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The almanac

By United Press International

Today is Wednesday, May 6, the 126th day of 2009 with 239 to follow.

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

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Those born on this date are under the sign of Taurus. They include French revolutionary Maximilien Robespierre in 1758; Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and Arctic explorer Robert Peary, both in 1856; silent screen star Rudolph Valentino in 1895; actor Stewart Granger in 1913; actor-director-writer Orson Welles and author Theodore White, both in 1915; baseball legend Willie Mays in 1931 (age 78); rock musician Bob Seger in 1945 (age 64); former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1953 (age 56); TV host Tom Bergeron ("Dancing with the Stars") in 1955 (age 54); and actors George Clooney in 1961 (age 48) and Roma Downey ("Touched by an Angel") in 1960 (age 49).

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On this date in history:

In 1527, German troops sacked Rome, killing 4,000 people and looting works of art and literature as part of a series of wars between the Hapsburg Empire and the French monarchy.

In 1863, Confederate forces commanded by Gen. Robert E. Lee routed Union troops under Gen. Joseph Hooker at the Battle of Chancellorsville in Virginia.

In 1915, Babe Ruth of the Boston Red Sox hit his first major league home run in a game against the New York Yankees in New York.

In 1935, in the depths of the Depression, the Works Progress Administration was established to provide work for the unemployed.

In 1937, the German dirigible Hindenburg burst into flames while docking in Lakehurst, N.J., killing 36 people.

In 1941, Josef Stalin became official leader of the Soviet government.

In 1954, 25-year-old British medical student Roger Bannister cracked track and field's most notorious barrier, the 4-minute mile, during a meet at Oxford, England. His time: 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds.

In 1975, U.S. President Gerald Ford broadcast an appeal to Americans to welcome the thousands of Vietnamese refugees moving to the United States.

In 1992, legendary actress Marlene Dietrich died at her Paris home at age 90.

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In 1993, two postal workers, both apparently bitter over their treatment at work, allegedly shot co-workers in separate incidents in post offices in Michigan and California, leaving at least three dead and three wounded.

In 1994, Paula Jones accused U.S. President Bill Clinton of making an unwanted sexual advance during a meeting in a hotel room in 1991, when he was governor of Arkansas. It was believed to be the first lawsuit of its kind against a sitting president.

Also in 1994, the Channel Tunnel, a railway under the English Channel connecting Britain and France, was officially opened.

In 1997, U.S. President Bill Clinton and Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon signed an agreement for a broader mutual effort to fight drug trafficking.

In 2001, Pope John Paul II became the first pope to enter a mosque -- the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, Syria.

In 2003, U.S. health officials reported 63 cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, but no deaths.

In 2004, the International Red Cross said it had found evidence of widespread mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners by coalition forces in prisons across Iraq.

Also in 2004, as violence continued, U.S. forces in Iraq seized the governor's office in Najaf, a stronghold of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr, and installed a new governor.

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In 2005, a suicide bomber killed at least 58 people in a vegetable market south of Baghdad.

In 2006, the largest rebel group in Sudan's Darfur region and the government of Sudan signed a peace agreement ending their armed conflict in a three-year civil war that claimed an estimated 200,000 lives. However, two smaller rebel groups declined to sign an agreement.

And, unbeaten Barbaro won the 2006 Kentucky Derby by 6 1/2 lengths.

In 2007, conservative Nicolas Sarkozy was elected president of France with 53 percent of the vote in a runoff battle with Socialist Sergolene Royal.

Also in 2007, a wave of violence killed at least 53 people throughout Iraq. The worst was in Baghdad where a car bomb exploded near a market, destroying buildings and killing at least 27 people, police said.

In 2008, the Chilean government ordered a mass evacuation of people living near the Chaiten volcano in southern Chile after the long dormant crater began spewing ash and lava.


A thought for the day: "England and America are two countries separated by the same language." George Bernard Shaw said that.

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