Today is Saturday, Oct. 31, the 304th day of 2009 with 61 to follow.
This is Halloween.
The moon is waxing. The morning stars are Mercury, Venus, Mars and Saturn. The evening stars are Neptune, Jupiter and Uranus.
Those born on this date are under the sign of Scorpio. They include Dutch painter Jan Vermeer in 1632; English poet John Keats in 1795; Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low in 1860; Gen. Chiang Kai-shek, the first leader of Nationalist China, in 1887; actress/singer Ethel Waters in 1896; actresses Dale Evans in 1912 and Barbara Bel Geddes in 1922; astronaut Michael Collins in 1930 (age 79); former TV news anchorman Dan Rather in 1931 (age 78); actor/producer Michael Landon in 1936; folk singer/songwriter Tom Paxton in 1937 (age 72); actors David Ogden Stiers in 1942 (age 67) and Stephen Rea in 1946 (age 63); actress Deidre Hall in 1947 (age 62); comic actor John Candy in 1950; broadcaster Jane Pauley also in 1950 (age 59); comic actor Rob Schneider in 1963 (age 46); and rapper Vanilla Ice in 1967 (age 42).
On this date in history:
In 1517, Martin Luther began the Protestant Reformation by nailing a proclamation to the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany.
In 1864, Nevada was admitted to the Union as the 36th state.
In 1926, magician, illusionist and escape artist Harry Houdini died of peritonitis in a Detroit hospital following a blow to the abdomen.
In 1931, with the Great Depression in full swing, the U.S. Treasury Department announced that 827 banks had failed during the previous two months.
In 1941, the Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota -- consisting of the sculpted heads of U.S. Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt -- was completed.
In 1968, U.S. President Lyndon Johnson announced a halt to the bombing of North Vietnam.
In 1984, India's Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by Sikh guards. Her son, Rajiv, succeeded her.
In 1985, salvage divers located the remains of the booty-laden pirate ship Whydah, which sank Feb. 17, 1717, off Cape Cod, Mass.
In 1988, former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos pleaded innocent to charges that she and her husband, deposed President Ferdinand Marcos, embezzled more than $100 million from the Philippine government.
In 1992, more than 300 people were killed in renewed fighting as Angola slid back into civil war.
In 2001, U.S.-led forces resumed air strikes in Afghanistan, hitting Taliban positions in the northern part of the country and outside the capital, Kabul. The Taliban claimed 1,500 people were killed.
In 2002, Andrew Fastow, former Enron chief financial officer, was indicted on 78 counts of wire fraud, money laundering and conspiracy in the collapse of the Houston energy trading company.
In 2003, a rebel group known to kidnap children and sell them in Sudan as slaves struck a village in northern Uganda, killing 18 and abducting many more.
In 2004, Iranian lawmakers chanted, "Death to America!" after a unanimous vote to allow their government to resume uranium enrichment activities.
Also in 2004, Japan confirmed a Japanese man taken hostage in Baghdad had been beheaded. The kidnappers had demanded Japan pull its troops out of Iraq.
In 2005, Samuel Alito, a 55-year-old conservative federal appeals judge, was nominated by U.S. President George Bush to the U.S. Supreme Court to succeed Sandra Day O'Connor.
In 2006, a U.S. congressional report claimed China helped North Korea develop its nuclear program within the past year.
Also in 2006, former South African President and Prime Minister P.W. Botha, one of his country's most powerful and feared leaders, died of a stroke. He was 90.
In 2007, three men were found guilty in the 2004 bombing of four commuter trains in Madrid. They were convicted of killing 191 people and wounding 1,800 others.
In 2008, U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus took over as head of Central Command. He was put in comment of military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iran and other countries.
Also in 2008, the International Red Cross says fighting between government forces and rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo produced a humanitarian catastrophe.
And, author-actor and activist Louis "Studs" Terkel, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for "The Good War" and pioneer "Chicago school" broadcaster, died at 96.
A thought for the day: English poet John Keats wrote, "If I should die, I have left no immortal work behind me -- nothing to make my friends proud of my memory -- but I have loved the principle of beauty in all things and if I had had time I would have made myself remembered."