Today is Wednesday, Dec. 28, the 362nd day of 2011 with three to follow.
The moon is waxing. 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 Capricorn. They include Woodrow Wilson, 28th president of the United States, in 1856; Gen. Billy Mitchell, father of the U.S. Air Force, in 1879; jazz pianist Earl "Fatha" Hines in 1903; actors Lew Ayres in 1908, Martin Milner in 1931 (age 80) Maggie Smith in 1934 (age 77) and Denzel Washington in 1954 (age 57); rock musician Edgar Winter in 1946 (age 65); Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo in 1955 (age 56); singer John Legend in 1978 (age 33) and comic book writer Stan Lee in 1922 (age 89).
On this date in history:
In 1065, Westminster Abbey was consecrated.
In 1846, Iowa was admitted into the United States as the 29th state.
In 1865, French film pioneers Auguste and Louis Lumiere showed the first commercial motion pictures at a Paris cafe.
In 1869, The Knights of Labor, a group of tailors in Philadelphia, staged the first Labor Day ceremonies in U.S. history.
In 1908, nearly 80,000 people were killed when an earthquake struck the ancient town of Messina, Sicily.
In 1945, the U.S. Congress officially recognized the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States.
In 1950, advancing Chinese troops crossed the 38th Parallel, dividing line between North and South Korea, to help the communist North Koreans fight U.S.-led U.N. forces.
In 1985, warring Lebanese Muslim and Christian leaders signed a peace agreement backed by Syria.
In 1992, in a violent day in Lima, Peru, car bombs exploded outside two embassies, police thwarted a bank raid and rebels launched a missile attack on a police station. Five people were killed, 24 injured.
In 1997, Hong Kong officials announced that all chickens in the territory would be killed in an attempt to eradicate carriers of the avian flu, which had killed several people.
In 2000, the U.S. Census Bureau announced a total of 281,421,906 people in the nation. The figure was a 13.2 percent increase in the last 10 years.
In 2001, U.S. President George W. Bush granted permanent normal trade status to China, reversing a 20-year policy.
In 2003, officials in Iran's ancient city of Bam said perhaps half the city's population of 80,000 were killed or injured in the earthquake that struck the area.
In 2004, at least 18 Iraqi policemen were killed by insurgents in several attacks on police stations.
Also in 2004, record numbers of Britons turned out with horses and hounds for a fox hunt on what could be Britain's last legal Boxing Day hunt with a hunting ban scheduled to go into effect in two months.
In 2006, a Louisiana grand jury indicted seven New Orleans police officers on murder and attempted murder charges related to an alleged 2005 police ambush about one week after Hurricane Katrina struck.
In 2007, hundreds of thousands of mourners filled the streets of the Pakistani village of Garhi Khuda Baksh for the funeral of Benazir Bhutto, the assassinated former prime minister. Tempers flared and nine people were killed in rioting before the start of the funeral procession.
Also in 2007, Nepal abolished its monarchy and became a federal democratic republic.
In 2009, Western intelligence officials said Islamic extremists were moving from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Yemen, which was seen as probably the next terrorist focal point.
Also in 2009, a Gallup poll indicated the top U.S. political winners of 2009 were first lady Michelle Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sonia Sotomayor, the newest U.S. Supreme Court justice.
In 2010, a blizzard cut power to a New York subway, trapping more than 500 people aboard a Manhattan train for six hours. They included passengers from Kennedy Airport who had waited hours for flights that were canceled.
A thought for the day: Benjamin Franklin said, "It is hard for an empty sack to stand upright."