The almanac

United Press International

Today is Sunday, Aug. 24, the 237th day of 2008 with 129 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 Virgo. They include pioneer British abolitionist William Wilberforce in 1759; Joshua Lionel Cowen, inventor of the electric toy train, in 1880; English author and parodist Max Beerbohm in 1872; country music publisher Fred Rose in 1897; Argentine poet and author Jorge Luis Borges in 1899; actor Steve Guttenberg in 1958 (age 50); former baseball star Cal Ripken Jr. (U.S. major league record 2,632 consecutive games) in 1960 (age 48); and actress Marlee Matlin in 1965 (age 43).

On this date in history:

In 79 A.D., thousands died and the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Italy.

In 1814, the British captured Washington and burned the Capitol building and the White House.

In 1932, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly non-stop across the United States.


In 1987, a U.S. appeals court in Cincinnati ruled public schools could require students to study textbooks not accepted by religious fundamentalists.

In 1990, Irish-British hostage Brian Keenan, held by pro-Iranian Muslim extremists in Lebanon for more than four years, was freed.

In 1991, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev quit as general secretary of the Communist Party central committee. He also ordered his Cabinet to resign.

In 1992, Hurricane Andrew smashed into Florida south of Miami with sustained winds of up to 145 mph, carving a path of destruction.

In 1995, Beijing convicted and then expelled Chinese-American human rights activist Harry Wu, arrested in June while trying to enter China from Kazakhstan.

In 1996, four women became students at The Citadel, a military school in South Carolina that had fought in court to remain all-male.

In 2003, a Newsweek poll indicated that Americans were growing increasingly wary of U.S. military involvement in Iraq.

In 2004, two Russian passenger jetliners crashed within minutes of each other after taking off from Domodedovo Airport in Moscow. A total of 89 people were killed.

In 2005, U.S. President George Bush vowed in an Idaho speech that he would not retreat from Iraq or the rest of the Middle East until U.S. troops "win the war on terror."


Also in 2005, a Peruvian passenger plane crashed in the jungle of central Peru, killing at least 40 people.

In 2006, Pluto, the small, distant planet that has been around officially since 1930, was demoted to a non-planet status when the International Astronomical Union voted to adopt a new definition of "planet" which excludes Pluto.

In 2007, an amount of phosgene, a potentially deadly chemical nerve gas component, was found in secured vials in a U.N. office in New York. There were no injuries and an inquiry was opened to find out how the substance got there.

Also in 2007, Chinese officials, under global pressure regarding the safety of their products, said they have launched a "special war" to improve quality and supervision. The list of products runs from food and drugs to toys and electric wires.

A thought for the day: it was Hartford (Conn.) Courant Editor Charles Dudley Warner -- and not his friend and colleague Mark Twain -- who said, "Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it."

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