Today is Wednesday, Sept. 21, the 264th day of 2011 with 101 to follow.
The moon is waning. The morning stars are Neptune, Venus and Saturn. The evening stars are Mercury, Jupiter, Uranus and Mars.
Those born on this date are under the sign of Virgo. They include Louis Joliet, French-Canadian explorer of the Mississippi River, in 1645; author and historian H.G. Wells in 1866; composer Gustav Holst in 1874; British publisher Allen Lane, who introduced the low-priced paperback book, in 1902; animator Chuck Jones (Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Wile E. Coyote) in 1912; actors Larry Hagman in 1931 (age 80) and Henry Gibson in 1935; singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen in 1934 (age 77); radio talk show host Diane Rehm in 1936 (age 75); journalist Bill Kurtis in 1940 (age 71); comedian Fannie Flagg in 1944 (age 67); television producer Jerry Bruckheimer in 1945 (age 66); author Stephen King and musician Don Felder, both in 1947 (age 64); comedian Bill Murray in 1950 (age 61); champion racecar driver Arie Luyendyk in 1953 (age 58); Ethan Coen, one of the filmmaking Coen brothers, in 1957 (age 54); actors Nancy Travis in 1961 (age 50), Rob Morrow in 1962 (age 49), Ricki Lake in 1968 (age 43) and Luke Wilson in 1971 (age 40); singer Faith Hill in 1967 (age 44); and television personality Nicole Richie in 1981 (age 30).
On this date in history:
In 1780, American Gen. Benedict Arnold gave plans to West Point, N.Y. to the British.
In 1792, the Legislative Assembly of revolutionary France voted to abolish the monarchy and establish the First Republic, stripping King Louis XVI of most of his power.
In 1893, the first successful American-made, gasoline-operated motorcar appeared on the streets of Springfield, Mass. It was designed and built by Charles and Frank Duryea.
In 1921, following the sex scandal caused by the arrest of comedian Fatty Arbuckle, Universal announced it would require its actors to sign a "morality clause" in their contracts.
In 1937, J.R.R. Tolkien published "The Hobbit."
In 1938, an estimated 600 people were killed by a hurricane that battered the coast of New England.
In 1981, Sandra Day O'Connor received a unanimous vote in the U.S. Senate to become the first female member of the U.S. Supreme Court.
In 1985, Western intelligence estimates said the Iran-Iraq war in five years had cost nearly 1 million lives.
In 1991, Armenia became the 12th Soviet republic to declare independence.
In 1996, U.S. President Bill Clinton signed into law the Defense of Marriage Act, which allowed states to disregard same sex marriages that might be official in other places.
And in 1996, John F. Kennedy, Jr., son of the late U.S. president and described by tabloids as the world's most eligible bachelor, wed Carolyn Bessette.
In 1998, U.S. President Bill Clinton's videotaped grand jury testimony, during which he admitted to an inappropriate relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, was shown on television. It ran more than four hours.
Also in 1998, Hurricane Georges began a deadly rampage through the Caribbean, killing more than 600 people.
In 1999, at least 2,300 people were killed when an earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale struck Taiwan.
In 2001, a telecast by top movie stars and musicians raised more than $500 million for survivors of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
In 2003, the spacecraft Galileo approached the fringes of Jupiter's atmosphere and then was directed to destroy itself in a high-speed plunge.
In 2004, two U.S. hostages were killed by suspected Iraqi insurgents within a day of each other. Jack Hensley and Eugene Armstrong, contractors working for a United Arab Emirates firm, were kidnapped from their Baghdad home.
In 2008, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, under investigation for corruption, resigned his post and announced he would not run for re-election. In South Africa, Thabo Mbecki, president since 1999, stepped down after losing a power struggle with rival Jacob Zuma.
Also in 2008, a pre-dawn gas explosion ripped through a coal mine in China's Henan province, killed 37 miners and injuring seven others.
In 2009, the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McCrystal, said in a confidential report that he needed more troops within a year or the conflict likely would end in failure.
Also in 2009, allegations of fraud were so widespread that nearly one-in-four votes cast in the recent Afghanistan presidential election was suspect, data from Kabul indicated.
In 2010, Italian authorities said they had seized $17 million and were investigating two top Vatican bankers for alleged money laundering.
Also in 2010, a school bus plunged into a river in an area of the Muzaffarabad district in Pakistan, killing at least 14 children.
A thought for the day: Greek philosopher Epicurus said, "Freedom is the greatest fruit of self-sufficiency."