Today is Wednesday, Sept. 15, the 259th day of 2004. There are 107 days left in the year. The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, begins at sunset.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Sept. 15, 1963, four black girls were killed when a bomb went off during Sunday services at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala. (Three Ku Klux Klansmen were eventually convicted for their roles in the blast.)

On this date:

In 1776, British forces occupied New York City during the American Revolution.

In 1789, the U.S. Department of Foreign Affairs was renamed the Department of State.

In 1821, independence was proclaimed for Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador.

In 1857, William Howard Taft - who served as president of the United States and as U.S. chief justice - was born in Cincinnati, Ohio.

In 1917, Russia was proclaimed a republic by Alexander Kerensky, the head of a provisional government.

In 1935, the Nuremberg Laws deprived German Jews of their citizenship and made the swastika the official symbol of Nazi Germany.

In 1940, during the Battle of Britain in World War II, the tide turned as the Luftwaffe sustained heavy losses inflicted by the Royal Air Force.

In 1950, during the Korean conflict, United Nations forces landed at Inchon in the south and began their drive toward Seoul.

In 1959, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev arrived in the U.S. to begin a 13-day visit.

In 1982, Iran's former foreign minister, Sadegh Ghotbzadeh, was executed after he was convicted of plotting against the government.

Ten years ago: In a terse ultimatum from the Oval Office, President Clinton told Haiti's military leaders in a prime-time address: "Your time is up. Leave now or we will force you from power."

Five years ago: One month after being charged in the United States with laundering suspected drug payoffs, Mexico's former top drug prosecutor, Mario Ruiz Massieu, was found dead in his New Jersey apartment, an apparent suicide. Larry Ashbrook opened fire in a Fort Worth, Texas, Baptist church, killing seven people and himself.

One year ago: A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals halted California's recall election, saying it was unacceptable for several counties to use punch-card ballots. (A larger panel of eleven judges from the 9th Circuit later ordered the election to go forward.) The WUSA soccer league shut down operations five days before the Women's World Cup, saying it didn't have enough money to stay in business for a fourth season.

Today's Birthdays: Bluesman Snooky Pryor is 83. Actor-director Jackie Cooper is 82. Singer-musician Bobby Short is 80. Actor Forrest Compton is 79. Comedian Norm Crosby is 77. Actor Henry Darrow is 71. Baseball Hall-of-Famer Gaylord Perry is 66. Football Hall-of-Famer Merlin Olsen is 64. Opera singer Jessye Norman is 59. Actor Tommy Lee Jones is 58. Movie director Oliver Stone is 58. Actress Wendie Jo Sperber is 46. Rock musician Mitch Dorge (Crash Test Dummies) is 44. Former football player Dan Marino is 43. Actor Danny Nucci is 36. Rap DJ Kay Gee is 35. Rock musician Allen Shellenberger (Lit) is 35. Actor Josh Charles is 33. Singer Ivette Sosa (Eden's Crush) is 28. Britain's Prince Henry of Wales is 20.

Thought for Today: "God made the world round so we would never be able to see too far down the road." - Isak Dinesen, Danish author (1885-1962).

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