The almanac

By United Press International
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Today is Sunday, Dec. 8, the 342nd day of 2013 with 23 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 Mary Queen of Scots in 1542; Eli Whitney, inventor of the cotton gin, in 1765; General Motors founder William Durant and French movie pioneer Georges Melies, both in 1861; Finnish composer Jean Sibelius in 1865; Mexican muralist Diego Rivera in 1886; humorist and artist James Thurber in 1894; actor Lee J. Cobb in 1911; entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. in 1925; actor Maximilian Schell in 1930 (age 83); comedian Flip Wilson in 1933; actors David Carradine in 1936 and James MacArthur in 1937; Irish flutist James Galway in 1939 (age 74); Rock and Roll Hall of fame members Jim Morrison in 1943 and Gregg Allman in 1947 (age 66); writer Bill Bryson in 1951 (age 62); actors Kim Basinger in 1953 (age 60) and Teri Hatcher in 1964 (age 49); political commentator Ann Coulter in 1961 (age 52); Irish singer/songwriter Sinead O'Connor in 1966 (age 47); actor Dominic Monaghan in 1976 (age 37); and rap artist Nicki Minaj in 1982 (age 31).


On this date in history:

In 1886, delegates from 25 unions founded the American Federation of Labor, forerunner of the modern AFL-CIO, in Columbus, Ohio.

In 1941, the United States, Britain and Australia declared war on Japan.

In 1949, the Chinese Nationalist government, defeated by the Communists, retreated from the mainland to the island of Taiwan.

In 1980, former Beatle John Lennon was shot to death outside his apartment building in New York City. He was 40.

In 1986, U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz told the House Foreign Affairs Committee the transfer of Iran arms money to the Nicaraguan Contras was illegal.

In 1987, U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed the first treaty between the two superpowers to reduce their massive nuclear arsenals.

In 1991, the Soviet Union ceased to exist when the republics of Russia, Byelorussia (now known as Belarus) and Ukraine signed an agreement creating the Commonwealth of Independent States.

In 1993, U.S. President Bill Clinton signed the North American Free Trade Agreement.

In 1997, Jenny Shipley was sworn in as the first woman prime minister of New Zealand.


In 2004, the International Business Machines Corp. reported it was selling its personal computer business to Chinese rival Lenovo Group for $1.25 billion in cash and stock.

In 2005, a Southwest Airlines jetliner overshot a runway at Chicago's Midway International Airport in a snowstorm, crashing through a fence into a city street. A 6-year-old boy in a car hit by the plane was killed and at least 11 other people were hurt.

In 2007, Afghanistan was in official mourning after a suicide bombing at a school in the north killed at least 52 people and injured 102 others. The dead included 18 children.

In 2008, the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States and four co-defendants told a military judge at Guantanamo Bay that they wanted to confess to all charges of murder and war crimes.

In 2009, an apparently coordinated series of car bombs destroyed several government buildings in Baghdad, killing at least 121 people and wounding 499.

In 2010, a prison fire south of Santiago, Chile, that apparently broke out after a fight between inmates killed at least 81 people and injured a dozen others.


In 2012, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti announced his resignation.

A thought for the day: "It's better to be unhappy alone than unhappy with someone." -- Marilyn Monroe

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