Today is Sunday, Dec. 18, the 353rd day of 2016. There are 13 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History

On Dec. 18, 1916, during World War I, the 10-month Battle of Verdun ended with French troops succeeding in repulsing a major German offensive.

On this date

1787— New Jersey became the third state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

1863— In a speech to the Prussian Parliament, Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck declared, "Politics is not an exact science."

1865— The 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery, was declared in effect by Secretary of State William H. Seward.

1892— Tchaikovsky's ballet "The Nutcracker" publicly premiered in St. Petersburg, Russia.

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.)

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 ruling that "concededly loyal" Americans of Japanese ancestry could not continue to be detained.

1956— Japan was admitted to the United Nations.

1962— "Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol," an animated musical adaptation of the Charles Dickens story, first aired on NBC-TV.

1966— The animated TV special "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" starring Boris Karloff as the narrator as well as the voice of the Grinch, first aired on CBS.

1972— The United States began heavy bombing of North Vietnamese targets during the Vietnam War. (The bombardment ended 11 days later.)

1992— Kim Young-sam was elected South Korea's first civilian president in three decades.

2012— The Greater Rome Convention and Visitors Bureau estimated that the 2012 NAIA National Championship football game generated close to $1.1 million for the local economy.

Thought for today

'When you make a world tolerable for yourself, you make a world tolerable for others.'

Anais Nin French-born author

(1903-1977)

Five years ago

The last convoy of heavily armored U.S. troops left Iraq, crossing into Kuwait in darkness in the final moments of a nine-year war.

One year ago

Congress ended a chaotic year on a surprising note of bipartisan unity and productivity as it overwhelmingly approved a massive 2016 tax and spending package and sent it to President Barack Obama, who promptly signed it.

United Nations Security Council members unanimously approved a resolution endorsing a peace process for Syria.

Today's Birthdays

Blues musician Lonnie Brooks is 83. Rock singer-musician Keith Richards is 73. Movie producer-director Steven Spielberg is 70. Rock musician Elliot Easton is 63. Actor Ray Liotta is 61. Comedian Ron White is 60. Actor Brad Pitt is 53. Professional wrestler-turned-actor "Stone Cold" Steve Austin is 52. Singer Alejandro Sanz is 48. Actor Casper Van Dien is 48. Country/rap singer Cowboy Troy is 46. Rapper DMX is 46. DJ Lethal (Limp Bizkit) is 44. Pop singer Sia is 41. Actress Katie Holmes is 38. Actor Ravi Patel is 38. Singer Christina Aguilera is 36. Actress Ashley Benson is 27. Actress-singer Bridgit Mendler is 24. Actress Isabella Cramp is 12.