Today is Sunday, Dec. 16, the 351st day of 2012. 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 into Boston Harbor to protest tea taxes.
On this date:
In 1653, Oliver Cromwell became lord protector of England, Scotland and Ireland.
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 1811, the first of the powerful New Madrid earthquakes struck the central Mississippi Valley with an estimated magnitude of 7.7.
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 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 1951, a Miami Airlines Curtiss C-46 Commando crashed just after takeoff from Newark Airport in New Jersey, killing all 56 people on board.
In 1960, 134 people were killed when a United Air Lines DC-8 and a TWA Super Constellation collided over New York City.
In 1962, Nepal's Panchayat Constitution was proclaimed.
In 1976, the government halted its swine flu vaccination program following reports of paralysis apparently linked to the vaccine.
In 1982, Environmental Protection Agency head Anne M. Gorsuch became the first Cabinet-level officer to be cited for contempt of Congress for refusing to submit documents requested by a congressional committee.
In 1987, the romantic comedy-drama "Moonstruck," starring Cher and Nicolas Cage, was released in New York City, the film's setting.
In 1991, the U.N. General Assembly rescinded its 1975 resolution equating Zionism with racism by a vote of 111-25.
Ten years ago: President George W. Bush named former New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean (kayn) to replace Henry Kissinger as head of the panel investigating the September 11 terror attacks. Senate Republican leader Trent Lott, in an interview on Black Entertainment Television, asked black Americans to forgive his seeming nostalgia for segregation. Canada ratified the Kyoto Protocol on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. A threatened New York City transit strike was averted. A jury in Baltimore acquitted former altar boy Dontee Stokes of attempted murder in the shooting of a Roman Catholic priest he'd claimed molested him a decade earlier.
Five years ago: British forces formally handed over to Iraq responsibility for Basra, the last Iraqi region under their control. Turkish warplanes hit Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq, the largest aerial attack in years against the separatist group. Singer-songwriter Dan Fogelberg died in Deer Isle, Maine, at age 56.
One year ago: Former Penn State graduate assistant Mike McQueary testified that he believed he saw ex-assistant coach Jerry Sandusky molesting a boy and that he fully conveyed what he had seen to two Penn State administrators; a judge sent the cases of Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, accused of lying to a grand jury, to trial. An investigative report showed that thousands of children suffered sexual abuse in Dutch Roman Catholic institutions over the past 65 years, and that church officials failed to adequately address the abuse or help the victims. In San Francisco, eight years of being investigated for steroid allegations ended for home run king Barry Bonds with a 30-day sentence to be served at home.
Today's Birthdays: Civil rights attorney Morris Dees is 76. Actress Joyce Bulifant is 75. Actress Liv Ullmann is 74. CBS news correspondent Lesley Stahl is 71. TV producer Steven Bochco is 69. Former Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons is 68. Pop musician Tony Hicks (The Hollies) is 67. Pop singer Benny Andersson (ABBA) is 66. Actor Ben Cross is 65. Rock singer-musician Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top) is 63. Rock musician Bill Bateman (The Blasters) is 61. Actor Xander Berkeley is 57. Actress Alison LaPlaca is 53. Actor Sam Robards is 51. Actor Jon Tenney is 51. Actor Benjamin Bratt is 49. Country singer-songwriter Jeff Carson is 49. Actor Daniel Cosgrove is 42. Rhythm-and-blues singer Michael McCary is 41. Actor Jonathan Scarfe is 37. Actress Krysten Ritter (TV: "Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23") is 31. Country musician Chris Scruggs is 30. Actress Amanda Setton is 27. Actress Hallee Hirsh is 25. Actress Anna Popplewell is 24.
Thought for Today: "Somewhere in the world there is an epigram for every dilemma." — Hendrik Willem Van Loon, Dutch-born journalist and lecturer (1882-1944).
(Above Advance for Use Sunday, Dec. 16)
Copyright 2012, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.