The almanac

United Press International

Today is Thursday, Oct. 31, the 304th day of 2013 with 61 to follow.

This is Halloween.


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

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; actor/singer Ethel Waters in 1896; actors Dale Evans in 1912, Barbara Bel Geddes in 1922 and Lee Grant in 1927 (age 86); British jockey and writer Dick Francis in 1920; astronaut Michael Collins in 1930 (age 83); former TV news anchorman Dan Rather in 1931 (age 82); actor/director Michael Landon in 1936; folk singer/songwriter Tom Paxton in 1937 (age 76); actors David Ogden Stiers in 1942 (age 71), Brian Doyle-Murray in 1945 (age 68), Stephen Rea in 1946 (age 67), Deidre Hall in 1947 (age 66) and John Candy in 1950; Belgian politician and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and Olympic gold medal marathon runner Frank Shorter, both in 1947 (age 66); broadcaster Jane Pauley in 1950 (age 63); actors Ken Wahl in 1954 (age 59), Brian Stokes Mitchell in 1957 (age 56) and Rob Schneider in 1963 (age 50); New Zealand director and producer Peter Jackson in 1961 (age 52); and rapper Vanilla Ice, born Robert Matthew Van Winkle, in 1967 (age 46).


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 United States 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, Indian 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 1992, more than 300 people were killed in renewed fighting as Angola slid back into civil war.

In 2001, U.S.-led forces resumed airstrikes in Afghanistan, hitting Taliban positions in the northern part of the country and outside the capital, Kabul. The Taliban said 1,500 people were killed.


In 2004, Iranian lawmakers chanted, "Death to America!" after a unanimous vote to allow their government to resume uranium enrichment activities.

In 2005, Samuel Alito, a 55-year-old conservative federal appeals judge, was nominated by U.S. President George W. Bush to the U.S. Supreme Court to succeed Sandra Day O'Connor.

In 2008, U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus took over as head of the Central Command, in charge of military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iran and other countries.

In 2010, Brazilians elected Dilma Rousseff as their first woman president. The former energy minister and choice of outgoing President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva defeated Jose Serra in a runoff with 56 percent of the vote.

In 2011, UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, approved the Palestinians' bid for full membership in the United Nations by a 107-14 vote despite a United States threat to cut off funding. The U.N. Security Council put off a final vote on the matter.

In 2012, the Syrian Network for Human Rights in London said 421 people, including 39 children, died during a four-day United Nations-backed truce in Syria.


A thought for the day: "Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip." -- Winston Churchill

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