This is Friday, July 4, the 186th day of 2008 with 180 to follow.
This is Independence Day in the United States.
The moon is waxing. The morning stars are Neptune, Mercury, Jupiter and Uranus. The evening stars are Venus, Mars and Saturn.
Those born on this date are under the sign of Cancer. They include author Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1804; songwriter Stephen Foster ("Oh! Susannah," "Beautiful Dreamer") in 1826; circus operator James Bailey (Barnum and Bailey) in 1847; Calvin Coolidge, 30th president of the United States, in 1872; innovative cartoonist Rube Goldberg in 1883; Louis B. Mayer, film mogul and co-founder of MGM, in 1885; actor/politician George Murphy in 1902; conductor Mitch Miller in 1911 (age 97); Ann Landers, advice columnist, in 1918; her twin, also an advice columnist, Abigail Van Buren in 1918 (age 90); former hotel executive Leona Helmsley in 1920; actress Eva Marie Saint in 1924 (age 84); playwright Neil Simon in 1927 (age 81); actress Gina Lollobrigida in 1927 (age 81); Al Davis, Oakland Raiders owner, in 1929 (age 79); New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner in 1930 (age 78); TV reporter Geraldo Rivera in 1943 (age 65); and tennis player Pam Shriver in 1962 (age 46).
On this date in history:
In 1776, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, proclaiming U.S. independence from Britain.
In 1826, in one of history's notable coincidences, former U.S. Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died, 50 years to the day after the Declaration of Independence was adopted.
In 1863, Union troops defeated Confederate forces in a battle at Vicksburg, Miss.
In 1895, the poem "America the Beautiful," by Wellesley College Professor Katherine Lee Bates, was published.
In 1914, director D.W. Griffith began filming his controversial film "Birth of a Nation," which introduced important new filmmaking techniques and influenced many other directors.
In 1986, more than 250 sailing ships and the United States' biggest fireworks display honored the Statue of Liberty in its 100th birthday year.
In 1994, French forces in Rwanda established a security zone for refugees.
In 1995, the British Parliament reconfirmed John Majors as prime minister.
In 1997, NASA's Pathfinder landed on Mars to become the first U.S. spacecraft to land on the planet in more than two decades.
Also in 1997, Mexico's top drug lord died in a Mexico City hospital following plastic surgery to change his appearance.
In 2002, with the nation on alert for a possible terrorist attack, a gunman killed two people at the Los Angeles International Airport near a ticket counter of El Al, the Israeli airline, before he was killed by a guard.
In 2003, with the lack of international markets after a lone case of mad cow disease, Canadian beef prices in grocery stores fell to as low as 75 cents a pound.
Also in 2003, three attackers killed 50 people and injured dozens of others when they opened fire at a Shiite mosque in Quetta, Pakistan.
In 2005, NASA's "Deep Impact" spacecraft wound up an 85 million-mile journey by intentionally slamming into the Tempel 1 comet to learn more about comets and other aspects of the solar system.
In 2006, North Korea test launched seven ballistic missiles in what it called "routine military exercises," kicking up a firestorm of anger with its neighbors and the United States. One missile, the only long-range one tested, reportedly was capable of hitting the western United States.
Also in 2006, the first U.S. space shuttle flight in almost a year began when the Discovery was launched from the space center at Cape Canaveral.
In 2007, Palestinian militants holding BBC reporter Alan Johnston prisoner in Gaza released him after nearly four months of captivity.
Also in 2007, former Liberian President Charles Taylor, who had boycotted the proceedings as unfair, pleaded innocent to sex charges at his war crimes trial at The Hague.
And, the Russian resort city of Sochi was selected to host the 2014 Winter Olympics, marking the first time the country has been the site of the Winter Games.
A thought for the day: U.S. President Calvin Coolidge reportedly said, "If you don't say anything, you won't be called upon to repeat it."