Today is Friday, April 1, the 91st day of 2011. There are 274 days left in the year. This is April Fool's Day.
Today's Highlight in History:
On April 1, 1945, American forces launched the amphibious invasion of Okinawa during World War II.
On this date:
In 1853, Cincinnati, Ohio, established a fire department made up of paid city employees.
In 1918, the Royal Air Force was established in Britain.
In 1933, Nazi Germany began persecuting Jews with a boycott of Jewish-owned businesses.
In 1939, the United States recognized the government of Gen. Francisco Franco in Spain, the same day Franco went on radio to declare victory in the Spanish Civil War.
In 1946, tidal waves struck the Hawaiian islands, resulting in more than 170 deaths.
In 1960, the first true weather satellite, TIROS-1, was launched from Cape Canaveral. (TIROS stood for "Television Infrared Observation Satellite.")
In 1961, the sedative thalidomide was made available by prescription in Canada. (The drug, which was taken by pregnant women to relieve morning sickness, was found to cause devastating birth defects.)
In 1970, President Richard M. Nixon signed a measure banning cigarette advertising on radio and television, to take effect after Jan. 1, 1971.
In 1984, recording star Marvin Gaye was shot to death by his father, Marvin Gay (cq) Sr. in Los Angeles, the day before his 45th birthday. (The elder Gay pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, and received probation.)
In 1991, cable TV's Comedy Central was created through a merger of HBO's The Comedy Channel and Viacom's Ha!
Ten years ago: A U.S. Navy surveillance plane collided with a Chinese fighter over the South China Sea, then made an emergency landing on China's Hainan island. (The Chinese pilot was killed; the 24 U.S. crew members were unhurt, but were held prisoner by China for a tense eleven days.) The modern world's first official same-sex weddings took place in the Netherlands. Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was arrested on corruption charges after a 26-hour armed standoff with police at his Belgrade villa. Notre Dame won its first national championship in women's basketball, defeating Purdue 66-64.
Five years ago: Former hostage Jill Carroll arrived in Germany, where the freelance American journalist strongly disavowed statements she had made during her captivity in Iraq and shortly after her release, saying she'd been repeatedly threatened. Two American pilots were killed when their Apache helicopter was shot down near Baghdad.
One year ago: Roman Catholic cardinals across Europe used their Holy Thursday sermons to defend Pope Benedict XVI from accusations he'd played a role in covering up sex abuse scandals. Dayton denied the previous year's national champs another title as the Flyers beat North Carolina 79-68 to win the NIT. Actor John Forsythe, 92, died in Santa Ynez, Calif.
Today's Birthdays: Actress Jane Powell is 83. Actress Grace Lee Whitney is 81. Actress Debbie Reynolds is 79. Country singer Jim Ed Brown is 77. Actor Don Hastings is 77. Blues singer Eddie King is 73. Actress Ali MacGraw is 73. Rhythm-and-blues singer Rudolph Isley is 72. Reggae singer Jimmy Cliff is 63. Jazz musician Gil Scott-Heron is 62. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is 61. Rock musician Billy Currie (Ultravox) is 61. Actress Annette O'Toole is 59. Movie director Barry Sonnenfeld is 58. Singer Susan Boyle (TV: "Britain's Got Talent") is 50. Country singer Woody Lee is 43. Rapper-actor Method Man is 40. Movie directors Albert and Allen Hughes are 39. Political commentator Rachel Maddow is 38. Tennis player Magdalena Maleeva is 36. Actor David Oyelowo is 35. Singer Bijou Phillips is 31. Actor Sam Huntington is 29. Actor Matt Lanter is 28. Actor Josh Zuckerman is 26.
Thought for Today: "The only sin is mediocrity." -- Martha Graham, American modern dance pioneer (born 1894, died this date in 1991).
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)