Today is Wednesday, Oct. 31, the 305th day of 2012 with 61 to follow.
This is Halloween.
The moon is waning. The morning stars are Venus, Saturn and Jupiter. The evening stars are Mercury, Neptune, Uranus and Mars.
Those born on this date are under the sign of Scorpio. They include Dutch painter Jan Vermeer in 1632; English poet John Keats in 1795; Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low in 1860; Gen. Chiang Kai-shek, the first leader of Nationalist China, in 1887; actor/singer Ethel Waters in 1896; actors Dale Evans in 1912, Barbara Bel Geddes in 1922 and Lee Grant in 1927 (age 85); British jockey and writer Dick Francis in 1920; astronaut Michael Collins in 1930 (age 82); former TV news anchorman Dan Rather in 1931 (age 81); actor/director Michael Landon in 1936; folk singer/songwriter Tom Paxton in 1937 (age 75); actors David Ogden Stiers in 1942 (age 70), Sally Kirkland in 1944 (age 68), Brian Doyle-Murray in 1945 (age 67), Stephen Rea in 1946 (age 66), Deidre Hall in 1947 (age 65) and John Candy in 1950; Belgian politician and President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy; Olympic gold medal marathon runner Frank Shorter in 1947 (age 65); broadcaster Jane Pauley in 1950 (age 62); actors Ken Wahl in 1954 (age 58), Brian Stokes Mitchell in 1957 (age 55) and actor Rob Schneider in 1963 (age 49); and rapper Vanilla Ice, born Robert Matthew Van Winkle, in 1967 (age 45).
On this date in history:
In 1517, Martin Luther began the Protestant Reformation by nailing a proclamation to the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany.
In 1864, Nevada was admitted to the Union as the 36th state.
In 1926, magician, illusionist and escape artist Harry Houdini died of peritonitis in a Detroit hospital following a blow to the abdomen.
In 1931, with the Great Depression in full swing, the U.S. Treasury Department announced that 827 banks had failed during the previous two months.
In 1941, the Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota -- consisting of the sculpted heads of U.S. Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt -- was completed.
In 1968, U.S. President Lyndon Johnson announced a halt to the bombing of North Vietnam.
In 1984, India's Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by Sikh guards. Her son, Rajiv, succeeded her.
In 1985, salvage divers located the remains of the booty-laden pirate ship Whydah, which sank Feb. 17, 1717, off Cape Cod, Mass.
In 1992, more than 300 people were killed in renewed fighting as Angola slid back into civil war.
In 2001, U.S.-led forces resumed airstrikes in Afghanistan, hitting Taliban positions in the northern part of the country and outside the capital, Kabul. The Taliban claimed 1,500 people were killed.
In 2004, Iranian lawmakers chanted, "Death to America!" after a unanimous vote to allow their government to resume uranium enrichment activities.
In 2006, a U.S. congressional report claimed China helped North Korea develop its nuclear program within the past year.
In 2007, three men were found guilty in the 2004 bombing of four commuter trains in Madrid. They were convicted of killing 191 people and wounding 1,800 others.
In 2008, U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus took over as head of Central Command. He was put in comment of military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iran and other countries.
Also in 2008, author-actor and activist Louis "Studs" Terkel, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for "The Good War" and pioneer "Chicago school" broadcaster, died at 96.
In 2010, Gunmen took over a Baghdad Catholic church just before services were to begin, touching off a bloodbath in which more than 40 hostages and seven Iraqi troops were reported killed.
Also in 2010, Brazilians elected Dilma Rousseff as their first woman president when the former energy minister and choice of outgoing President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva defeated Jose Serra in a runoff with 56 percent of the vote.
In 2011, U.S. stocks rallied sharply for the best one-month showing in years with the Dow Jones industrial average closing out October at 11,955.01, a 9.5 percent increase, The Standard and Poor's 500 was up 10.8 percent for the month and Nasdaq composite climbed 11.1.
Also in 2011, UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, approved the Palestinians' bid for full membership in the United Nations by a 107-14 vote despite a United States threat to cut off funding. The U.N. Security Council put off a final vote on the matter.
A thought for the day: English poet John Keats wrote, "If I should die, I have left no immortal work behind me -- nothing to make my friends proud of my memory -- but I have loved the principle of beauty in all things and if I had had time I would have made myself remembered."