Today is Tuesday, Dec. 23, the 358th day of 2008 with eight 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 Capricorn. They include Egyptologist Jean Francois Champollion, who deciphered the Rosetta Stone, in 1790; Mormon church founder Joseph Smith in 1805; poet Harriet Monroe, founder of Poetry magazine, in 1860; Manhattan restaurateur Vincent Sardi Sr. in 1885; British film executive J. Arthur Rank in 1888; actor James Gregory in 1911; former West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt in 1918 (age 90); actor Harry Guardino in 1925; Japanese Emperor Akihito in 1933 (age 75); marathon runner Bill Rodgers in 1947 (age 61); and actors Susan Lucci in 1946 (age 62) and Corey Haim in 1972 (age 36).
On this date in history:
In 1620, construction began of the first permanent European settlement in New England, one week after the Mayflower arrived at Plymouth harbor in present day Massachusetts.
In 1783, Gen. George Washington resigned his commission with the U.S. Army and retired to Mount Vernon, Va. He became the new nation's first president in 1789.
In 1913, the U.S. Federal Reserve System was established.
In 1928, the National Broadcasting Company established a permanent U.S. coast-to-coast radio hookup.
In 1947, the transistor was invented, leading to a revolution in communications and electronics.
In 1948, former Prime Minister Hideki Tojo of Japan and six other Japanese war leaders were hanged in Tokyo under sentence of the Allied War Crimes Commission.
In 1973, the shah of Iran announced that the petroleum-exporting states of the Persian Gulf would double the price of their crude oil.
In 1992, the first U.S. casualties of the U.S.-led relief operation in Somalia occurred when a vehicle hit a land mine near the city of Badera, killing one civilian and injuring three others.
In 1995, more than 500 people, including entire families, were killed in Mandi Dabwali, India, when fire engulfed a tent set up for a school ceremony.
In 1997, Terry Nichols, the second defendant in the Oklahoma City bombing trial, was convicted of conspiracy and involuntary manslaughter by a federal jury in Denver.
In 2002, North Korea, preparing to resume development of nuclear weapons, said it was reopening a plutonium reprocessing plant.
In 2003, the first case of mad cow disease was reported in the United States when a Holstein in Washington state tested positive for the ailment.
In 2004, China reported its Bohai Bay Basin in the north may contain 20.5 billion tons of offshore oil reserves.
Also in 2004, the Transportation Security Administration announced that most women's breasts will no longer be patted down at U.S. airports.
In 2006, the U.N. Security Council banned Iranian export and import of nuclear-related material and technology and froze some financial assets related to the nuclear program. Iran promptly condemned the sanctions.
In 2007, the presidential bid of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., which had been floundering, re-energized in New Hampshire. Just over two weeks before the state's primary, a poll indicated McCain trailed leader Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, by 3 percentage points.
Also in 2007, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said a "full scale war" was raging in Gaza against Palestinian insurgents. Olmert dismissed earlier talk of a cease-fire.
A thought for the day: Anatole France wrote, "People who have no weaknesses are terrible; there is no way of taking advantage of them."