Today is Tuesday, Dec. 6, the 340th day of 2011 with 25 to follow.
The moon is waxing. The morning stars are Neptune, Uranus, Jupiter and Venus. Evening stars are Mercury, Saturn and Mars.
Those born on this date are under the sign of Sagittarius. They include England's King Henry VI in 1421; French chemist Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac in 1778; pioneer Western movie star William S. Hart in 1864; poet Joyce Kilmer in 1886; lyricist Ira Gershwin in 1896; photojournalist Alfred Eisenstaedt in 1898; actor Agnes Moorehead in 1900; jazz bank robber Lester "Baby Face" Nelson in 1908; ice cream entrepreneur Irv Robbins in 1917; jazz pianist Dave Brubeck in 1920 (age 91); football Hall of Fame member Otto Graham in 1921; comedian Wally Cox in 1924; actors James Naughton in 1945 (age 66), JoBeth Williams in 1948 (age 63) and Tom Hulce in 1953 (age 58); comedian Steven Wright in 1955 (age 56); actor Janine Turner in 1962 (age 49); director and screenwriter Judd Apatow in 1967 (age 44); and AIDS victim Ryan White in 1971.
On this date in history:
In 1768, Encyclopedia Britannica was first published.
In 1811, the first in a series of earthquakes rocked the Midwest in and around New Madrid, Mo.
In 1865, the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, abolishing slavery in the United States.
In 1877, The Washington Post published its first edition.
In 1907, in West Virginia's Marion County, an explosion in a network of mines owned by the Fairmont Coal Company in Monongah killed 361 coal miners. It was the worst mining disaster in U.S. history.
In 1917, more than 1,600 people died in an explosion when a Belgian relief ship and a French munitions vessel collided in the harbor at Halifax, Nova Scotia.
In 1922, the Irish Free State, forerunner of the modern Republic of Ireland, was officially proclaimed.
In 1933, Americans crowded into liquor stores, bars and cafes to buy their first legal alcoholic beverages in 13 years, following repeal of Prohibition.
In 1941, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent a message to Japanese Emperor Hirohito expressing hope that gathering war clouds would be dispelled. Japan attacked Pearl Harbor the next day.
In 1969, an all-star concert headlined by the Rolling Stones at the Altamont Speedway in Livermore, Calif., turned tragic when a spectator was stabbed to death by members of the Hell's Angels, who had been hired as security guards for the event.
In 1973, Gerald Ford was sworn in as U.S. vice president under Richard Nixon, replacing Spiro Agnew, who had resigned in the face of income tax evasion charges.
In 1975, the U.S. Senate authorized a $2.3 billion emergency loan to save New York City from bankruptcy.
In 1990, Saddam Hussein asked the Iraqi Parliament to authorize the release of all hostages held by Iraq. The legislature acted the next day and all Americans who wished to leave were out a week later.
In 1997, the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia's Far East was hit by one of the largest earthquakes recorded, measuring 8.5 to 9 in magnitude. But, there were no reported deaths in the sparsely populated area.
In 2002, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he was "gravely disturbed" by Israel's Gaza attack that left 10 Palestinians dead, including two U.N. Relief Works Agency employees.
In 2003, U.S. Embassy officials confirmed that U.S. troops apparently accidentally bombed a house near Ghazni, Afghanistan, killing nine children and one adult.
In 2004, the U.S. Congress passed a sweeping intelligence bill that would create a national intelligence director and enact other major recommendations of the Sept. 11 Commission.
In 2005, two suicide bombers targeted a Baghdad police academy, killing at least 43 officers and cadets and injuring 73 others.
Also in 2005, at least 128 people were killed when an Iranian military aircraft hit a 10-story residential building in Tehran and exploded shortly after takeoff.
In 2006, Robert Gates was confirmed as the secretary of defense by the U.S. Senate on a 95-2 vote.
In 2007, news reports said the CIA had destroyed videotapes of the interrogation of two al-Qaida suspects in 2005. Meanwhile, U.S. congressional intelligence committees voted to outlaw harsh methods of interrogation.
Also in 2007, a coal mine gas explosion in China's Shanxi Province killed at least 70 people and left 26 others trapped underground. An initial investigation indicated the blast was caused by illegal mining activities.
In 2009, major U.S. banks paid back a large portion of the bailout billions received from the government as the year drew to a close, earlier than the Treasury Department expected. Officials said of the $370 billion lent to ailing companies, all but $42 billion was being returned.
Also in 2009, many victims of a Russian nightclub fire that killed 156 people were reported trapped behind locked doors as they tried to flee.
In 2010, Julian Assange, the Australian-born co-founder of WikiLeaks, the whistleblower Web site that published thousands of heretofore secret U.S. government documents, was arrested in England on a Swedish warrant accusing him of sexual assault.
Also in 2010, an operation targeting investment fraud netted more than 500 defendants for alleged schemes involving at least 120,000 victims and more than $10 billion, U.S. officials said.
A thought for the day: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Houghwout Jackson wrote, "The day that this country ceases to be free for irreligion, it will cease to be free for religion."