The Almanac

United Press International

Today is Wednesday, Sept. 15, the 259th day of 2004 with 107 to follow.

Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown.


The moon is waxing. The morning stars are Mercury, Mars, Venus and Saturn. The evening stars are Jupiter, Pluto, Uranus and Neptune.

Those born on this date in history are under the sign of Leo. They include novelist James Fenimore Cooper in 1789; William Howard Taft, 27th president of the United States, in 1857; humorist Robert Benchley in 1889; mystery writer Agatha Christie in 1890; country music star Roy Acuff in 1903; actress Fay Wray ("King Kong" ) in 1907; actor Jackie Cooper in 1922 (age 82); singer/pianist Bobby Short in 1926 (age 78); comedian Norm Crosby in 1927 (age 77; jazz saxophone player Julian "Cannonball" Adderly in 1928; football player-turned-actor Merlin Olsen in 1940 (age 64); soprano Jessye Norman in 1945 (age 59); filmmaker Oliver Stone and actor Tommy Lee Jones, both in 1946 (age 58); and Prince Henry, called "Harry," second son of Britain's Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, in 1984 (age 20).


On this date in history:

In 1812, the Russians set fire to Moscow in a bid to keep out Napoleon and his invading French troops.

In 1942, the armies of Nazi Germany began their siege of the Russian city of Stalingrad, now called Volgograd.

In 1954, the famous scene in which Marilyn Monroe is shown laughing as her skirt is blown up by a blast of air from a subway vent was shot during the filming of "The Seven Year Itch." The scene infuriated her husband, Joe DiMaggio, who felt it was exhibitionist. The couple were divorced a short time later.

In 1963, four black girls were killed in the bombing of a church in Birmingham, Ala. Two black teenage boys were shot to death later that day as citywide rioting broke out.

In 1971, the environmental organization Greenpeace was founded by 12 members of the Don't Make A Wave committee of Vancouver, Canada.

In 1972, two former White House aides and five other men were indicted on charges of conspiracy in the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C., which began the Watergate scandal.

In 1989, the Exxon Corp. halted its billion-dollar oil spill cleanup effort in Alaska's Prince William Sound as winter approached.


In 1992, the grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan's Invisible Empire of Florida announced he was moving the group's headquarters from Orlando to Gainesville because it's "a progressive community, and we think we can fit in."

In 1993, Katherine Ann Power, a Vietnam War opponent who'd been a fugitive for more than 20 years in the death of a police officer during a bank robbery in Boston, surrendered. She later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to eight to 12 years in prison.

In 1997, former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld gave up on his bid to become U.S. ambassador to Mexico. Sen. Jesse Helms, R-NC, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, opposed Weld's nomination and refused to hold a confirmation hearing.

Also in 1997, two popular diet drugs, sold under the brand names Pondimin and Redux, were withdrawn from the market because of findings the appetite suppressants could cause heart ailments.

And in 1997, Britain's Queen Elizabeth issued a rare public statement denying she and Prince Charles had argued over funeral arrangements for Princess Diana.

In 1999, a Fort Worth, Texas, man opened fire during a youth service at a Baptist church, killing seven people - including three teenagers - and wounding seven more. The gunman, Larry Ashbrook, then shot himself to death.


Also in 1999, the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to deploy a multinational peacekeeping force to the Indonesian island of East Timor, which had voted earlier in the month for independence, prompting rampages by pro-Indonesian militias.

In 2000, the 27th Summer Olympic Games opened in Sydney, Australia, with a record number of female athletes participating and with North and South Korea marching together in the opening procession.

In 2001, the U.S. continued making plans that eventually would land troops in Afghanistan in the hunt for Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network and stepped up search operations for other potential terrorists in that country.

In 2003, more than 100 prisoners were reported killed in a fire at a maximum security prison outside the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh.

A thought for the day: Former California Gov. Jerry Brown said, "Too often I find that the volume of paper expands to fill the available briefcases."

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