The almanac

United Press International

Today is Monday, Jan. 21, the 21st day of 2008 with 345 to follow.

This is observed in the United States as Martin Luther King Jr. Day.


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 soldier and Vermont folk hero Ethan Allen in 1738; explorer and historian John Fremont in 1813; Confederate Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson in 1824; firearms designer John Browning in 1855; Roger Nash Baldwin, founder of the American Civil Liberties Union, in 1884; fashion designer Christian Dior in 1905; actors Paul Scofield in 1922 (age 86) and Telly Savalas in 1924; comedian Benny Hill in 1924; famed DJ Robert "Wolfman Jack" Smith in 1938; golfer Jack Nicklaus in 1940 (age 68); opera star Placido Domingo in 1941 (age 67); singers Mac Davis in 1942 (age 66) and Billy Ocean in 1950 (age 58); and actors Jill Eikenberry in 1947 (age 61), Robby Benson in 1956 (age 52) and Geena Davis in 1957 (age 51).

On this date in history:

In 1792, French King Louis XVI was executed in Paris.

In 1861, Mississippi Sen. Jefferson Davis resigned from the U.S. Senate, 12 days before Mississippi seceded from the Union. He later became president of the Confederate States of America.

In 1924, Vladimir Lenin, architect of the Bolshevik Revolution and the first leader of the Soviet Union, died of a brain hemorrhage at the age of 54.

In 1954, the world's first atomic-powered submarine, the Nautilus, was launched at Groton, Conn.

In 1976, the supersonic Concorde airplane was put into service by Britain and France.

In 1977, U.S. President Jimmy Carter pardoned American Vietnam War-era draft evaders and ordered a case-by-case study of deserters.

In 1991, Iraq announced that it would use hostages as human shields against allied warplanes.

In 1997, the full U.S. House of Representatives voted 395-28 to reprimand Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., for violating House rules and misleading congressional investigators looking into his possible misuse of tax-exempt donations for political purposes.

In 1998, allegations of U.S. President Bill Clinton's affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky became public when newspapers reported the story.

Also in 1998, Pope John Paul II arrived in Havana for his first visit to Cuba.

In 1999, the brother of former Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari was convicted of masterminding the 1994 shooting death of a ruling party official.

In 2000, a military junta seized power in Ecuador. The next day, following expressions of international concern, the junta leaders turned the government over to the country's vice president.

In 2003, the U.S. Census Bureau said Hispanics had moved past African-Americans as the largest minority group in the United States.

In 2004, a U.S. scientist who had toured North Korea nuclear facilities told the U.S. Congress there was evidence they could produce enriched plutonium.

In 2005, Iraq officials said $300 million was taken from Baghdad's central bank and flown to Lebanon. Its whereabouts was unknown.

In 2006, a Harris poll said the U.S. public was about equally split on the issue of wiretapping United States citizens without court authorization. The tally is 42 percent for it and 45 percent against the practice.

In 2007, Afghanistan's Kabul government was reported planning war against its illegal opium trade with an attack on 55,000 acres of ripening poppies in a leading drug-producing province.

A thought for the day: Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."

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