The almanac

United Press International

Today is Tuesday, April 21, the 111th day of 2009 with 254 to follow.

The moon is waning. 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 Taurus. They include German educator Friedrich Froebel, who established the concept of the kindergarten, in 1782; English novelist Charlotte Bronte in 1816; James Starley, English inventor of the geared bicycle, in 1830; naturalist and author John Muir in 1838; German sociologist Max Weber in 1864; actor Anthony Quinn in 1915; Britain's Queen Elizabeth II in 1926 (age 83); comedian, actress and director Elaine May in 1932 (age 77); actor/director Charles Grodin in 1935 (age 74); rock singer Iggy Pop in 1947 (age 62); actress/singer Patti LuPone in 1949 (age 60); actor Tony Danza in 1951 (age 58); and actress Andie MacDowell in 1958 (age 51).

On this date in history:

In 1836, with the battle cry, "Remember the Alamo!" Texas forces under Sam Houston defeated the army of Mexican Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna at San Jacinto, Texas, opening the door to Texas independence.

In 1918, German World War I flying ace, Manfred von Richthofen, known as "The Red Baron," was killed by Allied fire over Vaux-sur-Somme, France.

In 1954, U.S. Air Force planes began flying French troops to Indochina to reinforce Dien Bien Phu. The city later fell to communist Viet Minh forces.

In 1967, a Greek army coup in Athens sent King Constantine into exile in Italy.

In 1975, Nguyen Van Thieu resigned as president of South Vietnam after denouncing the United States as untrustworthy. His replacement, Tran Van Huong, prepared for peace talks with North Vietnam as communist forces advanced on Saigon.

In 1987, the bombing of a bus terminal in Colombo, Sri Lanka, killed 127 people and wounded 288.

In 1992, killer Robert Alton Harris became the first person executed in California's gas chamber in 25 years.

Also in 1992, gas explosions ripped through the historic center of Guadalajara, Mexico, killing more than 200 people and injuring hundreds more.

In 1993, the 11-day siege at a prison near Lucasville, Ohio, ended. Ten people died.

In 1995, Timothy McVeigh, 27, arrested 90 minutes after the Oklahoma City federal building explosion because he was driving without license plates, was charged in the bombing.

In 2004, a series of coordinated car bombings at police buildings in Basra, Iraq, killed more than 50 people, including about 20 school children.

In 2005, the U.S. Senate approved the nomination of John Negroponte to be the nation's first national intelligence director.

Also in 2005, insurgents shot down a civilian helicopter north of Baghdad, killing all 11 aboard including six U.S. contractors.

And, Brazil granted asylum to former Ecuadorian President Lucio Gutierrez after he was ousted from office.

In 2006, U.S. oil prices hit a record high, topping $75 a barrel and the cost of regular gasoline at the pump soared to more than $3 gallon in some parts of the nation.

Also in 2006, King Gyanendra, Nepal's embattled monarch, agreed to restore a democratic government to his country.

In 2007, an aircraft of the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels precision flight team crashed during an air show in Beaufort, S.C., killing the pilot and injuring eight people on the ground.

In 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a link had been found between contaminated drug thinners from China and 81 reported deaths in the United States.

A thought for the day: it was Marshall McLuhan who said, "There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew."

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