UPI Almanac for Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015

Libyan convicted in Pan Am Lockerbie bombing, Alito confirmed as U.S. Supreme Court justice … on this date in history.
By United Press International  |  Jan. 31, 2015 at 3:30 AM
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Today is Saturday, Jan. 31, the 31st day of 2015 with 334 to follow.

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

Those born on this date are under the sign of Aquarius. They include 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; actor Carol Channing in 1921 (age 94); actor Joanne Dru in 1922; novelist Norman Mailer in 1923; civil rights leader Benjamin Hooks in 1925; actor Jean Simmons in 1929; baseball Hall of Fame member Ernie Banks in 1931 (age 84); actor Suzanne Pleshette in 1937; Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands in 1938 (age 77); actor Jessica Walter in 1941 (age 74); baseball Hall of Fame member Nolan Ryan in 1947 (age 68); actor Anthony LaPaglia in 1959 (age 56); television news commentator Martha MacCallum in 1964 (age 51); actor Minnie Driver in 1970 (age 55); singer/actor Justin Timberlake in 1981 (age 34).

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 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, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. The plane exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people, including 11 on the ground. (The convicted bomber died in 2012.)

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 Day 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.

In 2014, the Dow Jones industrial average closed at 15,698.52, ending its worst January in five years. The Dow fell more than 5 percent during the month.

A thought for the day: "A competitor will find a way to win. Competitors take bad breaks and use them to drive themselves just that much harder. Quitters take bad breaks and use them as reasons to give up. It's all a matter of pride." -- Nancy Lopez

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