October 6, 2009

The Almanac — weekly

Today is Monday, Oct. 12, the 285th day of 2009 with 80 to follow.

This is Columbus Day in the United States.

The moon is waning. The morning stars are Mercury, Venus, Mars and Saturn. The evening stars are Neptune, Jupiter and Uranus.

Those born on this date are under the sign of Libra. They include Elmer Sperry, who devised practical uses for the gyroscope, in 1860; English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams in 1872; comedian and activist Dick Gregory in 1932 (age 77); opera tenor Luciano Pavarotti in 1935; TV correspondent Chris Wallace in 1947 (age 62); singer/actress Susan Anton in 1950 (age 59); actors Adam Rich in 1968 (age 41) and Kirk Cameron in 1970 (age 39); and track star Marion Jones in 1975 (age 34).

On this date in history:

In 1492, Christopher Columbus reached America, making his first landing in the New World on one of the Bahamas Islands. Columbus believed he had reached India.

In 1899, the Boers of the Transvaal and Orange Free State in southern Africa declared war on the British. The Boer War was ended May 31, 1902, by the Treaty of Vereeniging.

In 1915, British nurse Edith Cavell, 49, was executed by a German firing squad in Brussels for helping Allied soldiers escape from German-occupied Belgium during World War I.

In 1960, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev removed one of his shoes and pounded it on his desk during a speech before the United Nations.

In 1964, the Soviet Union launched Voskhod 1 into orbit around Earth, with three cosmonauts aboard. It was the first spacecraft to carry a multi-person crew and the two-day mission was also the first flight performed without space suits.

In 1973, U.S. President Richard Nixon nominated U.S. House of Representatives Minority Leader Gerald Ford, R-Mich., for the vice presidency to replace Spiro Agnew, who had resigned two days earlier.

In 1984, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher escaped injury in the bombing of a hotel in Brighton, England. Four people were killed in the attack, blamed on the Irish Republican Army.

In 1991, Iran agreed to withdraw its 1,500 Revolutionary Guards from Lebanon.

In 1992, more than 500 people were killed and thousands injured when an earthquake rocked Cairo, Egypt.

In 1998, University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard died five days after the 21-year-old gay man was beaten, robbed and left tied to a fence.

In 1999, the elected government of Pakistan was overthrown in an apparently bloodless military coup. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and several other leaders were arrested.

In 2000, 17 sailors were killed when an explosion rocked the USS Cole as it refueled in Yemen. U.S. President Bill Clinton blamed the attack on al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

In 2002, a bomb exploded near two crowded night clubs on the Indonesian island of Bali, killing 202 people.

Also in 2002, the terror continued for Washington area residents as the weeklong death toll from a mysterious sniper reached eight.

In 2003, Uganda said its army rescued more than 400 children held captive by rebels in a remote village north of Kampala.

In 2004, a report of the CIA's top weapons investigator said Saddam Hussein thought U.S. officials knew he had no weapons of mass destruction before the invasion.

In 2005, newly released documents charged that the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Los Angeles allegedly shielded priests accused of sexual abuse by moving them from one parish to another.

In 2006, a London man admitted helping plan terrorist attacks in Britain and the United States, including at the New York Stock Exchange.

In 2007, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to publicize a man-made climate change and explain how to counteract it.

Also in 2007, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the United States against installing missile defense facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic.

In 2008, the 15 countries of the Eurozone agreed on an emergency deal to guarantee financial debt for five years and to take a direct stake in banks if needed. The countries also agreed to shore up interbank markets to jump-start lending.

A thought for the day: Chinese educator, writer and diplomat Tehyi Hsieh said, The key to success isn't much good until one discovers the right lock to insert it in.Today is Tuesday, Oct. 13, the 286th day of 2009 with 79 to follow.

The moon is waning. The morning stars are Mercury, Venus, Mars and Saturn. The evening stars are Neptune, Jupiter and Uranus.

Those born on this date are under the sign of Libra. They include American Revolutionary War heroine Molly Pitcher in 1754; actress Lillie Langtry in 1853; actor Cornel Wilde in 1915; puppeteer Burr Tillstrom in 1917; actor/singer Yves Montand in 1921; former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1925 (age 84); comedian Lenny Bruce also in 1925; Jesse L. Brown, the first black American naval aviator, in 1926; actress Melinda Dillon in 1939 (age 70); singer/songwriter Paul Simon in 1941 (age 68); rocker Sammy Hagar in 1947 (age 62); Chris Carter, creator of The X-Files, in 1956 (age 53); entertainer Marie Osmond in 1959 (age 50); actress Kelly Preston in 1962 (age 47); and figure skater Nancy Kerrigan in 1969 (age 40).

On this date in history:

In 54 AD, the Roman Emperor Claudius was poisoned by his fourth wife, Agrippina.

In 1775, the Continental Congress ordered construction of America's first naval fleet.

In 1792, the cornerstone to the White House was laid. It would be November 1800 before the first presidential family (that of John Adams) moved in.

In 1903, the Boston Red Sox beat the Pittsburgh Pirates to win the first World Series, five games to three.

In 1943, conquered by the Allies, Italy declared war on Germany, its former partner.

In 1972, more than 170 people were killed when a Soviet airliner crashed near the Moscow airport.

In 1977, four Palestinians hijacked a Lufthansa airliner in an unsuccessful attempt to force release of 11 imprisoned members of German terrorists called the Red Army Faction.

In 1987, Costa Rican President Oscar Arias Sanchez was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize -- the first winner from Central America.

In 1990, Lebanese Christian military leader Michel Aoun ended his two-year mutiny, ordered his forces to surrender, and sought refuge in the French Embassy in Beirut after Syrian-backed Lebanese government troops attacked his headquarters.

In 1991, the Group of Seven industrialized democracies agreed to formulate a Soviet economic reform program with Moscow.

In 1992, the first pig liver transplant patient died in a Los Angeles hospital 30 hours after surgery and just hours before she was to get a human organ.

In 1993, the U.N. Security Council voted to reinstate an oil and arms embargo against Haiti after its military leaders refused to step down as promised.

In 1994, two months after the Irish Republican Army announced a cease-fire. Protestant paramilitaries in Northern Ireland did the same.

In 1999, the U.S. Senate rejected a treaty signed by the United States that banned underground nuclear testing. Despite that, U.S. President Bill Clinton pledged to abide by the treaty's provisions.

In 2003 sports, jockey Bill Shoemaker, one of horse racing's most renowned figures who won nearly 9,000 races, died at his home in San Marino, Calif. He was 72.

In 2004, investigators reported unearthing a mass grave in northern Iraq containing hundreds of bodies of women and children believed killed in the 1980s.

In 2005, about 128 people were killed in clashes between Islamic militants and law enforcement officers in the southern Russian town of Nalchik.

In 2006, Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus, dubbed the banker to the poor, won the Nobel Peace Prize for grassroots efforts to lift millions out of poverty.

Also in 2006, U.S. Rep. Robert Ney, R-Ohio, the only congressman charged in the Washington lobbying scandal, pleaded guilty to conspiracy in a deal calling for a 27-month prison sentence.

In 2007, Russia said it favored multi-national negotiations over unilateral sanctions against Iran in their nuclear dispute. The United States wanted tougher penalties in an effort to persuade Iran to halt its uranium enrichment program.

In 2008, U.S. markets surged after European leaders announced plans to shore up their financial systems. The Dow Jones industrial average took a record leap of 936.43 points, soaring 11.08 percent to 9,387.61, thus grabbing back a large chunk of losses from its worst week in 112 years when the DJIA dropped nearly 2,400 points. The Nasdaq composite and the Standard & Poor 500 also gained better than 11 percent.

Also in 2008, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and U.S. and British officials concluded there can be no military victory over Taliban insurgents, Time magazine said. All were reportedly urging negotiation of a political deal.

A thought for the day: French playwright Pierre Corneille said, To win without risk is to triumph without glory.Today is Wednesday, Oct. 14, the 287th day of 2009 with 78 to follow.

The moon is waning. The morning stars are Mercury, Venus, Mars and Saturn. The evening stars are Neptune, Jupiter and Uranus.

Those born on this date are under the sign of Libra. They include William Penn, the English Quaker who founded Pennsylvania, in 1644; Irish political leader Eamon de Valera in 1882; Dwight D. Eisenhower, World War II military leader and 34th president of the United States, in 1890; poet E.E. Cummings in 1894; actress Lillian Gish in 1893; singer Allan Jones in 1907; former basketball Coach John Wooden in 1910 (age 99); former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop in 1916 (age 93); actor Roger Moore in 1927 (age 82); Watergate figure John Dean in 1938 (age 71); designer Ralph Lauren in 1939 (age 70); British pop singer Cliff Richard in 1940 (age 69); and actors Harry Anderson in 1952 (age 57) and Greg Evigan in 1953 (age 56).

On this date in history:

In 1066, William, Duke of Normandy, better known as William the Conqueror, led his invading army to victory over England's King Harold at Hastings.

In 1912, former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, campaigning for a return to office, was shot in Milwaukee. He refused to have the wound treated until he finished his speech.

In 1944, British and Greek troops liberated Athens, ending three years of World War II occupation by German troops.

In 1947, U.S. Air Force Capt. Chuck Yeager, 24, flying a Bell X-1, became the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound.

In 1964, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., 35. became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

In 1977, Bing Crosby, one of the most popular singers of his day and winner of the best actor Academy Award for his role in Going My Way, died of a heart attack while playing golf in Madrid. He was 74.

In 1992, the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Oakland A's, 4 games to 2, to win the American League pennant and become the first Canadian team to go to the World Series.

In 1993, gunmen killed Haitian Justice Minister Guy Malary, who'd been appointed by President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, in an apparent attempt to scuttle the agreement to return Aristide to power.

In 1994, the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier by Palestinian extremists ended with the soldier and four others being killed in a shootout. The same day, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO leader Yasser Arafat.

In 1996, the Dow Jones industrial average cracked 6,000, closing at a record 6,010.

In 2005, on the eve of the Iraqi constitutional referendum, insurgents focused attacks on Iraq's largest Sunni Party and disrupted much of Baghdad's electrical services with an attack on the city's main power line.

In 2006, the U.N. Security Council unanimously agreed to impose sanctions on North Korea for its nuclear test.

In 2007, two new misconduct inquiries were ordered into the political past of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Also in 2007, rock slides killed at least 21 people in Colombia after rumors of gold sent them digging in a mine southwest of Bogota. Ten others were reported missing.

In 2008, U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said he found the idea of the government buying stakes in nine large banks to help restore confidence in the financial system to be objectionable. Paulson says he objected to government owning a stake in any private U.S. company but added, The alternative of leaving businesses and consumers without access to financing is totally unacceptable.

Also in 2008, the Canadian Conservative Party, led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, retained power by defeating the Liberal Party in the national elections.

A thought for the day: American author Margaret Sangster said, Creative genius is a divinely bestowed gift which is the coronation of the few.Today is Thursday, Oct. 15, the 288th day of 2009 with 77 to follow.

The moon is waning. The morning stars are Mercury, Venus, Mars and Saturn. The evening stars are Neptune, Jupiter and Uranus.

Those born on this date are under the sign of Libra. They include Roman poet Virgil in 70 B.C.; German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche in 1844; boxing champion John L. Sullivan in 1858; English writer and humorist P.G. Wodehouse in 1881; film producer Mervyn LeRoy, in 1900; picture archivist Otto Bettmann in 1903; writer and historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. in 1917; author Mario Puzo (The Godfather) in 1920; former Chrysler Corp. Chairman Lee Iacocca in 1924 (age 85); actress Linda Lavin in 1937 (age 72); actress/director Penny Marshall in 1942 (age 67); Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer in 1945 (age 64); pop singers Richard Carpenter in 1946 (age 63) and Tito Jackson in 1953 (age 56); and Sarah, Duchess of York, in 1959 (age 50).

On this date in history:

In 1917, the most famous spy of World War I, Gertrude Zelle, better known as Mata Hari, was executed by a firing squad outside Paris.

In 1946, Nazi Reichsmarshal Herman Goering, sentenced to death as a war criminal, committed suicide in his prison cell on the eve of his scheduled execution.

In 1951, I Love Lucy, TV's first long-running sitcom and still seen in syndication, made its debut.

In 1964, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev was ousted and replaced by Alexei Kosygin and Leonid Brezhnev.

In 1984, astronomers in Pasadena, Calif., displayed the first photographic evidence of another solar system 293 trillion miles from Earth.

In 1990, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

In 1991, the Senate confirmed Clarence Thomas as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court by a vote of 52-48, the closest confirmation vote in court history.

In 1992, a man who terrorized the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don for more than a decade with a series of more than 50 grisly killings was sentenced to death.

In 1993, South Africa's President F.W. de Klerk and African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela were named winners of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Also in 1993, the Pentagon censured three U.S. Navy admirals who organized the Tailhook Association convention in 1991 during which scores of women had been subjected to abuse and indignities by junior officers.

And in 1993, Russia's ousted vice president, Alekandr Rutskoi, and the speaker of the parliament, Ruslan Khasbulatov, were charged with ordering mass disorders in the bloody street fighting between supporters and opponents of President Boris Yeltsin that left almost 200 people dead.

In 1994, Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide returned to Haiti three years after being driven into exile by a military coup.

In 1999, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the international group Doctors Without Borders.

In 2001, a package containing a substance believed to be anthrax was opened in the personal office of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D.

In 2002, the Washington-area sniper claimed his ninth fatality, a female FBI analyst, as the massive manhunt continued.

Also in 2002, former ImClone Chief Executive Officer Samuel Waksal pleaded guilty to insider trading as part of an ongoing investigation into the trading of shares from his biotech company, which also involved home decor diva and Waksal friend Martha Stewart.

In 2003, 10 people were killed and dozens injured when a New York ferry, transporting passengers from Manhattan, slammed into a pier on Staten Island.

Also in 2003, China became the third nation to launch a man into space. He landed safely the next day after orbiting the Earth 14 times.

In 2004, the United Nations said it was getting reports of attacks against internally displaced people in Sudan's strife-torn Darfur region where tens of thousands had been killed and 1.6 million others displaced.

In 2005, millions of Iraqis went to the polls to vote on a new constitution. There were incidents of violence but they were not widespread.

In 2007, Chinese President Hu Jintao, in his inaugural address to the 17th party Congress, said his nation needed to improve institutions of democracy.

In 2008, the U.S. government racked up a record $455 billion deficit in fiscal 2008, an even larger shortfall than expected, officials report. Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., called the situation a fiscal and economic mess of historic proportions that would take years to dig our way out. The previous year's shortfall was $162 billion.

Also in 2008, analysts said the $700 billion U.S. bailout designed to put the financial market back on its feet isn't going to help the underlying economy. The New York Times said that while credit markets show signs of improvement, the economy remains on the brink of recession.

A thought for the day: Arthur Conan Doyle wrote, Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself but talent instantly recognizes genius.Today is Friday, Oct. 16, the 289th day of 2009 with 76 to follow.

The moon is waning. The morning stars are Mercury, Venus, Mars and Saturn. The evening stars are Neptune, Jupiter and Uranus.

Those born on this day are under the sign of Libra. They include lexicographer Noah Webster in 1758; Irish author and dramatist Oscar Wilde in 1854; David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, in 1886; playwright Eugene O'Neill in 1888; Irish revolutionist Michael Collins in 1890; Supreme Court Justice William Orville Douglas in 1898; German novelist Gunter Grass in 1927 (age 82); actor Barry Corbin in 1940 (age 69); actresses Linda Darnell in 1923; Angela Lansbury in 1925 (age 84) and Suzanne Somers in 1946 (age 63); Grateful Dead co-founder Bob Weir in 1947 (age 62); actor Tim Robbins in 1958 (age 51); and actress Kellie Martin in 1975 (age 34).

On this date in history:

In 1701, Yale University was founded.

In 1793, French Queen Marie Antoinette was beheaded.

In 1859, abolitionist John Brown led a raid on the federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry, Va. He was convicted of treason and hanged.

In 1868, America's first department store, ZCMI, opened in Salt Lake City.

In 1916, the nation's first birth control clinic was opened in New York by Margaret Sanger and two other women.

In 1946, at Nuremberg, Germany, 10 high-ranking Nazi officials were executed by hanging for World War II war crimes. Hermann Goering, founder of the Gestapo and chief of the German air force, was to have been among them but he committed suicide in his cell the night before.

In 1964, China detonated its first atomic bomb.

In 1972, a light plane carrying House Democratic leader Hale Boggs of Louisiana and three other men was reported missing in Alaska. The plane was never found.

In 1984, black Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa won the Nobel Peace Prize for his struggle against apartheid.

In 1991, George Hennard killed 22 people and then took his own life after driving his pickup truck through the front window of Luby's Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas.

In 1998, Protestant David Trimble and Roman Catholic John Hume, both political leaders in Northern Ireland, were named winners of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize for their work toward bringing peace to Ulster.

In 2002, U.S. President George Bush signed into law the joint congressional resolution authorizing him to use military force if necessary to rid Iraq of its suspected weapons of mass destruction.

In 2003, the U.N. Security Council unanimously passed a resolution endorsing a U.S.-led multinational force in Iraq.

In 2004, the World Health Organization said smoke from home stoves and fires in developing countries had become a major cause of death and disease.

Also in 2004, in a letter to fans on her Web site, homemaking guru Martha Stewart assured all she was adjusting to life in a West Virginia federal prison which she described as like an old-fashioned college campus -- without the freedom, of course.

In 2005, Louisiana state officials were investigating the possibility of euthanasia in 215 deaths at 19 New Orleans hospitals and nursing homes in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

In 2006, U.S. intelligence officials confirmed an underground explosion in North Korea a week before was the test of a nuclear device. The explosive yield was reported less than 1 kiloton of conventional explosives.

In 2007, Iraqi officials said their investigation of the killing of Iraqi citizens by Blackwater USA, a private security firm under contract to the U.S. State Department indicates the shootings were unprovoked.

In 2008, the latest Gallup poll gave Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama a 6-percentage-point nationwide lead over Republican nominee John McCain with less than a month before the election.

Also in 2008, U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus was reported developing an assessment for strategy for Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and surrounding regions. The assessment will aim toward a new campaign plan for the Middle East and Central Asia, where Petraeus will oversee military operations.

A thought for the day: Irish author and dramatist Oscar Wilde's dying words were said to have been, This wallpaper is killing me; one of us has got to go.Today is Saturday, Oct. 17, the 290th day of 2009 with 75 to follow.

The moon is waning. The morning stars are Mercury, Venus, Mars and Saturn. The evening stars are Neptune, Jupiter and Uranus.

Those born on this day are under the sign of Libra. They include Jupiter Hammon, America's first published black poet, in 1711; actress Irene Ryan in 1902; big band trombonist and wide-eyed comic Jerry Colonna, best remembered as a featured comedian on Bob Hope shows, in 1905; playwright Arthur Miller in 1915; actress Rita Hayworth in 1918; actor Montgomery Clift in 1920; actor Tom Poston in 1921; newspaper columnist Jimmy Breslin in 1930 (age 79); daredevil Robert Evel Knievel in 1938; actors Michael McKean in 1947 (age 62) and Margot Kidder and George Wendt, both in 1948 (age 61); former astronaut Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in space, in 1956 (age 53); and rapper Eminem in 1972 (age 37).

On this date in history:

In 1777, at one of the turning points of the American Revolution, British Gen. John Burgoyne surrendered to American Gen. Horatio Gates at Saratoga, N.Y.

In 1945, Juan Peron became dictator of Argentina. He remained in power for 11 years before being overthrown.

In 1973, the Arab-dominated Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said it would cut oil exports to the United States and other nations that provided military aid to Israel in the Yom Kippur War of October 1973. A full oil embargo hit the United States in December causing a serious energy crisis.

In 1979, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, a Roman Catholic nun who cared for the sick and poor, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

In 1986, Congress passed a landmark immigration bill, the first U.S. law authorizing penalties for employers who hire illegal aliens.

In 1989, the most powerful California earthquake since the legendary temblor of 1906 struck the San Francisco Bay Area at evening rush hour, just before the scheduled start of Game Three of the World Series in San Francisco between the Giants and the Oakland A's. At least 67 people were killed.

In 1990, U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar said military force would be a legitimate response to the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait if sanctions did not work.

In 1996, O.J. Simpson, who had been acquitted in a highly publicized trial of killing his estranged wife and her friend, went on trial in civil court in a suit brought by the victims' families and accusing him of responsibility for the deaths.

In 1998, by request of Spanish authorities, British police arrested former Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet for questioning about crimes of genocide and terrorism that include murder.

In 2001 the anthrax scare continued as the U.S. Congress began closing down for security sweeps after 321 staff members and police tested positive for exposure to anthrax.

In 2004, Brazil authorized its air force to shoot down planes suspected of smuggling drugs.

In 2005, General Motors estimated it would save about $1 billion a year under an agreement with the United Auto Workers Union to cut annual health benefits for workers and retirees.

Also in 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a government demand for $280 billion in penalties from American cigarette makers.

In 2006, North Korea termed U.N. sanctions to punish it for its recent nuclear test a declaration of war. Reports meanwhile said there was evidence a second nuclear test was planned.

In 2007, Israeli President Shimon Peres said Israel did not intend to split Jerusalem, a matter often brought up during Palestinian peace talks. But, the minister in charge of strategic affairs said he did not believe Israel needed to retain control over certain parts of the city if future peace agreements call for such an arrangement.

In 2008, Iraq and the United States reported completion of a draft of a security agreement which called for all U.S. troops to be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of 2011, depending on conditions there.

Also in 2008, Tim Mahoney, a first-term U.S. Democratic Florida congressman, admitted having several affairs, officials say. Mahoney succeeded the resigned Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., linked to an earlier sex-tinted scandal.

A thought for the day: Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote, With love one can live even without happiness.Today is Sunday, Oct. 18, the 291st day of 2009 with 74 to follow.

The moon is new. The morning stars are Mercury, Venus, Mars and Saturn. The evening stars are Neptune, Jupiter and Uranus.

Those born on this day are under the sign of Libra. They include novelist Fannie Hurst in 1889; former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in 1919; former Republican Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina, in 1921; Greek actress Melina Mercouri in 1925; rock 'n' roll legend Chuck Berry in 1926 (age 83); actors George C. Scott in 1927 and Peter Boyle in 1935; Lee Harvey Oswald, assumed assassin of President John F. Kennedy, in 1939; former pro football star and coach Mike Ditka in 1939 (age 70); actor Joe Morton in 1947 (age 62); actress Pam Dawber in 1951 (age 58); musician Wynton Marsalis in 1961 (age 48); and actor Jean-Claude Van Damme and actress Erin Moran (Happy Days), both in 1960 (age 49).

On this date in history:

In 1776, the border between Maryland and Pennsylvania was settled. Dubbed the Mason-Dixon line, it became the unofficial boundary between North and South.

In 1898, the United States took control of Puerto Rico one year after Spain had granted self-rule to the Caribbean nation.

In 1922, the British Broadcasting Corp. was established.

In 1931, Thomas Alva Edison, one of the most prolific inventors in history, died in West Orange, N.J., at the age of 84.

In 1959, the Soviet Union announced an unmanned space vehicle had taken the first pictures of the far side of the moon.

In 1974, the jury in the Watergate cover-up trial heard a tape recording in which U.S. President Richard Nixon told aide John Dean to try to stop the Watergate burglary investigation before it implicated White House personnel.

In 1984, U.S. President Ronald Reagan ordered an investigation of a CIA handbook for Nicaraguan rebels that suggested assassination as a political tactic.

In 1990, Iraq, pinched by economic sanctions, offered to sell oil to anyone at half the going price.

In 1991, Israel and the Soviet Union agreed to renew full diplomatic relations for the first time since 1967.

Also in 1991, the United States and Soviet Union formally invited Israeli and Arab leaders to a conference in Spain to initiate direct bilateral peace talks.

In 1992, numerous civilians were killed or wounded when Serbian forces unleashed a citywide artillery barrage on Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

In 2002, North Korea revealed it was working on a secret nuclear weapons program and U.S. intelligence officials concluded that Pakistan was a major supplier of critical equipment for it.

In 2004, exhumation orders were issued for 42 bodies in Sonthofen, Germany, where a hospital orderly admitted to giving lethal injections to 16 patients.

In 2005, Iraqi election officials said parliamentary election results would be delayed a few days while procedures were checked at 12 voting sites where as many as 99 percent of ballots favored a new constitution.

Also in 2005, Iran sought to have former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein charged also with genocide and the use of chemical weapons in the war with Iran when he goes on trial for war crimes in Baghdad.

In 2006, despite opposition in both countries, the U.S. government reportedly was pressing the Iraqi government to offer a broad amnesty to insurgents.

In 2007, former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto returned home after eight years in exile to triumphant fanfare that gave way to panic when a suicide bomber killed a reported 139 people in her convoy. Bhutto survived the attack.

In 2008, public health officials in North Bay, Ontario, say the number of people sickened by E. coli bacteria at Harvey's fast-food restaurant has risen to 131. Inspectors say hamburgers are the suspected source.

Also in 2008, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai agreed to share power but after a week of intense negotiations they say they are getting nowhere. They can't decide who runs the police and financial ministries.

A thought for the day: French author George Sand (Amandine Aurore Lucile Dupin) said, Simplicity is the essence of the great, the true and the beautiful in art.