The Almanac

By United Press International   |   Jan. 4, 2003 at 3:30 AM
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Today is Saturday, Jan. 4, the fourth day of 2003, with 361 to follow.

The moon is waxing. The morning stars are Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Pluto. The evening stars are Mercury, Uranus, Saturn and Neptune.

Those born on this date are under the sign of Capricorn. They include folklore and fairy tale collector Jakob Grimm in 1785; teacher of the blind Louis Braille in 1809; shorthand writing system inventor Isaac Pitman in 1813; Charles Stratton, the midget known as Gen. Tom Thumb, in 1838; Sen. Everett Dirksen, R-Ill., in 1896; actress Jane Wyman in 1914 (age 89); Pro Football Hall of Fame coach and player Don Shula in 1930 (age 73); boxer Floyd Patterson in 1935 (age 68); actress Dyan Cannon in 1937 (age 66); author and former first daughter Maureen Reagan in 1941; R.E.M. lead singer Michael Stipe in 1960 (age 43); and actors Dave Foley in 1963 (age 40) and Julia Ormond in 1965 (age 38).

On this date in history:

In 1885, Dr. William Grant of Davenport, Iowa, performed the first appendectomy. His patient recovered.

In 1893, President Benjamin Harrison granted amnesty to all persons who since Nov. 1, 1890, had abstained from practicing polygamy. It was part of a deal for Utah to achieve statehood.

In 1935, Bob Hope made his network radio debut in the cast of "The Intimate Revue." He made his film debut three years later in "The Big Broadcast of 1938," singing "Thanks for the Memory."

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 struggling young musician who worked in a machine shop paid $4 to record two songs for his mother. His name: Elvis Presley.

In 1974, President Nixon refused to release any more of the 500 documents subpoenaed by the Senate Watergate Committee.

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 Andrés Segovia arrived in the United States for his final American tour. He died four months later in Madrid at the age of 94.

In 1990, deposed Panamanian Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega appeared in federal court in Miami.

Also in 1990, Charles Stuart, who said he and his pregnant wife had been shot after leaving a Boston birthing class in October 1989, committed suicide as police closed in to arrest him for the deaths of his wife and child.

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 1994, Mexican government troops are sent into the southeastern state of Chiapas to quell a rebellion by the previously unknown Zapatista National Liberation Army (ZNLA).

Also in 1994, several Eastern European nations asked to join NATO.

In 1995, the 104th Congress convened with Republicans in control in both houses for the first time since 1953. Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan, became Senate Majority Leader and Rep. Newt Gingrich, R-Ga, was elected Speaker of the House.

Also in 1995, CBS quoted the mother of House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., calling first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton a "bitch."

In 2000, President Clinton nominated Alan Greenspan to a fourth four-year term as chairman of the Federal Reserve.

A thought for the day: it was Frederick Douglass who wrote, "Without a struggle, there can be no progress."

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