Today is Wednesday, Dec. 19, the 354th day of 2012 with 12 to go.
The moon is waxing. The morning stars are Mercury, Venus and Saturn. Evening stars include Jupiter, Neptune, Uranus and Mars.
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; British 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; French singer Edith Piaf in 1915; country singer Little Jimmy Dickens in 1920 (age 92); actor Cicely Tyson in 1933 (age 79); baseball Hall of Fame member Al Kaline in 1934 (age 78); folk singer Phil Ochs in 1940; South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in 1941 (age 71); British rock musician Alvin Lee in 1944 (age 68); actors Tim Reid in 1944 (age 68) and Robert Urich in 1946, Jennifer Beals in 1963 (age 49), Robert MacNaughton in 1966 (age 46) and Alyssa Milano in 1972 (age 40).
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 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 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 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 W. Bush said he would increase the number of Americans in the military to deal with terrorism worldwide. 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 W. Bush signed energy legislation that increased average vehicle's fuel economy by 2020 to 35 miles per gallon, a 40 percent hike.
Also in 2007, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said states cannot set their own emission standards. Seventeen states, including California, sought tougher restrictions.
And, conservative Lee Myung-bak won the South Korea presidential election.
In 2008, U.S. President George W. Bush announced he would lend General Motors and Chrysler $17.4 billion to help the automakers survive the next three months.
Also in 2008, a landmark $200 billion program intended to support consumer credit will allow hedge funds to borrow from the Federal Reserve for the first time.
And, Mark Felt, an FBI official who became known as The Washington Post journalists' shadowy source "Deep Throat" in the Watergate scandal, died at the age of 95.
In 2009, Irish Catholic Bishop Donald Murray resigned after bring criticized in a report that accused the church of covering up priests' alleged sexual abuse of Dublin children.
Also in 2011, an oil drilling rig being towed in a storm with 67 aboard sank in the Pacific Ocean off the Russian east coast north of Japan. Officials estimated 50 people were dead or missing.
A thought for the day: George Bernard Shaw said, "There are no secrets better kept than the secrets that everybody guesses."