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Wednesday, December 23, 1998
- Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma is scheduled to begin two days of talks with Turkmenistan President Saparmurat Niyazov in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. Discussions will likely focus on gas supplies.
- A court appearance is scheduled in Madison, Nebraska, for a 71-year-old man charged with killing his doctor at a state mental hospital.
- Japan celebrates Emperor Akihito's 65th birthday.
- On Thursday, December 24, Pope John Paul II is scheduled to observe Christmas Eve Midnight Mass at Vatican City.
- On Friday, December 25, Cuba will observe a national holiday. It was re-established by the Cuban Communist Party 29 years after it was abolished by President Fidel Castro.
- On Saturday, December 26, Kwanzaa, the African-American holiday, begins.
- On Sunday, December 27, the tentative liftoff of a joint U.S.and Australian around-the-world balloon flight is scheduled.
Christmas shines in Rome. For a tour, click here.
- Author Robert Bly is 72.
- Dancer Jose Greco is 80.
- Actor James Gregory is 87.
- Actor Corey Haim is 26.
- Ravens QB Jim Harbaugh is 35.
- Actress Susan Lucci is 49.
- Actor Gerald O'Loughlin is 77.
- Actress Ruth Roman is 75.
- In 1732, Richard Arkwright, the British inventor and industrialist, was born. Inventor of the spinning frame, he also introduced steam into his Nottingham factories.
- In 1810, Karl Richard Lepsius, the German Egyptologist, was born. Regarded as founder of modern archaeology, his "Egyptian Chronologies" laid the foundation for a scientific treatment of early Egyptian history. He was the first to measure the Valley of the Tombs of Kings in Egypt.
- In 1933, Marinus van der Lubbe was found guilty and sentenced to death in Germany for setting fire to the Reichstag earlier in the year.
- In 1948, Hideki Tojo was hanged as a war criminal; a Japanese soldier who became prime minister, he was in power when Pearl Harbor was bombed.
- In 1950, Pope Pius XII announced that St. Peter's tomb had been found under the Vatican.
- In 1953, in the Soviet Union, Lavrenty Beria, former security police chief who played a role in Stalin's political purges, was executed for plotting to succeed him as Soviet leader.
- In 1972, Andrei Tupolev, the Soviet aircraft designer, died. Before World War II, he designed bombers and the huge ANT-20 "Maxim Gorky." After the war, he designed jet airliners for the Soviet National Airline and created the world's first supersonic airliner, the TU-144.
- In 1972, a massive earthquake struck Managua, Nicaragua, resulting in the deaths of some 7,000 people.
- In 1990, the people of Slovenia voted overwhelmingly in a plebiscite for the northwestern Yugoslav republic to become an independent state.
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