The almanac

By United Press International

Today is Saturday, Dec. 21, the 355th day of 2013 with 10 to follow.

This is the first day of winter.


The moon is waning. 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 Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket in 1118; British theologian and American settler Roger Williams in 1603; American patriot Paul Revere in 1734; British dog breeder John "Jack" Russell in 1795; British statesman Benjamin Disraeli in 1804; golf Hall of Fame member Walter Hagen in 1892; baseball Hall of Fame member Josh Gibson in 1911; former Austrian President and U.N. Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim in 1918; ventriloquist Paul Winchell in 1922; former Penn State football Coach Joe Paterno in 1926; former talk show host Phil Donahue in 1935 (age 78); actor Jane Fonda in 1937 (age 76); Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members Frank Zappa in 1940 and Carl Wilson (Beach Boys) in 1946; Chinese President Hu Jintao in 1942 (age 71); British guitarist Albert Lee in 1943 (age 70); actor Samuel L. Jackson in 1948 (age 65); film executive Jeffrey Katzenberg in 1950 (age 63); tennis Hall of fame member Chris Evert in 1954 (age 59); comedian Ray Romano in 1957 (age 56); Olympic gold medal-winning athlete Florence Griffith-Joyner in 1959; actors Jane Kaczmarek in 1855 (age 48); Andy Dick in 1965 (age 48) and Kiefer Sutherland in 1966 (age 47); and Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili in 1967 (age 46).


On this date in history:

In 1620, the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth, Mass., following a 63-day voyage from England aboard the Mayflower.

In 1913, the first crossword puzzle in an American newspaper appeared in The New York Sunday World.

In 1937, Walt Disney's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," the first full-length animated feature film, opened in Los Angeles.

In 1958, three months after a new French Constitution was approved, Charles de Gaulle was elected the first president of the Fifth Republic by a sweeping majority of voters.

In 1968, Apollo 8, the first manned voyage to the moon, was launched.

In 1975, the notorious terrorist Carlos the Jackal led a raid on a meeting of OPEC oil ministers in Vienna. German and Arab terrorists stormed in with machine guns, killed three people and took 63 others hostage, including 11 oil ministers.

In 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 exploded and crashed in Lockerbie, Scotland, killing everyone aboard and 11 people on the ground for a total death toll of 270.

In 1990, a boat carrying about 100 U.S. sailors involved in Operation Desert Shield capsized off the Israeli coast. Twenty-one people died.

In 1991, 11 former Soviet republics declared an end to the Soviet Union and forged a commonwealth that guaranteed independence.


In 1992, 54 people were killed when a chartered jetliner carrying 340 people on a holiday to southern Portugal crashed in bad weather.

In 1993, Hungary's Parliament endorsed the nomination of Peter Boross as president, succeeding Jozsef Antall, who died in office Dec. 12.

In 1998, the shaky coalition of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu collapsed when Israel's Parliament voted 81-30 to dissolve the government.

In 2009, the U.S. government set a 3-hour limit on the time airlines can keep passengers waiting on a plane without giving them food or letting them off the aircraft.

In 2010, a Census Bureau report showed the United States with a population of 308,747,538. California remained the most populous state, followed by Texas and Florida.

In 2012, U.S. distributors said armored children's backpacks costing hundreds of dollars each were big sellers in the week since an elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn.

A thought for the day: Benjamin Disraeli defined a bore as a person "who has the power of speech but not the capacity for conversation."

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