The almanac

By United Press International

Today is Sunday, Dec. 14, the 349th day of 2008 with 17 to follow.

The moon is waning. The morning stars are Saturn and Mars. The evening stars are Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, 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 mathematician Tycho Brahe in 1546; World War II U.S. air ace Jimmy Doolittle in 1896; former U.S. 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; TV news producer Don Hewitt in 1922 (age 86); country singer Charlie Rich in 1932; and actresses Lee Remick in 1935, Patty Duke in 1946 (age 62) and Dee Wallace Stone in 1948 (age 60).


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 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 Palestine Liberation Organization 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.

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

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 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 2004, two passenger trains in India's Punjab district collided at high speed, killing at least 27 people and injuring scores of others.

In 2005, U.S. President George Bush acknowledged flawed intelligence led to the U.S. invasion of Iraq but said the decision to remove Saddam Hussein was right.

Also in 2005, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed the Holocaust was a "myth" and called for Israel to be moved to Europe or North America.

In 2006, the official British police investigation into the 1997 death of Princess Diana in a Paris car crash concluded that it was an accident and no conspiracy or foul play was involved.

Also in 2006, the New Jersey Legislature approved civil unions for same-sex couples.

In 2007, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf ended six weeks of emergency rule amid widespread political turmoil, restoring the constitution and resigning his dual role as army chief but barred a return of the high court judges he had fired in a dispute over re-election.

Also in 2007, Tropical Storm Olga dissipated northwest of Jamaica after leaving 22 people dead in its wake in the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Puerto Rico.


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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