Today is Friday, Dec. 9, the 343rd day of 2011 with 22 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 English poet John Milton in 1608; journalist Joel Chandler Harris, author of the "Uncle Remus" stories, in 1845; Clarence Birdseye, industrialist/inventor, noted as "the father of frozen foods," in 1886; actor Hermione Gingold in 1897; circus clown Emmett Kelly in 1898; actor Margaret Hamilton in 1902; bandleader Freddie Martin in 1906; actors Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in 1909 and Broderick Crawford in 1911; former Speaker of the House Thomas "Tip" O'Neill, D-Mass., in 1912; actor Kirk Douglas in 1916 (age 95); comedian Redd Foxx in 1922; actors Dina Merrill in 1925 (age 86), Dick Van Patten in 1928 (age 83), John Cassavetes in 1929, Buck Henry in 1930 (age 81); Judi Dench in 1934 (age 77) and Beau Bridges in 1941 (age 70); football Hall of Fame members Deacon Jones in 1938 (age 73) and Dick Butkus in 1942 (age 69); actors Michael Nouri in 1945 (age 66) and John Malkovich in 1953 (age 58); golf Hall of Fame member Tom Kite in 1949 (age 62); singers Joan Armatrading in 1950 (age 61) and Donny Osmond in 1957 (age 54) actors Joe Lando in 1961 (age 50) and Felicity Huffman in 1962 (age 49); and singer Jakob Dylan in 1969 (age 42).
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 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.
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 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, U.S. midterm election figures indicated Democrats made 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 2009, the U.S. government's bailout program for ailing major banks "played a critical role in renewing the flow of credit and preventing a more acute crisis," the independent Congressional Oversight Panel said in a year-end report.
Also in 2009, North Korea said its nuclear issue resulted from the hostile policy of the United States and had nothing to do with South Korea.
In 2010, a London crowd protesting a British government decision to triple college tuition fees attacked a car carrying Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, smashing a window and covering the car with paint. The royal couple wasn't injured.
Also in 2010, U.S. House Democrats voted to block a tax deal reached by President Barack Obama and Republicans, indicating what observers called possible fierce opposition within the president's party.
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."