Today is Wednesday, Dec. 30, the 364th day of 2015 with one to follow.
The moon is waxing. Morning stars are Jupiter and Saturn. Evening stars are Mars, Mercury, Neptune, Uranus and Venus.
Those born on this date are under the sign of Capricorn. They include British author Rudyard Kipling in 1865; Canadian economist and humorist Stephen Leacock in 1869; Japan's World War II Prime Minister Hideki Tojo in 1884; TV personality Bert Parks in 1914; actor Jack Lord in 1920; Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Bo Diddley in 1928; actor/dancer Russ Tamblyn and actor Joseph Bologna, both in 1934 (age 81); singer Del Shannon, also in 1934; baseball Hall of Fame member Sandy Koufax in 1935 (age 80); folk singer Noel Paul Stookey in 1937 (age 78); television director James Burrows in 1940 (age 75); two members of The Monkees pop group, Mike Nesmith in 1942 (age 73) and Davy Jones in 1945; Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Patti Smith in 1946 (age 69); rock musician and producer Jeff Lynne in 1947 (age 68); television personality Meredith Vieira in 1953 (age 62) and "Today" co-host Matt Lauer in 1957 (age 58); actor Tracey Ullman in 1959 (age 56); political commentator Sean Hannity in 1961 (age 54); golfer Tiger Woods in 1975 (age 40); and basketball star LeBron James in 1984 (age 31).
On this date in history:
In 1853, the United States bought 45,000 square miles of land along the Gila River from Mexico for $10 million. The area is now southern Arizona and New Mexico.
In 1862, the Union ironclad ship USS Monitor sank off Cape Hatteras, N.C., during a storm. Sixteen members of the crew were lost.
In 1903, flames swept the Iroquois Theater in Chicago, killing 602 people. The fire led to safety regulations for theaters around the world.
In 1916, Grigori Rasputin, a self-fashioned Russian holy man, was killed by Russian nobles eager to end his influence over the royal family.
In 1922, at the first Soviet Congress, Russia, Ukraine and two other Soviet republics signed a treaty, creating the Soviet Union.
In 1958, revolutionaries under the command of Ernesto "Che" Guevara battled with government troops loyal to Cuban President Fulgencio Batista for control of the city of Santa Clara. Within 12 hours of the rebel victory, Batista had fled the country, with control of the country passing to Fidel Castro.
In 1965, Ferdinand Marcos was inaugurated as president of the Philippines.
In 1972, U.S. President Richard Nixon ordered a halt in the bombing of North Vietnam and announced that peace talks with the Hanoi government would resume in Paris in January.
In 1979, Broadway composer Richard Rodgers died in New York City at age 77. He first collaborated with lyricist Lorenz Hart and later with Oscar Hammerstein II for a string of memorable musicals, including "Oklahoma," "South Pacific" and "Sound of Music.".
In 1986, Exxon Corp. became the first major international oil company to withdraw from South Africa because of that country's racial policies.
In 1992, Ling-Ling, a giant female panda who delighted visitors to Washington's National Zoo for more than two decades, died of heart failure.
In 2004, Artie Shaw, clarinet virtuoso and leader of one of the biggest of the Swing Era big bands, died at age 94.
In 2006, former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, who had been convicted of the 1982 massacre of 148 Shiite men and boys, was executed by hanging in Baghdad.
In 2009, a suicide bomber, identified as a Jordanian informant, killed at least eight U.S. civilians, all but one of them CIA agents, at a base in Afghanistan.
In 2012, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was hospitalized because of a blood clot, the State Department said. The clot, or thrombus, was discovered during a routine MRI while Clinton recuperated from a recent concussion.
In 2013, four NFL coaches were fired on the league's so-called Black Monday: Mike Shanahan of the Washington Redskins, Leslie Fraiser of the Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay's Greg Chiano and Jim Schwartz of the Detroit Lions. Cleveland's Rob Chudzinski had been let go the day before.
A thought for the day: "A child born to a black mother in a state like Mississippi has exactly the same rights as a white baby born to the wealthiest person in the United States. It's not true, but I challenge anyone to say it is not a goal worth working for." -- Thurgood Marshall