Today is Thursday, Sept. 18, the 262nd day of 2008 with 104 to follow.
The moon is waning. The morning star is Saturn. The evening stars are Mars, Venus, Neptune, Mercury, Jupiter and Uranus.
Those born on this date are under the sign of Virgo. They include English poet and lexicographer Samuel Johnson, writer of the first English dictionary, in 1709; U.S. Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story in 1779; French physicist Jean Foucault, inventor of the gyroscope, in 1819; actress Greta Garbo in 1905; actors Jack Warden in 1920 and Robert Blake in 1933 (age 75); singer/actor Frankie Avalon in 1939 (age 69); former baseball star Ryne Sandberg in 1959 (age 49); actress Jada Pinkett Smith and champion cyclist Lance Armstrong in 1971 (both age 37).
On this date in history:
In 1850, the U.S. Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act, allowing slave owners to reclaim slaves who escaped into another state.
In 1927, the Columbia Broadcasting System was born. Originally known as the Tiffany Network, its first program was an opera, "The King's Henchman."
In 1928, a hurricane that lashed Florida and the West Indies for five days left an estimated 4,000 people dead and $30 million in damage.
In 1961, U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold died when his plane crashed under mysterious circumstances near Ndola in Northern Rhodesia.
In 1970, rock star Jimi Hendrix died at the age of 28 following a drug overdose in London.
In 1975, FBI agents in San Francisco captured heiress Patricia Hearst and two of her Symbionese Liberation Army comrades, William and Emily Harris.
In 1983, British adventurer George Meegan finished a 19,021-mile, six-year walk from the tip of South America to the Arctic Ocean at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.
In 1990, Winnie Mandela, wife of South African black leader Nelson Mandela, was charged with assault and kidnapping in the 1988 abduction and slaying of a 14-year-old boy by her chief bodyguard.
In 1991, U.S. President George H.W. Bush authorized U.S. warplanes to fly into Iraq to protect U.N. inspectors.
In 1992, the son of conservative activist and gay-rights opponent Phyllis Schlafly confirmed he was homosexual. Said Schlafly, "I love my son."
In 1994, a U.S. delegation headed by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter persuaded Haiti's military leaders to step aside in favor of the democratically elected president after learning U.S. troops were en route to the Caribbean nation.
In 1996, the shuttle Atlantis docked with the Mir space station to pick up U.S. astronaut Shannon Lucid, who had set a U.S. record for time spent in space.
Also in 1996, the doctors of Russian President Boris Yeltsin revealed he had a heart attack during his re-election campaign.
In 1998, the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to release the videotape of U.S. President Bill Clinton's grand jury testimony, during which he denied lying about his relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
Also in 1998, the Senate failed to overturn U.S. President Bill Clinton's veto of a bill prohibiting a late-term abortion procedure sometimes called a partial-birth abortion.
In 2001, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Prime Minister Arial Sharon of Israel both ordered a halt of offensive actions and Israeli troops and tanks began pulling out of the areas around Jericho and Jenin.
In 2003, Hurricane Isabel slammed into the North Carolina coast, eventually causing a reported 40 deaths and inflicting property damage estimated at $5 billion.
In 2004, the U.N. Security Council called for Sudan to put an end to the killings in the Darfur region where an estimated 50,000 people died in militia raids over 18 months.
In 2005, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has told the United Nations his country won't back down on its "right to pursue peaceful nuclear energy."
Also in 2005, voters in the German parliamentary election failed to give any party a majority with Prime Minister Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats trailing Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats.
And in 2005, Afghanistan had its first free election in 25 years, drawing millions of voters despite Taliban threats.
In 2006, the world's first female space tourist lifted off from Kazakhstan bound for the International Space Station. Anousheh Ansari, an Iranian-born U.S. telecommunications entrepreneur, reportedly paid $20 million for the ride.
In 2007, the U.S. Federal Reserve cut the federal funds rate from 5.24 percent to 4.75 percent, indicating the possibility of lower borrowing costs for home mortgages and cars.
A thought for the day: American reformer Elizabeth Cady Stanton said, "The Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of women's emancipation."