The almanac

By United Press International  |  Dec. 30, 2012 at 3:30 AM
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Today is Sunday, Dec. 30, the 365th day of 2012 with one to follow.

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

Those born on this date are under the sign of Capricorn. They include British author Rudyard Kipling in 1865; Canadian economist and humorist Stephen Leacock in 1869; Japan's World War II Prime Minister Hideki Tojo in 1884; TV personality Bert Parks in 1914; actor Jack Lord in 1920; rock 'n' roll pioneer Bo Diddley in 1928; actor/dancer Russ Tamblyn and actor Joseph Bologna, both in 1934 (age 78); singer Del Shannon, also in 1934; baseball Hall of Fame member Sandy Koufax in 1935 (age 77); folk singer Noel Paul Stookey in 1937 (age 75); television director James Burrows in 1940 (age 72); two members of the pop group The Monkees, Mike Nesmith in 1942 (age 70) and Davy Jones in 1945; rock 'n' roll Hall of Fame member Patti Smith in 1946 (age 66); rock musician Jeff Lynne in 1947 (age 65); television personality Meredith Vieira in 1953 (age 59) and "Today" co-host Matt Lauer in 1957 (age 55); actor Tracey Ullman in 1959 (age 53); political commentator Sean Hannity in 1961 (age 51); golfer Tiger Woods in 1975 (age 37); and basketball star LeBron James in 1984 (age 28).

On this date in history:

In 1853, the United States bought 45,000 square miles of land along the Gila River from Mexico for $10 million. The area is now southern Arizona and New Mexico.

In 1862, the Union ironclad ship USS Monitor sank off Cape Hatteras, N.C., during a storm. Sixteen members of the crew were lost.

In 1903, flames swept the Iroquois Theater in Chicago, killing 602 people. The fire led to safety regulations for theaters around the world.

In 1916, Grigori Rasputin, a self-fashioned Russian holy man, was killed by Russian nobles eager to end his influence over the royal family.

In 1922, at the first Soviet Congress, Russia, Ukraine and two other Soviet republics signed a treaty, creating the Soviet Union.

In 1965, former Philippines Senate President Ferdinand Marcos was inaugurated president of the Southeast Asian archipelago nation.

In 1972, U.S. President Richard Nixon ordered a halt in the bombing of North Vietnam and announced that peace talks with the Hanoi government would resume in Paris in January.

In 1979, Broadway composer Richard Rodgers died in New York City at age 77. He first collaborated with lyricist Lorenz Hart and later with Oscar Hammerstein II for a string of memorable musicals ("Oklahoma," "South Pacific," "Sound of Music").

In 1986, Exxon Corp. became the first major international oil company to withdraw from South Africa because of that country's racial policies.

In 1992, Ling-Ling, the giant female panda who delighted visitors to Washington's National Zoo for more than two decades, died of heart failure.

In 1993, Israel and the Vatican signed an agreement to establish diplomatic relations.

In 1999, a mentally ill man broke into George Harrison's mansion and attacked the former Beatle and his wife. Harrison suffered serious stab wounds but recovered.

In 2004, the official death toll from the 11-country Asian earthquake and tsunami soared to 123,000. Indonesia was the hardest hit by the magnitude-9 quake and counted 80,000 dead.

Also in 2004, Artie Shaw, the clarinet virtuoso and leader of one of the biggest of the Swing Era big bands, died at age 94.

In 2006, former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was executed by hanging in Baghdad before sunrise. He had been convicted of the 1982 massacre of 148 Shiite men and boys in Dujail and sentenced to death.

Also in 2006, car bombs struck markets in a Shiite area of Baghdad and in a southern Shiite town, killing at least 68 people.

In 2009, a suicide bomber, identified as a Jordanian informant, killed at least eight U.S. civilians, all but one of them CIA agents, at a base in Afghanistan, deadliest assault on the agency since the terrorist attacks on America Sept. 11, 2001.

Also in 2009, a New Mexico-born Muslim imam who lived in Yemen for several years was linked to the man charged with trying to blow up a Detroit-bound jetliner on Christmas Day and with al-Qaida.

In 2010, the U.S. Labor Department reported initial claims for unemployment benefits fell to 388,000, lowest figure since July 2008. The jobless rate at year's end, also fell, to 9.4 percent.

In 2011, U.S. stock indexes wound up 2011 with the Dow Jones industrial average closing at 12,217.56, up 5.5 percent for the year. The Standard and Poor's 500 finished almost flat, at $1,257.60 and Nasdaq composite dropped 1.8 percent, closing at 2,605.15. Gold settled at $1,566 an ounce, a 10 percent hike over the end of 2010 and the 11th consecutive annual price increase.

A thought for the day: poet Robert Browning wrote, "'Tis not what man does which exalts him, but what man would do!"

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