IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Today in history: August 31

Celebrity birthdays, highlights in history, plus more facts about this day
/ Source: The Associated Press

Today is Thursday, Aug. 31, the 243rd day of 2006. There are 122 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On Aug. 31, 1886, an earthquake rocked Charleston, S.C., killing up to 110 people.

On this date:
In 1881, the first U.S. tennis championships (for men) were played, in Newport, R.I.

In 1888, Mary Ann Nichols was found murdered in London’s East End in what is generally regarded as the first slaying committed by “Jack the Ripper.”

In 1935, President Roosevelt signed an act prohibiting the export of U.S. arms to belligerents.

In 1941, the radio program “The Great Gildersleeve” debuted on NBC.

In 1954, Hurricane Carol hit the northeastern Atlantic states. Connecticut, Rhode Island and part of Massachusetts bore the brunt of the storm, which resulted in nearly 70 deaths.

In 1962, the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago became independent within the British Commonwealth.

In 1969, boxer Rocky Marciano died in a light airplane crash in Iowa, a day before his 46th birthday.

In 1980, Poland’s Solidarity labor movement was born with an agreement signed in Gdansk that ended a 17-day-old strike.

In 1986, 82 people were killed when an Aeromexico jetliner and a small private plane collided over Cerritos, Calif.

In 1986, the Soviet passenger ship Admiral Nakhimov collided with a merchant vessel in the Black Sea, causing both vessels to sink; up to 448 people reportedly died.

Ten years ago: Seven people drowned when their vehicle rolled into John D. Long Lake in Union, S.C.; they had gone to see a monument to the sons of Susan Smith, who had drowned the two boys in October 1994. New York City police found the body of 4-year-old Nadine Lockwood in her family’s apartment; she’d been starved to death. (The girl’s mother, Carla Lockwood, was later sentenced to serve at least 15 years in prison. Nadine’s father, Leroy Dickerson, was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.)

Five years ago: The Middle East dominated the opening of a world conference against racism in South Africa as Yasser Arafat accused Israel of “racist practices” against the Palestinian people. Little League star Danny Almonte’s perfect game and his Bronx, New York, team’s records, including a third-place World Series finish, were ruled invalid after officials in the Dominican Republic, where Danny was born, determined he was 14 years old, not 12.

One year ago: New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said there was “a significant number of dead bodies in the water” following Hurricane Katrina; Nagin ordered virtually the entire police force to abandon search-and-rescue efforts and instead stop thieves who were becoming increasingly hostile. President Bush pledged to do “all in our power” to save lives and provide sustenance but cautioned that recovery of the Gulf Coast would take years. Some 1,000 people were killed when a religious procession across a Baghdad bridge was engulfed in panic over rumors of a suicide bomber.

Today’s Birthdays: Broadcast journalist Daniel Schorr is 90. Baseball Hall-of-Famer Frank Robinson is 71. Actor Warren Berlinger is 69. Rock musician Jerry Allison (Buddy Holly and the Crickets) is 67. Actor Jack Thompson is 66. Violinist Itzhak Perlman is 61. Singer Van Morrison is 61. Rock musician Rudolf Schenker (The Scorpions) is 58. Actor Richard Gere is 57. Rock singer Glenn Tilbrook (Squeeze) is 49. Rock musician Gina Schock (The Go-Go’s) is 49. Singer Tony DeFranco (The DeFranco Family) is 47. Rhythm-and-blues musician Larry Waddell (Mint Condition) is 43. Actor Jaime P. Gomez is 41. Rock musician Jeff Russo (Tonic) is 37. Singer-composer Deborah Gibson is 36. Rock musician Greg Richling (Wallflowers) is 36. Actor Chris Tucker is 34. Rhythm-and-blues singer Tamara (Trina & Tamara) is 29.

Thought for Today: “All history is only one long story to this effect: men have struggled for power over their fellow men in order that they might win the joys of earth at the expense of others, and might shift the burdens of life from their own shoulders upon those of others.” — William Graham Sumner, American sociologist and economist (1840-1910).