Today is Wednesday, December 15, the 349th day of 2004. There are 16 days left in the year.
Highlights in history on this date:
1640 - The Duke of Braganca is crowned John IV, the first king of Portugal after 60 years of Spanish rule.
1711 - The plague breaks out in Copenhagen.
1791 - Sweden's King Gustavus III offers to head the crusade against France.
1806 - Napoleon Bonaparte enters Warsaw, Poland.
1890 - Chief Sitting Bull of the Sioux is killed during an attempt to arrest him by reservation police in the US state of South Dakota.
1899 -- Boer forces and British troops engage at Colenso, and British casualties amount to 1100. Lieutenant Freddy Roberts, only son of Field-Marshal Lord Frederick Roberts, is killed while attempting to retrieve British field guns. Eight Boers die and 30 are wounded. This third straight defeat of British troops, which began at Stormberg on December 10, brings "Black Week" to an end.
1916 - The French defeat Germans in Battle of Verdun during World War 1.
1939 - The motion picture Gone With the Wind premieres in Atlanta, in the United States.
1944 - The plane carrying American bandleader Glenn Miller, a US Army Major, disappears over the English Channel, probably the victim of bombs jettisoned from British bombers returning from an unsuccessful raid.
1952 - China rejects India's plan for Korean armistice.
1957 - The United Nations rejects Greece's proposal that Cyprus is entitled to self-determination.
1961 - Former Nazi Adolf Eichmann is sentenced to death in Jerusalem.
1965 - Two US manned spacecraft, Gemini 6 and Gemini 7, maneuver to within 3m of each other while in orbit and relay data about Venus as it flies past the planet.
1970 - Soviet spacecraft starts sending messages from planet Venus.
1978 - US President Jimmy Carter announces he would grant diplomatic recognition to Communist China on New Year's Day and sever official relations with Taiwan.
1979 - The deposed Shah of Iran flies from the United States to "temporary" exile in Panama.
1986 - Rival ethnic groups battle in Karachi and set hundreds of homes and shops ablaze in the city's worst rioting since Pakistan's independence 39 years earlier.
1988 - The UN General Assembly calls for convening of international Middle East peace conference.
1989 - Manuel Noriega is named head of government and declares Panama in "a state of war" with the United States; a popular uprising begins, resulting in the downfall of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.
1990 - Cattle rancher Darly Alves da Silva and his son Darci Alves Pereira are convicted of murdering Brazilian rain forest defender Chico Mendes.
1991 - A ferry hits a reef and sinks off the Egyptian port of Safaga, killing nearly 500 people.
1992 - Chess genius Bobby Fischer is indicted in the United States on charges of violating economic sanctions against Yugoslavia by playing a highly publicized match with Boris Spassky.
1993 - The British and Irish prime ministers John Major and Albert Reynolds sign the historic Joint Declaration for Peace on the steps of Downing street.
1993 -- The European Community signs an agreement establishing diplomatic ties with South Africa.
1994 - The Swedish government decides not to salvage the bodies from the ferry Estonia, which sank in the Baltic, killing 800 people. The decision is opposed by the victims' relatives.
1995 - Pioneer 6, a spacecraft launched on a journey through the solar system on December 16, 1965, gets an early happy birthday call from NASA and answers back.
1996 - A Serbian court restores the opposition's election victory in Nis, Serbia's second-largest city.
1996 -- Sir Laurens van der Post, South African author and explorer and mentor of Britain's Prince Charles, dies at his London home at the age of 90.
1997 - The prosecutor for the tribunal on war crimes in Yugoslavia accuses French peacekeepers in Bosnia of "total inertia" when it comes to arresting war crimes suspects. The French reject the criticism as "scandalous."
1998 - Northern Ireland's most ruthless Protestant paramilitary group, the Loyalist Volunteer Force, promises to start disarming by Christmas.
1999 - Venezuelans overwhelmingly approve a new constitution that eliminates the Senate and vastly increases the power of President Hugo Chavez, allowing him to stay in office for up to 13 years.
2000 - Operators in Kiev, Ukraine shut down the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which once spawned the world's worst nuclear accident.
2001 - The International Monetary Fund agrees to lend Pakistan $1.3 billion over three years to help reduce poverty. Commentators suggest that the nation's support for the US-led war against terrorism played a role.
2002 - Polish and Syrian leaders hold talks on increasing bilateral ties and the crisis surrounding Iraq as well as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
2003 - A 17-member federal commission on terrorism, created by the U.S. Congress in 1998 in response to attacks on the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, issues its final report, stating the Department of Homeland Security failed to give sufficient instruction to state and local authorities on how to foil terrorism.
Nero, Roman emperor (AD 37- AD 68); Henri Becquerel, French chemist (1852-1908); Gustave Eiffel, French engineer (1832-1923); Maxwell Anderson, US playwright (1888-1959); J. Paul Getty, US oil tycoon (1892-1976); Tim Conway, US comedian/actor (1933--); Don Johnson, US actor (1949--).
Thought For Today:
History is the record of an encounter between character and circumstances - Donald Creighton, Canadian historian (1902-1979).