The almanac

United Press International

Today is Sunday, Dec. 27, the 361st day of 2009 with four to follow.

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


Those born on this date are under the sign of Capricorn. They include German astronomer Johannes Kepler in 1571; English engineer George Cayley, father of the science of aerodynamics, in 1773; French bacteriologist Louis Pasteur in 1822; actor Sydney Greenstreet in 1879; actress Marlene Dietrich in 1901; news correspondent Cokie Roberts in 1943 (age 66); French actor Gerard Depardieu in 1948 (age 61); and former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon in 1951 (age 58).

On this date in history:

In 1932, Radio City Music Hall opened in New York City.

In 1941, Japanese warplanes bombed Manila in the Philippines, even though it had been declared an "open city."

In 1947, the first "Howdy Doody" show, under the title "Puppet Playhouse," was telecast on NBC.

In 1968, the Apollo 8 astronauts returned to Earth after orbiting the moon 10 times, paving the way for moon-landing missions.

In 1985, terrorists killed 20 people and wounded 110 in attacks on passengers of the Israeli airline El Al at the Rome and Vienna airports. U.S. President Ronald Reagan blamed Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.


In 1991, a Scandinavian Airlines jet with 129 people aboard crashed and broke apart after taking off from Stockholm. No one was killed.

In 1992, a U.S. jet shot down an Iraqi fighter over southern Iraq's "no-fly" zone in the first such incident since the Persian Gulf War.

In 1997, Britain's Windsor Castle was reopened to the public following restoration work. One hundred rooms of the palace were damaged in a 1992 fire.

In 2002, Chechen rebels, seeking independence from Russia, killed 52 people with two vehicle bombs at pro-Russian government offices.

In 2004, the death toll jumped to 23,500 in the Asian tsunami with hundreds of thousands reported hurt and many thousands missing.

In 2005, workmen installing a water main in the Iraqi Shiite city of Karbala unearthed a grave containing dozens of bodies from a 1991 massacre.

In 2007, former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, first woman to hold that post in an Islamic state, was assassinated in a suicide attack as she left a political rally in Rawalpindi. Police said she was shot twice by a gunman who then blew himself up in her motorcade, killing another 20 people.

Also in 2007, preliminary results in the Kenyan presidential election showed opposition candidate Raila Odinga the winner over incumbent Mwai Kibaki, 57 to 39 percent. Three days later the election commission reversed the results, touching off tribal violence.


In 2008, 225 people died when Israeli jets bombed Gaza in retaliation for Hamas-fired rockets, Israeli and Palestinian sources said. At least 300 people were wounded.

Also in 2008, at least 24 people were killed and 46 were wounded when a car bomb exploded in northwestern Baghdad's Kadhimiya shrine neighborhood.

A thought for the day: an anonymous saying goes, "Education is what you have left over after you have forgotten everything you have learned."

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