Today is Friday, Dec. 19, the 354th day of 2008 with 12 to follow.
The moon is waning. The morning stars are Saturn and Mars. The evening stars are Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune.
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; singer Edith Piaf in 1915; and actors Cicely Tyson in 1933 (age 75), Tim Reid in 1944 (age 64), Robert Urich in 1946, Jennifer Beals in 1963 (age 45) and Alyssa Milano in 1972 (age 36).
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 U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower.
In 1972, the splashdown of Apollo 17 ended the United States' 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, U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese said U.S. President Ronald Reagan didn't know that money Iran paid for U.S. arms was going to Nicaraguan rebels.
In 1991, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International agreed to plead guilty to federal racketeering charges, forfeiting $550 million.
In 1998, U.S. President Bill 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. He was acquitted in the subsequent trial.
In 2002, South Korea elected Roh Moo-hyun as its president.
In 2003, Libya announced it would abandon efforts to develop nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.
In 2004, at least 60 people were killed in Iraq by car bombings in the Shiite Muslim holy cities of Karbala and Najaf.
In 2005, a Shiite Muslim coalition showed a strong overall lead in preliminary returns from Iraq's parliamentary election.
In 2006, U.S. President George Bush said he would increase the number of Americans in the military to deal with terrorism worldwide. In an interview with The Washington Post, Bush acknowledged that U.S. military forces were stretched too thin.
Also in 2006, a Libyan court sentenced five Bulgarian nurses and a doctor to death for deliberately infecting 426 children with HIV.
In 2007, U.S. President George Bush signed energy legislation he described as a major step toward reducing American dependence on foreign oil. The bill increases average fuel economy by 2020 to 35 miles per gallon, a 40 percent increase, without sacrificing automobile safety.
Also in 2007, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said states cannot set their own emission standards. Seventeen states, including California, had sought tougher restrictions.
And, conservative Lee Myung-bak won the South Korea presidential election.
A thought for the day: George Bernard Shaw said, "There are no secrets better kept than the secrets that everybody guesses."