Today is Wednesday, Dec. 19, the 353rd day of 2001 with 12 to follow.
The moon is waxing, moving toward its first quarter.
The morning star is Jupiter.
The evening stars are Mars and Saturn.
Those born on this date are under the sign of Sagittarius. They include women's suffrage leader Mary Livermore in 1820; novelist Eleanor Porter ("Pollyanna") in 1868; actor Ralph Richardson in 1902; Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev in 1906; French dramatist Jean Genet, a pioneer in the theater of the absurd, in 1910; and actors Cicely Tyson in 1933 (age 68), Tim Reid in 1944 (age 57), Robert Urich in 1946 (age 55), Jennifer Beals in 1963 (age 38) and Alyssa Milano in 1972 (age 29).
On this date in history:
In 1777, Gen. George Washington and the Continental Army began a winter encampment at Valley Forge, Pa.
In 1958, the U.S. satellite Atlas transmitted the first radio voice broadcast from space, a 58-word recorded Christmas greeting from President Eisenhower.
In 1972, the splashdown of Apollo XVII ended America's manned moon exploration program.
In 1984, the United States formally withdrew from UNESCO in a effort to force reform of the U.N. cultural organization's budget and alleged Third World bias.
Also in 1984, the prime ministers of Britain and China signed an accord, returning Hong Kong to China in 1997.
In 1986, Attorney General Edwin Meese said President Reagan did NOT know that money Iran paid for U.S. arms was going to Nicaraguan rebels.
In 1990, a judge in Oshkosh, Wis., dismissed the case against a man convicted of sex assault against a woman with at least 46 personalities.
In 1991, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International agreed to plead guilty to federal racketeering charges, forfeiting $550 million.
In 1997, the motion picture "Titanic" opened in U.S. theaters to generally favorable reviews.
In 1998, President Clinton became only the second U.S. president to be impeached when the House of Representatives approved two articles of impeachment, charging him with perjury and obstruction of justice. The allegations stemmed from the actions he took to conceal his relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
Also in 1998, House Speaker-designate Bob Livingston, R-La, announced he would not be a candidate and would be leaving Congress. Two days earlier, Livingston admitted he'd had extra-marital affairs "on occasion."
A thought for the day: George Bernard Shaw said, "There are no secrets better kept that the secrets that everybody guesses."