The almanac

By United Press International  |  Jan. 31, 2013 at 3:30 AM
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Today is Thursday, Jan. 31, the 31st day of 2013 with 334 to follow.

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

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; short-story writer John Henery O'Hara in 1905; 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 92) 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 72), Anthony LaPaglia in 1959 (age 54), and Minnie Driver in 1970 (age 43); Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands in 1938 (age 75); baseball Hall of Fame members Ernie Banks in 1931 (age 82) and Nolan Ryan in 1947 (age 66); television news commentator Martha MacCallum in 1964 (age 49); and singer Justin Timberlake in 1981 (age 32).

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 Ham the Chimp into space.

In 1982, the Israeli Cabinet agreed to a multinational 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, 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 executions in the 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 U.S. Supreme Court by a 58-42 vote. He succeeded retiring Justice Sandra O'Connor.

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 2011, a U.S. judge in Florida ruled the healthcare reform law's requirement for mandatory health insurance was unconstitutional and struck down the entire law, saying the provision cannot be dealt with alone. The White House called the ruling "judicial overreaching."

In 2012, a U.S. congressional report accused the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives of bungling a sting operation called "Fast and Furious" in which about 2,000 guns were slipped into Mexico in an effort to nab real smugglers. Things went awry when it was discovered some of the weapons were used in crimes, including the killing of a U.S. Border Patrol agent.

Also in 2012, the Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard and Poor 500 had their best January since 1997 and Nasdaq joined with a significant increase.

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."

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