The almanac

By United Press International  |  Feb. 8, 2012 at 3:30 AM
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Today is Wednesday, Feb. 8, the 39th day of 2012 with 327 to follow.

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

Those born on this date are under the sign of Aquarius. They include Civil War Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman in 1820; pioneer science fiction writer Jules Verne in 1828; Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev, who devised the periodic table, in 1834; actors Charles Ruggles in 1886 and Edith Evans in 1888; film director King Vidor in 1894; Chester Carlson, inventor of the Xerox copying process, in 1906; actors Lana Turner in 1921, Jack Lemmon in 1925, Audrey Meadows in 1926 and James Dean in 1931; composer/conductor John Williams, the winner of five Academy Awards, in 1932 (age 80); television journalist Ted Koppel in 1940 (age 72); actor Nick Nolte and folk singer Tom Rush, both in 1941 (age 71); comedian Robert Klein in 1942 (age 70); actors Brooke Adams in 1949 (age 63) and Mary Steenburgen in 1953 (age 59); author John Grisham in 1955 (age 57); actors Gary Coleman in 1968 and Seth Green in 1974 (age 38); and Philippines President Benigno Aquino III in 1960 (age 42).

On this date in history:

In 1587, Mary Queen of Scots was beheaded, charged with conspiring to kill England's Queen Elizabeth I.

In 1692, a doctor in Massachusetts Bay Colony claimed two village girls may be bewitched, a charge that set off the Salem witch trials.

In 1693, the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., granted a charter by Britain's King William III.

In 1725, Peter the Great, emperor of Russia, died and was succeeded by his wife, Catherine.

In 1910, the United States became the 12th nation to join the international scouting movement.

In 1915, D.W. Griffith's "The Birth Of A Nation," a landmark in the history of cinema and the first American full-length motion picture, opened in Los Angeles and was immediately a smash hit though many found its treatment of race offensive.

In 1940, Nazis shot every 10th person in two Polish villages near Warsaw in reprisal for the deaths of two German soldiers.

In 1960, first plaques installed on Hollywood Walk of Fame. The first people honored were Olive Borden, Ronald Colman, Louise Fazenda, Preston Foster, Burt Lancaster, Edward Sedgwick Ernest Torrence and Joanne Woodward.

In 1974, three U.S. Skylab astronauts ended an 84-day orbital flight.

In 1987, a 60-day cease-fire ended between the Philippine army and communist rebels. Twenty-eight people died in truce violations.

In 1993, a chartered passenger plane collided with a military aircraft over Tehran, killing at least 132 people at a military base where Iran celebrated Air Force Day.

Also in 1993, General Motors announced it was suing NBC-TV, contending the network rigged a demonstration crash showing a GM pickup truck with "sidesaddle" fuel tanks exploding into flames.

In 1995, the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to send 7,000 peacekeepers to Angola to maintain peace in the African nation.

In 2002, the Olympic Winter Games opened in Salt Lake City.

In 2003, Syria and Israel exchanged fire for the first time in 29 years in a dispute over a Syrian civilian killed in the demilitarized zone separating the two countries.

In 2004, U.S. President George W. Bush acknowledged in a TV interview that he might have been wrong in claiming before the war that Iraq had stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. But, he said, "I expected to find the weapons."

And in 2004 entertainment, Beyonce was a five-time winner at the Grammy Awards, tying the record for most Grammys by a female artist.

In 2005, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared a truce in hostilities.

In 2006, police opened fire on an Afghanistan mob protesting a series of published cartoons that depict the Prophet Mohammed, killing four protesters and raising the death toll there to 11.

In 2007, Anna Nicole Smith, a 39-year-old actor, model and tabloid fixture, was found dead in a Hollywood, Fla., hotel. Her death was attributed to accidental sedative overdose.

In 2008, a man at odds with city officials went on a shooting rampage at a Kirkwood, Mo., City Council meeting, killing five people, police said. Officers killed the suspect, identified as Charles Lee "Cookie" Thornton, an independent contractor.

Also in 2008, an explosion rocked the Imperial Sugar Co. facility at Fort Wentworth, Ga., near Savannah. Four people were killed and about 30 others were injured.

In 2010, the 10 American missionaries held in earthquake-wracked Haiti on child trafficking charges called on the U.S. government to do more on their behalf. They were reported arrested as they tried to take 33 Haitian children to a Dominican Republic orphanage.

In 2011, former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf was added to the list of "accused" in the 2007 assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Musharraf, in exile in London, was the country's military ruler when Bhutto was slain.

A thought for the day: Booker T. Washington said, "Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed."

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