The Almanac

By United Press International  |  Aug. 20, 2004 at 3:30 AM
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Today is Friday, Aug. 20, the 233rd day of 2004 with 133 to follow.

The moon is waxing. The morning stars are Venus, Uranus and Saturn. The evening stars are Mercury, Jupiter, Neptune, Mars and Pluto.

Those born on this date are under the sign of Leo. They include Benjamin Harrison, 23rd president of the United States, in 1833; poet Edgar Guest in 1881; horror writer H.P. Lovecraft in 1890; architect Eero Saarinen in 1910; author Jacqueline Susann in 1921; wild-haired promoter Don King in 1931 (age 73); former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in 1941 (age 63); former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1944; singer/songwriter Isaac Hayes, also in 1944 (age 60); journalist Connie Chung in 1946 (age 58); rock star Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin fame in 1948 (age 56); actor Michael Jeter in 1952; meteorologist Al Roker in 1954 (age 50); and actress Joan Allen in 1956 (age 48).

On this date in history:

In 1741, Danish navigator Vitus Jonas Bering discovered what is now Alaska.

On the night of Aug. 20, 1968, approximately 200,000 Warsaw Pact troops and 5,000 tanks invaded Czechoslovakia to crush the "Prague Spring"--a brief period of liberalization in the communist country.

In 1977, the first U.S. Voyager spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla., bound for Jupiter, Saturn, and the stars.

In 1982, President Reagan announced that a contingent of U.S. Marines would join French and Italian troops as peace-keepers in Beirut.

In 1986, postal worker Patrick Henry Sherrill shot and killed 14 fellow workers and wounded six others in the Edmond, Okla., post office before killing himself.

In 1990, ending administration resistance to the term, President Bush declared that Americans and other foreigners held by Iraq are "hostages" and warned he will hold Iraq responsible for their "safety and well-being."

In 1994, the board of directors of the NAACP dismissed executive director Benjamin Chavis.

In 1996, President Clinton signed into law an increase in the minimum wage in two steps from $4.25 to $5.15 an hour.

In 1997, NATO forces seized thousands of weapons being kept at police stations in Serbian Bosnia's largest city. The Bosnian Serb president claimed the weapons were to be used to overthrow her.

In 1998, U.S. missiles struck sites in Afghanistan and Sudan said to be linked with terrorists. The attacks were in response to the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania 13 days earlier.

In 2002, a group of Iraqis opposed to the regime of Saddam Hussein took over the Iraqi embassy in Berlin for five hours before releasing their hostages and giving up.

In 2003, in the aftermath of the bombing of its Iraq headquarters in Baghdad, the United Nations said it would continued its work but would reduce its staff. Meanwhile, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund began withdrawing staff members.

Also in 2003, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore refused to comply with a federal court order to remove a rock inscribed with the Ten Commandments from the lobby of the state supreme court. Moore was suspended the next day and his colleagues ordered the monument removed.

A thought for the day: in the movie "Klondike Annie," Mae West said, "Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before."

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