The almanac

By United Press International  |  Jan. 31, 2014 at 3:30 AM
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Today is Friday, Jan. 31, the 31st day of 2014 with 334 to follow.

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

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 Henry 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 93) 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 73), Anthony LaPaglia in 1959 (age 55), and Minnie Driver in 1970 (age 44); Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands in 1938 (age 76); baseball Hall of Fame members Ernie Banks in 1931 (age 83) and Nolan Ryan in 1947 (age 67); television news commentator Martha MacCallum in 1964 (age 50); and singer/actor Justin Timberlake in 1981 (age 33).

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 launched 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, Moscow's first McDonald's restaurant opened.

In 1996, a suicide bombing at Sri Lanka's main bank killed nearly 100 people and injured more than 1,000.

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 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 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 guns were sold to illegal "straw buyers" in an effort to catch drug cartel leaders, but some of the weapons were used in crimes, including the killing of a U.S. Border Patrol agent.

In 2013, an explosion caused by a gas leak at the Mexico City offices of state oil company Pemex killed nearly 40 people and injured scores of others.

A thought for the day: "I think the key is for women not to set any limits." -- Martina Navratilova

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