The Almanac

United Press International

Today is Wednesday, Dec. 14, the 348th day of 2005 with 17 to follow.

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


Those born on this date are under the sign of Sagittarius. They include French astrologer and prophet Nostradamus in 1503; Danish astronomer and mathemetician Tycho Brahe in 1546; World War II American air ace "Jimmy" Doolittle in 1896; former Sen. Margaret Chase Smith of Maine in 1897; slapstick bandleader Spike Jones in 1911; comedian Morey Amsterdam in 1914; horror novelist Shirley Jackson in 1919; actress/singer Deanna Durbin in 1921 (age 84); TV news producer Don Hewitt in 1922 (age 83); country singer Charlie Rich in 1932; and actresses Lee Remick in 1935, Patty Duke in 1946 (age 59), Dee Wallace Stone in 1948 (age 57), and Helen Slater in 1963 (age 42).

On this date in history:

In 1799, George Washington, first president of the United States, died at his Mount Vernon home in Virginia.

In 1911, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen became the first person to reach the South Pole.

In 1984, bank robbers killed four customers and wounded three others in Geronimo, Okla., to grab $17,000.

In 1986, Nicaragua announced the arrest of American Sam Hall as a spy. Hall, a former Ohio state lawmaker, was freed less than seven weeks later.

In 1988, the United States announced the start of a "substantive dialogue" with the PLO for the first time.

In 1989, Andrei Sakharov, father of the Soviet H-bomb, dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner for defending human rights, died at age 68.

Also in 1989, opposition candidate Patricio Aylwin easily won Chile's first democratic presidential election since the 1973 coup that brought military leader Augusto Pinochet to power.

In 1993, Israel and the Vatican agreed to establish full diplomatic relations.

Also in 1993, members of the United Mine Workers union ratified a 5-year contract, ending a 7-month strike.

In 1995, in a ceremony in Paris, the 4-year civil war in Bosnia-Herzegovina officially came to an end with the signing of a peace treaty.

In 1996, a runaway freighter crashed into the Riverwalk on the New Orleans waterfront.

In 1997, with an eye to the planned visit to Cuba by Pope John Paul II in early 1998, President Fidel Castro announced that Christmas would be an official holiday for the first time since 1968.

In 1998, a federal judge in Los Angeles sentenced Johnny Chung, a Democratic Party donor, to five years' probation on charges that included $20,000 in illegal gifts to the Clinton-Gore campaign. The Democratic Party had returned nearly $400,000 in gifts from Chung that were of dubious legality.

In 2002, some 330 members of 50 opposition groups in Iraq met in London to discuss a new government in the event Saddam Hussein was overthrown.

In 2003, violence continued uninterrupted in Iraq with a series of bombings and other lethal attacks, showing little effect from the capture of Saddam Hussein.

Also in 2003, an assassination attempt on the life of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf failed when a bomb blew up a bridge seconds after the presidential motorcade had passed.

In 2004, Cuba's military was reportedly preparing for what its government said was eventual aggression from the United States.

Also in 2004, two passenger trains in India's Punjab district collided at high speed, killing at least 27 people and injuring scores of others. Some reports put the death toll at 50.

A thought for the day: William James said, "The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook."

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