The Almanac

By United Press International  |  Dec. 31, 2003 at 3:30 AM
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Today is Wednesday, Dec. 31, the 365th and last day of 2003.

This is New Year's Eve.

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

Those born on this date are under the sign of Capricorn. They include French explorer Jacques Cartier in 1491; Charles Edward Stuart, Scotland's "Bonnie Prince Charlie," in 1720; French painter Henri Matisse in 1869; Gen. George Marshall, formulator of the Marshall Aid Plan for Europe following World War II, in 1880; songwriter Jule Styne ("Three Coins In the Fountain, "Let It Snow") in 1905; cowboy actor/singer Rex Allen in 1924; folk-blues singer Odetta (Holmes) in 1930 (age 73); actors Anthony Hopkins in 1937 (age 65), Sarah Miles in 1941 (age 62) and Ben Kingsley in 1943 (age 60); singer John Denver in 1943; fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg in 1945 (age 58); singer Donna Summer in 1948 (age 55); and actors Tim Matheson in 1948 (age 55), Bebe Neuwirth in 1958 (age 45) and Val Kilmer in 1959 (age 44).

On this date in history:

In 1879, Thomas Edison gave the first public demonstration of his incandescent lamp in Menlo Park, N.J.

In 1929, Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians' first annual New Year's Eve broadcast from the Roosevelt Grill in New York City was heard over the CBS network.

In 1947, America's favorite Western couple, singing cowboy star Roy Rogers and his co-star Dale Evans, were married.

In 1970, just six months after release of their "Let It Be" album, Paul McCartney filed suit in London seeking the legal dissolution of the Beatles' partnership.

In 1983, the court-ordered breakup of the American Telephone and Telegraph Co. took effect at midnight.

In 1984, the nation's first mandatory seat belt law went into effect in the state of New York at midnight.

In 1985, rock singer Rick Nelson, his fiancee and five band members were killed in the New Year's Eve crash of their chartered DC-3 in northeast Texas.

In 1994, Russian forces launched a full air and ground attack on Grozny, the capital city of the rebel republic of Chechnya.

In 1995, a final effort to reach a federal budget compromise failed to end the stalemate between congressional Republicans and President Clinton.

In 1997, Michael Kennedy, 39, a son of the late Sen. Robert Kennedy, was killed when he struck a tree while skiing in Aspen, Colo.

Also in 1997, the Algerian government announced that more than 400 people had been massacred by Islamic extremists during the last nine days of December.

In 1998, the Dow Jones industrial average closed at 9181.43, 16 percent higher than the last trading day of 1997.

Also in 1998, Vice President Al Gore officially entered the 2000 race for the White House when he filed notice with the Federal Election Commission, although he made no announcement.

In 1999, Panama assumed full control of the Panama Canal.

In 2000, a blizzard pummeled the northeastern United States with heavy winds and snow whiteouts in New York City and elsewhere. Snow depths reached 20 inches.

In 2002, many Wall Street investors were happy to see an end to a year that was the worst for the blue-chip Dow Jones industrials since 1977.

A thought for the day: William Shakespeare wrote, "Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them."


Today is Thursday, Jan. 1, the first day of 2004. There are 365 days to follow.

This is New Year's Day and the beginning of Leap Year.

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

Those born on this date are under the sign of Capricorn. They include American patriot Paul Revere in 1735; Betsy Ross, who, according to legend, made the first American flag, in 1752; English novelist E.M. Forster in 1879; FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover in 1895; bandleader Xavier Cugat in 1900; former Sen. Barry Goldwater, R-Ariz., the 1964 Republican candidate for president, in 1909; British-born Soviet master spy Harold "Kim" Philby in 1912; novelist J.D. Salinger in 1919 (age 85); and actors Dana Andrews in 1909 and Frank Langella in 1946 (age 58).

On this date in history:

In 45 B.C., New Year's Day was celebrated on Jan. 1 for the first time in history as the Julian calendar took effect.

In 1803, two months after his defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte's colonial forces, Jean-Jacques Dessalines proclaimed the independence of Saint-Domingue, renaming it Haiti after its original Arawak name

In 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation, declared the previous September by Abraham Lincoln, took effect. It declared freedom for slaves in all areas of the Confederacy that were still in rebellion against the Union.

In 1892, Ellis Island opened in New York Harbor.

In 1953, influential country singer Hank Williams, 29, died of a heart attack in the back of a limousine on the way to a show in Canton, Ohio.

In 1902, the University of Michigan beat Stanford, 49-0, in the inaugural Rose Bowl game in Pasadena, Calif.

in 1951, the Zenith Radio Corporation of Chicago demonstrated the first pay-per-view television system, offering three movies, "April Showers," "Welcome Stranger" and "Homecoming."

In 1959, Fidel Castro declared a victory in the Cuban revolution as dictator Fulgencio Batista fled the island.

In 1962, the Beatles auditioned for Decca records in London on the same day as Brian Poole and the Tremeloes. Decca chose the Tremeloes.

In 1975, a jury convicted former Attorney General John Mitchell and former White House aides John Ehrlichman and H.R. Haldeman on all counts in the Watergate cover-up case.

In 1986, Soviet television aired a five-minute greeting from President Reagan and Americans got the same from Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in the first such exchange between the superpowers.

In 1990, a settlement was announced in the bitter, sometimes violent nine-month Pittston coal strike.

In 1993, the country of Czechoslovakia dissolved with the New Year, replaced by separate Czech and Slovak states.

In 1994, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates married Melinda French in Hawaii.

In 1995, a shaky four-month truce between the Muslim-led Bosnian government and Bosnian Serbs went into effect. Bosnia's Croat leader signed the truce the next day.

In 1998, a new law went into effect in California banning smoking in all bars and nightclubs. It already was illegal to smoke in the state's restaurants and cafes.

In 2000, in his first day as Russia's acting president, Vladimir Putin traveled to the rebellious republic of Chechnya to visit Russian troops.

In 2002, in the largest U.S. ground operation of the war on terrorism at that point, 200 Marines began a two-day swept through deserted training camps in southern Afghanistan but found none of the terrorist leaders.

Also in 2002, Argentina, staggered by severe economy problems, chose its fifth president in two weeks.

And, in 2002, 12 European countries began the new year by turning in their own currency and adopting a common one, the euro, in the biggest currency change in history.

A thought for the day: it was President Theodore Roosevelt who said, "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."

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