Today is Thursday, Dec. 16, the 351st day of 2004 with 15 to follow.
The moon is waxing. The morning stars are Mercury, Pluto, Jupiter, Saturn, Venus and Mars. The evening stars are Uranus and Neptune.
Those born on this date are under the sign of Sagittarius. They include Catherine of Aragon, the first wife of England's King Henry VIII, in 1485; German composer Ludwig von Beethoven in 1770; novelist Jane Austen in 1775; philosopher George Santayana in 1863; playwright and composer Noel Coward in 1899; anthropologist Margaret Mead in 1901; science fiction novelist Arthur C. Clarke in 1917 (age 87); actor/pianist Steve Allen in 1921; actress Liv Ullmann in 1939 (age 65); journalist Leslie Stahl in 1941 (age 63); TV producer Steven Bochco in 1943 (age 61); former football player William "The Refrigerator" Perry in 1962 (age 42); and actor Benjamin Bratt in 1963 (age 41).
On this date in history:
In 1773, some 50 American patriots, protesting the British tax on tea, dumped 342 chests of tea into Boston harbor in "The Boston Tea Party."
In 1835, a fire swept New York City, razing 600 buildings and causing $20 million damage.
In 1893, Anton Dvorak's "New World Symphony" premiered at New York's Carnegie Hall.
In 1913, British actor Charles Chaplin reported to work at Keystone Studios in Hollywood to launch a legendary film career.
In 1944, Germany launched a great counter-offensive in World War II that became known as "The Battle of the Bulge."
In 1953, Chuck Yeager set a new airborne speed record when he flew a Bell X-1A rocket-fueled plane over 1,600 miles an hour.
In 1960, 131 people were killed when two planes collided over foggy New York harbor.
In 1989, U.S. District Appeals Court Judge Robert Vance was killed by a package bomb at his Alabama home.
In 1990, a Roman Catholic priest, the Rev. Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was elected president of Haiti in that nation's first fully free vote since the 1986 fall of the "Baby Doc" Duvalier regime.
In 1991, the U.N. General Assembly repealed a resolution equating Zionism with racism. It had been a major stumbling block in achieving peace in the Middle East.
In 1993, President Clinton named Bobby Ray Inman to succeed Les Aspin as secretary of defense. Aspin's resignation had been announced the day before.
In 1996, the Citadel was rocked when female cadets accused their male counterparts of harassment.
In 1997, more than 700 children in Japan were hospitalized after a televised cartoon triggered a condition called "light epilepsy" or "Nintendo epilepsy," which is caused by intense flashes of light viewed from close to the source.
Also in 1997, the highest wind speed ever measured -- 236 mph -- was recorded at Anderson Air Force Base in Guam as Typhoon Paka slammed into the Pacific island.
In 1998, U.S. and British jetfighters began a four-night campaign of bombing more than 100 Iraqi military targets. The long threatened action came after the allies concluded Iraq would not cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors.
Also in 1998, U.S. prosecutors indicted five more men in the August 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania.
In 2001, police in India said four suspects in custody had named Pakistan-based terrorist groups as being responsible for the Dec. 13 attack on the Indian Parliament building in New Delhi that left 14 dead.
In 2002, President George W. Bush named former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean to lead the commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Also in 2002, North Korea blamed the United States for using humanitarian aid to disarm the famine-hit country, saying it would not accept such aid if political conditions are attached.
In 2003, Saddam Hussein, the captured former Iraqi president, denied playing any direct role in planning attacks on coalition troops, according to reports.
Also in 2003, President George W. Bush signed legislation authorizing the creation of a museum honoring African Americans.
A thought for the day: it was George Santayana who said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."