The almanac

United Press International

Today is Thursday, Aug. 21, the 234th day of 2008 with 132 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 jazz great William "Count" Basie in 1904; mystery novelist Anthony Boucher in 1911; Britain's Princess Margaret in 1930; basketball star Wilt Chamberlain in 1936; country/pop singer Kenny Rogers in 1938 (age 70); actor Clarence Williams III in 1939 (age 69); pop singer Jackie DeShannon in 1944 (age 64); and actresses Patty McCormack in 1945 (age 63) and Kim Cattrall in 1956 (age 52); former Ohio State football running back Archie Griffin, the only two-time Heisman Trophy winner, in 1954 (age 54); American Online founder Steve Case in 1958 (age 50) and actress Alicia Witt in 1975 (age 33).

On this date in history:

In 1831, slave Nat Turner launched a bloody slave insurrection in Southampton County, Va., leading to the deaths of 60 people. Turner, an educated minister who considered himself chosen by God to lead his people out of slavery, was hanged.


In 1935, Benny Goodman's nationally broadcast concert at Los Angeles' Palomar Theater was such a hit that it often has been referred to as the kickoff of the swing era.

In 1940, exiled Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky was assassinated in Mexico City on orders from Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

In 1951, the United States ordered construction of the world's first atomic submarine, the Nautilus.

In 1959, Hawaii became the 50th state.

In 1968, the Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact forces invaded Czechoslovakia to end its bid for independence from Moscow.

In 1983, Philippine opposition leader Benigno Aquino was assassinated as he stepped from a plane at the Manila airport.

In 1986, gas belching from a volcanic lake in the remote mountains of Cameroon killed more than 1,700 people and injured 500.

In 1991, a coup to oust Soviet President Gorbachev collapsed two days after it began.

In 1992, fugitive neo-Nazi leader Randall Weaver opened fire on U.S. marshals from inside his Idaho mountaintop home. His wife and teenage son and a deputy marshal died during the 11-day standoff.

In 1994, Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon was elected president of Mexico.


In 1995, the Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds tobacco companies agreed to drop libel suits against ABC News after the network apologized for reporting a year earlier that cigarette makers added nicotine in order to addict smokers.

In 2002, U.S. President George Bush said that while no decision had been made whether to go to war against Iraq, he believed a "regime change" would be "in the best interest of the world."

Also in 2002, Michael Copper, former executive of the bankrupt energy giant Enron, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering.

In 2004, two French journalists were reported kidnapped by Islamic radicals who demanded France repeal its ban on Muslim headscarves in school. France refused.

In 2005, Israeli soldiers moved into the final phase of their evacuation of residents of the Gaza Strip, an operation that reportedly went smoothly overall. More than 30 homes were razed in the northern section, first large-scale demolitions of the mission.

Also in 2005, sectarian violence erupted in Northern Ireland with about 400 nationalists and loyalists rioting in Belfast. There were no serious injuries reported.

In 2006, U.S. President George Bush admitted at a news conference that the war in Iraq was a big strain on the United States but declared there would be no mass American pullout "so long as I'm the president."


Also in 2006, deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein went on trial on a second mass murder charge in Baghdad, this one involving the deaths of 148 men and boys in an alleged revenge attack. He already was being tried in relation to the deaths of thousands of Kurds.

In 2007, Hurricane Dean, a Category 5 storm with wind gusts of 200 mph, slammed into a relatively unpopulated area of the Yucatan Peninsula as the third-most powerful recorded Atlantic hurricane at landfall. The storm drifted to the northwest, weakening and dissipating uneventfully over the southwestern United States.

A thought for the day: it was Ernie Pyle who said, "I write from the worm's-eye point of view."

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