Today is Thursday, Oct. 23, the 296th day of 2003 with 69 to follow.
The moon is waning. 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 Scorpio. They include French chef Nicholas Appert, inventor of the canning process, in 1752; Adlai E. Stevenson, vice president under Grover Cleveland from 1893-1897, in 1835; pioneering college football coach John Heisman in 1869; William Coolidge, inventor of the X-ray tube, in 1873; Gertrude Ederle, the first woman to swim the English Channel, in 1906; former "Tonight Show" host Johnny Carson in 1925 (age 78); pro golfer Juan "Chi Chi" Rodriquez in 1934 (age 69); Brazilian soccer player Pele (Edson Arantes do Nascimento) in 1940 (age 63); author Michael Crichton in 1942 (age 61); filmmaker Ang Lee in 1954 (age 49); singers Dwight Yoakum in 1956 (age 47) and "Weird Al" Yankovic in 1959 (age 44); and former football players Doug Flutie and Mike Tomczak, both in 1962 (age 41).
On this date in history:
In 1707, the British Parliament met for the first time.
In 1942, the British Eighth Army launched an offensive at El Alamein in Egypt, a World War II battle that eventually swept the Germans out of North Africa.
In 1945, Jackie Robinson, the first black baseball player hired by a major league team, was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers and sent to their Montreal farm team.
In 1972, earthquakes killed more than 10,000 people in Nicaragua.
In 1983, suicide bomb attacks on American and French peacekeeping troops in Beirut killed 241 U.S. Marines and 58 French soldiers.
In 1989, Hungary formally declared an end to 40 years of communist rule and proclaimed itself a republic, setting the stage for creation of Western-style democracy in the East Bloc state.
In 1990, Iraq released 64 British hostages.
In 1991, the United States announced that all parties invited to the Middle East peace conference had accepted.
In 1993, the Toronto Blue Jays won baseball's World Series for the second year in a row.
In 1995, the Defense Department announced it was ending a program designed to help minority-owned firms secure government contracts.
In 1998, after nine days of tense negotiations at the Wye Conference Center in Queenstown, Md., Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat signed an agreement to revive the stalled Middle East peace process.
Also in 1998, Dr. Barnett Slepian, an obstetrician who performed abortions, was shot to death by a sniper who fired a bullet through a widow of Slepian's home in Amherst, N.Y. He had been the target of anti-abortion protesters for years.
In 2001, U.S.-led forces maintained their intense pressure on the Taliban, pounding positions around the Afghan capitol of Kabul and the militia's southern stronghold of Kandahar for the 17th consecutive day.
Also in 2001, Vice President Dick Cheney was given the International Republican Institute's 2001 Freedom Award. He promised the war against terrorism being waged in Afghanistan would be "relentless."
In 2002, a group of 20 Chechen gunmen stormed a Moscow theater, taking hostage more than 700 members of the audience, actors, and theater staff, and demanding an end to the war in the separatist republic.
Also in 2002, authorities say the sniper who has terrorized the Washington region for the past three weeks -- killing 10 people and wounding three others -- has demanded $10 million in cash and threatened to begin attacking children of the area if demands are not met.
A thought for the day: The New Testament says, "Charity shall cover a multitude of sins."