The almanac

By United Press International  |  Aug. 13, 2009 at 3:30 AM
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Today is Thursday, Aug. 13, the 225th day of 2009 with 140 to follow.

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

Those born on this date are under the sign of Leo. They include social reformer Lucy Stone in 1818; sharpshooter Annie Oakley in 1860; Scottish inventor John Baird, a pioneer in television technology, in 1888; comic actor Bert Lahr (Cowardly Lion in "The Wizard of Oz") in 1895; actor Regis Toomey in 1898; film director Alfred Hitchcock in 1899; bandleader Skinnay Ennis in 1909; golfer Ben Hogan in 1912; actor Neville Brand in 1920; Cuban leader Fidel Castro in 1926 (age 83); actor Pat Harrington Jr. in 1929 (age 80); singer Don Ho in 1930; former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders in 1933 (age 76); opera singer Kathleen Battle in 1948 (age 61); pop singer Dan Fogelberg in 1951; and actor/announcer Danny Bonaduce ("The Partridge Family") in 1959 (age 50).

On this date in history:

In 1889, William Gray patented the coin-operated telephone.

In 1930, Capt. Frank Hawkes set an air speed record by flying from Los Angeles to New York in 12 hours, 25 minutes.

In 1961, East Germany closed the Brandenburg Gate and prepared to start building the Berlin Wall.

In 1980, U.S. President Jimmy Carter was nominated for a second term by the Democratic National Convention in New York but lost in November to Ronald Reagan.

In 1990, singer/songwriter Curtis Mayfield was left paralyzed when he was hit by a wind-blown lighting rig on an outdoor stage in New York. He died in 1999.

In 1993, Israel agreed for the first time to negotiate with a Palestinian delegation whose members belonged officially to the PLO.

In 1994, North Korea agreed to allow U.N. monitors to inspect a secret nuclear laboratory.

In 2003, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said the removal of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat from all positions of influence was the key to Middle East peace.

In 2004, Hurricane Charley slammed into Florida's West Coast with winds of 145 mph, striking Punta Gorda and offshore islands, causing around 30 deaths and destroying or damaging 16,000 homes. The storm earlier hit Jamaica and Cuba, killing seven.

In 2004 sports, the Summer Olympic Games opened in Athens, Greece, with a record 202 countries and 10,500 athletes taking part.

In 2005, the largest Lutheran denomination in the United States decided not to allow homosexuals into the clergy.

Also in 2005, U.S. troops in Mosul, Iraq, found a suspected chemical-weapons factory containing 1,500 gallons of chemicals.

In 2006, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, who spent his 80th birthday in a Havana hospital after surgery for gastro-intestinal bleeding, urged optimism but warned he might not recover. He promised Cubans he would "fight for it."

In 2008, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili accepted the cease-fire agreement to end the violent five-day conflict with Russia. The move essentially ended Georgia's bid to reclaim South Ossetia and Abkhazia, two regions along the Russian border.

Also in 2008, the chairman of the Arkansas Democratic Party was shot to death in his Little Rock office. Bill Gwatney, a former state legislator, was shot three times by a single gunman. A suspect was caught after as high-speed chase.

And, a bus crashed into a mountain in China's northwest Xinjiang region, killing at least 25 passengers, most of them high school students. Authorities said the driver lost control of the vehicle.

A thought for the day: Henry James reportedly said, "Summer afternoon -- summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language."

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