The Almanac

By United Press International   |   Oct. 8, 2006 at 3:30 AM
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Today is Sunday, Oct. 8, the 281st day of 2006 with 84 to follow.

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

Those born on this date are under the sign of Libra. They include World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker in 1890; Argentine dictator Juan Peron in 1895; composer W.C. Handy in 1904; travel guide author Temple Hornaday Fielding in 1913; gossip columnist Rona Barrett in 1936 (age 70); civil rights leader Jesse Jackson in 1941 (age 65); "Goosebumps" author R.L. Stine in 1943 (age 63); and actors Paul Hogan in 1939 (age 67), Chevy Chase in 1943 (age 63), Sigourney Weaver in 1949 (age 57), Stephanie Zimbalist in 1956 (age 50) and Matt Damon in 1970 (age 36).

On this date in history:

In 1871, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed more than 17,000 buildings, killed more than 300 people and left 90,000 homeless. That same day, a forest fire broke out at Peshtigo, Wis., eventually killing about 1,100 people while burning some 850 square miles.

In 1918, Sgt. Alvin York of Tennessee became a World War I hero by single-handedly capturing a hill in the Argonne Forest of France, killing 20 enemy soldiers and capturing 132 others.

In 1919, The U.S. Congress passed the Volstead Act, prohibiting the sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages.

Also in 1919, the first U.S. transcontinental air race began with 63 planes competing in the round-trip aerial derby between California and New York. Each way took about three days.

In 1967, Argentinean-born Communist revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara, an important figure in the 1959 Cuban revolution, was killed while leading a guerrilla war in Bolivia.

In 1990, at least 17 Muslims were killed by Israeli police in rioting on the Temple Mount, the third holiest site in Islam.

In 1991, a U.S. federal judge in Anchorage, Alaska, approved a $1 billion settlement against Exxon for the Valdez oil spill.

Also in 1991, former Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams pleaded guilty to withholding information from Congress in the Iran-Contra scandal.

In 1992, former West German chancellor Willy Brandt died of intestinal cancer in his house outside Bonn. He was 78.

In 1993, the U.S. Justice Department, in its report on the 51-day siege at the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas, concluded the cult had caused the fire that destroyed the compound, killing at least 75 people.

In 1997, a major hurricane battered Acapulco, Mexico, and vicinity. The death toll was more than 200 with many more people left homeless.

Also in 1997, three years after the death of longtime North Korean ruler Kim Il Sung, his son, Kim Jong Il, officially inherited his father's title of general-secretary of the Communist Party.

In 1998, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 258-176 to begin impeachment hearings against U.S. President Bill Clinton.

In 2000, as the Israeli-Palestinian violence continued, U.S. President Bill Clinton asked Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to have an urgent summit meeting.

In 2001, U.S. transport planes dropped 37,000 meals into areas of Afghanistan where mass starvation was feared imminent.

Also in 2001, the United Nations and Secretary-General Kofi Annan shared the Nobel Peace Prize.

In 2002, U.S. President George Bush invoked the Taft-Hartley Act to get West Coast longshoremen back to work.

In 2003, some $19 billion in peach-colored, redesigned $20 bills made their official debut across the United States.

Also in 2003, researchers found the remains of a synagogue dating from the fifth or sixth century in the Albanian coastal city of Saranda.

In 2004, for the first time the Nobel Peace Prize went to an African woman, Dr. Wangari Maathai, an environmental activist from Kenya.

In 2005, a death toll close to 40,000 was reported in India and Pakistan after a powerful earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale struck the area. The quake brought down buildings and triggered mudslides that buried houses.

Also in 2005, Tropical Storm Stan killed more than 500 people in Guatemala before losing its strength over mountainous Mexico.

A thought for the day: French actress Sarah Bernhardt said, "Permanent success cannot be achieved except by incessant intellectual labor, always inspired by the ideal."

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