Today is Saturday, April 12, the 103rd day of 2008. There are 263 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On April 12, 1861, the American Civil War began as Confederate forces bombarded Fort Sumter in South Carolina.

On this date:

In 1606, England's King James I decreed the design of the original Union Flag, which combined the flags of England and Scotland.

In 1776, North Carolina's Fourth Provincial Congress authorized the colony's delegates to the Continental Congress to support independence from Britain.

In 1877, the catcher's mask was first used in a baseball game, by James Tyng of Harvard in a game against the Lynn Live Oaks.

In 1908, fire devastated the city of Chelsea, Mass.

In 1934, "Tender Is the Night" by F. Scott Fitzgerald was first published in book form by Charles Scribner's Sons after being serialized in Scribner's Magazine.

In 1945, President Franklin D. Roosevelt died of a cerebral hemorrhage in Warm Springs, Ga., at age 63; he was succeeded by Vice President Harry S. Truman.

In 1955, the Salk vaccine against polio was declared safe and effective.

In 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to fly in space, orbiting the earth once before making a safe landing.

In 1981, the space shuttle Columbia blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on its first test flight.

In 1983, Chicagoans went to the polls to elect Harold Washington the city's first black mayor.

Ten years ago: Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams appealed to IRA supporters to accept Northern Ireland's compromise peace accord. Golfer Mark O'Meara won the Masters title in Augusta, Ga.

Five years ago: Finance officials from the seven richest industrial countries, meeting in Washington, agreed to support a new U.N. Security Council resolution as part of a global effort to rebuild Iraq and promised to begin talks on reducing Iraq's massive foreign debt burden. Rescued POW Jessica Lynch returned to the United States after treatment at a U.S. military hospital in Germany. Women's activists took their fight against the all-male Augusta National as close as they could get to the Masters tournament.

One year ago: A suicide bomber breached security in Iraq's parliament and blew himself up in the dining hall; a Sunni parliament member was killed. CBS fired Don Imus from his radio program for insulting the Rutgers women's basketball team on the air. In the evening, Imus met with team members at the New Jersey governor's mansion in Princeton; Gov. Jon S. Corzine, who was en route to that meeting, was seriously injured when his official vehicle, an SUV, crashed.

Today's Birthdays: Country singer Ned Miller is 83. Actress Jane Withers is 82. Opera singer Montserrat Caballe is 75. Actor Charles Napier is 72. Jazz musician Herbie Hancock is 68. Actor Frank Bank ("Leave It to Beaver") is 66. Rock singer John Kay (Steppenwolf) is 64. Actor Ed O'Neill is 62. Author Tom Clancy is 61. Actor Dan Lauria is 61. Talk show host David Letterman is 61. Author Scott Turow is 59. Singer David Cassidy is 58. Rhythm-and-blues singer JD Nicholas (The Commodores) is 56. Singer Pat Travers is 54. Actor Andy Garcia is 52. Movie director Walter Salles is 52. Country singer Vince Gill is 51. Actress Suzzanne Douglas is 51. Rock musician Will Sergeant (Echo & the Bunnymen) is 50. Rock singer Art Alexakis (Everclear) is 46. Country singer Deryl Dodd is 44. Folk-pop singer Amy Ray (Indigo Girls) is 44. Rock singer Nicholas Hexum (311) is 38. Actor Nicholas Brendon is 37. Actress Shannen Doherty is 37. Actress Jordana Spiro is 31. Rock musician Guy Berryman (Coldplay) is 30. Actress Claire Danes is 29. Actress Jennifer Morrison is 29. Rock singer-musician Brendon Urie (Panic at the Disco) is 21. Actress Saoirse Ronan ("Atonement") is 14.

Thought for Today: "Eternal truths will be neither true nor eternal unless they have fresh meaning for every new social situation." _ President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945).

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