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The almanac

By United Press International

Today is Tuesday, Dec. 1, the 335th day of 2009 with 30 to follow.

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

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Those born on this date are under the sign of Sagittarius. They include waxworks museum founder Marie Tussaud in 1761; detective novelist Rex Stout in 1886; former United Mine Workers president W.A. "Tony" Boyle in 1904; singer/actress Mary Martin in 1913; comedian/filmmaker Woody Allen in 1935 (age 74); soul singer Lou Rawls in 1933; pro golfer Lee Trevino in 1939 (age 70); comedian Richard Pryor in 1940; singer/actress Bette Midler in 1945 (age 64); actor Treat Williams in 1951 (age 58); and model Carol Alt in 1960 (age 49).

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On this date in history:

In 1891, the game of basketball was invented when James Naismith, a physical education teacher at the International YMCA Training School in Springfield, Mass., put peach baskets at the opposite ends of the gym and gave students soccer balls to toss into them.

In 1903, the world's first drive-in gasoline station opened for business in Pittsburgh.

In 1917, the Rev. Edward Flanagan founded Boys Town near Omaha.

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In 1943, ending a "Big Three" meeting in Tehran, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Russian Premier Josef Stalin pledged a concerted effort to defeat Nazi Germany.

In 1953, the first Playboy magazine was published. Marilyn Monroe was on the cover.

In 1955, Rosa Parks, a black woman, was arrested in Montgomery, Ala., for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a city bus, signaling, along with its resulting bus boycott and related events, the birth of the modern civil rights movement.

In 1989, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and Pope John Paul II met in the Vatican City. Afterward, they announced an agreement to establish diplomatic ties and Gorbachev renounced more than 70 years of oppression of religion in the Soviet Union.

In 1990, Iraq agreed to U.S. President George H.W. Bush's call for diplomatic missions to seek a solution to the Gulf crisis but insisted the Arab-Israeli dispute be a part of any bargain.

In 1991, voters in Soviet republic of Ukraine overwhelmingly voted for independence.

In 1996, an oil tanker sunk by the Japanese in 1941 was located off the California coast with its cargo intact.

In 2000, with the presidential election still undecided, Democrats and Republicans wound up with a 50-50 split in the Senate.

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In 2001, as the United States and Israel pressured Yasser Arafat to crack down on Palestinian terrorist attacks, three suicide bombers struck Israelis the first two days of December, killing 29 people.

In 2003, Slobodan Milosevic, the former Yugoslav president detained in The Hague on war crimes charges, said he would return to Serbian politics on the Dec. 28 legislative ballot.

In 2004, one dozen people were reported dead in a prison riot and shootouts in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, during a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.

In 2005, U.S. Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee and a military veteran, said the war in Iraq had left the U.S. Army "broken, worn out" and "living hand-to-mouth."

Also in 2005, same-sex marriage became legal in South Africa when the country's Constitutional Court ruled that laws banning it were unconstitutional.

In 2006, U.S. President George W. Bush proclaimed Dec. 1 World AIDS Day and urged all Americans to join in the fight against the disease.

Also in 2006, the British government decided on a near total indoor public smoking ban in England. Only private homes and hotel rooms were exempt.

In 2007, a methane gas explosion injured 52 miners at the underground Ukraine coal mine where 101 miners died in a blast two weeks earlier.

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In 2008, the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 680 points after the National Bureau of Economic Research announced that the United States has been in recession since December 2007 and the release of a report indicating that U.S. manufacturing hit a 26-year low.

Also in 2008, President-elect Barack Obama introduced Hillary Clinton, his chief rival in the Democratic presidential race, as his choice for secretary of state. He also said he wanted to retain Robert Gates as secretary of defense.

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A thought for the day: it was Ezra Pound who said, "Literature is news that stays news."

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