Today is Wednesday, Dec. 5, the 339th day of 2017, with 26 to follow.

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

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 in 1901; Walt Disney in 1901; U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., in 1902; film director Otto Preminger in 1905; Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 1927; Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Little Richard, born Richard Penniman, in 1932 (age 86); author Joan Didion in 1934 (age 84); writer Calvin Trillin in 1935 (age 83); songwriter J.J. Cale 1938; opera tenor Jose Carreras in 1946 (age 72); football Hall of Fame member Jim Plunkett in 1947 (age 71); comedian/actress Margaret Cho in 1968 (age 50); actor Kali Rochain 1971 (age 47); actor Paula Patton in 1975 (age 43); actor Lauren London in 1984 (age 34); actor Frankie Muniz in 1985 (age 33).


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In 1933, prohibition of liquor in the United States was repealed when Utah became the 36th state to ratify the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.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. Fourteen airmen on the planes were lost and 13 others in a search plane killed.

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In 1955, in one of the early civil rights actions in the South, African Americans declared a boycott of city buses in Montgomery, Ala., demanding seating on an equal basis with white people. 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 1988, a UPI poll of U.S. newspaper and broadcast editors named President-elect George H.W. Bush and incoming first lady Barbara Bush as male and female newsmakers of the year.

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 2008, former NFL star O.J. Simpson was sentenced to up to 33 years in prison for holding up two sports memorabilia dealers at gunpoint in a Las Vegas hotel. He was released in October 2017.

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 2013, militants opened fire and detonated bombs at Yemen's Defense Ministry compound in Sanaa, killing at least 56 people and injuring more than 160 others.

In 2013, Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison and helped end apartheid in South Africa, died in Johannesburg at the age of 95. "He is now resting. He is now at peace," President Jacob Zuma said. "Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father."

In 2014, NASA successfully launched its Orion spacecraft, its hope for the future of manned space travel and an eventual trip to Mars.

In 2017, the International Olympic Committee banned the entire Russian Olympic team from the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea over a doping scandal. Select Russian olympians were allowed to participate under the team name "Olympic athletes from Russia."

A thought for the day: George H.W. Bush, speaking of the United States' varied communities and organizations, said, "a brilliant diversity spreads like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky."