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Today in history: March 30

Celebrity birthdays, highlights in history, plus more facts about this day
/ Source: The Associated Press

Today is Thursday, March 30, the 89th day of 2006. There are 276 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
Twenty-five years ago, on March 30, 1981, President Reagan was shot and seriously injured outside a Washington hotel by John W. Hinckley Jr. Also wounded were White House press secretary James Brady, a Secret Service agent and a District of Columbia police officer.

On this date:
In 1822, Florida became a United States territory.

In 1842, Dr. Crawford W. Long of Jefferson, Ga., first used ether as an anesthetic during a minor operation.

In 1867, U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward reached agreement with Russia to purchase the territory of Alaska for $7.2 million, a deal roundly ridiculed as “Seward’s Folly.”

In 1870, the 15th amendment to the Constitution, giving black men the right to vote, was declared in effect.

In 1870, Texas was readmitted to the Union.

In 1945, the Soviet Union invaded Austria during World War II.

In 1964, John Glenn withdrew from the Ohio race for U.S. Senate because of injuries suffered in a fall.

In 1979, Airey Neave, a leading member of the British parliament, was killed by a bomb planted by the Irish National Liberation Army.

In 1986, actor James Cagney died at his farm in Stanfordville, N.Y., at age 86.

In 2002, the Queen Mother Elizabeth of England died in her sleep at Royal Lodge, Windsor, outside London; she was 101 years old.

Ten years ago: The space shuttle Atlantis narrowly avoided having to make an emergency landing when its cargo-bay doors wouldn’t open at first to release built-up heat. Funeral services were held in Bethesda, Md., for former senator and secretary of state Edmund Muskie.

Five years ago: Top environment officials from North, Central and South America ended two days of talks in Montreal without a consensus agreement on global warming. (A statement signed by 26 ministers from Latin American and Caribbean countries faulted a decision by the United States to reject the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.)

One year ago: Under heavy protection, First Lady Laura Bush visited the capital of Afghanistan, where she talked with Afghan women freed from Taliban repression and urged greater rights. The Supreme Court ruled that federal law allows people 40 and over to file age bias claims over salary and hiring even if employers never intended any harm. Fred Korematsu, who’d challenged the World War II internment policy that sent Japanese-Americans to detention camps, died in Larkspur, Calif., at age 86.

Today’s Birthdays: Singer Frankie Laine is 93. Actor Richard Dysart is 77. Actor John Astin is 76. Game show host Peter Marshall is 76. Actor-director Warren Beatty is 69. Rock musician Graeme Edge (The Moody Blues) is 65. Rock musician Eric Clapton is 61. Actor Robbie Coltrane is 56. Actor Paul Reiser is 49. Rap artist MC Hammer is 43. Singer Tracy Chapman is 42. Actor Ian Ziering is 42. Singer Celine Dion is 38. Actor Mark Consuelos is 35. Singer Norah Jones is 27.

Thought for Today: “As I see it, in this country (America) — a land of the most persistent idealism and the blandest cynicism — the race is on between the decadence and its vitality.” — Alistair Cooke, British-born American journalist and broadcaster (1908-2004).