Today is Friday, Oct. 31, the 304th day of 2014. There are 61 days left in the year. This is Halloween.
On Oct. 31, 1864, Nevada became the 36th state as President Abraham Lincoln signed a proclamation. (In order to achieve statehood, Nevada had sent its draft constitution to Washington, where it was misplaced; in order to get the proclamation signed before Election Day, James Nye, the territorial governor, sent another copy by telegraph at a cost of $3,416.77 for 16,543 words; allowing for inflation, today that would be about $50,000.)
On this date:
In 1517, Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenberg Palace church, marking the start of the Protestant Reformation in Germany.
In 1795, English poet John Keats was born in London.
In 1887, Nationalist Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek was born in Zhejiang Province.
In 1926, magician Harry Houdini died in Detroit of gangrene and peritonitis resulting from a ruptured appendix.
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. Work was completed on the Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota, begun in 1927.
In 1959, a U.S. Marine reservist 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 1961, the body of Josef Stalin was removed from Lenin’s Tomb as part of the Soviet Union’s “de-Stalinization” drive.
In 1964, Theodore C. Freeman, 34, became the first member of NASA’s astronaut corps to die when his T-38 jet crashed while approaching Ellington Air Force Base in Houston.
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 (seek) security guards.
In 1994, a Chicago-bound American Eagle ATR-72 crashed in northern Indiana, killing all 68 people aboard.
In 1999, EgyptAir Flight 990, bound from New York to Cairo, crashed off the Massachusetts coast, killing all 217 people aboard.
Ten years ago: In the closing hours of their bitter campaign, President George W. Bush and Democratic 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.
Five years ago: A registered sex offender was arrested in Cleveland after police found six decomposing bodies at his home. (Authorities turned up the bodies of 11 women at the home of Anthony Sowell, who was convicted and sentenced to death in 2011.) The New York Yankees won Game 3 of the World Series, defeating the Philadelphia Phillies 8-5 to give New York a 2-1 Series lead.
One year ago: The Federal Aviation Administration issued new guidelines allowing airline passengers to keep their electronic devices turned on throughout the entire flight, but not to talk on their cellphones. A federal appeals court ruled that most of Texas’ tough new abortion restrictions could take effect immediately. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said he had “no reason to resign” after police said they’d obtained a video that appeared to show Ford smoking a crack pipe.
Today’s birthdays: Actress Lee Grant is 89. Former astronaut Michael Collins is 84. Former CBS anchorman Dan Rather is 83. Folk singer Tom Paxton is 77. Actor Ron Rifkin is 76. Actress Sally Kirkland is 73. Actor David Ogden Stiers is 72. Actor Brian Doyle-Murray is 69. Actor Stephen Rea is 68. Olympic gold medal long-distance runner Frank Shorter is 67. Actress Deidre Hall is 66. Talk show host Jane Pauley is 64. Actor Brian Stokes Mitchell is 57. Movie director Peter Jackson is 53. Rock musician Larry Mullen is 53. Actor Dermot Mulroney is 51. Rock musician Mikkey Dee (Motorhead) is 51. Rock singer-musician Johnny Marr is 51. Actor Rob Schneider is 50. Country singer Darryl Worley is 50. Actor-comedian Mike O’Malley is 49. Rap musician Adrock is 48. Songwriter Adam Schlesinger is 47. Rap performer Vanilla Ice (aka Rob Van Winkle) is 46. Rock singer Linn Berggren (Ace of Base) is 44. Reality TV host Troy Hartman is 43. Gospel singer Smokie Norful is 41. Actress Piper Perabo is 38. Actor Brian Hallisay is 36. Folk-rock musician Tay Strathairn (Dawes) is 34. Actor Eddie Kaye Thomas is 34. Rock musician Frank Iero (My Chemical Romance) is 33. Actor Scott Clifton is 30. Actress Vanessa Marano is 22. Actress-singer Willow Smith is 14.
Thought for Today: “Even a Proverb is no proverb to you till your Life has illustrated it.” — John Keats (1795-1821).