Today is Tuesday, Dec. 17, the 351st day of 2013 with 14 to follow.
The moon is waning. The morning stars are Jupiter, Mars, Mercury and Saturn. The evening stars are Neptune, Uranus and Venus.
Those born on this date are under the sign of Sagittarius. They include American Revolutionary War soldier Deborah Sampson, who fought as a man under the alias Robert Shurtlieff, in 1760; poet John Greenleaf Whittier in 1807; conductor Arthur Fiedler in 1894; novelist Erskine Caldwell and composer/bandleader Ray Noble, both in 1903; Western swing bandleader/violinist Spade Cooley in 1910; ice cream businessman Burt Baskin in 1913; writer William Safire in 1929; publisher Bob Guccione in 1930; actor George Lindsey in 1928; Pope Francis, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, in 1936 (age 77); British singer/actor Tommy Steele also in 1936 (age 77); blue musician Paul Butterfield in 1942; political commentator Chris Matthews and actor Ernie Hudson, both in 1945 (age 68); comedian Eugene Levy in 1946 (age 67); British rock singer Paul Rodgers in 1949 (age 64); actors Bill Pullman and Barry Livingston, both in 1953 (age 60) and Milla Jovovich in 1975 (age 38); boxer, politician and entertainer Manny Pacquiao in 1978 (age 35); and Bradley Manning, convicted of violating the Espionage Act by giving classified information to WikiLeaks, in 1987 (age 26).
On this date in history:
In 1790, the Aztec Calendar, or Solar Stone, was uncovered by workmen repairing Mexico City's Central Plaza.
In 1903, Orville Wright made history's first sustained airplane flight, lasting 12 seconds and covering 120 feet near Kitty Hawk, N.C. His brother Wilbur flew 852 feet later that day.
In 1925, U.S. Army Gen. William "Billy" Mitchell, outspoken advocate of a separate Air Force, was found guilty of conduct prejudicial to the good of the armed services. (He was awarded the Medal of Honor 20 years after his death.)
In 1939, the Nazi warship Graf Spee was scuttled off the coast of Uruguay as British vessels pursued it.
In 1944, the more than 110,000 Japanese-Americans who had been relocated from the West Coast shortly after the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor were told they would be allowed to return home Jan. 2.
In 1967, the Clean Air Act was passed by the U.S. Congress.
In 1975, a federal jury in Sacramento, Calif., sentenced Lynette Alice "Squeaky" Fromme to life in prison for her attempted assassination of U.S. President Gerald R. Ford. (She was released from prison in August 2009.)
In 1981, U.S. Army Brig. Gen. James Dozier was kidnapped in Rome by Italy's Red Brigades. (He was freed 42 days later in a raid by Italian anti-terrorist forces.)
In 1986, a Las Vegas federal jury awarded entertainer Wayne Newton $19.3 million in his defamation suit against NBC. A judge reduced the award to $5.3 million.
In 1989, "The Simpsons," which began as a section of "The Tracy Ullman Show," had its first stand-alone episode broadcast.
In 1990, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a radical Roman Catholic priest and opponent of the dictatorship of Jean-Claude Duvalier, was elected president of Haiti in a landslide victory.
In 1992, U.S. President George H.W. Bush and the leaders of Mexico and Canada formally signed the North American Free Trade Treaty.
In 1996, the United Nations elected Kofi Annan of Ghana as secretary-general.
In 1997, New Jersey became the first state in the United States to permit same-sex couples to adopt children.
In 2001, U.S. officials said they believed Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network in Afghanistan had been destroyed but it soon became evident that hundreds of bin Laden's men were escaping through the mountains into Pakistan.
In 2006, two large Virginia Episcopal parishes and several smaller churches in the state, upset over the consecration of an openly gay bishop and same-sex weddings in some congregations, voted to secede from the worldwide organization.
In 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama signed legislation that extended Bush-era tax cuts for two years and gave the unemployed another 13 months of benefits.
In 2011, the last U.S. troops in Iraq crossed the border into Kuwait at the end of almost nine years of war.
In 2012, U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, died at the age of 88. Inouye, a World War II Medal of Honor winner, was in the Senate since 1963 and had been a congressman before that.
A thought for the day: "He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in winter ... In winter the stars seem to have rekindled their fires, the moon achieves a fuller triumph and the heavens wear a look of a more exalted simplicity. -- John Burroughs