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The almanac

By
United Press International

Today is Wednesday, Dec. 9, the 343rd day of 2009 with 22 to follow.

The moon is waning. 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 English poet John Milton in 1608; journalist Joel Chandler Harris, author of the "Uncle Remus" stories, in 1848; Clarence Birdseye, industrialist/inventor, noted as "the father of frozen foods," in 1886; circus clown Emmett Kelly in 1898; bandleader Freddie Martin in 1906; actor Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in 1909; actor Broderick Crawford in 1911; former Speaker of the House Thomas "Tip" O'Neill, D-Mass., in 1912; actor Kirk Douglas in 1916 (age 93); comedian Redd Foxx in 1922; actors Dina Merrill in 1925 (age 84), Dick Van Patten in 1928 (age 81), John Cassavetes in 1929, Judi Dench in 1934 (age 75) and Beau Bridges in 1941 (age 68); Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker, sportscaster and actor Dick Butkus in 1942 (age 67); actors Michael Nouri in 1945 (age 64) and John Malkovich in 1953 (age 56); singer Donny Osmond in 1957 (age 52) and actor Joe Lando in 1961 (age 48).

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On this date in history:

In 1907, the first Christmas Seals to raise money to fight tuberculosis went on sale in the post office in Wilmington, Del.

In 1920, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson.

In 1958, in Indianapolis, retired Boston candy manufacturer Robert H. W. Welch, Jr., established the John Birch Society, a right-wing organization dedicated to fighting what it perceived to be the extensive infiltration of communism into U.S. society.

In 1974, White House aide John Ehrlichman testified at the Watergate trial that U.S. President Richard Nixon was responsible for the coverup.

In 1985, OPEC oil ministers abandoned the struggle to control production and prices, setting the stage for a global oil price war.

In 1987, in the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip, the first riots of the Palestinian intifada began one day after an Israeli truck crashed into a station wagon carrying Palestinian workers, killing four and wounding 10.

In 1990, Lech Walesa won Poland's first direct presidential vote.

In 1992, the U.S. Marines landed in famine-wracked Somalia to ensure the delivery of food and medicine.

Also in 1992, British Prime Minister John Major announced the formal separation of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

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In 1994, U.S. President Bill Clinton fired U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders for reportedly suggesting that masturbation be taught in schools.

In 2002, United Airlines, which said it was losing $22 million a day, filed for bankruptcy.

In 2003, the U.S. Defense Department indicated that only nations that supported the United States in the war in Iraq would be allowed to bid on the $18.6 billion in contracts for reconstruction projects there.

In 2005, published reports said a key prewar Bush administration claim about ties between Iraq and al-Qaida came from a prisoner who said he made it up to avoid harsh treatment.

In 2006, latest U.S. midterm election figures showed Democrats with a 31-seat gain to recapture control of the House of Representatives, with 233 seats to 202 for the Republicans. Democrats earlier assured themselves the Senate majority.

Also in 2006, arson was suspected in a Moscow clinic fire that killed 45 women trapped in the inferno by metal bars across the windows.

In 2007, leaders of African nations and the European Union, meeting in Portugal, set aside their differences on human rights to agree to a pact on trade and democracy.

In 2008, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was accused of plotting to sell the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.

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A thought for the day: English poet John Milton wrote, "No man who know aught can be so stupid to deny that all men naturally were born free."

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