Today is Friday, Dec. 13, the 347th day of 2013. There are 18 days left in the year.
Highlights in history on this date:
1545 - Protestant princes opposing Holy Roman Emperor Charles V meet at Frankfurt.
1577 - Sir Francis Drake of England sets out with five ships on a nearly three-year journey that would take him around the world.
1642 - Dutch Mariner Abel Tasman discovers New Zealand.
1789 - Austrian Netherlands declares independence as Belgium.
1808 - Madrid capitulates to Napoleon Bonaparte.
1862 - Confederate forces deal Union troops a major defeat at the Battle of Fredericksburg in Virginia during the American Civil War.
1877 - Urged by Russia, Serbia launches a new war against Turkey, aimed at winning the remaining Slav-populated areas in southern Balkans.
1897 - Russian forces occupy Port Arthur on Yellow Sea.
1916 - About 9,000 Austro-Hungarian troops are killed in avalanche in the Alps.
1918 - U.S. President Woodrow Wilson arrives in France, becoming the first chief executive to visit Europe while in office.
1921 - United States, Britain, France and Japan sign Washington Treaty to respect each others' rights over insular possessions in Pacific.
1928 - George Gershwin's 'An American in Paris' is publicly performed for the first time at Carnegie Hall in New York.
1937 - Japanese troops take Nanking in China and proceed to massacre an estimated 300,000 Chinese civilians.
1944 - During World War II, the U.S. cruiser Nashville is badly damaged in a Japanese kamikaze suicide attack that claims 138 lives.
1950 - South Africa refuses to place Southwest Africa under U.N. trusteeship.
1957 - An estimated 1,062 people are killed by an earthquake in western Iran. Farsinaj, a village at the epicenter of the temblor, is completely destroyed.
1967 - Military government in Greece crushes countercoup, and King Constantine flees to Rome with his family.
1969 - Britain announces agreement to withdraw all its forces from Libya within next few months.
1972 - U.S. Apollo 17 astronauts, on last U.S. moon mission, unveil plaque dedicated to peace on lunar surface.
1974 - Egypt demands 50-year freeze on Israel's population as condition for peace in Middle East.
1981 - Communist authorities impose martial law in Poland to crush the Solidarity labor movement. Martial law formally ends in 1983.
1989 - South African President F.W. de Klerk meets for the first time with imprisoned African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela, at de Klerk's office in Cape Town.
1990 - African National Congress President Oliver Tambo arrives in South Africa after 30 years in exile; U.S. diplomats arrive in Frankfurt after four months holding out in the embassy in Kuwait City under Iraqi occupation.
1991 - Leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan agree that they will join new Commonwealth of Independent States.
1992 - Islamic militants kidnap an Israeli soldier in Lebanon and threaten to kill him if Sheik Ahmed Yassin, leader of the Hamas movement, is not freed from jail. The soldier is found dead two days later.
1994 - President Sam Nujoma and his governing party are declared winners of Namibia's first post-independence election.
1999 - New York City police officer Justin Volpe is sentenced to 30 years in prison for his part in sodomizing Haitian immigrant, Abner Louima, with a broken broomstick.
2001 - The United States formally withdraws from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty; In India, five suicide attackers storm Parliament, killing seven people. All of the attackers are eventually killed.
2003 - U.S. forces capture former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in a small underground hideout near the Iraqi city of Tikrit. Although Hussein was armed, no shots were fired as he was taken into custody.
2004 - Bucharest mayor and reformist opposition candidate Traian Basescu wins an unexpected victory in Romania's presidential runoff election, ending a decade of rule by successors to this country's former communist regime.
2006 - The U.N. Human Rights Council votes to send a team of investigators to the war-torn region of western Sudan to report on civilian deaths, rapes and destruction of villages.
2007 - EU leaders sign the "Lisbon Treaty," a slimmed-down version of the aborted EU constitution. The 50-article charter creates the post of EU president and overhauls voting rules.
2008 - The Indian navy captures 23 pirates who threatened a merchant vessel in the Gulf of Aden, and a German naval helicopter thwarts another attack on a freighter being chased by speedboats off Yemen.
2009 -- An attacker hurls a statuette at Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, striking the leader in the face at the end of a rally and leaving the stunned 73-year-old media mogul with a broken nose and bloodied mouth.
2010 -- Ukraine plans to open up the sealed zone around the Chernobyl reactor to visitors who wish to learn more about the nuclear disaster that occurred nearly a quarter of a century ago.
2011 -- Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and aerospace pioneer Burt Raton are building the world's biggest plane to help launch cargo and astronauts into space in the latest of several ventures fueled by technology tycoons clamoring to write the next chapter in U.S. space history
2012 -- A European court issues a landmark ruling that condemns the CIA's so-called extraordinary renditions programs and bolsters those who say they were illegally kidnapped and tortured as part of an overzealous fight against terrorism.
Heinrich Heine, German poet (1797-1856); Ernst Werner von Siemens, German engineer (1816-1892); Emily Carr, Canadian painter/writer (1871-1945); Carlos Montoya, Spanish-American flamenco guitarist (1903-1993); Christopher Plummer, Canadian-born actor (1929--); Dick Van Dyke, U.S. actor (1925--); Steve Buscemi, U.S. actor (1957--).
Thought For Today:
To know how to say what others only know how to think is what makes men poets or sages; and to dare to say what others only dare to think makes men martyrs or reformers -- or both -- Elizabeth Charles, British writer (1828-1896).