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Today in history: April 2

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

Today is Sunday, April 2, the 92nd day of 2006. There are 273 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
One year ago, on April 2, 2005, Pope John Paul II, who helped topple communism in Europe and left a deeply conservative stamp on the church that he’d led for 26 years, died in his Vatican apartment at the age of 84.

On this date:
In 1513, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon landed in Florida.

In 1792, Congress passed the Coinage Act, which authorized establishment of the U.S. Mint.

In 1805, storyteller Hans Christian Andersen was born in Odense, Denmark.

In 1860, the first Italian Parliament met at Turin.

In 1865, Confederate President Davis and most of his Cabinet fled the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia.

In 1917, President Wilson asked Congress to declare war against Germany, saying, “The world must be made safe for democracy.”

In 1956, 50 years ago, the soap operas “As the World Turns” and “The Edge of Night” premiered on CBS television.

In 1974, French president Georges Pompidou died in Paris.

In 1982, several thousand troops from Argentina seized the disputed Falkland Islands, located in the south Atlantic, from Britain. (Britain seized the islands back the following June.)

In 1986, four American passengers were killed when a bomb exploded aboard a TWA jetliner en route from Rome to Athens, Greece.

Ten years ago: A federal appeals court rejected New York state laws banning doctor-assisted suicide, saying it would be discriminatory to let people disconnect life support systems while refusing to let others end their lives with medication.

Five years ago: President Bush demanded that China promptly return a U.S. spy plane and its crew members. (The plane had made an emergency landing in China after colliding with a Chinese fighter.) Duke won its third national men’s basketball championship with an 82-to-72 victory over Arizona.

One year ago: Terri Schiavo’s body was cremated as disagreements continued between her husband and her parents, who were unable to have their own independent expert observe her autopsy. An Australian helicopter on a relief mission in Indonesia crashed on earthquake-devastated Nias Island, killing nine people on board.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Dabbs Greer is 89. Actress Rita Gam is 78. Actress Sharon Acker is 71. Singer Leon Russell is 64. Jazz musician Larry Coryell is 63. Actress Linda Hunt is 61. Singer Emmylou Harris is 59. Actress Pamela Reed is 57. Rock musician Dave Robinson (The Cars) is 53. Country singer Buddy Jewell is 45. Actor Christopher Meloni is 45. Singer Keren Woodward (Bananarama) is 45. Country singer Billy Dean is 44. Actress Jana Marie Hupp is 42. Rock musician Greg Camp (Smash Mouth) is 39. Rock musician Tony Fredianelli (Third Eye Blind) is 37. Actress Roselyn Sanchez is 33. Country singer Jill King is 31. Actor Jeremy Garrett is 30. Rock musician Jesse Carmichael (Maroon 5) is 27. Actress Bethany Joy Lenz (“One Tree Hill”) is 25.

Thought for Today: “The future starts today, not tomorrow.” — Pope John Paul II (1920-2005).