The Almanac, Celebrity Birthdays, Today in History, July 15 –

Today is Sunday, July 15, the 197th day of 2012 with 169 to follow.

The moon is waning. Morning stars are Venus, Jupiter, Neptune and Uranus. Evening stars are Mercury, Saturn and Mars.

Those born on this date are under the sign of Cancer. They include Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn, in 1606; poet Clement Clarke Moore, author of “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (“‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”) in 1779; Roman Catholic nun Frances Xavier Cabrini, the first U.S. citizen to be made a saint, in 1850; British suffragist Emmeline Pankhurst in 1858; lyricist Dorothy Fields in 1905; country singer Cowboy Copas in 1913; Irish author Iris Murdoch in 1919; writer Clive Cussler in 1931 (age 81); actors Alex Karras and Ken Kercheval, both in 1935 (age 77), Patrick Wayne in 1939 (age 73), Jan-Michael Vincent in 1944 (age 68) and Terry O’Quinn in 1952 (age 60); singer Linda Ronstadt in 1946 (age 66); political commentator Arianna Huffington in 1950 (age 62); former pro wrestler and Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura in 1951 (age 61); rock musician Marky Ramone in 1956 (age 56); supermodel Kim Alexis in 1960 (age 52); and actors Willie Aames in 1960 (age 52); Lolita Davidovich and Forest Whitaker, both in 1961 (age 51), Brigitte Nielsen in 1963 (age 49), Brian Austin Green in 1973 (age 39) and Diane Kruger in 1976 (age 36).

On this date in history:

In 1799, the Rosetta Stone, which helped decipher ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, was found in an Egyptian village by French soldiers.

In 1806, Zebulon Pike began an expedition to explore the American Southwest.

In 1912, led by all-round athlete Jim Thorpe, the U.S. team took more medals than any other nation at the Summer Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden.

In 1945, Italy declared war on Japan, its former Axis partner.

In 1965, the unmanned spacecraft Mariner 4 passed over Mars at an altitude of 6,000 feet and sent to Earth the first close-up images of the planet.

In 1968, a Soviet Aeroflot jetliner landed at New York’s JFK Airport, marking the beginning of direct commercial flights between the United States and the Soviet Union.

In 1971, U.S. President Richard Nixon disclosed plans to make an unprecedented visit to the People’s Republic of China. He made the historic trip in February 1972.

In 1986, Britain and the Soviet Union settled accounts on $75 million in bonds that were issued under Russia’s czars and defaulted on after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. The settlement ended a 60-year financial dispute.

In 1987, former national security adviser John Poindexter told the Iran-Contra congressional panels he personally authorized the transfer of Iran arms sale profits to the Nicaraguan rebels.

In 1992, the Democratic National Convention nominated Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton as its candidate for president.

Also in 1992, Pope John Paul II underwent surgery to remove what doctors said was benign tumor the “size of orange” in his colon.

In 1997, Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace was shot to death in front of his Miami mansion. The prime suspect was Andrew Cunanan, already wanted in four other slayings who was found dead a week later, an apparent suicide.

In 2002, John Walker Lindh, a 21-year-old American captured by the U.S. military in Afghanistan while with Taliban forces, admitted he had fought as a soldier with them. After cooperating in the investigation of the terrorist network, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Also in 2002, for the first time in two years, the euro came out ahead of the slumping U.S. dollar, reaching $1.0055.

In 2003, the U.S. budget was running a deficit 50 percent higher than the Bush administration forecast five months earlier, affected by war, tax cuts and a third year of a flagging economy.

In 2005, several California utilities said they settled claims against Enron Corp. for overcharges in the state’s 2000-01 energy crisis, including a $47.3 million cash payment.

In 2006, the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to impose sanctions on North Korea in response to its launching of nuclear missiles. North Korea said it would continue its nuclear program.

In 2007, the Los Angeles Roman Catholic Archdiocese agreed to a $600 million settlement with 508 people who claimed they had been sexually abused by members of the clergy.

In 2008, the U.S. Congress overrode President George W. Bush‘s veto of a Medicare funding bill. The measure rescinded previously scheduled cuts of 10.6 percent in Medicare payments to doctors and raised aid to low income recipients.

In 2009, Caspian Airlines Flight 7908 crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran bound for Armenia. Officials said 168 people were killed.

Also in 2009, U.S. House Democrats unveiled a $1.2 trillion healthcare reform plan designed to make health insurance available to all Americans. The following day, the Senate Health Committee introduced its $600 billion version.

In 2010, BP, the London energy company, announced it had capped its crippled underwater well that had sent millions of barrels of crude gushing into the Gulf of Mexico over the previous three months after an offshore drilling rig explosion and fire killed 11 workers and unleashed an unchecked torrent from the depths.

Also in 2010, the U.S. Congress approved a measure aimed at strengthening federal regulation of financial markets, zeroing in on possible investment and mortgage abuses and risks in an effort to prevent future financial crises. President Barack Obama signed it into law on July 21.

In 2011, Jordanian riot police surrounded hundreds of protesters marching through downtown Amman and, witnesses said, beat demonstrators and journalists with clubs when many in the crowd tried to stage a sit-in.

A thought for the day: Remy de Gourmont wrote: “Art is the accomplice of love. Take love away and there is no longer art.”

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