The almanac

By United Press International
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Today is Monday, Dec. 26, the 360th day of 2011 with five 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 Capricorn. They include English poet Thomas Gray in 1716; English inventor Charles Babbage, who developed the first speedometer, in 1791; Adm. George Dewey, the U.S. naval hero of Manila, in 1837; Nobel Peace Prize laureate Norman Angell in 1872; writer Henry Miller in 1891; Mao Zedong, leader of the Chinese communist revolution, in 1893; actor Richard Widmark in 1914; entertainer Steve Allen in 1921; comedian Alan King in 1927; puppeteer Caroll Spinney in 1933 (age 78); baseball Hall of Fame member Carlton Fisk in 1947 (age 64); TV journalist Candy Crowley in 1948 (age 63); and baseball Hall of Fame member Ozzie Smith (age 57) and dogsled racer Susan Butcher, both in 1954.


On this date in history:

In 1776, American forces under Gen. George Washington, having crossed the Delaware River on Christmas night, defeated Hessian mercenary troops fighting for the British at the Battle of Trenton, N.J.

In 1908, Jack Johnson became the first African-American to win the world heavyweight boxing title when he knocked out Tommy Burns in the 14th round near Sydney, Australia.

In 1917, the federal government took over operation of U.S. railroads for the duration of World War I.

In 1972, Harry Truman, 33rd president of the United States, died at age 88.

In 1974, legendary comedian Jack Benny died of cancer. He was 80.

In 1990, Nancy Cruzan, the focus of a right-to-die case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court, died in a Missouri hospital.

In 1996, child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey, 6, was found slain in a basement room of her family's posh Boulder, Colo., home.

In 2001, the man captured as he tried to ignite explosives hidden in his sneakers aboard an American Airlines jet was identified as Richard Reid, a 28-year-old unemployed British citizen.


In 2003, more than 26,000 people were killed and thousands injured when an earthquake struck the ancient Iranian city of Bam.

Also in 2003, the death toll reached 135 in the crash of a Boeing 727 in Benin.

In 2004, a powerful earthquake triggered a tsunami in South and Southeast Asia, with waves 40 feet high slamming into India, Thailand, Indonesia and other countries, killing thousands of people.

Also in 2004, Ukraine opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko claimed victory in the court-ordered second vote in the country's presidential runoff. The earlier vote, which favored Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, was annulled after allegations of fraud.

In 2006, former U.S. President Gerald Ford died at his home in Rancho Mirage, Calif., at the age of 93.

Also in 2006, more than 200 people died when a gas pipeline being vandalized exploded in the Nigerian capital of Lagos.

And, a Baghdad appeals court upheld the death sentence for deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein for a 1982 massacre of 148 Shiite men.

In 2008, Israeli officials reopened crossings into the Gaza Strip to allow transfer of medicine, food and other goods despite an escalation of violence along the border in recent days.


In 2009, the U.S. Senate approved raising the debt ceiling by $290 billion, enough to keep the government going into February. The debt ceiling had been set at $12.1 trillion.

Also in 2009, the Nigerian man who allegedly tried to blow up a Detroit-bound U.S. airliner on Christmas Day, identified as Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab who said al-Qaida sent him, already was on the American government's watch list after his banker father told officials of his son's increased extremism.

In 2010, a suicide explosion that killed at least 46 people at a U.N. food distribution point in Pakistan was the work of a teenage girl, an official reported.

A thought for the day: Michel Eyquem de Montaigne said, "A man of understanding has lost nothing if he has himself."

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