The almanac

By United Press International  |  May 11, 2012 at 3:30 AM
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Today is Friday, May 11, the 132nd day of 2012 with 234 to follow.

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

Those born on this date are under the sign of Taurus. They include Ottmar Mergenthaler, inventor of the Linotype typesetting machine, in 1854; songwriter Irving Berlin in 1888; dancer/choreographer Martha Graham in 1894; Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dali in 1904; comic actors Margaret Rutherford in 1892 and Phil Silvers and Winstead Sheffield "Doodles" Weaver, both in 1911; Nobel laureate physicist Richard Feynman in 1918; actor Denver Pyle in 1920; actor Bernard Fox and satirist Mort Sahl, both in 1927 (age 85); Louis Farrakhan, Nation of Islam leader, in 1933 (age 79); singer Eric Burdon in 1941 (age 71); artificial heart developer Dr. Robert Jarvik in 1946 (age 66); writer Mike Lupica in 1952 (age 60); and actors Doug McClure in 1935 and Natasha Richardson in 1963.

On this date in history:

In 1858, Minnesota joined the United States as the 32nd state.

In 1862, the Confederate navy destroyed its iron-clad vessel Merrimac to prevent it from falling into the hands of advancing Union forces.

In 1910, Glacier National Park in Montana was created by an act of Congress.

In 1924, Karl Benz and Gottlieb merged their companies, forming Mercedes-Benz.

In 1928, the first regularly scheduled television programs were begun by station WGY in Schenectady, N.Y.

In 1969, in one of the more infamous and bloody battles of the Vietnam War, U.S. troops seized Dong Ap Bia mountain, commonly known as "Hamburger Hill."

In 1987, Emmanuel Vitria died in Marseilles in southern France at age 67, some 18 years after receiving a transplanted human heart. He was the longest-surviving heart transplant patient.

In 1994, Joseph Hazelwood, captain of the Exxon Valdez, told a federal court in Anchorage, Alaska, he'd had three vodka drinks just hours before the tanker ran aground, spilling 11 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound in 1989.

In 1996, a ValuJet airliner crashed in the Florida Everglades, killing 110 people.

Also in 1996, eight people died while climbing Mount Everest, a series of events related in "Into Thin Air."

In 1997, world chess champion Gerry Kasparov was defeated by a computer, IBM's Deep Blue, in a six-game match in New York.

In 1998, India conducted the first of five underground nuclear tests.

In 2003, The New York Times devoted four pages to a story documenting major inaccuracies and deceptions by one of its reporters, Jayson Blair, in a scandal that cost the paper's two top editors their jobs.

Also in 2003, more than 50 Democratic members of the Texas House of Representatives crossed into Oklahoma to leave the House without a quorum and block action on a redistricting bill unfavorable to their party.

In 2004, a video showing the beheading of a U.S. civilian was posted on the Web site of an Islamic militant group believed to be linked to al-Qaida. The victim, Nick Berg of Philadelphia, had been repairing Iraq telecommunications infrastructure.

In 2005, about 50 Iraqis were reported killed and dozens wounded in a string of bombings that rocked several Iraqi regions.

In 2006, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told students in Indonesia that Israel was an "evil regime" that would soon be "annihilated."

In 2008, 23 people were killed when tornadoes swept across rural Missouri and Oklahoma.

Also in 2008, two weeks of anti-immigrant violence in South Africa that began on this date and aimed largely at Zimbabweans who had fled conditions in their own country, left an estimated 60 people dead.

In 2009, Gen. David McKiernan, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, was fired and replaced by Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the Pentagon wanted a more innovative leader.

In 2010, in discussing the sexual abuse scandals, Pope Benedict XVI said the Roman Catholic Church was undergoing its greatest persecution because of "sin in the church." He called the situation "frightening."

Also in 2010, heavy rain in South China killed at least 70 people and drove almost 150,000 others from their homes with flash flooding, mud and rock slides, swollen rivers and burst dikes.

In 2011, Yemeni security forces and government loyalists fired on protesters in Sanaa, killing at least 13 people. Scores of others among the more than 1,000 demonstrators were reported wounded.

Also in 2012, a suspect in the 1983 armed robbery of a Wells Fargo armored car depot in Hartford, Conn., one of the biggest robberies in U.S. history, was arrested in Puerto Rico.

A thought for the day: Anatole France said, "To imagine is everything, to know is nothing at all."

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