The almanac

By United Press International  |  July 21, 2008 at 3:30 AM
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Today is Monday, July 21, the 203rd day of 2008 with 163 to follow.

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

Those born on this date are under the sign of Cancer. They include composer Chauncey Olcott ("When Irish Eyes Are Smiling") in 1860; author Ernest Hemingway and poet Hart Crane, both in 1899; Canadian communications theorist Marshall McLuhan in 1911; violinist Isaac Stern in 1920; singer Kay Starr in 1922 (age 86); producer Norman Jewison in 1926 (age 82); actor/comedians Don Knotts in 1924 and Robin Williams in 1952 (age 56); former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno in 1938 (age 70); actor Edward Herrmann in 1943 (age 65); former singer Cat Stevens, known as Yusef Islam, in 1948 (age 60); cartoonist Garry Trudeau ("Doonesbury") in 1948 (age 60); and actor Jon Lovitz in 1957 (age 51).

On this date in history:

In 1861, the first major military engagement of the Civil War occurred at Bull Run Creek, Va.

In 1873, Jesse James held up the Rock Island express train at Adair, Iowa, and escaped with $3,000.

In 1925, the so-called Monkey Trial in Dayton, Tenn., which pitted Clarence Darrow against William Jennings Bryan in one of the great confrontations in legal history, ended with John Thomas Scopes fined $100 for teaching evolution in violation of state law.

In 1969, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin lifted off from the surface of the moon.

In 1970, after 11 years of construction, the massive billion-dollar Aswan High Dam across the Nile River in Egypt was completed, ending the cycle of flood and drought in the Nile River region but triggering an environmental controversy.

In 1991, Jordan joined Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Saudi Arabia in agreeing to regional peace talks.

In 1992, a judge in Pontiac, Mich., dismissed murder charges against euthanasia advocate Jack "Dr. Death" Kevorkian.

In 2000, a report from special counsel John Danforth cleared U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno and the government of wrongdoing in the April 19, 1993, fire that ended the Branch Davidian siege near Waco, Texas.

In 2003, physicians at Vienna General Hospital in Austria say they performed the world's first successful tongue transplant on a human, a 42-year-old man.

Also in 2003, Canadian authorities expanded their search for the remains of 63 Vancouver women missing for 20 years. Pig farmer Robert Pickton was charged with killing 26 women, most of whom were drug-addicted prostitutes.

In 2004, the Sept. 11 commission said it had found that the Clinton and Bush administrations had missed as many as 10 opportunities to thwart terror attacks.

In 2005, a second suicide bombing attack on London within two weeks misfired when the bombs, again in three subway cars and a bus, failed to detonate.

In 2006, medication errors harm 1.5 million people and kill several thousand annually in the United States, a study by the Institute of Medicine said. Additionally, such errors were said to cost the nation at least $3.5 billion a year.

In 2007, Italian police said they had uncovered a bomb school for Islamist militants and arrested three suspects in a raid on a mosque in Perugia. Found, along with evidence of training in explosives and poisons, were instructions for flying a Boeing 747.

Also in 2007, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," the seventh and final installment in the best-selling series, sold more than 8.3 million copies on its first day on the bookshelves.

A thought for the day: Honoré de Balzac called bureaucracy a "giant mechanism operated by pygmies."

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