Today is Thursday, July 15, the 197th day of 2004 with 169 to follow.
The moon is waning. The morning stars are Venus, Uranus, Saturn and Neptune. The evening stars are Mercury, Jupiter, Mars and Pluto.
Those born on this date are under the sign of Cancer. They include Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn, in 1606; poet Clement Clark 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; lyricist Dorothy Fields in 1905; country singer Cowboy Copas in 1913; Irish author Iris Murdoch in 1915; actors Alex Karras and Ken Kercheval, both in 1935 (age 69), and Jan-Michael Vincent in 1944 (age 60); singer Linda Ronstadt in 1946 (age 58); former pro wrestler and Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura in 1951 (age 53); and actors Forest Whitaker in 1961 (age 43) and Brian Austin Green ("Beverly Hills 90210") in 1973 (age 31).
On this date in history:
In 1806, Zebulon Pike began an expedition to explore the American Southwest.
In 1912, led by all-round athlete Jim Thorpe, the United States team took more medals than any other nation at the 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 aat an altitude of 6,000 feet and sent back to Earth the first close-up images of the red 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 Soviet Union.
In 1971, President 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 1991, a former POW released a photograph showing three U.S. servicemen, missing in Southeast Asia since the Vietnam War, holding a sign dated May 25, 1990.
In 1992, the Democratic National Convention nominated Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton as its presidential candidate.
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 1996, Russian President Boris Yeltsin missed an appointment with Vice President Gore. They met the next day, but Yeltsin was ill and rumors began circulating that he was dying.
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 murders committed in the Midwest and East since April. Cunanan was found dead a week later, apparently by his own hand.
In 1999, Texas Gov. George W. Bush announced he would not accept matching federal funds for his Republican presidential bid, thus freeing him from spending caps under the law. Bush had already raised more money than any previous candidate for a presidential nomination.
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.
He agreed to help in the investigation of the terrorist network and some charges against him, including those involving the death of a CIA agent, were dropped. The following October 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 ago. War, tax cuts and a third year of a flailing economy reportedly could push the year's budget deficit past $450 billion.
A thought for the day: Remy de Gourmont wrote, "Art is the accomplice of love. Take love away and there is no longer art."