The Almanac

By United Press International   |   Oct. 18, 2002 at 3:30 AM

Today is Friday, Oct. 18, the 291st day of 2002 with 74 to follow.

The moon is waxing, moving toward its first quarter.

The morning stars are Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

The evening stars are Venus, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.

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; Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., leading Senate conservative, in 1921 (age 81); Greek actress Melina Mercouri in 1925; rock 'n' roll legend Chuck Berry in 1926 (age 76); actors George C. Scott in 1927 and Peter Boyle in 1933 (age 69); Lee Harvey Oswald, assumed assassin of President John F. Kennedy, in 1939; professional football coach Mike Ditka in 1939 (age 63); actor Joe Morton in 1947 (age 55); actress Pam Dawber in 1951 (age 51); actor Jean-Claude Van Damme in 1960 (age 42); and jazz musician Wynton Marsalis and actress Erin Moran ("Happy Days"), both in 1961 (age 41).

On this date in history:

In 1776, the border between Maryland and Pennsylvania was finally 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 only one year after Spain had granted self-rule to the Caribbean nation.

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 President Nixon told aide John Dean to try to stop the Watergate burglary investigation before it implicated White House personnel.

In 1984, President 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 first time since 1967.

Also in 1991, the United States and Soviet Union formally invited Israeli and Arab leaders to a conference in Madrid, 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-Hercegovina.

In 1993, a Los Angeles jury acquitted two black defendants of most charges in the beating of white truck driver Reginald Denny during the 1992 riots.

In 1996, the Democratic National Committee halted fundraising efforts by finance vice-chairman John Huang and returned a contribution from a South Korean business group. Huang also solicited contributions from wealthy Indonesians, one of whom reportedly bragged about his influence in Washington.

In 2001, as anthrax incidents continued, FBI Director Robert Mueller announced a reward of up to $1 million for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for sending anthrax-laden mail, which he called a terrorist act.

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

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