Today is the 357th day of 2012 and the second day of winter.
TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1864, Union Gen. William T. Sherman sent a message to President Abraham Lincoln that read, "I beg to present you as a Christmas gift the city of Savannah."
In 1990, Lech Walesa was sworn in as Poland's first directly elected president.
In 2001, the first cloned cat was born at Texas A&M University.
TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924), composer; Connie Mack (1862-1956), baseball manager; Peggy Ashcroft (1907-1991), actress; Lady Bird Johnson (1912-2007), first lady; Barbara Billingsley (1915-2010), actress; Steve Carlton (1944- ), baseball player; Diane Sawyer (1945- ), broadcaster; Ralph Fiennes (1962- ), actor; Jordin Sparks (1989- ), singer.
TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1971, the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Baltimore Bullets 127-120, winning their 27th straight game and breaking the record for consecutive wins in professional sports.
TODAY'S FACT: The five Great Lakes hold about 21 percent of all the fresh water on Earth.
TODAY'S QUOTE: "He who puts out his hand to stop the wheel of history will have his fingers crushed." -- Lech Walesa
TODAY'S NUMBER: 33 -- games the Lakers extended their 1971 winning streak to before losing 120-104 to the Milwaukee Bucks on Jan. 7, 1972.
TODAY'S MOON: Between first quarter moon (Dec. 20) and full moon (Dec. 28).