The almanac

By United Press International
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Today is Thursday, Dec. 5, the 339th day of 2013, with 26 to follow.

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


Those born on this date are under the sign of Sagittarius. They include Martin Van Buren, eighth president of the United States, in 1782; U.S. Army Gen. George Custer in 1839; film director Fritz Lang in 1890; German physicist Werner Heisenberg and entrainment entrepreneur Walt Disney, both in 1901; U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., in 1902; film director Otto Preminger in 1905; Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Little Richard (Richard Penniman) in 1932 (age 81); author Joan Didion in 1934 (age 79); writer Calvin Trillin in 1935 (age 78); songwriter J.J. Cale 1938; opera tenor Jose Carreras in 1946 (age 67); football Hall of Fame member Jim Plunkett in 1947 (age 66); comedian Margaret Cho in 1968 (age 45); and actor Frankie Muniz in 1985 (age 28).


On this date in history:

In 1776, the first scholastic fraternity in America, Phi Beta Kappa, was organized at William and Mary College in Virginia.

In 1848, U.S. President James Polk confirmed the discovery of gold in California, leading to the "gold rush" of 1848 and '49.

In 1933, prohibition of liquor in the United States was repealed when Utah became the 36th state to ratify the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

In 1945, five U.S. Navy Avenger torpedo-bombers disappeared on a routine flight in the area of the Atlantic known as the Bermuda Triangle.

In 1955, in one of the early civil rights actions in the South, blacks declared a boycott of city buses in Montgomery, Ala., demanding seating on an equal basis with whites. The boycott was prompted by the arrest of Rosa Parks, a black woman who refused to give up her bus seat to a white man.

In 1991, British media magnate Robert Maxwell disappeared while on his yacht off the Canary Islands.

In 1993, Rafael Caldera Rodriguez was elected president of Venezuela.

In 2001, factions in war-shaken Afghanistan agreed on an interim government, naming Hamid Karzai as their new leader.


In 2002, U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., celebrated his 100th birthday on Capitol Hill. Thurmond, who retired the following year, had served in the Senate since 1954, making him both the longest-serving and oldest member of Congress. He died June 27, 2003.

In 2009, an explosion and fire ignited by fireworks killed 156 people and injured dozens of others at a Russian nightclub in the Urals.

In 2012, New York City police filed murder charges against Naeem Davis, 30, a homeless man who allegedly pushed Ki Suk Han, 58, off a subway platform into the path of a train. Court papers later showed Davis said, "My head wasn't where it was supposed to be that day." He said he was angry because someone had thrown away a pair of his boots.

A thought for the day: Archibald MacLeish said Americans "were the first self-constituted, self-declared, self-created people in the history of the world."

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