The Almanac

By United Press International  |  Dec. 5, 2001 at 4:45 AM
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Today is Wednesday, Dec. 5, the 339th day of 2001 with 26 to follow.

The moon is waning, moving toward its last quarter.

The morning star is Jupiter.

The evening stars are Mars and Saturn.

Those born on this date are under the sign of Sagittarius. They include Martin Van Buren, eighth president of the United States, in 1782; Gen. George Custer in 1839; film director Fritz Lang in 1890; cartoon creator Walt Disney in 1901; Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., in 1902 (age 99); film director Otto Preminger in 1906; author Joan Didion in 1934 (age 67); singer Chad Mitchell in 1936 (age 65); opera singer (and one of the "Three Tenors") Jose Carreras in 1946 (age 55); rock singer Jim Messina in 1947 (age 54); comedian Margaret Cho in 1968 (age 33); and actor Frankie Muniz ("Malcolm In The Middle") in 1985 (age 16).

On this date in history:

In 1776, the first scholastic fraternity in America, Phi Beta Kappa, was organized at William and Mary College in Virginia.

In 1848, President James Polk confirmed the discovery of gold in California, leading to the "gold rush" of 1848 and '49.

In 1933, prohibition of liquor was repealed when Utah became the 36th state to ratify the 21st Amendment to the Constitution.

In 1955, in one of the early civil rights actions in the South, blacks declared a boycott of city buses in Montgomery, Ala., demanding seating on an equal basis with whites. The boycott, prompted by the Dec. 1, 1955, arrest of Rosa Parks for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man, lasted until Dec. 20, 1956, when a U.S Supreme Court ruling was implemented, integrating the city's public transit system.

Also in 1955, the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organization merged after 20 years of rivalry to form the AFL-CIO.

In 1990, the State Department said Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had accepted the idea of direct high-level U.S.-Iraqi talks to resolve the Gulf crisis.

In 1991, British media magnate Robert Maxwell disappeared while on his yacht off the Canary Islands.

Also in 1991, convicted mass murderer Richard Speck died, one day short of his 50th birthday and 25 years after killing eight student nurses in Chicago.

In 1993, Rafael Caldera Rodriguez was elected president of Venezuela.

A thought for the day: Archibald MacLeish said of Americans, "They were the first self-constituted, self-created people in the history of the world."

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