The Almanac

By United Press International  |  Dec. 31, 2004 at 3:30 AM
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Today is Friday, Dec. 31, the 366th and last day of 2004.

This is New Year's Eve.

The moon is waning. The morning stars are Mercury, Pluto, Jupiter, Saturn, Venus and Mars. The evening stars are 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 74); actors Anthony Hopkins in 1937 (age 67), Sarah Miles in 1941 (age 63) and Ben Kingsley in 1943 (age 61); singer John Denver in 1943; fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg in 1945 (age 59); singer Donna Summer in 1948 (age 56); and actors Tim Matheson in 1948 (age 56), Bebe Neuwirth in 1958 (age 46) and Val Kilmer in 1959 (age 45).

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, 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.

In 2003, reversing the losing trend of the past three years, Wall Street reported large gains in all major indexes.

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."

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