Today is Thursday, Dec. 15, the 349th day of 2011 with 16 to follow.
The moon is waning. 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 Sagittarius. They include the Roman emperor Nero in A.D. 37; French engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, builder of the Paris tower that bears his name and engineer of the Statue of Liberty, in 1832; Polish linguist Ludwik Zamenhof, creator of the international language Esperanto, in 1859; playwright Maxwell Anderson in 1888; billionaire oilman J. Paul Getty in 1892; bandleader Stan Kenton in 1911; pioneer rock 'n' roll disc jockey Alan Freed in 1921; comic actor Tim Conway in 1933 (age 78); rock musician Dave Clark in 1942 (age 69); and actors Don Johnson in 1949 (age 62); Helen Slater in 1963 (age 48), Garrett Wang in 1968 (age 43) and Adam Brody in 1979 (age 32).
On this date in history:
In 1791, the Bill of Rights, comprising the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, took effect.
In 1890, Sioux Indian leader Sitting Bull was killed in a skirmish with U.S. soldiers along the Grand River, S.D.
In 1891, Dr. James Naismith established first rules of basketball in Springfield, Mass.
In 1939, the film version of "Gone with the Wind" premiered in Atlanta.
In 1943, the Battle of San Pietro between U.S. forces and a German panzer battalion left the 700-year-old Italian town in ruins.
In 1948, a federal grand jury in New York indicted former U.S. State Department official Alger Hiss on perjury charges.
In 1954, what may be considered TV's first mini-series premiered. "Davy Crockett" aired in a series of five segments on Walt Disney's "Disneyland" show.
In 1961, Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi SS officer regarded as the architect of the World War II Jewish Holocaust, was condemned to death by an Israeli war crimes tribunal.
In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association reversed its longstanding position and declared that homosexuality isn't a mental illness.
Also in 1973, Jean Paul Getty III, grandson of U.S. billionaire J. Paul Getty, was found alive near Naples, five months after his kidnapping by an Italian gang.
In 1989, Panamanian lawmakers designated Gen. Manuel Noriega head of state and declared that a "state of war" existed with the United States.
In 1990, in a landmark right-to-die case, a Missouri judge cleared the way for the parents of Nancy Cruzan to remove their daughter from life-support systems.
In 1991, more than 400 people drowned when a ferry headed from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to Egypt sank in the Red Sea. About 150 people were rescued.
In 1992, the governor of Michigan signed a bill making assisted suicide a felony on the same day two chronically ill women killed themselves with the help of Jack Kevorkian.
Also in 1992, Salvadorans celebrated the formal end to their country's 12-year civil war.
Also in 1993, the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade ended with agreement on new global-trade regulations.
In 1997, 85 people were killed when a Tajik charter airliner crashed in the United Arab Emirates.
In 2000, first lady and senator-elect Hillary Clinton signed an $8 million book deal to write a memoir of her years in the White House.
In 2005, as many as 11 million Iraqis turned out to select their first permanent Parliament since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
In 2006, Al Jazeera English, the world's first English-language news TV channel with headquarters in the Middle East, was launched in Doha, Qatar.
In 2007, at the end of a two-week conference on climate change in Indonesia, delegates from 187 countries, including the United States, agreed to negotiate a new accord on global greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama ordered the federal government to take over the Thomson Correctional Center in Illinois for the housing of prisoners from Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, a major step toward closing the controversial penal facility.
In 2010, the United States sued BP, the British oil giant, and eight others over the massive months-long Gulf of Mexico oil spill, alleging violations of federal safety and operational regulations.
A thought for the day: the title of a poem by Stephane Mallarme is "A Throw of the Dice Will Never Abolish Chance."