The almanac

By United Press International  |  Oct. 18, 2009 at 3:30 AM
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Today is Sunday, Oct. 18, the 291st day of 2009 with 74 to follow.

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

Those born on this day are under the sign of Libra. They include novelist Fannie Hurst in 1889; former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in 1919; former Republican Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina, in 1921; Greek actress Melina Mercouri in 1925; rock 'n' roll legend Chuck Berry in 1926 (age 83); actors George C. Scott in 1927 and Peter Boyle in 1935; Lee Harvey Oswald, assumed assassin of President John F. Kennedy, in 1939; former pro football star and coach Mike Ditka in 1939 (age 70); actor Joe Morton in 1947 (age 62); actress Pam Dawber in 1951 (age 58); musician Wynton Marsalis in 1961 (age 48); and actor Jean-Claude Van Damme and actress Erin Moran ("Happy Days"), both in 1960 (age 49).

On this date in history:

In 1776, the border between Maryland and Pennsylvania was settled. Dubbed the "Mason-Dixon" line, it became the unofficial boundary between North and South.

In 1898, the United States took control of Puerto Rico one year after Spain had granted self-rule to the Caribbean nation.

In 1922, the British Broadcasting Corp. was established.

In 1931, Thomas Alva Edison, one of the most prolific inventors in history, died in West Orange, N.J., at the age of 84.

In 1959, the Soviet Union announced an unmanned space vehicle had taken the first pictures of the far side of the moon.

In 1974, the jury in the Watergate cover-up trial heard a tape recording in which U.S. President Richard Nixon told aide John Dean to try to stop the Watergate burglary investigation before it implicated White House personnel.

In 1984, U.S. President Ronald Reagan ordered an investigation of a CIA handbook for Nicaraguan rebels that suggested assassination as a political tactic.

In 1990, Iraq, pinched by economic sanctions, offered to sell oil to anyone at half the going price.

In 1991, Israel and the Soviet Union agreed to renew full diplomatic relations for the first time since 1967.

Also in 1991, the United States and Soviet Union formally invited Israeli and Arab leaders to a conference in Spain to initiate direct bilateral peace talks.

In 1992, numerous civilians were killed or wounded when Serbian forces unleashed a citywide artillery barrage on Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

In 2002, North Korea revealed it was working on a secret nuclear weapons program and U.S. intelligence officials concluded that Pakistan was a major supplier of critical equipment for it.

In 2004, exhumation orders were issued for 42 bodies in Sonthofen, Germany, where a hospital orderly admitted to giving lethal injections to 16 patients.

In 2005, Iraqi election officials said parliamentary election results would be delayed "a few days" while procedures were checked at 12 voting sites where as many as 99 percent of ballots favored a new constitution.

Also in 2005, Iran sought to have former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein charged also with genocide and the use of chemical weapons in the war with Iran when he goes on trial for war crimes in Baghdad.

In 2006, despite opposition in both countries, the U.S. government reportedly was pressing the Iraqi government to offer a broad amnesty to insurgents.

In 2007, former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto returned home after eight years in exile to triumphant fanfare that gave way to panic when a suicide bomber killed a reported 139 people in her convoy. Bhutto survived the attack.

In 2008, public health officials in North Bay, Ontario, say the number of people sickened by E. coli bacteria at Harvey's fast-food restaurant has risen to 131. Inspectors say hamburgers are the suspected source.

Also in 2008, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai agreed to share power but after a week of intense negotiations they say they are getting nowhere. They can't decide who runs the police and financial ministries.

A thought for the day: French author George Sand (Amandine Aurore Lucile Dupin) said, "Simplicity is the essence of the great, the true and the beautiful in art."

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