The almanac

By United Press International
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Today is Wednesday, Aug. 20, the 233rd day of 2008 with 133 to follow.

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


Those born on this date are under the sign of Leo. They include Benjamin Harrison, 23rd president of the United States, in 1833; poet Edgar Guest in 1881; horror writer H.P. Lovecraft in 1890; architect Eero Saarinen in 1910; author Jacqueline Susann in 1921; former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in 1941; former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1944; singer/songwriter Isaac Hayes in 1942; journalist Connie Chung in 1946 (age 62); rock star Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin fame in 1948 (age 60); TV personality Al Roker in 1954 (age 54); and actress Joan Allen in 1956 (age 52).


On this date in history:

In 1741, Danish navigator Vitus Jonas Bering discovered what is now Alaska.

In 1968, approximately 200,000 Warsaw Pact troops and 5,000 tanks invaded Czechoslovakia to crush the "Prague Spring" -- a brief period of liberalization in the communist country.

In 1977, the first U.S. Voyager spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla., bound for Jupiter and Saturn.

In 1982, U.S. President Ronald Reagan announced that a contingent of U.S. Marines would join French and Italian troops as peacekeepers in Beirut.

In 1986, postal worker Patrick Henry Sherrill killed 14 fellow workers and wounded six others in the Edmond, Okla., post office before killing himself.

In 1990, U.S. President George H.W. Bush declared that Americans and other foreigners held by Iraq are "hostages" and warned he will hold Iraq responsible for their "safety and well-being."

In 1996, U.S. President Bill Clinton signed into law an increase in the minimum wage in two steps from $4.25 to $5.15 an hour.

In 1997, NATO forces seized thousands of weapons being kept at police stations in Serbian Bosnia's largest city.

In 1998, U.S. missiles struck sites in Afghanistan and Sudan said to be linked with terrorists. The attacks were in response to the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania 13 days earlier.


In 2002, a group of Iraqis opposed to the regime of Saddam Hussein took over the Iraqi Embassy in Berlin for five hours before releasing their hostages and surrendering.

In 2003, in the aftermath of the bombing of its Iraq headquarters in Baghdad, the United Nations said it would continue its work but would reduce its staff.

Also in 2003, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore was suspended after refusing to comply with a federal court order to remove a rock inscribed with the Ten Commandments from the lobby of the state supreme court building.

In 2005, in his first visit to his German homeland since becoming pope, Benedict XVI told a group of Muslims that Islam and Christianity must work together to defeat terrorism.

In 2006, schoolteacher John Mark Karr was returned to the United States for questioning in the decade-old death of 6-year-old Colorado beauty queen Jon Benet Ramsey. Karr confessed to the killing but said it was an accident. He was later determined not to have a role in the girl's death.

In 2007, the governor of Iraq's southern al-Muthana province and five of his aides were killed when a roadside bomb struck their convoy. Mohammed Ali Hassan Al-Hassani was a member of the largest Shiite political group in parliament.


Also in 2007, fall term classes started at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg on a day after a memorial service for the 32 people gunned down by a student on campus in April.

A thought for the day: in the movie "Klondike Annie," Mae West said, "Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before."

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