Today is Thursday, Sept. 9, the 253rd day of 2004. There are 113 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Sept. 9, 1776, the second Continental Congress made the name United States official, replacing United Colonies.

On this date:

In 1850, California became the 31st state of the union.

In 1926, the National Broadcasting Co. was created by the Radio Corporation of America.

In 1943, Allied forces landed at Salerno and Taranto during World War II.

In 1948, the People's Democratic Republic of Korea (North Korea) was created.

In 1956, Elvis Presley made the first of three appearances on "The Ed Sullivan Show."

In 1957, President Eisenhower signed into law the first civil rights bill to pass Congress since Reconstruction.

In 1971, prisoners seized control of the maximum-security Attica Correctional Facility near Buffalo, N.Y., beginning a siege that ended up claiming 43 lives.

In 1976, Communist Chinese leader Mao Tse-tung died in Beijing at age 82.

In 1993, PLO leaders and Israel agreed to recognize each other, clearing the way for a peace accord.

In 1997, Sinn Fein, the IRA's political ally, formally renounced violence as it took its place in talks on Northern Ireland's future.

Ten years ago: The United States agreed to accept at least 20,000 Cuban immigrants a year in return for Cuba's promise to halt the flight of refugees. Prosecutors in Los Angeles said they would not seek the death penalty against O.J. Simpson. The space shuttle Discovery blasted off on an 11-day mission.

Five years ago: Former Republican Sen. John Danforth opened an independent inquiry into the 1993 siege of the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas. A massive explosion tore apart a Moscow apartment building, killing about 100 people. Israel released 199 Palestinian security prisoners as part of a new peace deal. Baseball Hall-of-Fame pitcher Jim "Catfish" Hunter died in Hertford, N.C., at age 53. Actress Ruth Roman died in Laguna Beach, Calif., at age 75.

One year ago: The Boston Roman Catholic Archdiocese agreed to pay $85 million to 552 people to settle clergy sex abuse cases. France's leading undertaker estimated the country's death toll from a summer heat wave at 15,000. Twin Palestinian suicide bombings killed 16 Israelis. Nuclear scientist Edward Teller died at age 95.

Today's Birthdays: Actor Cliff Robertson is 79. Actress Sylvia Miles is 72. Actor Topol is 69. Rhythm and blues singer Luther Simmons is 62. Singer Inez Foxx is 62. Singer Dee Dee Sharp is 59. Singer-musician Billy Preston is 58. Rock singer-musician Doug Ingle is 58. Country singer Freddy Weller is 57. Football commentator Joe Theismann is 55. Actor Tom Wopat is 53. Actress Angela Cartwright is 52. Musician-producer Dave Stewart is 52. Actor Hugh Grant is 44. Actor Adam Sandler is 38. Actor David Bennent is 38. Rock singer Paul Durham (Black Lab) is 36. Rapper Dray (Das EFX) is 34. Actor Goran Visnjic is 32. Actress Michelle Williams is 24.

Thought for Today: "Neurosis is the way of avoiding non-being by avoiding being." - Paul Tillich, American theologian (1886-1965).

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