Today is Wednesday, Dec. 16, the 351st day of 2020. There are 15 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Dec. 16, 2000, President-elect George W. Bush selected Colin Powell to become the first African American secretary of state.

On this date:

In 1773, the Boston Tea Party took place as American colonists boarded a British ship and dumped more than 300 chests of tea into Boston Harbor to protest tea taxes.

In 1809, the French Senate granted a divorce decree to Emperor Napoleon I and Empress Josephine (the dissolution was made final the following month).

In 1811, the first of the powerful New Madrid earthquakes struck the central Mississippi Valley with an estimated magnitude of 7.7.

In 1944, the World War II Battle of the Bulge began as German forces launched a surprise attack against Allied forces through the Ardennes Forest in Belgium and Luxembourg (the Allies were eventually able to turn the Germans back).

In 1950, President Harry S. Truman proclaimed a national state of emergency in order to fight “world conquest by 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 1980, Harland Sanders, founder of the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant chain, died in Shelbyville, Kentucky, at age 90.

In 1985, Organized-crime chief Paul Castellano and his bodyguard were shot to death outside a New York City restaurant on orders from John Gotti.

In 2001, after nine weeks of fighting, Afghan militia leaders claimed control of the last mountain bastion of Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida fighters, but bin Laden himself was nowhere to be seen.

Today’s Birthdays: Civil rights attorney and co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Morris Dees is 84. Actor Joyce Bulifant is 83. Actor Liv Ullmann is 82. CBS news correspondent Lesley Stahl is 79. Pop singer Benny Andersson (ABBA) is 74. Rock singer-musician Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top) is 71. Actor Sam Robards is 59. Actor Jon Tenney is 59. Actor Benjamin Bratt is 57. Country singer-songwriter Jeff Carson is 57. Actor-comedian JB Smoove is 55. Actor Stephan James is 27.