The almanac

United Press International

Today is Friday, Aug. 31, the 244th day of 2012 with 122 to follow.

The moon is full. Morning stars are Mercury, Venus, Jupiter and Uranus. Evening stars are Neptune, Saturn and Mars.


Those born on this date are under the sign of Virgo. They include Italian educator Maria Montessori in 1870; actor Fredric March in 1897; entertainer Arthur Godfrey in 1903; writer William Saroyan in 1908; English astronomer Alfred Bernard Lovell in 1913; actor Richard Basehart in 1914; journalist Daniel Schorr in 1916; lyricist Alan Jay Lerner in 1918; comedian Buddy Hackett in 1924; actor James Coburn in 1928; baseball Hall of Fame member Frank Robinson, first African-American to manage a major league team, in 1935 (age 77); black militant Eldridge Cleaver, also in 1935; violinist Itzhak Perlman (age 67), rock singer/songwriter Van Morrison (age 67) and rock musician Bob Welch, all in 1945; actor Richard Gere in 1949 (age 63); Olympic track star Edwin Moses in 1955 (age 57); Jordanian Queen Rania and singer/actor Debbie Gibson, both in 1970 (age 42); and Olympic gold medal skier Ted Ligety in 1984 (age 28).


On this date in history:

In 1897, Thomas Edison was awarded a patent for his movie camera, the Kinetograph.

In 1888, prostitute Mary Ann Nichols became the first reported victim of the notorious London serial killer known as "Jack the Ripper."

In 1903, a Packard automobile completed a 52-day journey from San Francisco to New York, becoming the first car to cross the nation under its own power.

In 1986, an Aeromexico DC-9 collided with a single-engine plane over Cerritos, Calif., killing 82 people, including 15 on the ground.

In 1991, the Soviet republics of Uzbekistan and Kirghizia declared independence, leaving five republics in the Soviet Union.

Also in 1991, Serbia accepted a European Community proposal that included international observers to oversee a cease-fire in Croatia.

In 1992, white separatist Randy Weaver surrendered, ending an 11-day siege of his Idaho mountain cabin that cost the lives of his wife and teenage son and a U.S. marshal.

In 1993, the Israeli government agreed in principle a plan for interim Palestinian self-rule of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank town of Jericho.

In 1994, the Irish Republican Army declared a cease-fire following six months of secret talks with Britain.


In 1997, Britain's Princess Diana died of injuries a few hours after a car accident in Paris that killed her companion, Dodi Fayed, and their driver.

In 2003, a Russian K-159 nuclear-powered submarine was lost in the Barents Sea, claiming the lives of nine of its 10-member crew. Russian authorities blamed negligence by navy officials.

In 2004, in the first major attacks inside Israel in nearly six months, Palestinian suicide bombers blew up two buses almost simultaneously in Beersheba, killing at least 16 passengers and wounding more than 80.

In 2005, close to 1,000 people, largely Shiite pilgrims, died in a stampede and the partial collapse of a bridge over the Tigris River in northern Baghdad.

Also in 2005, in New Orleans, martial law was declared amid reports of looters running wild, food and drinking water dwindling and bodies floating in floodwaters.

In 2006, Norwegian authorities recovered the world famous painting "The Scream" by Edvard Munch, stolen at gunpoint, along with Munch's "Madonna," from an Oslo museum nine days earlier.

In 2007, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called for a cease-fire by all armed militias.

In 2008, while the U.S. economy continued to show signs of distress, stocks and commodities on Wall Street were showing promise as August ended. The Dow Jones industrial average, Standard and Poor's index and the Nasdaq composite all closed up better than 1 percent and crude oil prices fell almost 7 percent. But, initial claims for unemployment insurance averaged nearly 35 percent higher than the previous August.


In 2009, the Dow Jones industrial average had its best August in nine years, closing at 9,496.28, a 1-month gain of 3.5 percent. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq also showed gains.

In 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama announced the end of the American combat mission in Iraq, seven years after the war began.

Also in 2010, 12 months after its best August in nine years, the Dow Jones industrial average had its worst August in nine years with a drop of 4.3 percent to close at 10,014.72.

In 2011, the United States imposed new sanctions on Syria, freezing Syrian government assets and banning petroleum product imports from the country.

Also in 2011, gold prices surged to records of more than $1,800 an ounce on a volatile U.S. stock market still concerned over an uncertain economy.

A thought for the day: in a final statement for publication after his death, author and playwright William Saroyan said: "Everyone has got to die but I have always believed an exception would be made in my case. Now what?"

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