The Almanac

By United Press International  |  Jan. 31, 2007 at 3:30 AM
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Today is Wednesday, Jan. 31, the 31st day of 2007 with 334 to follow.

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

Those born on this date are under the sign of Aquarius. They include Austrian composer Franz Schubert in 1797; western novelist Zane Grey in 1872; actress Tallulah Bankhead in 1902; radio and television personality Garry Moore in 1915; Jackie Robinson, the first black to play major league baseball, in 1919; singer Mario Lanza in 1921; actress Carol Channing in 1921 (age 86); novelist Norman Mailer, in 1923 (age 84); civil rights leader Benjamin Hooks in 1925 (age 82); actresses Jean Simmons in 1929 (age 78), Suzanne Pleshette in 1937 (age 70) and Jessica Walter in 1941 (age 66); Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands in 1938 (age 69); former baseball stars Ernie Banks in 1931 (age 76) and Nolan Ryan in 1947 (age 60); and actress Minnie Driver in 1970 (age 37).

On this date in history:

In 1929, the Soviet Union expelled communist revolutionary Leon Trotsky. He was assassinated in Mexico.

In 1945, U.S. Army Pvt. Eddie Slovik, 24, was executed by firing squad for desertion. His was the first U.S. execution for desertion since the Civil War.

In 1950, U.S. President Harry Truman announced he had ordered development of the hydrogen bomb.

In 1958, Explorer-1, the first successful U.S. satellite, was launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

In 1982, the Israeli Cabinet agreed to a multi-national peacekeeping force to act as a buffer between Israel and Egypt in the Sinai Peninsula.

In 1990, the first McDonald's restaurant opened in Moscow.

In 1991, allied troops with U.S. air support pushed Iraqi troops out of Khafji and back across the Saudi-Kuwaiti border.

In 1995, after the U.S. Congress failed to act quickly, U.S. President Bill Clinton used his emergency authority to provide financially troubled Mexico with a $20 billion loan.

In 1996, a suicide bombing at Sri Lanka's main bank killed nearly 100 people and injured more than 1,000.

In 1999, a team of international scientists reported it had traced the predominant strain of the AIDS virus to a subspecies of chimpanzee that lived in parts of Africa.

In 2000, Illinois Gov. George Ryan halted all executions in his state after several death row inmates were found to be innocent of the crimes for which they were about to be put to death.

Also in 2000, the European Union warned that its members would diplomatically isolate Austria if its anti-immigrant Freedom Party, led by avowed Nazi sympathizer Jorg Haider, entered a coalition government.

In 2001, a Scottish court meeting in the Netherlands convicted a Libyan man in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. The plane exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people, including 11 on the ground.

In 2003, 18 people on a bus were killed when a bomb destroyed a bridge near Kandahar in southern Afghanistan.

In 2005, a U.S. judge in Washington ruled the process for determining "enemy combatants" at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was unconstitutional.

Also in 2005, health authorities said 12 people had died in Vietnam of bird flu during the past month.

In 2006, Samuel Alito was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as an associate justice on the United States Supreme Court by a 58-42 vote. He succeeded retiring Justice Sandra O'Connor.

A thought for the day: it was Dag Hammarskjold who said, "Never measure the height of a mountain until you have reached the top. Then you will see how low it was."

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