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Today in history: December 15

/ Source: The Associated Press

Today is Wednesday, December 15th, the 350th day of 2004. There are 16 days left in the year.

Today's highlight in history:

On December 15th, 1944, a single-engine plane carrying bandleader Glenn Miller disappeared over the English Channel while en route to Paris.

On this date:

In 1791, the Bill of Rights went into effect following ratification by Virginia.

In 1890, Sioux Indian Chief Sitting Bull and eleven other tribe members were killed in Grand River, South Dakota, during a fracas with Indian police.

In 1916, the French defeated the Germans in the World War One Battle of Verdun.

In 1938, groundbreaking ceremonies for the Jefferson Memorial took place in Washington D.C.

In 1944, American forces invaded Mindoro Island in the Philippines.

In 1944, the Senate approved the promotions of Henry H. Arnold, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur and George C. Marshall to the five-star rank of General of the Army and the nominations of William D. Leahy, Ernest J. King and Chester W. Nimitz as Admirals of the Fleet.

In 1961, former Nazi official Adolf Eichmann was sentenced to death by an Israeli court.

In 1964, Canada's House of Commons approved dropping the "Red Ensign" flag in favor of a new design.

In 1965, two U.S. manned spacecraft, "Gemini Six" and "Gemini Seven," maneuvered to within ten feet of each other while in orbit.

In 1979, the deposed Shah of Iran left the United States for Panama, the same day the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that Iran should release all its American hostages.

Ten years ago: President Clinton, in a 12-minute prime-time address, presented a package of tax cuts for middle-income families raising children, and outlined deep reductions in government programs to help pay for them.

Five years ago: With President Clinton's close mediation, Syria reopened peace talks with Israel in Washington.

One year ago: Iraqi leaders exuberant over the capture of Saddam Hussein said they wanted to send the former leader to a quick trial with an eye toward executing him by summer. But U.S. officials signaled the Iraqis would probably have to wait. Former nurse Charles Cullen was charged with murder after telling prosecutors he had killed 30 to 40 severely ill patients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey since 1987 by injecting them with drugs. The late Senator Strom Thurmond's family acknowledged Essie Mae Washington-Williams' claim that she was his illegitimate mixed-race daughter.

Today's birthdays: Country singer Ernest Ashworth is 76. Actor-comedian Tim Conway is 71. Singer Cindy Birdsong (The Supremes) is 65. Rock musician Dave Clark (The Dave Clark Five) is 62. Rock musician Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge) is 58. Actor Don Johnson is 55. Movie director Alex Cox is 50. Actor Justin Ross is 50. Rock musician Paul Simonon (The Clash) is 49. Country singer Doug Phelps (Brother Phelps; Kentucky Headhunters) is 44. Movie director Reginald Hudlin is 43. Actress Helen Slater is 41. Actress Molly Price ("Third Watch") is 39. "Crowd-hyper" Kito Trawick (Ghostown DJs) is 27. Actor George O. Gore the Second is 23.