Today is Friday, Dec. 18, the 352nd day of 2015. There are 13 days left in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:
On Dec. 18, 1915, President Woodrow Wilson, whose first wife, Ellen, had died the year before, married Edith Bolling Galt, a widow, at her Washington home.
On this date:
In 1787, New Jersey became the third state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.
In 1863, in a speech to the Prussian Parliament, Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck declared, "Politics is not an exact science."
In 1865, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery, was declared in effect by Secretary of State William H. Seward.
In 1892, Tchaikovsky's ballet "The Nutcracker" publicly premiered in St. Petersburg, Russia.
In 1912, fossil collector Charles Dawson reported to the Geological Society of London his discovery of supposed early human remains at a gravel pit in Piltdown. (More than four decades later, Piltdown Man was exposed as a hoax.)
In 1940, Adolf Hitler ordered secret preparations for Nazi Germany to invade the Soviet Union. (Operation Barbarossa was launched in June 1941.)
In 1944, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the government's wartime evacuation of people of Japanese descent from the West Coast while at the same time unanimously agreeing that "concededly loyal" Americans of Japanese ancestry could not continue to be detained.
In 1958, the world's first communications satellite, SCORE (Signal Communication by Orbiting Relay Equipment), nicknamed "Chatterbox," was launched by the United States aboard an Atlas rocket.
In 1969, Britain's House of Lords joined the House of Commons in making permanent a 1965 ban on the death penalty for murder.
In 1972, the United States began heavy bombing of North Vietnamese targets during the Vietnam War. (The bombardment ended 11 days later.)
In 1980, former Soviet Premier Alexei N. Kosygin died at age 76.
In 1992, Kim Young-sam was elected South Korea's first civilian president in three decades.
Ten years ago: In a televised speech, President George W. Bush declared that Iraq's parliamentary elections signaled the birth of democracy in the Middle East. Vice President Dick Cheney made a surprise visit to Iraq, where he faced tough questions from battle-weary troops. Susanne Osthoff, a German aid worker kidnapped in Iraq, was freed after three weeks in captivity. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a mild stroke.
Five years ago: The U.S. Senate approved repeal of the military's 17-year "don't ask, don't tell" ban on openly gay troops in a 65-31 vote. (President Barack Obama later signed it into law.) Skier Lindsey Vonn was named the 2010 Female Athlete of the Year as chosen by members of The Associated Press.
One year ago: Sternly warning the West it could not defang the metaphorical Russian bear, President Vladimir Putin promised to shore up the plummeting ruble and revive the economy within two years. Mandy Rice-Davies, 70, a key figure in the "Profumo Scandal" that rocked Cold War Britain, died in London. Actress Virna Lisi, 78, died in Rome. "The Colbert Report" came to an end after nine years on Comedy Central (host Stephen Colbert went on to become the host of CBS' "Late Show.")
Today's Birthdays: Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark is 88. Actor-producer Roger Smith is 83. Blues musician Lonnie Brooks is 82. Actor Roger Mosley is 77. Rock singer-musician Keith Richards is 72. Writer-director Alan Rudolph is 72. Movie producer-director Steven Spielberg is 69. Blues artist Ron Piazza is 68. Movie director Gillian Armstrong is 65. Movie reviewer Leonard Maltin is 65. Rock musician Elliot Easton is 62. Actor Ray Liotta is 60. Comedian Ron White is 59. R&B singer Angie Stone is 54. Actor Brad Pitt is 52. Professional wrestler-turned-actor "Stone Cold" Steve Austin is 51. Actor Shawn Christian is 50. Actress Rachel Griffiths is 47. Singer Alejandro Sanz is 47. Actor Casper Van Dien (TV: "Mortal Kombat") is 47. Country/rap singer Cowboy Troy is 45. Rapper DMX is 45. International Tennis Hall of Famer Arantxa Sanchez Vicario is 44. DJ Lethal (Limp Bizkit) is 43. Pop singer Sia is 40. Country singer Randy Houser is 39. Actor Josh Dallas is 37. Actress Katie Holmes is 37. Actor Ravi Patel (TV: "Grandfathered") is 37. Singer Christina Aguilera is 35. Christian rock musician Dave Luetkenhoelter (Kutless) is 33. Actress Ashley Benson is 26. Actress-singer Bridgit Mendler is 23. Actress Isabella Cramp is 11.
Thought for Today: "Whoever wants to be a judge of human nature should study people's excuses." -- Christian Friedrich Hebbel, German poet and dramatist (1813-1863).