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The almanac

By United Press International   |   Oct. 8, 2008 at 3:30 AM
Today is Wednesday, Oct. 8, the 282nd day of 2008 with 84 to follow.

Yom Kippur begins at sundown.

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

Those born on this date are under the sign of Libra. They include World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker in 1890; Argentine dictator Juan Peron in 1895; gossip columnist Rona Barrett in 1936 (age 72); civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson in 1941 (age 67); "Goosebumps" author R.L. Stine in 1943 (age 65); and actors Paul Hogan in 1939 (age 69), Chevy Chase in 1943 (age 65), Sigourney Weaver in 1949 (age 59), Stephanie Zimbalist in 1956 (age 52) and Matt Damon in 1970 (age 38).


On this date in history:

In 1871, the massive Chicago fire destroyed more than 17,000 buildings, killed more than 300 people and left 90,000 homeless.

Also in 1871, on the same day, a forest fire broke out at Peshtigo, Wis., eventually killing about 1,100 people while burning some 850 square miles.

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, The U.S. 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, Argentinean-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 Muslims were killed by Israeli police in rioting on the Temple Mount, the third holiest site in Islam.

In 1991, a U.S. federal judge in Anchorage, Alaska, approved a $1 billion settlement against Exxon for the Valdez oil spill.

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, in its report on the 51-day siege at the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas, concluded the cult had caused the fire that destroyed the compound, killing at least 75 people.

In 1997, three years after the death of longtime North Korean ruler Kim Il Sung, his son, Kim Jong Il, officially inherited his father's title of general-secretary of the Communist Party.

In 1998, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 258-176 to begin impeachment hearings against U.S. President Bill Clinton.

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 2003, some $19 billion in peach-colored, redesigned $20 bills made their official debut across the United States.

Also in 2003, researchers found the remains of a synagogue dating from the fifth or sixth century in the Albanian coastal city of Saranda.

In 2004, for the first time the Nobel Peace Prize went to an African woman, Dr. Wangari Maathai, an environmental activist from Kenya.

In 2005, a death toll close to 40,000 was reported in India and Pakistan after a powerful earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale struck the area. The quake brought down buildings and triggered mudslides that buried houses.

Also in 2005, Tropical Storm Stan killed more than 500 people in Guatemala before losing its strength over mountainous Mexico.

In 2006, an Israeli official said Jerusalem had no "hostile intentions" toward Syria despite Syrian President Bashar Assad's assertion he expected an Israeli attack at any time.

Also in 2006, Russia's prosecutor general took over the investigation into the shooting death of a Moscow journalist known for criticizing Russian actions in Chechnya.

In 2007, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced that half of the 5,000 British troops stationed in Iraq would be removed by the end of 2008.

Also in 2007, a second U.N. observer mission was sent into a town in Sudan's troubled Darfur region that was burned and looted while under government control. Sudan's Justice and Equality Movement accused the government of having a hand in it.


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."

© 2008 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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