Today is Wednesday, Oct. 8, the 281st day of 2003 with 84 to follow.
The moon is waxing. The morning stars are Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn. The evening stars are Mars, Venus, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.
Those born on this date are under the sign of Virgo. They include World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker in 1890; Argentine dictator Juan Peron in 1895; composer W.C. Handy in 1904; travel guide author Temple Hornaday Fielding in 1913; pioneering South African heart-transplant surgeon Dr. Christiaan Barnard in 1922; actor David Carradine and gossip columnist Rona Barrett, both in 1936 (age 67); civil rights leader Jesse Jackson in 1941 (age 62); "Goosebumps" author R.L. Stine in 1943 (age 60); and actors Paul Hogan in 1939 (age 64), Chevy Chase in 1943 (age 60), Sigourney Weaver in 1949 (age 54) and Matt Damon in 1970 (age 33).
On this date in history:
In 1871, the Great Chicago Fire started on this date. It destroyed more than 17,000 buildings, killed more than 300 people and left 90,000 homeless. That same day, a forest fire broke out at Peshtigo, Wisc., eventually burning some 850 square miles and killing about 1,100 people.
In 1918, Sgt. Alvin York of Tennessee became a World War I hero by single-handedly capturing a hill in the Argonne Forest of France, killing 20 enemy soldiers and capturing 132 others.
In 1919, Congress passed the Volstead Act, prohibiting the sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages.
Also in 1919, the first U.S. transcontinental air race began with 63 planes competing in the round-trip aerial derby between California and New York Each way took about three days.
In 1967, Argentinian-born Communist revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara, an important figure in the 1959 Cuban revolution, was killed while leading a guerrilla war in Bolivia.
In 1990, at least 17 Moslems were killed by Israeli police in rioting on the Temple Mount, the third holiest site in Islam.
In 1991, a federal judge in Anchorage, Alaska, approved a $1 billion settlement against Exxon for the Valdez oil spill.
Also in 1991, former assistant secretary of state Elliott Abrams pleaded guilty to withholding information from Congress in the Iran-Contra scandal.
And in 1991, the Soviet Union agreed to remove an estimated 45,000 troops from Poland by the end of 1992.
In 1992, former West German chancellor Willy Brandt died of intestinal cancer in his house outside Bonn. He was 78.
In 1993, the U.S. Justice Department released its report on its handling of the 51-day siege at the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas. It concluded the department and Attorney General Reno made no mistakes and that the cult bore the blame for the fire that destroyed the compound, killing at least 75 people.
In 1996, the Vatican announced that Pope John Paul II's appendix had been removed.
In 1997, a major hurricane battered Acapulco, Mexico, and vicinity. The death toll was more than 200, with many more people left homeless.
In 1998, the House of Representatives voted 258-176 to begin impeachment hearings against President Clinton.
In 2000, as the Israeli-Palestinian violence continued, President Clinton asked Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to hold an urgent summit meeting.
In 2001, U.S. transport planes dropped 37,000 meals into areas of Afghanistan where mass starvation was feared imminent.
Also in 2001, the United Nations and Secretary-General Kofi Annan shared the Nobel Peace Prize.
In 2002, President Bush invoked the Taft-Hartley Act to get West Coast longshoremen back to work. Employers had shut down the docks 11 days earlier when it appeared contract negotiations were going nowhere.
A thought for the day: French actress Sarah Bernhardt said, "Permanent success cannot be achieved except by incessant intellectual labor, always inspired by the ideal."