The almanac

By United Press International

Today is Friday, Dec. 16, the 350th day of 2011 with 15 to follow.

The moon is waning. 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 Catherine of Aragon, the first wife of England's King Henry VIII, in 1485; German composer

Ludwig von Beethoven in 1770; novelist Jane Austen in 1775; philosopher George Santayana in 1863; playwright and composer Noel Coward in 1899; anthropologist Margaret Mead in 1901; science fiction writers Arthur C. Clarke in 1917 and Philip K. Dick in 1928; actor Liv Ullmann and sports journalist Frank Deford, both in 1938 (age 73); journalist Lesley Stahl in 1941 (age 70); TV producer Steven Bochco in 1943 (age 68); rock 'n' roll Hall of Fame member Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top) in 1949 (age 62); and actors Ben Cross in 1947 (age 64), Benjamin Bratt in 1963 (age 48) and Miranda Otto in 1967 (age 44).


On this date in history:

In 1773, some 50 American patriots, protesting the British tax on tea, dumped 342 chests of tea into Boston harbor in the historic "Boston Tea Party."

In 1835, a fire swept New York City, razing 600 buildings and causing $20 million damage.

In 1893, Anton Dvorak's "New World Symphony" premiered at New York's Carnegie Hall.

In 1913, British actor Charles Chaplin reported to work at Keystone Studios in Hollywood, launching a legendary film career.

In 1944, Germany launched a great counteroffensive in World War II that became known as "The Battle of the Bulge."

In 1953, Chuck Yeager set an airborne speed record when he flew a Bell X-1A rocket-fueled plane at more than 1,600 miles an hour.

In 1960, 131 people were killed when two planes collided over foggy New York harbor.

In 1991, the U.N. General Assembly repealed a resolution equating Zionism with racism. It had been a major stumbling block in achieving peace in the Middle East.

In 1997, more than 700 children in Japan were hospitalized after a televised cartoon triggered a condition called "light epilepsy" or "Nintendo epilepsy," which is caused by intense flashes of light viewed up close.


Also in 1997, the highest wind speed ever measured -- 236 mph -- was recorded at Anderson Air Force Base in Guam as Typhoon Paka slammed into the Pacific island.

In 1998, U.S. and British jetfighters began a four-night campaign of bombing more than 100 Iraqi military targets. The long threatened action came after the allies concluded Iraq wouldn't cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors.

In 2003, U.S. President George W. Bush signed legislation authorizing the creation of a museum honoring African-Americans.

In 2004, U.S. President George W. Bush signed into law legislation mandating a sweeping revamp of U.S. intelligence-gathering agencies, including the creation of a national director of intelligence.

In 2005, the Palestinian militant group Hamas won a sweeping victory in West Bank municipal elections.

Also in 2005, British scientists calculated 2005 was the warmest year in the Northern Hemisphere since recordkeeping began in the 1860s.

In 2006, the United Nations and African, Arab and European leaders agreed in principle to a joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force for Sudan's embattled Darfur region.

Also in 2006, Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman died at age 94.

In 2007, the U.S. military decided to keep an imposing troop presence in Baghdad to prevent the Iraqi capital from devolving again into widespread violence.


Also in 2007, dozens of Turkish jets bombed several border towns in northern Iraq, killing two civilians in the first Turkish air raid against Iraqi Kurdistan strongholds.

In 2008, the U.N. Security Council adopted its first resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in five years, calling on both sides to step up efforts for a lasting peace and stating the U.S.-brokered talks were "irreversible."

In 2010, in the chaotic Ivory Coast presidential election, mired in the confusion of conflicting results that spawned a month of violence, supporters of Alassane Ouattara, the proclaimed runoff winner, clashed with troops backing President Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to step down.

A thought for the day: it was George Santayana who said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

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