The almanac

United Press International

Today is Wednesday, Nov. 21, the 326th day of 2012 with 40 to follow.

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


Those born on this date are under the sign of Scorpio. They include French explorer of North America Rene Robert de La Salle in 1643; French author Francois-Marie Arouet, known as Voltaire, in 1694; Josiah Bartlett, signer of the Declaration of Independence, in 1729; William Beaumont, pioneer U.S. Army surgeon, in 1785; British steamship company founder Samuel Cunard in 1787; Belgian painter Rene Magritte in 1898; jazz saxophonist Coleman Hawkins in 1904; dancer/actor Eleanor Powell in 1912; baseball Hall of Fame member Stan Musial in 1920 (age 92); actors Joseph Campanella in 1927 (age 85), Laurence Luckinbill in 1934 (age 78), Marlo Thomas in 1937 (age 75) and Juliet Mills in 1941 (age 71); musician Dr. John, born Malcolm John "Mac" Rebennack, Jr., in 1940 (age 72); basketball Hall of Fame member Earl Monroe, TV producer Marcy Carsey and filmmaker/actor Harold Ramis, all in 1944 (age 68); actors Goldie Hawn in 1945 (age 67), Lorna Luft in 1952 (age 60), Nicollette Sheridan in 1963 (age 49) and Rain Phoenix in 1972 (age 40); musician Bjork in 1965 (age 47); and football Hall of Fame member Troy Aikman in 1966 (age 46).


On this date in history:

In 1783, in Paris, Jean de Rozier and the Marquis d'Arlandes made the first free-flight ascent in a balloon.

In 1877, Thomas Edison announced his invention of the phonograph.

In 1938, Nazi forces occupied western Czechoslovakia and declared its people German citizens.

In 1974, The U.S. Congress passed the Freedom of Information Act over U.S. President Gerald Ford's veto.

In 1985, Jonathan Jay Pollard, a civilian U.S. Navy intelligence analyst and Jewish American, was arrested on charges of illegally passing classified U.S. security information about Arab nations to Israel.

Also in 1985, U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev ended a summit in Switzerland. They promised acceleration of arms-reduction talks.

In 1991, U.S. President George H.W. Bush signed the Civil Rights Act of 1991, making it easier for workers to sue in job discrimination cases.

In 1995, China jailed dissident Wei Jing-sheng and charged him with trying to overthrow the government.

In 2001, a 94-year-old Connecticut woman became the nation's fifth anthrax victim, a death that mystified authorities since she rarely left home. Later it was discovered a family living a mile away had received a letter with anthrax residue on it.


In 2003, U.S. House of Representatives and Senate conferees finished the final version of the approximately $400 billion, 1,000-page bill that would create prescription drug coverage for 42 million Americans on Medicare.

In 2004, Iraqi authorities set Jan. 30, 2005, as the date for the nation's first election since the collapse of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship.

In 2005, General Motors Corp., the world's biggest carmaker, announced it was cutting its payroll by 30,000 and shutting nine major plants.

Also in 2005, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon resigned as head of the Likud Party he founded to start a new organization called Kadima.

In 2006, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced a restoration of diplomatic ties with Syria, ending 24 years of strained relations.

In 2007, University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists reported they had reprogrammed human skin cells to behave as embryonic stem cells. The procedure bypasses ethical controversies caused by destroying embryos or cloning for stem cell research.

In 2008, U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton accepted President-elect Barack Obama's offer to be the secretary of state nominee.

In 2009, a gas explosion at a coal mine in northeast China's Heilongjiang province killed at least 42 workers with another 66 trapped 1,650 feet underground. Officials said 415 miners escaped the blast.


Also in 2009, Somali kidnappers of a British yachting couple demanded $7 million for their release. Paul and Rachel Chandler were abducted while sailing off the coast of East Africa.

In 2010, Ireland asked its European partners for a financial rescue package of about $90 billion to bolster its sagging economy.

In 2011, the United States and Britain imposed new sanctions on Iran to punish it for its suspected pursuit of nuclear weapons. The actions follow the latest report from the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency, which said it couldn't guarantee Iran's nuclear program was for peaceful purposes only. Britain cut all financial ties with Iranian banks, while the United States targeted Iran's oil industry as well.

A thought for the day: it was Voltaire who said, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

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