► Today is Wednesday, Aug. 31, the 243d day of 2011. There are 122 days left in the year.
► Today’s birthdays: Baseball Hall of Famer Frank Robinson is 76. Actor Warren Berlinger is 74. Rock musician Jerry Allison (Buddy Holly and the Crickets) is 72. Actor Jack Thompson is 71. Violinist Itzhak Perlman is 66. Singer Van Morrison is 66. Rock musician Rudolf Schenker (the Scorpions) is 63. Actor Richard Gere is 62. Olympic gold medal track and field athlete Edwin Moses is 56. Rock singer Glenn Tilbrook (Squeeze) is 54. Rock musician Gina Schock (the Go-Go’s) is 54. Singer Tony DeFranco (the DeFranco Family) is 52. Rhythm & blues musician Larry Waddell (Mint Condition) is 48. Actor Jaime P. Gomez is 46. Baseball pitcher Hideo Nomo is 43. Rock musician Jeff Russo (Tonic) is 42. Singer-composer Deborah Gibson is 41. Rock musician Greg Richling (Wallflowers) is 41. Actor Zack Ward is 41. Golfer Padraig Harrington is 40. Actor Chris Tucker is 39. Actress Sara Ramirez is 36. Rhythm & blues singer Tamara (Trina & Tamara) is 34.
► In 1688, preacher and novelist John Bunyan, author of “The Pilgrim’s Progress,’’ died in London.
► In 1886, at 9:51 p.m., an earthquake with an estimated magnitude of 7.3 devastated Charleston, S.C., killing at least 60 people, according to the US Geological Survey.
► In 1888, Mary Ann Nichols, the apparent first victim of “Jack the Ripper,’’ was found slain in London’s East End.
► In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an act prohibiting the export of US arms to belligerents.
► In 1941, the radio program “The Great Gildersleeve,’’ a spinoff from “Fibber McGee and Molly’’ starring Harold Peary, 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 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. The Soviet passenger ship Admiral Nakhimov collided with a merchant vessel in the Black Sea, causing both to sink; up to 448 people reportedly died.
► In 1988, 14 people were killed when a Delta
► In 1991, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan declared their independence, raising to 10 the number of republics seeking to secede from the Soviet Union.
► In 2001, the Middle East dominated the opening of a world conference against racism in Durban, 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, N.Y., team’s records, including a third-place World Series finish, were ruled invalid after officials in the Dominican Republic, where Almonte was born, determined he was 14 years old, not 12.
► In 2006, Iran defied a UN deadline to stop enriching uranium. President George W. Bush, addressing an American Legion convention in Salt Lake City, predicted victory in the war on terror, likening the struggle against Islamic fundamentalism with the fight against Nazis and communists.
► In 2010, President Obama ended the US combat mission in Iraq, declaring no victory after seven years of bloodshed and telling those divided over the war in his country and around the world: “It is time to turn the page.’’