Today is Wednesday, Dec. 13, the 347th day of 2017 with 18 to follow.
The moon is waning. The morning stars are Jupiter, Mars and Venus. The evening stars are Mercury and Uranus.
Those born on this date are under the sign of Sagittarius. They include former U.S. first lady Mary Todd Lincoln in 1818; World War I hero Sgt. Alvin York in 1887; former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz in 1920 (age 97); 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 92); actor Christopher Plummer in 1929 (age 88); singer/actor John Davidson in 1941 (age 76); baseball Hall of Fame member Ferguson Jenkins in 1942 (age 75); political figure Herman Cain in 1945 (age 72); rock singer Ted Nugent in 1948 (age 69); actor Wendie Malick in 1950 (age 67); actor Steve Buscemi in 1957 (age 60); actor Johnny Whitaker in 1959 (age 58); actor Jamie Foxx in 1967 (age 50); rock musician Tom DeLonge (Blink-182) in 1975 (age 42); rock singer Amy Lee in 1981 (age 36); golfer Rickie Fowler in 1988 (age 29); singer Taylor Swift in 1989 (age 28); actor Maisy Stella in 2003 (age 14).
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 1937, the Nanking Massacre began, during which Japanese troops killed between 40,000 and 300,000 Chinese civilians and soldiers. The episode lasted six weeks as part of the Second Sino-Japanese War.
In 1981, martial law was imposed in Poland.
In 1982, the Sentry armored car company in New York discovered the overnight theft of $8 million from its headquarters. It was the biggest cash theft in U.S. history at the time.
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. Winning Florida meant that Republican George W. Bush had enough electoral votes to defeat Democrat Al Gore.
In 2000, seven inmates -- later dubbed the "Texas Seven" -- escaped from prison, sparking a six-week manhunt. The men robbed a sporting-goods store on Christmas Eve, killing a police officer.
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 sustained 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 2012, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice withdrew her name from consideration to replace Hillary Clinton as U.S. secretary of state. President Barack 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