Today is Monday, Dec. 22, the 356th day of 2014 with nine to follow.
The moon is waxing. 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 Capricorn. They include Nobel Peace Prize laureate Frank Kellogg in 1856; opera composer Giacomo Puccini in 1858; former Philadelphia Athletics Manager Connie Mack, the "dean of baseball," in 1862; British film executive J. Arthur Rank in 1888; former first lady Claudia "Lady Bird" Johnson, wife of U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, in 1912; TV game show host Gene Rayburn in 1917; actors Barbara Billingsley (June Cleaver in "Leave it to Beaver") in 1915 and Hector Elizondo in 1936 (age 78); baseball Hall of Fame member Steve Carlton in 1944 (age 70); former TV news anchor Diane Sawyer in 1945 (age 69); Rock and Roll Hall of fame members Robin and Maurice Gibb (Bee Gees) in 1949; actor Ralph Fiennes in 1962 (age 52); and singer Jordin Sparks in 1989 (age 25).
On this date in history:
In 1785, the American Continental Navy fleet was organized, consisting of two frigates, two brigs and three schooners. (Sailors were paid $8 a month.)
In 1864, after his Civil War march across Georgia, Union Gen. William T. Sherman sent U.S. President Abraham Lincoln this message: "I beg to present you as a Christmas present the city of Savannah."
In 1894, French Capt. Alfred Dreyfus was convicted of treason by a military court-martial on flimsy evidence in a highly irregular trial and sentenced to life in prison for his alleged crime of passing military secrets to the Germans. (Dreyfus was released from prison in 1899 and officially exonerated in 1906.)
In 1944, ordered to surrender by Nazi troops who had his unit trapped during the Battle of the Bulge, Gen. Anthony McAuliffe of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division replied with one word: "Nuts!"
In 1972, a series of earthquakes killed about 5,000 people and left the Nicaraguan capital of Managua in ruins.
In 1984, "subway vigilante" Bernard Goetz shot and wounded four would-be holdup men on a New York City subway. (He served eight months in prison for carrying an illegal weapon but was cleared of assault and attempted murder charges.)
In 1986, political dissident and Nobel laureate Andrei Sakharov and his wife, Yelena Bonner, were allowed to return to Moscow after seven years of internal exile.
In 1989, Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu, the last hard-line communist holdout against East Bloc reforms, fell from power in the face of massive demonstrations.
In 1992, all 158 people aboard a Libyan Boeing 727 died when the jetliner crashed, apparently following an in-flight collision with a military plane.
In 2001, American Airlines passengers and attendants overpowered a man trying to light a match to detonate powerful explosives hidden in his sneakers on a flight from Paris to Miami.
In 2005, Walmart was ordered to pay more than 100,000 California employees $172 million for depriving them of breaks to eat.
In 2006, rape charges against three former members of the Duke University lacrosse team were dropped after the alleged victim said she couldn't be sure she had been raped.
In 2008, a federal jury in New Jersey convicted five Muslim men of plotting to attack soldiers at Fort Dix, N.J., a plot prosecutors said was inspired by al-Qaida. The defendants were acquitted of attempted murder.
A thought for the day: "Minds are like parachutes. They only function when they are open." -- Scottish businessman Thomas Dewar