The almanac

United Press International

Today is Thursday, Dec. 4, the 339th day of 2008 with 27 to follow.

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


Those born on this date are under the sign of Sagittarius. They include Scottish historian Thomas Carlyle in 1795; English novelist Samuel Butler in 1835; actress/singer Lillian Russell in 1861; Spanish dictator Francisco Franco in 1892; U.S. Marines fighter ace Gregory "Pappy" Boyington in 1912; actress Deanna Durbin in 1921 (age 87); actors Max Baer Jr. in 1937 (age 71) and Jeff Bridges in 1949 (age 59); actresses Patricia Wettig in 1951 (age 57) and Marisa Tomei in 1964 (age 44); and model Tyra Banks in 1973 (age 35).

On this date in history:

In 1942, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered liquidation of the Works Progress Administration, created during the Depression to provide work for the unemployed.

In 1971, India joined East Pakistan in its war for independence from West Pakistan. East Pakistan became the republic of Bangladesh.

n 1991, American Terry Anderson was freed by his pro-Iranian captors after 6 years. He was the last U.S. hostage held in the Middle East.

In 1992, U.S. President George H.W. Bush ordered U.S. troops into Somalia.

In 1995, officials of the United Auto Workers union called an end to a largely unsuccessful 17-month strike against Caterpillar in Peoria, Ill.

In 1997, top health officials in Europe voted to ban most forms of advertising of tobacco beginning in four to five years.

In 2002, a Roman Catholic priest was indicted on seven counts in a seven-month investigation of sex abuse allegations in the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. Nine others faced charges in the case.

In 2003, an especially virulent strain of the flu hit the United States, mostly in the West at first, with Colorado reporting more than 6,300 cases with the deaths of five children.

In 2004, Colombia extradited to the United States the most notorious drug cartel kingpin in its custody, Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela, a co-founder of the notorious Cali cartel.

In 2005, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin urged Hurricane Katrina evacuees to return but many were reported skeptical about what they would find there.

Also in 2005, the remains of at least 20 people were found in a grave in east Lebanon near a former Syrian-run prison where many Lebanese detainees were held.

In 2006, John Bolton resigned as U.S. envoy to the United Nations. Named to the post through a recess appointment by U.S. President George Bush, Bolton had been a harsh critic of U.N. bureaucracy.

In 2007, a Washington report says the pending U.S. election may be dashing balanced-budget hopes as Congress works to please voters instead of making tough fiscal choices.

Also in 2007, six students were killed and four others were hurt when a bomb went off at an Islamic school in Pakistan's Balochistan Province.

A thought for the day: Scottish historian Thomas Carlyle said, "A well-written life is almost as rare as a well-spent one."

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