The Almanac

By United Press International  |  Dec. 7, 2004 at 3:30 AM
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Today is Tuesday, Dec. 7, the 342nd day of 2004 with 24 to follow.

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

Those born on this date are under the sign of Sagittarius. They include Italian sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini in 1598; waxworks museum founder Marie Tussaud in 1761; German physiologist Theodor Schwann, co-originator of the cell theory and the first to use the term, in 1810; novelist Willa Cather in 1876; composer Rudolph Friml ("Indian Love Call") in 1879; actor Eli Wallach in 1915 (age 89); actor Ted Knight in 1923; linguist Noam Chomsky in 1928 (age 79); actress Ellen Burstyn in 1932 (age 72); rock/folksinger Harry Chapin in 1942; Baseball Hall of Famer Johnny Bench in 1947 (age 57); former basketball star and coach Larry Bird in 1956 (age 48); "Tonight Show" announcer Edd Hall in 1958 (age 46); and actor C. Thomas Howell in 1966 (age 38).

On this date in history:

In 1787, Delaware became the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

In 1909, Leo Baekeland patented the process for making Bakelite, giving birth to the modern plastics industry.

In 1925, five-time Olympic gold medallist and future movie Tarzan Johnny Weissmuller set a world record in 150-yard free-style swimming.

In 1931, President Hoover refused to see a group of "hunger marchers" at the White House.

In 1941, Japan launched a sneak attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, catapulting the United States into World War II. President Roosevelt described it as "a date that will live in infamy."

In 1972, Apollo 17 was launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on the last scheduled manned mission to the moon.

In 1983, the first execution by lethal injection took place at the state penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. Charles Brooks, Jr., convicted of murdering an auto mechanic, received an intravenous injection of sodium pentathol.

In 1986, the speaker of Iran's Parliament said his country would help free more American hostages in Lebanon in exchange for more U.S. arms.

In 1987, Mikhail Gorbachev arrived in Washington, D.C., the first Soviet leader to officially visit the United States since 1973.

In 1988, as many as 60,000 people were killed when a powerful earthquake rocked the Soviet republic of Armenia.

In 1991, on the 50th anniversary of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, President Bush called for an end to recriminations and sought the healing of old wounds.

In 1992, the destruction of a 16th century mosque by militant Hindus touched off five days of violence across India that left more than 1,100 people dead.

In 1993, Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary revealed the United States had conducted 204 underground nuclear tests from 1963 to 1990 without informing the public.

Also in 1993, astronauts aboard the shuttle Endeavor fixed the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope.

In 1995, a two-week-old strike by hundreds of thousands of French public-sector workers protesting planned cuts in welfare spending had spread to cities throughout France.

In 1996, a British jogger left London on a jog-around-the-world that will end when he returns to the United Kingdom in the year 2000.

In 1997, singer/songwriter Bob Dylan, actress Lauren Bacall and actor Charlton Heston were among those receiving awards from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

In 2001, the Labor Department announced the loss of nearly one million jobs over the past three months.

In 2002, New York authorities downplayed a suspected plot by Colombian rebels to kidnap former Mayor Rudy Giuliani in Mexico City.

Also in 2002, Azra Akin, a 21-year-old model from Turkey, won the Miss World competition, two weeks after Muslim-Christian violence in Nigeria forced organizers to move the pageant to London. More than 200 people were killed in the religious riots.

In 2003, a priest convicted of sexually abusing alter boys, was found beaten to death at his Lexington, Ky., home.

Also in 2003, during a visit to the United States, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said "we will never tolerate" Taiwan splitting away from China. He accused "separatist forces" of using democracy as a cover to break the two apart.

A thought for the day: Roscoe Pound said, "The law must be stable, but it must not stand still."

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