Today is Friday, Jan. 4, the fourth day of 2008, with 362 to follow.
The moon is waning. The morning stars are Venus, Jupiter and Saturn. The evening stars are Mars, Mercury, Uranus and Neptune.
Those born on this date were 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; U.S. Sen. Everett Dirksen, R-Ill., in 1896; actress Jane Wyman in 1914; Pro Football Hall of Fame coach and player Don Shula in 1930 (age 78); former heavyweight boxing champion Floyd Patterson in 1935; actress Dyan Cannon in 1937 (age 71); author Maureen Reagan in 1941; R.E.M. lead singer Michael Stipe in 1960 (age 48); and actors Dave Foley in 1963 (age 45) and Julia Ormond in 1965 (age 43).
On this date in history:
In 1885, Dr. William Grant of Davenport, Iowa, performed the first successful appendectomy.
In 1893, U.S. President Benjamin Harrison granted amnesty to all people 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."
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, U.S. President Richard 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 Andres Segovia arrived in the United States for his final American tour. He died four months later in Madrid at the age of 94.
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 were sent into the southeastern state of Chiapas to quell a rebellion by the Zapatista National Liberation Army.
In 1995, the 104th U.S. Congress convened with Republicans in control in both houses for the first time since 1953.
In 2000, U.S. President Bill Clinton nominated Alan Greenspan to a fourth four-year term as chairman of the Federal Reserve.
In 2004, the unmanned Mars spacecraft began relaying pictures of a rock-strewn plain to Earth as scientists looked for signs the planet once had water and perhaps life.
Also in 2004, a new recording attributed to al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden called for or a council of Muslim wise men to rule Arab states.
In 2005, gunmen assassinated the governor of Baghdad, Ali al-Haidri.
In 2006, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a major stroke and underwent emergency surgery to stop bleeding on the brain. Sharon, 77, had a mild stroke about two weeks earlier. Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert assumed his duties.
In 2007, the 110th U.S. Congress met for the first time with Democrats holding control of both House and Senate and promptly passed ethics legislation aimed at lessening Congressional influence by lobbyists. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., became the first woman elected speaker of the House.
A thought for the day: it was Frederick Douglass who wrote, "Without a struggle, there can be no progress."