Today is Wednesday, Dec. 13, the 347th day of 2006 with 18 to follow.
The moon is waning. The morning stars are Jupiter, Mercury, Saturn and Mars. The evening stars are Pluto, Venus, Uranus and Neptune.
Those born on this date are under the sign of Sagittarius. They include clergyman Phillips Brooks, who wrote the Christmas carol "O Little Town of Bethlehem," in 1835; World War I hero Sgt. Alvin York in 1887; actor Van Heflin in 1910; former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz in 1920 (age 86); comedian/actor Dick Van Dyke in 1925 (age 81); actor Christopher Plummer in 1929 (age 77); singer/actor John Davidson in 1941 (age 65); rock singer Ted Nugent in 1948 (age 58); and actors Wendy Malick in 1950 (age 56), Steve Buscemi in 1957 (age 49) and Jamie Foxx in 1967 (age 39).
On this date in history:
In 1642, Dutch navigator Abel Tasman discovered New Zealand.
In 1816, the nation's first savings bank, the Provident Institution for Savings, opened in Boston.
In 1862, an estimated 11,000 northern soldiers were killed or wounded in a battle with Confederate troops outside Fredericksburg, Va.
In 1982, the Sentry armored car company in New York discovered the overnight theft of $11 million from its headquarters. It was the biggest cash theft in U.S. history at the time.
In 1990, the last of the U.S. hostages being held by Iraq, five diplomats in Kuwait, flew to freedom.
Also in 1990, troops were rushed to Soviet Georgia and a state of emergency was imposed after ethnic violence killed three people.
In 1991, the leaders of the Central American countries had a meeting and agreed to pledge $4.5 billion to fight poverty.
In 1992, Ricky Ray, 15, one of three hemophiliac brothers barred from attending a Florida school because they had the AIDS virus, died.
In 1998, in a non-binding referendum giving Puerto Ricans the opportunity to express a political preference, most indicated they wished to remain a U.S. commonwealth.
In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court halted the Florida presidential vote recount, in effect giving the presidency to Republican George W. Bush more than a month after the balloting. Winning Florida meant Bush had enough electoral votes to defeat Democrat Al Gore, who had won the popular vote.
In 2001, as the extensive manhunt continued for Osama bin Laden, the U.S. government released a tape of the suspected mastermind of the Sept.11 terrorist attacks in which he spoke of the attacks and voiced pleasure and surprise that so many of the "enemy" had died.
Also in 2001, calling it a Cold War relic, President George W. Bush announced the United States was pulling out of the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty, opening the way for the Defense Department to test and deploy a missile defense system without restraints.
And in 2001, 14 people were killed when gunmen tried to storm the Indian Parliament building in New Delhi.
In 2002, Cardinal Bernard Law, under fire for allegedly protecting priests accused of abusing minors, resigned as Roman Catholic archbishop of Boston.
Also in 2002, Henry Kissinger resigned as head of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks, saying compliance with disclosure rules could jeopardize his consulting firm.
Further in 2002, U.S. President George W. Bush, saying he feared terrorists might use the smallpox virus as a weapon, ordered mandatory smallpox vaccinations for all military personnel and offered it to emergency workers on a voluntary basis.
In 2003, a bearded and apparently disoriented Saddam Hussein, the deposed Iraqi president, was captured by U.S. troops in a small underground hideout southeast of his home town of Tikrit, ending an 8-month manhunt.
In 2004, the Pentagon acknowledged investigations into the death of eight prisoners in Afghanistan, five more than it disclosed in May.
Also in 2004, Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko was said to be convinced government authorities were behind the poisoning attempt on his life during his presidential campaign.
In 2005, a majority of U.S. employers plans no major changes in what is described as positive hiring sentiments in 2006, a survey report says.
Also in 2005, Indonesian health officials confirmed the country's ninth death from bird flu.
A thought for the day: Willa Cather said, "The history of every country begins in the heart of a man or a woman."