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The almanac

By United Press International   |   Aug. 24, 2012 at 3:30 AM
Today is Friday, Aug. 24, the 237th day of 2012 with 129 to follow.

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


Those born on this date are under the sign of Virgo. They include pioneer British abolitionist William Wilberforce in 1759; English author and parodist Max Beerbohm in 1872; "Charlie Chan" detective series author Earl Derr Biggers in 1884; country music publisher Fred Rose in 1898; Argentine poet and author Jorge Luis Borges in 1899; Nobel Peace Prize laureate Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 1929; musicians David Freiberg and Mason Williams, both in 1938 (age 74); wrestling entrepreneur Vince McMahon in 1945 (age 67); actors Stephan Fry in 1957 (age 55) and Steve Guttenberg in 1958 (age 54); baseball Hall of Fame member Cal Ripken Jr. (U.S. major league record 2,632 consecutive games) in 1960 (age 52); political commentator Major Garrett in 1962 (age 50); actor Marlee Matlin in 1965 (age 47); comedian Dave Chappelle in 1973 (age 39); and actor Rupert Grint in 1988 (age 24).


On this date in history:

In 79 A.D., thousands died and the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Italy.

In 1814, the British captured Washington and burned the Capitol building and the White House.

In 1932, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly non-stop across the United States.

In 1987, a U.S. appeals court in Cincinnati ruled public schools could require students to study textbooks not accepted by religious fundamentalists.

In 1990, Irish-British hostage Brian Keenan, held by pro-Iranian Muslim extremists in Lebanon for more than four years, was freed.

In 1991, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev quit as general secretary of the Communist Party central committee. He also ordered his Cabinet to resign.

In 1992, Hurricane Andrew smashed into Florida south of Miami with sustained winds of 145 mph. The storm killed 15 people and caused more than $30 billion in damage.

In 1995, Beijing convicted and then expelled Chinese-American human rights activist Harry Wu, arrested in June while trying to enter China from Kazakhstan.

In 1996, four women became students at The Citadel, a military school in South Carolina that had fought in court to remain all-male.

In 2004, two Russian passenger jetliners crashed within minutes of each other after taking off from Domodedovo Airport in Moscow. A total of 89 people were killed.

In 2005, U.S. President George W. Bush vowed in an Idaho speech that he wouldn't retreat from Iraq or the rest of the Middle East until U.S. troops "win the war on terror."

Also in 2005, a Peruvian passenger plane crashed in the jungle of central Peru, killing at least 40 people.

In 2006, Pluto, the small, distant astronomic body that has discovered in 1930, was demoted to "dwarf planet" status when the International Astronomical Union adopted a new definition of "planet," which excludes Pluto.

In 2008, the Summer Olympic Games came to a close in Beijing with the United States winning the most medals, 110, including 36 gold. Host China captured the most gold medals, 51, and was second in the overall category at 100. U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps turned in the best individual performance with a record eight gold medals in eight events.

In 2010, U.S. existing home sales in July plummeted to their lowest level in a decade with a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.83 million units, a 25.5 percent drop from a year earlier, an industry report said. Prices, however, rose 0.7 percent.

Also in 2010, stepping up their terrorist campaign, Somali insurgents killed four legislators and about 29 others in a hotel raid in Mogadishu.

In 2011, Steve Jobs, co-founder and chief executive officer of Apple. Inc., resigned, telling his company's board he could "no longer meet my duties and expectations." Jobs, 56, who stayed on as chairman, had battled cancer for several years. He died Oct. 5, 2011.


A thought for the day: it was Hartford (Conn.) Courant Editor Charles Dudley Warner -- and not his friend and colleague Mark Twain -- who said, "Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it."

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