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Today is Wednesday, April 1, the 91st day of 2009 with 274 to follow.

This is known as April Fools' Day in the United States.

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

Those born on this date are under the sign of Aries. They include German military theorist Prince Otto von Bismarck in 1815; Italian pianist and composer Ferruccio Busoni in 1866; Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff in 1873; actors Lon Chaney Sr. in 1883 and Wallace Beery in 1885; actor Toshiro Mifune in 1920; author William Manchester ("Death of a President") in 1922; actresses/singers Jane Powell in 1929 (age 80) and Debbie Reynolds in 1932 (age 77); and actresses Ali McGraw in 1938 (age 71) and Annette O'Toole in 1952 (age 57).

On this date in history:

In 1918, toward the end of World War I, the Royal Air Force was founded. Two months later, Britain began bombing industrial targets in Germany from bases in France.

In 1924, Adolf Hitler was sent to prison for five years after failing in his first effort to take over Germany by force, the unsuccessful "Beer Hall Putsch" in the German state of Bavaria.

In 1945, U.S. forces swarmed ashore on the Japanese island of Okinawa, to begin what would be one of the longest and bloodiest battles of World War II.

In 1979, Iran declared itself an Islamic Republic.

In 1982, the United States formally transferred control of the Panama Canal Zone to the government of Panama.

In 1986, world oil prices dipped to less than $10 a barrel.

In 1991, Moscow food stores closed to curb panic buying in anticipation of government price increases.

In 1992, U.S. President George H.W. Bush announced a $24 billion aid package to the former Soviet republics.

In 1996, an outbreak of "mad cow" disease forced Britain to plan the mass slaughter of cows.

In 1998, a U.S. judge dismissed the sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Paula Jones against U.S. President Bill Clinton.

In 1999, Canada created a new territory, Nunavut, as a means of providing autonomy for the Inuit people.

In 2001, a U.S. Navy spy plane collided with a Chinese jetfighter off the coast of China. The Chinese plane crashed into the ocean; the damaged U.S. plane landed on the Chinese island of Hainan, where its 24 crewmembers were held for 11 days.

In 2002, the United States and Pakistan announced the capture of a top al-Qaida leader, a major break in their war on terrorism.

In 2003, U.S. Marines rescued Pfc. Jessica Lynch, 19, who had been held prisoner in Iraq since an ambush on March 23.

In 2005, Samuel Berger, national security adviser to U.S. President Bill Clinton, pleaded guilty to destroying classified documents he admitted removing from the National Archives.

Also in 2005, all nine people aboard an Australian navy helicopter on a relief mission to earthquake-struck Indonesia died when the aircraft crashed.

In 2006, all 19 people on board a Brazilian commuter flight were found dead following a crash in the mountains of Rio de Janeiro.

In 2007, U.S. President George Bush demanded that Iran release 15 British naval personnel, calling their seizure "inexcusable" hostage-taking.

Also in 2007, an earthquake measuring 8 on the Richter scale churned the depths of the South Pacific, triggering a tsunami that sent waves several feet high into some of western Solomon Islands.

In 2008, the Justice Department declassified a since rescinded 2003 legal brief that officials said gave military interrogators broad authority to use extreme methods in questioning terrorist suspects.

A thought for the day: Marcel Marceau said, "It's good to shut up sometimes."

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