Today is Thursday, Dec. 23, the 357th day of 2010 with eight to follow.
The moon is waning. The morning stars are Venus and Mercury. The evening stars are Jupiter, Uranus, Saturn, Mars and Neptune.
Those born on this date are under the sign of Capricorn. They include Egyptologist Jean Francois Champollion, who deciphered the Rosetta Stone, in 1790; Mormon church founder Joseph Smith in 1805; poet Harriet Monroe, founder of Poetry magazine, in 1860; Manhattan restaurateur Vincent Sardi Sr. in 1885; British film executive J. Arthur Rank in 1888; actor James Gregory in 1911; former West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt in 1918 (age 92); actor Harry Guardino in 1925; bowling Hall of Fame member Dick Weber in 1929; Japanese Emperor Akihito in 1933 (age 77); football Hall of Fame member Paul Hornung in 1935 (age 75); rock 'n' roll Hall of Fame member Jorma Kaukonen in 1940 (age 70); singer-songwriter Tim Hardin in 1941; actor/comedian Harry Shearer in 1943 (age 67); marathon runner Bill Rodgers in 1947 (age 63); football Hall of Fame member Jack Ham and television executive Leslie Moonves, both in 1948 (age 62); political commentator William Kristol in 1952 (age 58); actors Susan Lucci in 1946 (age 64) and Corey Haim in 1971; rock musician Eddie Vedder in 1964 (age 46); French first lady Carla Bruni in 1967 (age 43).
On this date in history:
In 1620, construction began of the first permanent European settlement in New England, one week after the Mayflower arrived at Plymouth harbor in present day Massachusetts.
In 1783, Gen. George Washington resigned his commission with the U.S. Army and retired to Mount Vernon, Va. He became the new nation's first president in 1789.
In 1913, the U.S. Federal Reserve System was established.
In 1928, the National Broadcasting Company established a permanent U.S. coast-to-coast radio hookup.
In 1947, the transistor was invented, leading to a revolution in communications and electronics.
In 1948, former Prime Minister Hideki Tojo of Japan and six other Japanese war leaders were hanged in Tokyo under sentence of the Allied War Crimes Commission.
In 1973, the shah of Iran announced that the petroleum-exporting states of the Persian Gulf would double the price of their crude oil.
In 1987, Dick Rutan and Jeana Yaeger landed the experimental aircraft Voyager at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., completing a record nine-day, 25,012-mile global flight without refueling.
In 1992, the first U.S. casualties of the U.S.-led relief operation in Somalia occurred when a vehicle hit a land mine near the city of Badera, killing one civilian and injuring three others.
In 1995, more than 500 people were killed in Mandi Dabwali, India, when fire engulfed a tent set up for a school ceremony.
In 1997, Terry Nichols, the second defendant in the Oklahoma City bombing trial, was convicted of conspiracy and involuntary manslaughter by a federal jury in Denver.
In 2002, North Korea, preparing to resume development of nuclear weapons, said it was reopening a plutonium reprocessing plant.
In 2003, the first case of mad cow disease was reported in the United States when a Holstein in Washington state tested positive for the ailment.
In 2004, China reported its Bohai Bay Basin in the north may contain 20.5 billion tons of offshore oil reserves.
In 2006, the U.N. Security Council banned Iranian export and import of nuclear-related material and technology and froze some financial assets related to the nuclear program. Iran promptly condemned the sanctions.
In 2007, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said a "full scale war" was raging in Gaza against Palestinian insurgents. Olmert dismissed earlier talk of a cease-fire.
In 2008, officials in Guinea's army announced the country's government had been dissolved and the constitution suspended after the death of President Lansana Conte, who had ruled the African nation for 24 years.
Also in 2008, nearly 200 passengers trapped for hours on the world's biggest Ferris wheel in Singapore had to be lowered to the ground by safety harness from the 42-story ride after it suddenly shuddered to a stop.
In 2009, American Airlines Flight 331 overshot a runway and crashed into a fence at rainy Norman Manley International Airport near Kingston, Jamaica. Forty passengers were injured but, the airline said, none seriously.
Also in 2009, Mexico City voters approved a sweeping gay rights measure allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt children.
A thought for the day: Anatole France wrote, "People who have no weaknesses are terrible; there is no way of taking advantage of them."