Today is Monday, Jan. 31, the 31st day of 2011 with 334 to follow.
The moon is waning. The morning stars are Mars, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune. The evening stars are Mercury, Saturn and Venus.
Those born on this date are under the sign of Aquarius. They include American patriot Gouverneur Morris, who wrote sections of the U.S. Constitution, in 1752; Austrian composer Franz Schubert in 1797; western novelist Zane Grey in 1872; comedian Eddie Cantor in 1892, actor Tallulah Bankhead in 1902; boxer Jersey Joe Walcott in 1914; radio and television personality Garry Moore in 1915; baseball Hall of Fame member Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to play major league baseball, in 1919; actor/singer Mario Lanza in 1921; actors Carol Channing in 1921 (age 90) and Joanne Dru in 1922; novelist Norman Mailer in 1923; civil rights leader Benjamin Hooks in 1925; actors Jean Simmons in 1929, Suzanne Pleshette in 1937, Jessica Walter in 1941 (age 70) and Minnie Driver in 1970 (age 41); Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands in 1938 (age 73); baseball Hall of Fame members Ernie Banks in 1931 (age 80) and Nolan Ryan in 1947 (age 64); and singer Justin Timberlake in 1981 (age 30).
On this date in history:
In 1929, the Soviet Union expelled communist revolutionary Leon Trotsky. He was assassinated in Mexico in August 1940.
In 1945, U.S. Army Pvt. Eddie Slovik, 24, was executed by firing squad for desertion. His was the first U.S. execution for desertion since the Civil War.
In 1950, U.S. President Harry Truman announced he had ordered development of the hydrogen bomb.
In 1953, Nearly 2,000 people died when the North Sea flooded the Netherlands.
In 1958, Explorer 1, the first successful U.S. satellite, was launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla.
In 1961, NASA launches a rocket carrying Hamp the Chimp into space.
In 1982, the Israeli Cabinet agreed to a multi-national peacekeeping force to act as a buffer between Israel and Egypt in the Sinai Peninsula.
In 1990, the first McDonald's restaurant opened in Moscow.
In 1995, after the U.S. Congress failed to act quickly, U.S. President Bill Clinton used his emergency authority to provide financially troubled Mexico with a $20 billion loan.
In 1996, a suicide bombing at Sri Lanka's main bank killed nearly 100 people and injured more than 1,000.
In 1999, a team of international scientists reported it traced the predominant strain of the AIDS virus to a subspecies of chimpanzee that lived in parts of Africa.
In 2000, Illinois Gov. George Ryan halted all executions in his state after several death row inmates were found to be innocent of the crimes for which they were to be put to death.
In 2001, a Scottish court meeting in the Netherlands convicted a Libyan man in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. The plane exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people, including 11 on the ground.
In 2003, 18 people on a bus were killed when a bomb destroyed a bridge near Kandahar in southern Afghanistan.
In 2005, a U.S. judge in Washington ruled the process for determining "enemy combatants" at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was unconstitutional.
In 2006, Samuel Alito was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as an associate justice on the United States Supreme Court by a 58-42 vote. He succeeded retiring Justice Sandra O'Connor.
In 2007, arrest warrants for 13 CIA agents were issued by a Munich court related to the alleged kidnapping of a German citizen for terror interrogation.
In 2008, in the U.S. presidential primaries, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton continued to vie for the Democratic nomination while John Edwards pulled out. On the Republican side, John McCain, once struggling to stay in the race, made his move with wins in South Carolina and Florida as Rudy Giuliani ended his bid.
In 2009, Republicans chose Michael Steele, former lieutenant governor of Maryland, to head the GOP National Committee, He was the first African-American to hold the post.
In 2010, U.S. stocks ended the first month of the new year on a downward trend, the Dow Jones industrial average registering a one-month decline of 3.5 percent and closed at 10,067.33, the Nasdaq Composite showing a 5.4 percent drop and the Standard & Poor's 500 down 3.7 percent.
A thought for the day: it was Dag Hammarskjold who said: "Never measure the height of a mountain until you have reached the top. Then you will see how low it was."