Today is Wednesday, Dec. 16, the 350th day of 2009. There are 15 days left in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:
On Dec. 16, 1773, the Boston Tea Party took place as American colonists boarded a British ship and dumped more than 300 chests of tea overboard to protest tea taxes.
On this date:
In 1653, Oliver Cromwell became lord protector of England, Scotland and Ireland.
In 1770, composer Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany.
In 1809, the French Senate granted a divorce decree to Emperor Napoleon I and Empress Josephine (the dissolution was made final the following month).
In 1859, Wilhelm Grimm, the younger of the story-writing Brothers Grimm, died in Berlin at age 73.
In 1907, 16 U.S. Navy battleships, which came to be known as the "Great White Fleet," set sail on a 14-month round-the-world voyage to demonstrate American sea power.
In 1909, Nicaraguan President Jose Santos Zelaya resigned in the face of a U.S.-backed revolution.
In 1944, the World War II Battle of the Bulge began as German forces launched a surprise attack against Allied forces in Belgium (the Allies were eventually able to beat the Germans back).
In 1950, President Harry S. Truman proclaimed a national state of emergency in order to fight "world conquest by Communist imperialism."
In 1976, the government halted its swine flu vaccination program following reports of paralysis apparently linked to the vaccine.
In 1991, the U.N. General Assembly rescinded its 1975 resolution equating Zionism with racism by a vote of 111-25.
Ten years ago: Israel and Syria ended two days of inconclusive peace talks in Washington and agreed to resume early in the new year. A second day of torrential rains and mudslides plagued Venezuela's Caribbean coast; the disaster left thousands dead.
Five years ago: Bobby Jo Stinnett, 23, of Skidmore, Mo., was found dying in her home, her unborn baby cut from her womb (Lisa Montgomery was later convicted of kidnapping resulting in death, and was sentenced to death). Britain's highest court dealt a huge blow to the government's anti-terrorism policy by ruling that it could not detain foreign suspects indefinitely without trial. Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein met with a lawyer for the first time since his capture a year earlier. Agnes Martin, one of the world's foremost abstract artists, died in Taos, N.M, at age 92.
One year ago: President-elect Barack Obama announced his choice of Arne Duncan to be his education secretary. The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to authorize nations to conduct land and air attacks on pirate bases on the coast of Somalia. The Cleveland Clinic announced its surgeons had performed the nation's first near-total face transplant on a severely disfigured woman. (The woman, Connie Culp, went public with her identity in May 2009.) Police in Hollywood, Fla., closed their investigation into the 1981 abduction-slaying of 6-year-old Adam Walsh, saying a serial killer who'd died more than a decade earlier in prison was responsible.
Today's Birthdays: Civil rights attorney Morris Dees is 73. Actress Joyce Bulifant is 72. Actress Liv Ullmann is 71. CBS news correspondent Lesley Stahl is 68. TV producer Steven Bochco is 66. Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons is 65. Pop musician Tony Hicks (The Hollies) is 64. Pop singer Benny Andersson (ABBA) is 63. Actor Ben Cross is 62. Rock singer-musician Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top) is 60. Rock musician Bill Bateman (The Blasters) is 58. Actress Alison LaPlaca is 50. Actor Sam Robards is 48. Actor Jon Tenney is 48. Actor Benjamin Bratt is 46. Country singer-songwriter Jeff Carson is 46. Actor Daniel Cosgrove is 39. R&B singer Michael McCary is 38. Country musician Chris Scruggs is 27. Actress Hallee Hirsh is 22. Actress Anna Popplewell is 21.
Thought for Today: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." _ British science-fiction author Arthur C. Clarke (born this date in 1917, died in 2008).