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The almanac

By United Press International

Today is Tuesday, Dec. 16, the 351st day of 2008 with 15 to follow.

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

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Those born on this date are under the sign of Sagittarius. They include Catherine of Aragon, the first wife of England's King Henry VIII, in 1485; German composer Ludwig von Beethoven in 1770; novelist Jane Austen in 1775; philosopher George Santayana in 1863; playwright and composer Noel Coward in 1899; anthropologist Margaret Mead in 1901; science fiction novelist Arthur C. Clarke in 1917; actress Liv Ullmann in 1939 (age 69); TV journalist Leslie Stahl in 1941 (age 67); TV producer Steven Bochco in 1943 (age 65), and actor Benjamin Bratt in 1963 (age 45).


On this date in history:

In 1773, some 50 American patriots, protesting the British tax on tea, dumped 342 chests of tea into Boston harbor in "The Boston Tea Party."

In 1835, a fire swept New York City, razing 600 buildings and causing $20 million damage.

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In 1893, Anton Dvorak's "New World Symphony" premiered at New York's Carnegie Hall.

In 1913, British actor Charles Chaplin reported to work at Keystone Studios in Hollywood to launch a legendary film career.

In 1944, Germany launched a great counteroffensive in World War II that became known as "The Battle of the Bulge."

In 1953, Chuck Yeager set an airborne speed record when he flew a Bell X-1A rocket-fueled plane at more than 1,600 miles an hour.

In 1960, 131 people were killed when two planes collided over foggy New York harbor.

In 1991, the U.N. General Assembly repealed a resolution equating Zionism with racism. It had been a major stumbling block in achieving peace in the Middle East.

In 1997, more than 700 children in Japan were hospitalized after a televised cartoon triggered a condition called "light epilepsy" or "Nintendo epilepsy," which is caused by intense flashes of light viewed up close.

Also in 1997, the highest wind speed ever measured -- 236 mph -- was recorded at Anderson Air Force Base in Guam as Typhoon Paka slammed into the Pacific island.

In 1998, U.S. and British jetfighters began a four-night campaign of bombing more than 100 Iraqi military targets. The long threatened action came after the allies concluded Iraq wouldn't cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors.

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In 2001, police in India said four suspects in custody had named terror groups based in Pakistan as being responsible for the Dec. 13 attack on the Indian Parliament building in New Delhi that left 14 people dead.

In 2003, U.S. President George Bush signed legislation authorizing the creation of a museum honoring African-Americans.

In 2004, U.S. President George Bush signed into law legislation mandating a sweeping revamp of U.S. intelligence-gathering agencies, including the creation of a national director of intelligence.

In 2005, the Palestinian militant group Hamas won a sweeping victory in West Bank municipal elections.

Also in 2005, British scientists calculated 2005 was the warmest year in the Northern Hemisphere since recordkeeping began in the 1860s.

In 2006, Iraq's embattled prime minister called on former supporters of Saddam Hussein, including soldiers of the disbanded army, to join the peace process.

Also in 2006, the United Nations and African, Arab and European leaders agreed in principle to a joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force for Sudan's embattled Darfur region.

And, Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman died at age 94.

In 2007, the U.S. military decided to keep an imposing troop presence in Baghdad to prevent the Iraqi capital from devolving again into widespread violence, officials said. Troops were to be removed from outlying areas instead.

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Also in 2007, witnesses said dozens of Turkish jets bombed several border towns in northern Iraq, killing two civilians in attacks against Kurdish rebels. It was the first Turkish air raid against Iraqi Kurdistan strongholds.


A thought for the day: it was George Santayana who said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

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