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This Day in History

In 1974, Hank Aaron hit his 715th career home run against the LA Dodgers, breaking Babe Ruth’s record.

► Today is Easter Sunday, April 8, the 99th day of 2012. There are 267 days left in the year.

► Today’s birthdays: Comedian Shecky Greene is 86. Actor-turned-diplomat John Gavin is 81. Author and investigative reporter Seymour Hersh is 75. Former UN secretary general Kofi Annan is 74. Basketball Hall of Famer John Havlicek is 72. “Mouseketeer’’ Darlene Gillespie is 71. Singer J.J. Jackson is 71. Singer Peggy Lennon (The Lennon Sisters) is 71. Songwriter-producer Leon Huff is 70. Actor Hywel Bennett is 68. Actor Stuart Pankin is 66. Rock musician Steve Howe (Yes) is 65. Former House Republican Leader Tom DeLay is 65. Movie director John Madden is 63. Rock musician Mel Schacher (Grand Funk Railroad) is 61. Actor John Schneider is 52. “Survivor’’ winner Richard Hatch is 51. Rock musician Izzy Stradlin is 50. Singer Julian Lennon is 49. Rock singer-musician Donita Sparks is 49. Rapper Biz Markie is 48. Actress Robin Wright is 46. Actress Patricia Arquette is 44. Rock singer Craig Honeycutt (Everything) is 42. Rock musician Darren Jessee is 41. Actress Emma Caulfield is 39. Actress Katee Sackhoff is 32. Actor Taylor Kitsch is 31. Rock singer-musician Ezra Koenig (Vampire Weekend) is 28. Actor Taran Noah Smith is 28. Actress Kirsten Storms is 28.

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► In 1820, the Venus de Milo statue was discovered by a farmer on the Greek island of Milos.

► In 1911, an explosion at the Banner Coal Mine in Littleton, Ala., claimed the lives of 128 men, most of them convicts loaned out from prisons.

► In 1912, Olympic gold medal figure skater Sonja Henie was born in Kristiania (now Oslo), Norway.

► 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.

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► In 1946, the League of Nations assembled in Geneva for its final session.

► In 1952, President Harry S. Truman issued an executive order seizing the American steel industry to avert a nationwide strike. (The US Supreme Court later ruled that Truman had overstepped his authority, opening the way for a seven-week strike by steelworkers.)

► In 1961, a suspected bomb exploded aboard the passenger liner MV Dara in the Persian Gulf, causing it to sink; 238 of the 819 people aboard were killed.

► In 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.

► In 1981, Army General Omar N. Bradley died in New York at 88.

► In 1990, Ryan White, the teen AIDS patient whose battle for acceptance had gained national attention, died in Indianapolis at age 18.

► In 1992, tennis great Arthur Ashe announced at a New York news conference that he had AIDS (Ashe died in February 1993 of AIDS-related pneumonia at 49).

► 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.

► In 2002, Israel announced it would pull back from two West Bank cities, taking note of President George W. Bush’s plea. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein cut off crude oil exports to demonstrate support for the Palestinians. The New York Times won seven Pulitzer Prizes, six of them related to coverage of the Sept. 11 attacks; Suzan-Lori Parks became the first black woman to win a Pulitzer for drama, for her play “Topdog/Underdog,’’ while Richard Russo won the fiction prize for “Empire Falls.’’

► In 2007, Powerful Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr (mook-TAH’-duh al SAH’-dur) ordered his militiamen to redouble their battle to oust American forces from Iraq and called on the country’s army and police to join him in defeating “your archenemy.’’ Zach Johnson won the Masters with a two-shot victory over Tiger Woods.

► In 2011, congressional and White House negotiators struck a last-minute budget deal ahead of a midnight deadline, averting an embarrassing federal shutdown and cutting billions in spending. A strong aftershock ripped through northeastern Japan, killing two people and piling misery on a region still buried under the rubble of a devastating tsunami.

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