The Almanac, Celebrity Birthdays, Today in History, December 24 –

This is Tuesday, Dec. 24, the 358th day of 2013 with seven to follow.

The moon is waning. The morning stars are Jupiter, Mars, Mercury and Saturn. The evening stars are Neptune, Uranus and Venus.

Those born on this date are under the sign of Capricorn. They include English King John I in 1166; American diplomat Silas Deane in 1737; physician and chemist Benjamin Rush in 1745; frontiersman Christopher “Kit” Carson in 1809; English physicist and inventor James Prescott Joule in 1818; “Raggedy Ann” creator Johnny Gruelle in 1880; film director Michael Curtiz (“Casablanca”) in 1886; composer Harry Warren (“Lullaby of Broadway,” “Chattanooga Choo Choo“) in 1893; industrialist, moviemaker and aviator Howard Hughes in 1905; investigative journalist I.F. Stone in 1907; actor Ava Gardner in 1922; U.S. Army Gen. George Patton IV in 1923; author Mary Higgins Clark in 1929 (age 84); author/director Nicholas Meyer in 1945 (age 68); writer Christopher Buckley in 1952 (age 61); basketball commentator Jay Bilas in 1963 (age 50); actor Diedrich Bader in 1966 (age 47); pop singer Ricky Martin in 1971 (age 42); “Twilight” series author Stephenie Meyer in 1973 (age 40); and television and radio personality Ryan Seacrest in 1974 (age 39).

On this date in history:

In 1814, the Treaty of Ghent was signed by representatives of the United States and Britain, ending the War of 1812.

In 1851, the Library of Congress and part of the Capitol building in Washington were destroyed by fire.

In 1865, a group of Confederate veterans met in Pulaski, Tenn., to form a secret society they called the Ku Klux Klan.

In 1871, Giuseppe Verdi‘s opera “Aida” premiered in Cairo. It had been commissioned to commemorate the opening of the Suez Canal.

In 1906, Reginald A. Fessenden, a Canadian-born radio inventor, broadcast the first musical program, a female singer’s violin-accompanied “O Holy Night,” from Brant Rock, Mass. He had discovered the superheterodyne principle, the basis for modern radio receivers.

In 1942, German rocket engineers launched the first surface-to-surface guided missile.

In 1983, officials said one of the United States’ severest early season cold waves in history had claimed nearly 300 lives.

In 1989, Manuel Noriega, the object of U.S. invasion forces, took refuge at the Vatican Embassy in Panama City and asked for political asylum.

In 1990, the bells of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow rang to celebrate Christmas for the first time since the death of Lenin.

In 1992, U.S. President George H.W. Bush issued pardons to former Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger and five others involved in the Reagan administration’s Iran-Contra scandal.

In 1997, a French court convicted the international terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal of the 1975 killings of three men in Paris and sentenced him to life in prison.

In 2005, Hwang Woo-suk, a South Korean scientist whose research on stem cells and cloning won him international acclaim, resigned after admitting he fabricated his groundbreaking paper in which he said he created stem cell colonies from 11 patients.

In 2009, the U.S. Senate passed a landmark $871 billion national healthcare reform bill after months of proposals, debate and revisions, guaranteeing access to health insurance for about 31 million Americans. Differences in the Senate and House bills had to be resolved before a plan went to the president.

In 2010, with the peaking holiday travel rush and potential terrorists in mind, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration on Christmas Eve added insulated thermos jugs and coffee mugs to the list of items for special airport screening.

In 2012, an Afghan policewoman killed a U.S. adviser at police headquarters in Kabul. It was believed to be the first so-called Afghan insider attack by a woman.

A thought for the day: “To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.” — Calvin Coolidge

The Almanac, Celebrity Birthdays, Today in History, December 24 –

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