Today is Thursday, April 24, the 115th day of 2008. There are 251 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On April 24, 1916, some 1,600 Irish nationalists launched the Easter Rising by seizing several key sites in Dublin, Ireland. (The rising was put down by British forces almost a week later.)

On this date:

In 1792, the national anthem of France, "La Marseillaise," was composed by Captain Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle.

In 1800, Congress approved a bill establishing the Library of Congress.

In 1877, federal troops were ordered out of New Orleans, ending the North's post-Civil War rule in the South.

In 1898, Spain declared war on the United States after rejecting America's ultimatum to withdraw from Cuba.

In 1915, the Ottoman Empire began the brutal mass deportation of Armenians during World War I.

In 1953, British statesman Winston Churchill was knighted by Queen Elizabeth ll.

In 1970, the People's Republic of China launched its first satellite, which kept transmitting a song, "The East is Red."

In 1980, the United States launched an unsuccessful attempt to free the American hostages in Iran, a mission that resulted in the deaths of eight U.S. servicemen.

In 1986, Wallis, the Duchess of Windsor, for whom King Edward VIII had given up the British throne, died in Paris.

In 1988, Greek cycling champion Kanellos Kanellopoulos pedaled the human-powered aircraft "Daedalus 88" over the Aegean Sea for nearly four hours.

Ten years ago: After a month of confrontation, Russian lawmakers caved in to President Boris Yeltsin, approving the acting prime minister, 35-year-old Sergei Kiriyenko, as premier. (Kiriyenko was fired just four months later.) In Edinboro, Pa., science teacher John Gillette was shot to death at a middle school graduation dance; the gunman, 14-year-old Andrew Wurst, later pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison.

Five years ago: U.S. forces in Iraq took custody of Tariq Aziz, the former Iraqi deputy prime minister. China shut down a Beijing hospital as the global death toll from SARS surpassed 260. In Red Lion, Pa., 14-year-old James Sheets shot and killed principal Eugene Segro inside a crowded junior high cafeteria, then killed himself.

One year ago: In a harsh exchange, Vice President Dick Cheney accused Democratic leader Harry Reid of personally pursuing a defeatist strategy in Iraq to win votes at home _ a charge Reid dismissed as President Bush's "attack dog" lashing out. European astronomers announced they had found a potentially habitable planet outside the solar system. Warren Avis, the founder of Avis Rent A Car, died in Ann Arbor, Mich., at age 92.

Today's Birthdays: Film and drama critic Stanley Kauffmann is 92. Movie director-producer Richard Donner is 78. Actress Shirley MacLaine is 74. Author Sue Grafton is 68. Actor-singer Michael Parks is 68. Actress-singer-director Barbra Streisand is 66. Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley is 66. Country singer Richard Sterban (The Oak Ridge Boys) is 65. Rock musician Doug Clifford (Creedence Clearwater Revival) is 63. Rock singer-musician Rob Hyman is 58. Actor-playwright Eric Bogosian is 55. Actor Michael O'Keefe is 53. Rock musician David J (Bauhaus) is 51. Rock musician Billy Gould is 45. Actor-comedian Cedric the Entertainer is 44. Actor Djimon Hounsou is 44. Rock musician Patty Schemel is 41. Rock musician Aaron Comess (Spin Doctors) is 40. Actress Melinda Clarke is 39. Latin pop singer Alejandro Fernandez is 37. Country-rock musician Brad Morgan (Drive-By Truckers) is 37. Actor Derek Luke is 34. Actor Eric Balfour is 31. Country singer Rebecca Lynn Howard is 29. Actress Rebecca Mader (TV: "Lost") is 29. Singer Kelly Clarkson is 26.

Thought for Today: "I know of no method to secure the repeal of bad or obnoxious laws so effective as their stringent execution." _ Ulysses S. Grant, U.S. President (1822-1885).

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