Today is Wednesday, Jan. 26, the 26th day of 2011 with 339 to follow.
The moon is waning. The morning stars are Mars, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune. The evening stars are Mercury, Saturn and Venus.
Those born on this date are under the sign of Aquarius. They include French philosopher Claude Helvetius in 1715; U.S. Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur in 1880; Austrian singer Maria von Trapp, whose family was the basis for "The Sound of Music," in 1905; Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in 1918; author Philip Jose Farmer in 1918; actor Paul Newman in 1925; French film director Roger Vadim, in 1928; cartoonist, playwright and author Jules Feiffer in 1929 (age 82); sports personality Bob Uecker in 1935 (age 76); actors Scott Glenn in 1941 (age 70) and David Strathairn in 1949 (age 62); political activist Angela Davis in 1944 (age 67); film critic Gene Siskel in 1946; singer Lucinda Williams in 1953 (age 58); rock musician Eddie Van Halen in 1955 (age 56); comedian Ellen DeGeneres in 1958 (age 53); and hockey Hall of fame member Wayne Gretzky in 1961 (age 50).
On this date in history:
In 1788, the first shipload of British convicts arrived in Australia. The establishment of an Australian prison colony was aimed at relieving overcrowding in British prisons.
In 1837, Michigan joined the United States as the 26th state.
In 1861, Louisiana seceded from the United States.
In 1875, the electric dental drill was patented by George Green of Kalamazoo, Mich.
In 1918, to promote food conservation during World War I, the U.S. government called for one meatless day, two wheatless days and two porkless days each week.
In 1950, India ceased to be a British dominion and became the Republic of India, most populous democracy in the world.
In 1980, six Americans hidden for three months in the Canadian Embassy in Tehran were smuggled out of Iran by Canadian diplomats.
In 1988, "The Phantom of the Opera" opened on Broadway at the Majestic Theatre in New York.
In 1990, hurricane-force winds pounded the British Isles and much of Northern Europe, killing at least 92 people and knocking out power to nearly 1 million people.
In 1991, Iraq fired Scuds at Israel and Saudi Arabia but most were intercepted by Patriot missiles.
In 1996, the U.S. Senate ratified SALT II. President George H.W. Bush and Russian President Boris Yeltsin had signed the arms reduction agreement three years before.
In 1998, in response to allegations that he had an affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, U.S. President Bill Clinton declared, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman."
In 1999, U.S. President Bill Clinton welcomed Pope John Paul II to St. Louis.
In 2001, more than 20,000 people were killed when an earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale rocked western India.
In 2005, a Marine helicopter crashed in Iraq killing all 31 Americans aboard.
In 2006, Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia and his Cabinet resigned after their party was defeated by Hamas in the parliamentary election. However, President Mahmoud Abbas of the defeated Fatah party remained in office.
In 2008, Kenya sent military forces into the Rift Valley to deal with escalating ethnic violence growing from the disputed Dec. 30 election that has killed an estimated 650 people and displaced tens of thousands.
In 2009, a 33-year-old single California mom gave birth to eight babies, reported to be only the second set of octuplets ever to be born alive in the United States. The six boys and two girls were reported healthy, ranging in weight from 1 1/2 pounds to just more than 3 pounds. Nadya Suleman earlier had six other children, all 14 of them through vitro fertilization.
In 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama said in a TV interview he would rather "be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president."
Also in 2010, the U.S. government issued new rules prohibiting commercial truck and bus drivers from sending text messages while at the wheel.
A thought for the day: Bertrand Russell said, "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt."