The almanac

United Press International

Today is Friday, Aug. 31, the 243rd day of 2007 with 122 to follow.

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


Those born on this date are under the sign of Virgo. They include Italian educator Maria Montessori in 1870; actor Fredric March in 1897; entertainer Arthur Godfrey in 1903; writer William Saroyan in 1908; astronomer Alfred Bernard Lovell in 1913; journalist Daniel Schorr in 1916 (age 91); lyricist Alan Jay Lerner in 1918; comedian Buddy Hackett in 1924; actor James Coburn in 1928; baseball star/manager Frank Robinson, first black to manage a major league team, in 1935 (age 72); black militant Eldridge Cleaver, also in 1935; violinist Itzhak Perlman and rock singer Van Morrison, both in 1945 (age 62); actor Richard Gere in 1949 (age 58); Olympian track athlete Edwin Moses in 1955 (age 52); and singer/actress Debbie Gibson in 1970 (age 37).


On this date in history:

In 1897, Thomas Edison was awarded a patent for his movie camera, the Kinetograph.

In 1888, prostitute Mary Ann Nichols became the first victim of the notorious London serial killer known as "Jack the Ripper."

In 1903, a Packard automobile completed a 52-day journey from San Francisco to New York, becoming the first car to cross the nation under its own power.

In 1986, an Aeromexico DC-9 collided with a single-engine plane over Cerritos, Calif., killing 82 people, including 15 on the ground.

In 1991, the Soviet republics of Uzbekistan and Kirghizia declared independence, leaving five republics in the Soviet Union.

Also in 1991, Serbia accepted a European Community proposal that included international observers to oversee a cease-fire in Croatia.

In 1992, white separatist Randy Weaver surrendered, ending an 11-day siege of his Idaho mountain cabin that cost the lives of his wife, teenage son and a U.S. marshal.

In 1993, the Israeli government agreed in principle a plan for interim Palestinian self-rule of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank town of Jericho.

In 1994, the Irish Republican Army declared a cease-fire following six months of secret talks with Britain.


In 1997, Britain's Princess Diana died of injuries a few hours after a car accident in Paris that killed her companion, Dodi Fayed, and their driver.

In 2003, a Russian K-159 nuclear-powered submarine was lost in the Barents Sea, claiming the lives of nine of its 10-member crew. Russian authorities blamed negligence by navy officials.

Also in 2003, U.S. and Iraqi officials began laying plans to form an Iraqi paramilitary force of several thousand to help secure the country.

In 2004, in the first major attack inside Israel in nearly six months, Palestinian suicide bombers blew up two buses almost simultaneously in Beersheba, killing at least 16 passengers and themselves and wounding more than 80.

In 2005, close to 1,000 people, largely Shiite pilgrims, died in a stampede and the partial collapse of a bridge over the Tigris River in northern Baghdad.

Also in 2005, the White House decided to release some of the 700 million barrels of crude oil it keeps for emergencies.

And in New Orleans, martial law was declared amid reports of looters running wild, food and drinking water dwindling, and bodies floating in the floodwaters. Apparently poor coordination of federal, state and city officials led to a different kind of flood, of anger and delay.


In 2006, Norwegian authorities recovered the world famous painting “The Scream” by Edvard Munch, stolen at gunpoint, along with Munch’s “Madonna,” from their Oslo museum nine days earlier. It was the second time “The Scream” had been stolen and recovered in good shape.

A thought for the day: in a final statement for publication after his death, author and playwright William Saroyan said, "Everyone has got to die, but I have always believed an exception would be made in my case. Now what?"

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