The Almanac

By United Press International   |   June 15, 2003 at 3:30 AM

Today is Sunday, June 15, the 166th day of 2003 with 199 to follow.

This is Father's Day.

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

Those born on this date are under the sign of Gemini. They include Prince Edward of England, son of Edward III and known as the "Black Prince," in 1330; Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg in 1843; singer, composer Cliff Edwards (also the voice of Jiminy Cricket in Disney's "Pinocchio") in 1895; orchestra leader David Rose in 1910; artist Saul Steinberg in 1914 (age 89); pianist Erroll Garner in 1921 (age 82); Rep. Morris Udall, D-Ariz., in 1922 (age 81); former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo in 1932 (age 71); country singer Waylon Jennings in 1937 (age 66); singer/songwriter Harry Nilsson in 1941; and actors Jim Varney in 1949, Jim Belushi in 1954 (age 49), Julie Hagerty ("Airplane!") in 1955 (age 48), Helen Hunt in 1963 (age 40), Courtney Cox Arquette ("Friends") in 1964 (age 39), and Neil Patrick Harris ("Doogie Howser, M.D.") in 1973 (age 30).

On this date in history:

In 1215, under pressure from rebellious barons, England's King John signed the Magna Carta, a crucial first step toward creating Britain's constitutional monarchy.

In 1752, Benjamin Franklin, in a dangerous experiment, demonstrated the relationship between lightning and electricity by flying a kite during a storm in Philadelphia. An iron key suspended from the string attracted a lightning bolt.

In 1785, two Frenchmen attempting to cross the English Channel in a hot-air balloon were killed when their balloon caught fire and crashed. It was the first fatal aviation accident.

In 1846, the U.S.-Canadian border was established.

In 1877, Henry Ossian Flipper, born a slave in Thomasville, Ga., became the first African-American cadet to graduate from West Point.

In 1904, the excursion steamboat "General Slocum" caught fire on the East River in New York, killing 1,121 people.

In 1944, U.S. forces invaded the Japanese-occupied Mariana Islands. By days end, a beachhead had been established on the island of Saipan.

In 1963, Soviet cosmonaut Valery Bykovsky was launched on a space mission, during which he orbited the earth 81 times.

In 1987, Richard Norton of Philadelphia and Calin Rosetti of West Germany completed the first polar circumnavigation of the Earth in a single-engine propeller aircraft, landing in Paris after a 38,000-mile flight.

In 1992, more than 1,000 people were arrested and 95 police officers injured in the sporadic violence, looting and arson that erupted after the Chicago Bulls won a second straight NBA championship.

In 1994, former President Carter arrived in North Korea to discuss the dispute over the country's nuclear development sites.

In 1995, during his trial, O.J. Simpson tried on the blood-stained gloves allegedly worn by the killer of his ex-wife and her friend. He seemed to have trouble putting on the gloves and remarked, "Too tight, too tight."

In 1996, 206 people were injured when a bomb exploded in a mall in Manchester, England.

In 1997, President Clinton said he might support a formal apology to blacks for slavery.

In 1998, Nigeria's new military ruler ordered the release of some of the political prisoners jailed under the previous regime.

In 1999, South Korean ships sank a North Korean torpedo boat, killing all aboard. The incident had followed a series of confrontations in disputed territorial waters.

In 2002, Arthur Andersen, one of the nation's top accounting firms, was convicted of obstruction of justice by a federal jury in connection with the Enron investigation.

Also in 2002, as wildfires plagued several Western states, a Forest Service veteran admitted accidentally starting the biggest Colorado fire, which by then had consumed 100,000 acres, while burning a letter from her estranged husband,

A thought for the day: Georg Christoph Lichtenberg said, "A book is a mirror: when a monkey looks in, no apostle can look out."

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