December 13, 2016 GMT

Today is Tuesday, Dec. 13, the 348th day of 2016. There are 18 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History

On Dec. 13, 1981, authorities in Poland imposed martial law in a crackdown on the Solidarity labor movement. (Martial law formally ended in 1983.)

On this date

1642— Dutch navigator Abel Tasman sighted present-day New Zealand.

1769— Dartmouth College in New Hampshire received its charter.

1862— Union forces led by Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside launched futile attacks against entrenched Confederate soldiers during the Civil War Battle of Fredericksburg; the soundly defeated Northern troops withdrew two days later.


1918— President Woodrow Wilson arrived in France, becoming the first chief executive to visit Europe while in office.

1928— George Gershwin’s "An American in Paris" had its premiere at Carnegie Hall in New York.

1937— The Chinese city of Nanjing fell to Japanese forces; what followed was a massacre of war prisoners, soldiers and citizens. (China maintains as many as 300,000 people were killed; Japan says the toll was far less.)

1944— During World War II, the light cruiser USS Nashville was badly damaged in a Japanese kamikaze attack off Negros Island in the Philippines that claimed 133 lives.

1962— The United States launched Relay 1, a communications satellite which retransmitted television, telephone and digital signals.

1974— Malta became a republic. George Harrison visited the White House, where he met President Gerald R. Ford.

1994— An American Eagle commuter plane crashed short of Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina, killing 15 of the 20 people on board.

1996— The U.N. Security Council chose Kofi Annan of Ghana to become the world body’s seventh secretary-general.

2003— Saddam Hussein was captured by U.S. forces while hiding in a hole under a farmhouse in Adwar, Iraq, near his hometown of Tikrit.

Thought for today

‘My theory is to enjoy life, but the practice is against it.’

Charles Lamb

English essayist (1775-1834)

Five years ago

Early sound recordings by Alexander Graham Bell that were packed away at the Smithsonian Institution for more than a century were played publicly for the first time using new technology that read the sound with light and a 3D camera. (In one recording, a man recites part of Hamlet’s Soliloquy; on another, a voice recites the numbers 1 through 6.)


One year ago

Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Front collapsed in French regional elections, failing to take a single region after dominating the first round of voting.

A bomb in a market killed at least 22 Shiites in Pakistan’s Kurram tribal region.

Today’s Birthdays

Actor-comedian Dick Van Dyke is 91. Actor Christopher Plummer is 87. Country singer Buck White is 86. Singer Ted Nugent is 68. Country singer-musician Randy Owen is 67. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is 63. Singer-actor Morris Day is 60. Actor Steve Buscemi is 59. Actress-reality TV star NeNe Leakes is 50. Actor-comedian Jamie Foxx is 49. Rock singer-musician Thomas Delonge is 41. Rock singer Amy Lee (Evanescence) is 35. Country singer Taylor Swift is 27. Actress Maisy Stella is 13. Rome High School 10th-grader Mai’Asia Johnson, daughter of Monique Livingston and Ronald Johnson Sr. of Rome, is 16.