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The almanac

By United Press International

Today is Saturday, May 16, the 136th day of 2009 with 229 to follow.

This is Armed Forces Day in the United States.

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

Those born on this date are under the sign of Taurus. They include William Seward, U.S. secretary of state whose purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867 for $7.2 million was called "Seward's Folly," in 1801; banker Levi Morton, U.S. vice president under Benjamin Harrison, in 1824; David Hughes, inventor of the microphone, in 1831; actor Henry Fonda in 1905; author Louis "Studs" Terkel in 1912; bandleader Woody Herman in 1913; entertainer Liberace in 1919; former New York Yankees Manager Billy Martin in 1928; actor Pierce Brosnan in 1953 (age 56); Olympic gold medal gymnast Olga Korbut and actress Debra Winger both in 1955 (age 54); actress Mare Winningham in 1959 (age 50); singer Janet Jackson in 1966 (age 43); actress Tracey Gold in 1969 (age 40); tennis player Gabriela Sabatini in 1970 (age 39); and actors David Boreanaz ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Angel") in 1969 (age 40) and Tori Spelling in 1973 (age 36).

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On this date in history:

In 1804, the French Senate declared Napoleon Bonaparte emperor.

In 1871, U.S. Marines landed in Korea in an unsuccessful attempt to open the country to foreign trade.

In 1929, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded the first Oscars. "Wings" was named Best Picture.

In 1969, the unmanned Soviet spacecraft Venera 5 landed on Venus.

In 1988, U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop described nicotine as addictive as heroin or cocaine and called for the licensing of tobacco product vendors.

In 1991, 13 of the 15 Soviet republics agreed on an emergency economic plan to ban strikes while increasing wages and worker productivity.

In 1992, a poll showed 1-in-8 Southern California households were victimized within the last two years by crimes involving firearms.

In 1995, the leader of a Japanese religious cult was charged with murder and attempted murder in the March nerve-gas attacks in a Tokyo subway that killed 12 people and injured more than 5,000.

In 1997, U.S. President Bill Clinton apologized for the "Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male," which was conducted in 1932-72.

Also in 1997, Mobutu Sese Seko -- who'd ruled Zaire for more than 30 years, allegedly looting it of billions of dollars -- fled the capital as rebel forces advanced.

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In 2003, suicidal terrorists set off five bombs simultaneously in Casablanca, Morocco, killing 41 people and injuring about 100.

In 2004, U.S. Border Patrol agents said confusion over U.S. President George Bush's proposed guest-worker program for illegal immigrants fueled a rush at the southwest border from Mexico that threatened to overwhelm the patrol.

In 2005, Newsweek, after a public apology, printed a retraction to a story that accused interrogators at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay of flushing a copy of the Koran down a toilet. Riots in Afghanistan that followed the story claimed 16 lives.

Also in 2005, a U.S. Senate panel said high-ranking Russian politicians made illicit multimillion-dollar oil transactions with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein under the U.N. oil-for-food program.

In 2006, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano appointed Romano Prodi premier amid charges of election fraud from outgoing Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

In 2007, Iraqi police said a bomb northeast of Baghdad killed 32 people and injured 60 others but didn't contain chlorine gas as earlier reported.

And, British authorities decided not to send Prince Harry to serve in Iraq after hearing of threats against the prince. However, he did serve later in Afghanistan but was withdrawn after his presence was discovered.

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In 2008, a runoff was set for June 27 in the disputed Zimbabwe presidential race between incumbent Robert Mugabe and challenger Morgan Tsvangirai who narrowly missed winning on the first vote.


A thought for the day: From "H.M.S. Pinafore" comes these lines: "Things are seldom what they seem; Skim milk masquerades as cream."

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