There are nine days left in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:
- On Dec. 22, 1858, opera composer Giacomo Puccini was born in Lucca, Italy.
On this date:
- In 1775, Esek Hopkins was appointed the commander-in-chief of the Continental Navy.
- In 1808, Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67, and Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68, also known as the "Pastoral Symphony," had their world premieres in Vienna, Austria.
- In 1864, during the Civil War, Union Gen. William T. Sherman wrote a message to President Abraham Lincoln which said in part: "I beg to present you as a Christmas-gift the city of Savannah."
- In 1894, French army officer Alfred Dreyfus was convicted of treason in a court-martial that triggered worldwide charges of anti-Semitism. (Dreyfus was eventually vindicated.)
- In 1944, during the World War II Battle of the Bulge, U.S. Brigadier General Anthony C. McAuliffe rejected a German demand for surrender, writing "Nuts!" in his official reply.
- In 1968, Julie Nixon married David Eisenhower in a private ceremony in New York.
- In 1977, three dozen people were killed when a 250-foot-high grain elevator at the Continental Grain Company plant in Westwego, La., exploded.
- In 1984, New York City resident Bernhard Goetz shot and wounded four youths on a Manhattan subway, claiming they were about to rob him.
- In 1988, Brazilian environmentalist Chico Mendes was shot and killed. (A rancher, Darly Alves da Silva, was sentenced in 1990 to 19 years in jail for ordering Mendes slain.)
- In 2001, Richard C. Reid, a passenger on an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami, tried to ignite explosives in his shoes, but was subdued by flight attendants and other passengers. (Reid is serving a life sentence.)
Ten years ago:
- A Chinese dissident (Qin Yongmin) was sentenced to prison for trying to organize an opposition party. (Qin remains in prison.)
Five years ago:
- A magnitude 6.5 earthquake hit California's central coast, killing two people.
- A federal judge ruled the Pentagon couldn't enforce mandatory anthrax vaccinations for military personnel.
- Colombian rebels freed four Israelis and a Briton held hostage for 101 days.
One year ago:
- A jury in Riverhead, N.Y., convicted John White, a black man, of second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Daniel Cicciaro, a white teenager, during a confrontation outside White's house. (The 17-year-old was shot in the face after he showed up with two carloads of friends to confront White's son after a dispute at a party.)
- Actress Barbara Billingsley is 93.
- Former House Speaker Jim Wright is 86.
- Actor Hector Elizondo is 72.
- Country singer Red Steagall is 70.
- Baseball Hall-of-Famer Steve Carlton is 64.
- ABC News correspondent Diane Sawyer is 63.
- Rock singer-musician Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick) is 62.
- Baseball All-Star Steve Garvey is 60.
- Singer Robin Gibb is 59.
- Golfer Jan Stephenson is 57.
- Actress BernNadette Stanis is 55.
- Rapper Luther Campbell is 48.
- Country singer-musician Chuck Mead (BR549) is 48.
- Actor Ralph Fiennes is 46.
- Actress Lauralee Bell is 40.
- Country singer Lori McKenna is 40.
- Actress Dina Meyer is 40.
- Actress Heather Donahue is 34.
- Actor Chris Carmack is 28.
- Singer Jordin Sparks ("American Idol") is 19.
Thought for Today:
"Anger makes dull men witty, but it keeps them poor."
Attributed to Queen Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603).
"Let's all be careful out there!"