Today is Saturday, Oct. 31, the 304th day of 2009. There are 61 days left in the year. This is Halloween. A reminder: Daylight-saving time ends Sunday at 2 a.m. local time. Clocks go back one hour.
Today’s Highlight in History
On Oct. 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted the 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenberg Palace church, marking the start of the Protestant Reformation in Germany.
On this date
In 1864, Nevada became the 36th state.
In 1887, Chiang Kai-shek, the Chinese general and president whose regime collapsed to the Communists in 1949, was born.
In 1926, magician Harry Houdini died in Detroit of gangrene and peritonitis resulting from a ruptured appendix.
In 1938, the day after his “War of the Worlds” broadcast had panicked radio listeners, Orson Welles expressed “deep regret” but also bewilderment that anyone had thought the simulated Martian invasion was real.
In 1941, the Navy destroyer USS Reuben James was torpedoed by a German U-boat off Iceland with the loss of some 100 lives, even though the United States had not yet entered World War II.
In 1956, Rear Admiral G.J. Dufek became the first person to land an airplane at the South Pole.
In 1959, a former U.S. Marine showed up at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow to declare he was renouncing his American citizenship so he could live in the Soviet Union. His name: Lee Harvey Oswald.
In 1967, Nguyen Van Thieu took the oath of office as the first president of South Vietnam’s second republic.
In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered a halt to all U.S. bombing of North Vietnam, saying he hoped for fruitful peace negotiations.
In 1984, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two Sikh security guards.
In 1991, theatrical producer Joseph Papp died at age 70.
In 1992, it was announced that five American nuns in Liberia had been shot to death near the capital Monrovia; the killings were blamed on rebels loyal to Charles Taylor.
In 1993, Italian movie director Federico Fellini died at age 73.
In 1994, a Chicago-bound American Eagle ATR-72 crashed in northern Indiana, killing all 68 people aboard.
In 1996, a Brazilian Fokker-100 jetliner crashed in Sao Paulo, killing all 96 people on board and three on the ground.
In 1998, a genetic study was released suggesting President Thomas Jefferson did in fact father at least one child by his slave Sally Hemings.
In 1999, ten years ago, EgyptAir Flight 990, bound from New York to Cairo, crashed off the Massachusetts coast, killing all 217 people aboard.
In 2001, a 61-year-old New York hospital worker died from inhalation anthrax.
In 2001, Microsoft and the Justice Department reached a tentative agreement to settle the historic antitrust case against the software giant.
In 2004, five years ago, in the closing hours of their bitter campaign, President George W. Bush and challenger Sen. John Kerry charged through the critical battlegrounds of Florida and Ohio, going from hushed Sunday church services to raucous campaign rallies with promises to keep America safe.
In 2005, President George W. Bush nominated Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.
In 2006, P.W. Botha, South Africa’s apartheid-era president, died at age 90.
In 2007, three lead defendants in the 2004 Madrid train bombings were found guilty of mass murder and other charges, but four other top suspects were convicted on lesser charges and an accused ringleader was completely acquitted in the attacks that killed 191 people.
In 2008, one year ago, President George W. Bush signed an executive order restoring the Libyan government’s immunity from terror-related lawsuits and dismissing pending compensation cases.
In 2008, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Studs Terkel died in Chicago at age 96.
Author Dick Francis is 89. Former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk is 87. Actress Lee Grant is 82. Movie critic Andrew Sarris is 81. Former astronaut Michael Collins is 79. Former CBS anchorman Dan Rather is 78. Folk singer Tom Paxton is 72. Actor Ron Rifkin is 70. Actress Sally Kirkland is 68. Actor David Ogden Stiers is 67. Actor Stephen Rea is 63. Olympic gold medal distance runner Frank Shorter is 62. Actress Deidre Hall is 61. Talk show host Jane Pauley is 59. Actor Brian Stokes Mitchell is 51. Movie director Peter Jackson is 48. Rock musician Larry Mullen is 48. Actor Dermot Mulroney is 46. Rock musician Mikkey Dee (Motorhead) is 46. Rock singer-musician Johnny Marr is 46. Actor Rob Schneider is 45. Country singer Darryl Worley is 45. Actor-comedian Mike O’Malley is 44. Rap musician Adrock (Adam Horovitz) is 43. Songwriter Adam Schlesinger is 42. Rap performer Vanilla Ice (aka Rob Van Winkle) is 41. Rock singer Linn Berggren (Ace of Base) is 39. Reality TV host Troy Hartman is 38. Gospel singer Smokie Norful is 36. Actress Piper Perabo is 33. Actor Brian Hallisay is 31. Actor Eddie Kaye Thomas is 29. Rock musician Frank Iero (My Chemical Romance) is 28.
Today’s Historic Birthdays
10/31/1632 – 12/15/1675
10/31/1705 – 9/22/1774
Italian Roman Catholic pope (1769-74)
10/31/1740 – 10/23/1799
American signer of the Declaration of Independence
10/31/1795 – 2/23/1821
Sir Joseph Wilson Swan
10/31/1828 – 5/27/1914
English physicist and chemist
10/31/1847 – 2/7/1897
Juliette Gordon Low
10/31/1860 – 1/18/1927
American founder of Girl Scouts of America
10/31/1860 – 1/20/1947
American Congressman from Minnesota (1903-23); introduced National Prohibition Act
10/31/1875 – 6/17/1959
American publisher of The Washington Post (1933-46)
10/31/1887 – 4/5/1975
Chinese president of Nationalist government (1928-49) and leader of Taiwan (1949-75)
Sir George Hubert Wilkins
10/31/1888 – 12/1/1958
Australian-born British explorer
10/31/1896 – 9/1/1977
American jazz and blues singer and film actress
10/31/1902 – 10/30/1954
American race-car driver
10/31/1936 – 7/1/1991
American television actor
Thought for Today
“There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them.” – Andre Gide, French author and critic (1869-1951).