Today is Wednesday, Jan. 4, the fourth day of 2012, with 362 to follow.
The moon is waxing. The morning stars are Mercury, Mars and Saturn. The evening stars are Venus, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune.
Those born on this date were under the sign of Capricorn. They include British mathematician Isaac Newton in 1643; German folklore and fairy tale collector Jacob Grimm in 1785; French teacher of the blind Louis Braille in 1809; British shorthand writing system inventor Isaac Pitman in 1813; Charles Stratton, the midget known as Gen. Tom Thumb, a famous entertainer and protege of showman P.T. Barnum, in 1838; U.S. Sen. Everett Dirksen, R-Ill., in 1896; actor Sterling Holloway in 1905; Pro Football Hall of Fame coach and player Don Shula in 1930 (age 82); former heavyweight boxing champion Floyd Patterson in 1935; actors Barbara Rush in 1927 (age 85) and Dyan Cannon in 1937 (age 75); author Maureen Reagan (daughter of former President Ronald Reagan), in 1941; American historian and writer Doris Kearns Goodwin in 1943 (age 69); comedian Andy Borowitz in 1958 (age 54); R.E.M. lead singer Michael Stipe in 1960 (age 52); and actors Dave Foley in 1963 (age 49) and Julia Ormond in 1965 (age 47).
On this date in history:
In 1885, Dr. William Grant of Davenport, Iowa, performed the first successful appendectomy.
In 1893, U.S. President Benjamin Harrison granted amnesty to all people who had abstained from practicing polygamy since Nov. 1, 1890. It was part of a deal for Utah to achieve statehood.
In 1896, Utah admitted to the United States as the 45th state.
In 1935, Bob Hope made his network radio debut in the cast of "The Intimate Revue."
In 1936, Billboard magazine published the first pop music chart.
In 1951, Chinese and North Korean forces captured the South Korean capital of Seoul.
In 1954, a young musician who worked in a machine shop paid $4 to record two songs for his mother. His name: Elvis Presley.
In 1965, U.S. President Lyndon Johnson proclaimed the "Great Society" policy during a State of the Union address to Congress.
In 1974, U.S. President Richard Nixon refused to release any more of the 500 documents subpoenaed by the U.S. Senate Watergate Committee.
In 1975, Elizabeth Ann Seton was canonized as the first Roman Catholic saint born in America.
In 1985, Israel confirmed that 10,000 Ethiopian Jews had been flown to Israel. Ethiopia termed the operation "a gross interference" in its affairs.
In 1987, Spanish guitar great Andres Segovia arrived in the United States for his final American tour. He died four months later in Madrid at the age of 94.
In 1993, 25 people, including 18 Americans, were killed when their tour bus traveling on a rain-slick highway near Cancun, Mexico, crashed into a utility pole and burned.
In 1995, the 104th U.S. Congress convened with Republicans in control in both houses for the first time since 1953.
In 2004, the unmanned Mars spacecraft began relaying pictures of a rock-strewn plain to Earth.
In 2005, gunmen assassinated the governor of Baghdad, Ali al-Haidri.
In 2007, the 110th U.S. Congress met for the first time. Democrats held control of both the House of Representatives and Senate. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., became the first woman elected speaker of the House.
In 2008, the U.S. Labor Department said the American unemployment figure was 5 percent in December.
In 2010, Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi warned the government to back off on its efforts to stifle protests.
Also in 2010, thousands of onlookers attended the opening of the Burj Dubai (Dubai Tower), the world's tallest building, in the United Arab Emirates. At 2,625 feet, it's twice as tall as the Empire State Building.
In 2011, the governor of the Punjab Province in Pakistan, a close ally to the Pakistani president, was assassinated when shot during a motorcade. A security guard was arrested.
Also in 2011, pro quarterback Brett Favre, fined earlier by the National Football League in a sex scandal involving a female reporter, was sued by two massage therapists for allegedly making sexual overtures to them.
A thought for the day: it was Frederick Douglass who wrote, "Without a struggle, there can be no progress."