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Today in history: April 4

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

Today is Tuesday, April 4, the 94th day of 2006. There are 271 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On April 4, 1968, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Junior, 39, was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.

On this date:
In 1818, Congress decided the flag of the United States would consist of 13 red and white stripes and 20 stars, with a new star to be added for every new state of the Union.

In 1841, President William Henry Harrison succumbed to pneumonia one month after his inaugural, becoming the first U.S. chief executive to die in office.

In 1850, the city of Los Angeles was incorporated.

In 1902, British financier Cecil Rhodes left $10 million in his will to provide scholarships for Americans at Oxford University.

In 1906, 100 years ago, TV newsman and personality John Cameron Swayze was born in Wichita, Kansas.

In 1945, during World War II, U.S. troops on Okinawa encountered the first significant resistance from Japanese forces.

In 1949, 12 nations, including the United States, signed the North Atlantic Treaty.

In 1975, more than 130 people, most of them children, were killed when a U.S. Air Force transport plane evacuating Vietnamese orphans crashed shortly after take-off from Saigon.

In 1981, Henry Cisneros became the first Mexican-American elected mayor of a major U.S. city: San Antonio, Texas.

In 1983, the space shuttle Challenger roared into orbit on its maiden voyage.

Ten years ago: President Clinton signed legislation severing the link between crop prices and government subsidies. The former general manager of Daiwa Bank’s New York branch pleaded guilty to aiding a $1.1 billion cover-up.

Five years ago: Chinese President Jiang Zemin demanded the United States apologize for the collision between a U.S. Navy spy plane and a Chinese fighter jet; the Bush administration offered a chorus of regrets, but no apology. Hideo Nomo became the fourth pitcher in major league history to throw a no-hitter in both leagues with Boston’s 3-to-0 victory over Baltimore.

One year ago: Tens of thousands of pilgrims paid their final respects to Pope John Paul the Second after his body was carried on a crimson platform to St. Peter’s Basilica. The Supreme Court ruled creditors could not seize the Individual Retirement Accounts of bankrupt people. The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal captured two Pulitzer Prizes apiece; Marilynne Robinson received the fiction award for her novel “Gilead,” while John Patrick Shanley received the drama Pulitzer for “Doubt.” Kyrgyzstan President Askar Akayev, who’d fled the country from an uprising, signed a resignation agreement. Coaches Jim Boeheim and Jim Calhoun were elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Today’s Birthdays: Author-poet Maya Angelou is 78. Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Richard Lugar (Republican, Indiana) is 74. Recording executive Clive Davis is 74. Bandleader Hugh Masekela is 67. Author Kitty Kelley is 64. Actor Craig T. Nelson is 62. Actor Walter Charles is 61. Actress Caroline McWilliams is 61. Actress Christine Lahti is 56. Country singer Steve Gatlin (The Gatlin Brothers) is 55. Writer-producer David E. Kelley is 50. Actor Phil Morris is 47. Actress Lorraine Toussaint is 46. Actor Hugo Weaving is 46. Rock musician Craig Adams (The Cult) is 44. Actor David Cross is 42. Actor Robert Downey Junior is 41. Actress Nancy McKeon is 40. Actor Barry Pepper is 36. Country singer Clay Davidson is 35. Singer Jill Scott is 34. Rock musician Magnus Sveningsson (The Cardigans) is 34. Magician David Blaine is 33. Singer Kelly Price is 33. Rhythm-and-blues singer Andre Dalyrimple (Soul For Real) is 32. Actor Heath Ledger is 27. Actress Natasha Lyonne is 27. Actress Jamie Lynn Spears is 15.

Thought for Today: “The only sure thing about luck is that it will change.” — Bret Harte, American author and journalist (1836-1902).