Today is Wednesday, Sept. 16, the 259th day of 2009 with 106 to follow.
The moon is waning. The morning stars are Uranus, Mars and Venus. The evening stars are Neptune, Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn.
Those born on this date are under the sign of Virgo. They include historian Francis Parkman in 1823; railroad magnate James Jerome "J.J." Hill in 1838; department store founder James Cash Penney in 1875; British car designer Walter Bentley in 1888; entertainer Allen Funt in 1914; actress Lauren Bacall in 1924 (age 85); blues musician B.B. King in 1925 (age 84); actors Peter Falk in 1927 (age 82), Anne Francis in 1930 (age 79), Ed Begley Jr. in 1949 (age 60) and Susan Ruttan ("L.A. Law") in 1950 (age 59); magician David Copperfield and actor Mickey Rourke, both in 1956 (age 53); actress Jennifer Tilly in 1958 (age 51); comedian Molly Shannon ("Saturday Night Live") in 1964 (age 45); and singer/actor Marc Anthony in 1968 (age 41).
On this date in history:
In 1620, the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, with 102 passengers, bound for America.
In 1810, Mexico began its war of independence against Spain.
In 1893, more than 100,000 people rushed to the Cherokee Strip as a large area of the Indian Territory, now Oklahoma, was opened to homesteaders.
In 1974, U.S. President Gerald Ford offered conditional amnesty to Vietnam draft evaders. He said they could come home if they performed up to two years of public service.
In 1977, celebrated soprano Maria Callas died in Paris at the age of 53.
In 1982, hundreds were reported killed after Christian militiamen entered two Palestinian refugee camps in West Beirut, Lebanon. Survivors claimed Israeli forces had sealed off the camps.
In 1986, fire and fumes in the Kinross mine killed 177 people in South Africa's worst gold mine disaster.
In 1994, a U.S. federal court jury in Anchorage, Alaska, ordered Exxon to pay $5 billion dollars to the fishermen and natives whose lives were affected by the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989, largest award ever in a pollution case.
In 1999, at least 18 people were killed and 200 more injured in the bombing of an apartment building in Volgodonsk, Russia.
And in 1999, Congress doubled the U.S. presidential salary, from $200,000 a year to $400,000, effective in 2001.
In 2001, as the gargantuan task of cleaning up "Ground Zero" wreckage of what had been the World Trade Center continued in New York following the Sept. 11 attacks, the government rapidly began rounding up possible terrorist suspects across the country.
In 2004, Hurricane Jeanne killed an estimated 1,500 people in Haiti.
In 2006, U.S. food retailers, reacting to an E. coli outbreak, pulled spinach from shelves and salad bars as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration extended a warning. Nearly 100 people in 20 states were sickened and one victim in Wisconsin died.
In 2007, as many as 89 people were killed but 42 survived when a budget airliner crashed and burned in Thailand.
Also in 2007, former NFL running back and actor O.J. Simpson was arrested and eventually charged with robbery, assault, burglary and conspiracy in a Las Vegas armed robbery.
And, Blackwater USA, a private security company that often protected U.S. politicians visiting Iraq, was banned by the Iraqi ministry after a gunfight that killed eight civilians. It resumed business on a limited scale a few days later.
In 2008, the Federal Reserve took the unprecedented step to seize control of the American International Group, one of the world's largest insurance firms, and agreed to lend AIG $85 billion, a figure that grew considerably over the weeks to come.
Also in 2008, U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus, who oversaw the surge of troops into Iraq, was chosen to become commander of the U.S. Central Command that covered all of the Middle East. He was succeeded in Iraq by U.S. Army Gen. Ray Odierno.
A thought for the day: Bertrand Russell argued that "Boredom is a vital problem for the moralist, since at least half the sins of mankind are caused by the fear of it."