Today is Saturday, Dec. 6, the 340th day of 2003 with 25 to follow.
The moon is waxing. The morning stars are Jupiter and Saturn. The evening stars are Venus, Mars, Mercury, Neptune, Uranus and Pluto.
Those born on this date are under the sign of Sagittarius. They include England's King Henry VI in 1421; French chemist Joseph Gay-Lussac in 1778; pioneer Western movie star William S. Hart in 1870; poet Joyce Kilmer in 1886; lyricist Ira Gershwin in 1896; photojournalist Alfred Eisenstaedt in 1898; actress Agnes Moorehead in 1906; jazz pianist Dave Brubeck in 1920 (age 83); comedian Wally Cox in 1924; actors James Naughton in 1945 (age 58) and Tom Hulce in 1953 (age 50); comedian Steven Wright in 1955 (age 48); and actress Janine Turner in 1962 (age 41).
On this date in history:
In 1811, the first in a series of earthquakes rocked the Midwest, in and around New Madrid, Mo.
In 1865, the 13th Amendment to the U.S Constitution was ratified, abolishing slavery in the United States.
In 1907, in West Virginia's Marion County, an explosion in a network of mines owned by the Fairmont Coal Company in Monongah killed 361 coal miners. It was the worst mining disaster in American history.
In 1917, more than 1,600 people died in an explosion when a Belgian relief ship and a French munitions vessel collided in the harbor at Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
In 1922, the Irish Free State, forerunner of the modern Republic of Ireland, was officially proclaimed.
In 1933, Americans crowded into liquor stores, bars and cafes to buy their first legal alcoholic beverages in 13 years, following repeal of prohibition.
In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent a message to Japanese Emperor Hirohito expressing hope that gathering war clouds would be dispelled. Japan attacked Pearl Harbor the next day.
In 1969, an all-star concert headlined by the Rolling Stones at the Altamont Speedway in Livermore, Calif., was marred by tragedy when a spectator was stabbed to death by members of the Hell's Angels, which had been hired as security guards for the event.
In 1975, the Senate authorized a $2.3 billion emergency loan to save New York City from bankruptcy.
In 1986, President Reagan admitted "mistakes were made" in executing U.S. policy involving arms sales to Iran.
In 1990, Saddam Hussein asked the Iraqi Parliament to authorize the release of all hostages being held by Iraq. The legislature acted the next day and all Americans who wished to leave were out a week later.
In 1991, the Food and Drug Administration issued sweeping changes in food labeling rules that required more detailed listing of contents.
In 1994, U.S Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen announced his resignation, effective Dec. 22.
In 1997, the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia's Far East was hit by one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded, measuring 8.5 to 9 in magnitude. Probably because the area is sparsely populated, there were no reported deaths.
In 2002, Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey, architect of the president's tax cuts, resigned. The White House said their resignations would not impede crafting of a new economic stimulus package and other measures to bolster the economy.
Also in 2002, United Airlines prepared for a possible bankruptcy filing within the next day or so.
Further in 2002, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he was "gravely disturbed" by Israel's Gaza attack which left 10 Palestinians dead, including two U.N. Relief Works Agency employees.
A thought for the day: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Houghwout Jackson wrote, "The day that this country ceases to be free for irreligion, it will cease to be free for religion."