Today is Friday, April 30, the 121st day of 2004. There are 245 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

One hundred years ago, on April 30th, 1904, the Louisiana Purchase Exposition opened in St. Louis as President Theodore Roosevelt pressed a telegraph key at the White House to signal the official start of the world's fair commemorating the centennial of the Louisiana Purchase, albeit a year late. (The fair drew some 20 million visitors before it closed the following December.)

On this date:

In 1789, George Washington took office in New York as the first president of the United States.

In 1803, the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from France for 60 million francs, the equivalent of about $15 million.

In 1812, Louisiana became the 18th state of the Union.

In 1900, engineer John Luther "Casey" Jones of the Illinois Central Railroad died in a wreck near Vaughan, Miss., after staying at the controls in an effort to save the passengers.

In 1900, Hawaii was organized as a U.S. territory.

In 1939, the New York World's Fair officially opened.

In 1945, as Russian troops approached his Berlin bunker, Adolf Hitler committed suicide along with his wife of one day, Eva Braun.

In 1970, President Nixon announced the U.S. was sending troops into Cambodia, an action that sparked widespread protest.

In 1973, President Nixon announced the resignations of top aides H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, along with Attorney General Richard G. Kleindienst and White House counsel John Dean.

In 1975, the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon fell to Communist forces.

Ten years ago: The counting of ballots began in South Africa's first all-race elections. Some 100,000 men, women and children fleeing ethnic slaughter in Rwanda crossed into neighboring Tanzania.

Five years ago: A bomb exploded at a gay pub in London, killing three people and injuring more than 70. The Reverend Jesse Jackson met with three U.S. soldiers being held prisoner by Yugoslavia.

One year ago: International mediators presented Israeli and Palestinian leaders with a new Middle East "road map," a U.S.-backed blueprint for ending 31 months of violence and establishing a Palestinian state. Mahmoud Abbas took office as Palestinian prime minister. The U.S. Navy withdrew from its disputed Vieques bombing range in Puerto Rico, prompting celebrations by islanders.

Today's Birthdays: Actor Al Lewis is 94. Actress Cloris Leachman is 78. Singer Willie Nelson is 71. Actor Gary Collins is 66. Actor Burt Young is 64. Singer Bobby Vee is 61. Actress Jill Clayburgh is 60. Movie director Allan Arkush is 56. Actor Perry King is 56. Singer Merrill Osmond is 51. Movie director Jane Campion is 50. Actor Paul Gross is 45. Basketball executive Isiah Thomas is 43. Country musician Robert Reynolds (The Mavericks) is 42. Rapper Turbo B (Snap) is 37. Rock musician Clark Vogeler is 35. Rhythm and blues singer Chris "Choc" Dalyrimple (Soul For Real) is 33. Rock musician Chris Henderson (3 Doors Down) is 33. Country singer Carolyn Dawn Johnson is 33. Rock singer J.R. Richards (Dishwalla) is 32. Rhythm and blues singer Jeff Timmons (98 Degrees) is 31. Actor Johnny Galecki is 29. Actress Kirsten Dunst is 22. Country singer Tyler Wilkinson (The Wilkinsons) is 20.

Thought for Today: "More persons, on the whole, are humbugged by believing nothing, than by believing too much." - P.T. Barnum, American showman (1810-1891).

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