Today is Saturday, Dec. 16, the 350th day of 2006 with 15 to follow.
This the first day of Hanukkah.
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 Catherine of Aragon, the first wife of England's King Henry VIII, in 1485; German composer Ludwig von Beethoven in 1770; novelist Jane Austen in 1775; philosopher George Santayana in 1863; playwright and composer Noel Coward in 1899; anthropologist Margaret Mead in 1901; science fiction novelist Arthur C. Clarke in 1917 (age 89); actress Liv Ullmann in 1939 (age 67); journalist Leslie Stahl in 1941 (age 65); TV producer Steven Bochco in 1943 (age 63), and actor Benjamin Bratt in 1963 (age 43).
On this date in history:
In 1773, some 50 American patriots, protesting the British tax on tea, dumped 342 chests of tea into Boston harbor in "The Boston Tea Party."
In 1835, a fire swept New York City, razing 600 buildings and causing $20 million damage.
In 1893, Anton Dvorak's "New World Symphony" premiered at New York's Carnegie Hall.
In 1913, British actor Charles Chaplin reported to work at Keystone Studios in Hollywood to launch a legendary film career.
In 1944, Germany launched a great counteroffensive in World War II that became known as "The Battle of the Bulge."
In 1953, Chuck Yeager set an airborne speed record when he flew a Bell X-1A rocket-fueled plane over 1,600 miles an hour.
In 1960, 131 people were killed when two planes collided over foggy New York harbor.
In 1989, U.S. District Appeals Court Judge Robert Vance was killed by a package bomb at his Alabama home.
In 1990, a Roman Catholic priest, the Rev. Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was elected president of Haiti in that nation's first fully free vote since the 1986 fall of the "Baby Doc" Duvalier regime.
In 1991, the U.N. General Assembly repealed a resolution equating Zionism with racism. It had been a major stumbling block in achieving peace in the Middle East.
In 1997, more than 700 children in Japan were hospitalized after a televised cartoon triggered a condition called "light epilepsy" or "Nintendo epilepsy," which is caused by intense flashes of light viewed up close.
Also in 1997, the highest wind speed ever measured -- 236 mph -- was recorded at Anderson Air Force Base in Guam as Typhoon Paka slammed into the Pacific island.
In 1998, U.S. and British jetfighters began a 4-night campaign of bombing more than 100 Iraqi military targets. The long threatened action came after the allies concluded Iraq would not cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors.
In 2001, police in India said four suspects in custody had named Pakistan-based terrorist groups as being responsible for the Dec. 13 attack on the Indian Parliament building in New Delhi that left 14 people dead.
In 2002, U.S. President George W. Bush named former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean to lead the commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Also in 2002, North Korea blamed the United States for using humanitarian aid to disarm the famine-hit country, saying it would not accept such aid if political conditions are attached.
In 2003, Saddam Hussein, the captured former Iraqi president, denied playing any direct role in planning attacks on coalition troops, according to reports.
Also in 2003, U.S. President George W. Bush signed legislation authorizing the creation of a museum honoring African-Americans.
In 2004, U.S. President George W. Bush signed into law legislation mandating a sweeping revamp of U.S. intelligence-gathering agencies, including the creation of a national director of intelligence.
Also in 2004, the World Health Organization launched its opening strategy on dealing with what it considers an inevitable pandemic of avian, or bird, flu.
In 2005, the Palestinian militant group Hamas won a sweeping victory in West Bank municipal elections.
Also in 2005, British scientists calculated 2005 was the warmest year in the Northern Hemisphere since recordkeeping began in the 1860s.
And, in 2005, fire claimed 39 lives at a hospital in China's northeastern city of Liaoyuan.
A thought for the day: it was George Santayana who said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."