Today is Saturday, Dec. 13, the 347th day of 2014 with 18 to follow.
The moon is waning. 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 Sagittarius. They include former U.S. first lady Mary Todd Lincoln in 1818; clergyman Phillips Brooks, who wrote the Christmas carol "O Little Town of Bethlehem," in 1835; World War I hero Sgt. Alvin York in 1887; actor Van Heflin in 1910; former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz in 1920 (age 94); baseball Hall of Fame member Larry Doby, the first American League African-American player, in 1923; comedian/actor/dancer Dick Van Dyke in 1925 (age 89); actor Christopher Plummer in 1929 (age 85); singer/actor John Davidson in 1941 (age 73); baseball Hall of Fame member Ferguson Jenkins in 1942 (age 72); political figure Herman Cain in 1945 (age 69); rock singer Ted Nugent in 1948 (age 66); actors Wendie Malick in 1950 (age 64), Steve Buscemi in 1957 (age 57), Johnny Whitaker in 1959 (age 55) and Jamie Foxx in 1967 (age 47); and singer Taylor Swift in 1989 (age 25).
On this date in history:
In 1642, Dutch navigator Abel Tasman discovered New Zealand.
In 1816, the United States' first savings bank, the Provident Institution for Savings, opened in Boston.
In 1862, Union troops suffered a major defeat in the Civil War battle of Fredericksburg. An estimated 12,000 northern soldiers were killed or wounded, about three times the toll suffered by Confederate forces.
In 1982, the Sentry armored car company in New York discovered the overnight theft of $11 million from its headquarters. It was the biggest cash theft in U.S. history at the time.
In 1992, Ricky Ray, 15, one of three hemophiliac brothers barred from attending a Florida school because they had the AIDS virus, died.
In 1998, in a non-binding referendum giving Puerto Ricans the opportunity to express a political preference, most voters indicated they wished to remain a U.S. commonwealth.
In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court halted the Florida presidential vote recount, in effect giving the presidency to Republican George W. Bush more than a month after the balloting. Winning Florida meant Bush had enough electoral votes to defeat Democrat Al Gore, who won the popular vote.
In 2001, during an extensive search for Osama bin Laden, the U.S. government released a tape of the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in which he voiced pleasure and surprise that so many of the "enemy" had died.
In 2002, Cardinal Bernard Law, under fire for allegedly protecting priests accused of abusing minors, resigned as Roman Catholic archbishop of Boston. (Pope John Paul II put Law in charge of a basilica in Rome in 2004.)
In 2003, a bearded and apparently disoriented Saddam Hussein, the deposed Iraqi president, was captured by U.S. troops in a small underground hideout southeast of his hometown of Tikrit, ending an eight-month manhunt.
In 2007, a landmark report implicated 89 U.S. Major League Baseball players, some of them prominent figures of the era, in the use of steroids and other illegal performance-enhancing drugs.
In 2009, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi suffered a broken nose and two broken teeth when struck by a heavy statuette wielded by a man with a history of mental illness during a political rally in Milan.
In 2011, Mario Monti, an economist and former EU commissioner, became Italy's prime minister, succeeding Silvio Berlusconi who resigned amid a deepening economic crisis.
In 2012, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice withdrew her name from consideration to replace Hillary Clinton as U.S. secretary of state. President Obama called Republican attacks on Rice "unfair and misleading."
In 2013, bomb explosions, arson attacks and other violence wracked Bangladesh, causing several fatalities, following the hanging of opposition leader Abdul Qader Mollah for war crimes committed four decades earlier.
A thought for the day: "He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree." -- clergyman-author Roy L. Smith