Today is Saturday, July 15, the 196th day of 2006 with 169 to follow.
The moon is waning. The morning stars are Venus, Uranus and Neptune. The evening stars are Mercury, Jupiter, Mars, Saturn 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 1919; actors Alex Karras and Ken Kercheval, both in 1935 (age 71), and Jan-Michael Vincent in 1944 (age 62); singer Linda Ronstadt in 1946 (age 60); former pro wrestler and Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura in 1951 (age 55) and actors Forest Whitaker in 1961 (age 45) and Brian Austin Green ("Beverly Hills 90210") in 1973 (age 33).
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 U.S. 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 at 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 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 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 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 1999, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, who already had raised more money than any previous candidate for a presidential nomination, announced he would not accept matching federal funds, freeing him from spending caps.
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.
n 2004, a U.N. report showed Miami, with its large Cuban presence, to have the highest percentage of foreign-born population in the world, reaching 59 percent of its residents.
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.
A thought for the day: Remy de Gourmont wrote, "Art is the accomplice of love. Take love away and there is no longer art."