Today's Highlight in History:
One hundred years ago， on December 16th， 1899， Sir Noel Coward， the English actor， playwright and composer， was born in London.
On this date:
In 1653， Oliver Cromwell became lord protector of England， Scotland and Ireland.
In 1770， composer Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn， Germany.
In 1773， the Boston Tea Party took place as American colonists boarded a British ship and dumped more than 300 chests of tea overboard to protest tea taxes.
In 1809， Napoleon Bonaparte was divorced from the Empress Josephine by an act of the French Senate.
In 1916， Gregory Rasputin， the monk who'd wielded powerful influence over the Russian court， was murdered by a group of noblemen.
In 1944， the World War Two Battle of the Bulge began as German forces launched a surprise counter-attack against Allied forces in Belgium.
In 1950， President Truman proclaimed a national state of emergency in order to fight "Communist imperialism."
In 1960， 134 people were killed when a United Air Lines DC-8 and a TWA Super Constellation collided over New York City.
In 1985， reputed organized-crime chief Paul Castellano was shot to death outside a New York City restaurant.
In 1991， the UN General Assembly rescinded its 1975 resolution equating Zionism with racism by a vote of 111-to-25.
Ten years ago: Federal appeals court judge Robert S. Vance was killed by a mail bomb at his Alabama home. (Walter Leroy Moody Junior was later sentenced to death for killing Vance， and received seven life terms on federal charges in that killing and the death of civil rights attorney Robert E. Robinson.)
Five years ago: The White House and Republicans traded barbs over whose tax plan was fairer to the middle class， a day after President Clinton presented a package of proposed tax cuts. White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers announced she was leaving her job at the end of the year.
One year ago: President Clinton ordered a sustained series of airstrikes against Iraq by American and British forces in response to Saddam Hussein's continued defiance of UN weapons inspectors. The House delayed a debate set to begin the next day on four articles of impeachment against President Clinton.
"I love criticism just so long as it's unqualified praise."
-- Sir Noel Coward (1899-1973).