Today is Wednesday, Dec. 14, the 348th day of 2011 with 17 to follow.
The moon is waning. The morning stars are Neptune, Uranus, Jupiter and Venus. Evening stars are Mercury, Saturn and Mars.
Those born on this date are under the sign of Sagittarius. They include French astrologer and prophet Nostradamus in 1503; Danish astronomer and mathematician Tycho Brahe in 1546; World War II U.S. air ace Jimmy Doolittle in 1896; former U.S. Sen. Margaret Chase Smith, R-Maine, in 1897; comedian Morey Amsterdam in 1908; bandleader Spike Jones in 1911; actor Dan Dailey in 1915; horror novelist Shirley Jackson in 1916; choreographer June Taylor in 1917; TV news producer Don Hewitt in 1922; country singer Charlie Rich in 1932; and actors Lee Remick in 1935, Patty Duke in 1946 (age 65) and Dee Wallace Stone in 1948 (age 63); football Hall of Fame member Ernie Davis in 1939; tennis Hall of Fame member Stan Smith in 1946 (age 65).
On this date in history:
In 1287, more than 50,000 people died in the flood caused by the collapse of the Zuider Zee dike in the Netherlands.
In 1799, George Washington, war for independence military leader and first president of the United States, died at his Mount Vernon home in Virginia.
In 1819, Alabama became the 22nd member of the United States.
In 1911, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen became the first person to reach the South Pole.
In 1972, Apollo 17 crew member Eugene Cernan entered the lunar lander, the last man to walk on the moon in the Apollo program.
In 1986, Nicaragua announced the arrest of American Sam Hall as a spy. Hall, a former Ohio state lawmaker, was freed about seven weeks later.
In 1988, the United States announced the start of a "substantive dialogue" with the Palestine Liberation Organization for the first time.
In 1989, Andrei Sakharov, father of the Soviet H-bomb, dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner for defending human rights, died at age 68.
In 1993, Israel and the Vatican agreed to establish full diplomatic relations.
In 1995, in a ceremony in Paris, the four-year civil war in Bosnia-Herzegovina officially came to an end with the signing of a peace treaty.
In 1997, with an eye to the planned visit to Cuba by Pope John Paul II in early 1998, President Fidel Castro announced that Christmas would be an official holiday for the first time since 1968.
In 2004, two passenger trains in India's Punjab district collided at high speed, killing at least 27 people and injuring scores of others.
Also in 2005, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed the Holocaust was a "myth" and called for Israel to be moved to Europe or North America.
In 2006, the official British police investigation into the 1997 death of Princess Diana in a Paris car crash concluded that it was an accident and no conspiracy or foul play was involved.
Also in 2006, the New Jersey Legislature approved civil unions for same-sex couples.
In 2007, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf ended six weeks of emergency rule amid widespread political turmoil, restoring the constitution and resigning his dual role as army chief but barred a return of the high court judges he had fired in a dispute over re-election.
In 2009, the U.S. Senate approved and sent to President Barack Obama a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending measure that included major funding increases for several non-defense agencies and mandatory funding for such programs as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
In 2010, with the U.S. economy recovery showing little impact on the nation's jobless problem, the Federal Reserve said it would seek to stay the course with a $600 billion bond purchasing program and keep its federal funds rate at zero to 0.25 percent.
Also in 2010, more than two-thirds of Americans said WikiLeaks hurt the public interest by releasing classified diplomatic cables, a Washington Post/ABC News poll indicated.
Nearly six in 10 respondents said WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should face criminal charges.
A thought for the day: William James said, "The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook."