Today is Wednesday, April 8, the 98th day of 2009. There are 267 days left in the year. The Jewish holiday Passover begins at sunset.
Today's Highlight in History:
On April 8, 1974, Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves hit his 715th career home run in a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, breaking Babe Ruth's record.
On this date:
In 1513, explorer Juan Ponce de Leon and his expedition began exploring the Florida coastline.
In 1913, the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, providing for direct popular election of United States senators (as opposed to appointment by state legislatures), was ratified.
In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Emergency Relief Appropriations Act, which provided money for programs such as the Works Progress Administration.
In 1946, the League of Nations assembled in Geneva for its final session.
In 1952, President Harry S. Truman seized the steel industry to avert a nationwide strike. (The U.S. Supreme Court later ruled that Truman had overstepped his authority.)
In 1970, the Senate rejected President Richard M. Nixon's nomination of G. Harold Carswell to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In 1973, artist Pablo Picasso died at his home near Mougins, France, at age 91.
In 1988, TV evangelist Jimmy Swaggart resigned from the Assemblies of God after he was defrocked for rejecting an order from the church's national leaders to stop preaching for a year amid reports he'd consorted with a prostitute.
In 1990, Ryan White, the teenage AIDS patient whose battle for acceptance gained national attention, died in Indianapolis at age 18.
In 1994, Kurt Cobain, singer and guitarist for the grunge band Nirvana, was found dead in Seattle from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound; he was 27.
Ten years ago: At a White House news conference, President Bill Clinton said NATO could still win in Kosovo by air power alone, and he expressed hope for an early release of three American POWs; also at the session with reporters was visiting Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji, who promised to cooperate in investigations of alleged nuclear-weapons spying and illegal campaign contributions by Beijing.
Five years ago: National security adviser Condoleezza Rice told the Sept. 11 commission "there was no silver bullet" that could have prevented the attacks. Iraqi insurgents released a videotape of three Japanese captives, threatening to burn them alive if Japan did not withdraw its troops from Iraq. (The hostages were later released unharmed.) Fred Olivi, who copiloted the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki, died in Lemont, Ill., at age 82.
One year ago: The top U.S. commander in Iraq, Army Gen. David Petraeus, told Congress that hard-won gains in the war zone were too fragile to promise any troop pullouts beyond the summer as he held his ground against impatient Democrats and refused to commit to more withdrawals before President George W. Bush left office in January 2009. American Airlines grounded all 300 of its MD-80 jetliners amid safety concerns about wiring bundles; the carrier ended up canceling more than 3,000 flights over the next four days. Tennessee captured its eighth women's NCAA championship with a 64-48 victory over Stanford.
Today's Birthdays: Former first lady Betty Ford is 91. Comedian Shecky Greene is 83. Actor-turned-diplomat John Gavin is 78. Author and investigative reporter Seymour Hersh is 72. Basketball Hall-of-Famer John Havlicek is 69. "Mouseketeer" Darlene Gillespie is 68. Singer J.J. Jackson is 68. Singer Peggy Lennon (The Lennon Sisters) is 68. Songwriter-producer Leon Huff is 67. Actor Hywel Bennett is 65. Actor Stuart Pankin is 63. Rock musician Steve Howe (Yes) is 62. Movie director John Madden ("Shakespeare in Love") is 60. Rock musician Mel Schacher (Grand Funk Railroad) is 58. Baseball Hall-of-Famer Gary Carter is 55. Actor John Schneider is 49. Rock musician Izzy Stradlin is 47. Singer Julian Lennon is 46. Rock singer-musician Donita Sparks is 46. Rapper Biz Markie is 45. Actress Robin Wright Penn is 43. Actress Patricia Arquette is 41. Rock singer Craig Honeycutt (Everything) is 39. Rock musician Darren Jessee is 38. Actress Emma Caulfield is 36. Actress Katee Sackhoff is 29. Actor Taylor Kitsch is 28. Rock singer-musician Ezra Koenig (Vampire Weekend) is 25. Actor Taran Noah Smith is 25. Actress Kirsten Storms is 25.
Thought for Today: "A highbrow is a person educated beyond his intelligence." James Brander Matthews, American author and educator (1852-1929).