Today is Thursday, July 17, the 199th day of 2008 with 167 to follow.
The moon is waxing. The morning stars are Neptune, Mercury and Uranus. The evening stars are Jupiter, Venus, Mars and Saturn.
Those born on this date are under the sign of Cancer. They include English clergyman and author Isaac Watts in 1674; financier John Jacob Astor in 1763; mystery writer Erle Stanley Gardner in 1889; actor James Cagney in 1899; TV personality Art Linkletter in 1912 (age 96); comedian Phyllis Diller in 1917 (age 91); actor Donald Sutherland in 1934 (age 74); actress/singer Diahann Carroll in 1935 (age 73); rock musician Spencer Davis in 1941 (age 67); actress Lucie Arnaz in 1951 (age 57); actor David Hasselhoff in 1952 (age 56); and singers Nicolette Larson and Phoebe Snow (age 55), both in 1952.
On this date in history:
In 1918, Russian Czar Nicholas II, his wife and their five children were executed by a firing squad in the Ural Mountains of Siberia.
In 1936, the Spanish Civil War began with an army revolt led by Gen. Francisco Franco.
In 1938, Douglas Corrigan took off from Floyd Bennett Field in New York for a return flight to California but lost his bearings in the clouds, he said, and flew instead to Ireland. He became an instant celebrity and was forever after known as "Wrong Way" Corrigan.
In 1955, Arco, Idaho, a town of 1,300 people, became the first community in the world to receive all its light and power from atomic energy.
Also in 1955, Disneyland opened in Anaheim, Calif.
In 1975, three U.S. and two Soviet spacemen linked their orbiting Apollo and Soyuz spacecraft for historic handshakes 140 miles above Earth.
In 1981, 114 people were killed and 200 injured when two suspended walkways collapsed at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Kansas City, Mo.
In 1993, the Midwest flood knocked out the Bayview Bridge connecting Quincy, Ill., with West Quincy, Mo., the last remaining crossing over the Mississippi River for about 200 miles.
In 1996, TWA Flight 800, New York to Paris, crashed off the Long Island coast, killing all 230 people aboard.
In 1998, U.S. President Bill Clinton became the first sitting U.S. president to be subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury as independent counsel Kenneth Starr continued his investigation into the Monica Lewinsky affair.
In 2003, an attack on a convoy in Iraq killed one soldier and pushed the death toll of U.S. troops in the Iraqi conflict to 148, one more than died in the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
In 2005, a reported 59 people were killed and 86 wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself up next to a gas tanker in Musayyib, south of Baghdad, in one of the deadliest attacks since the U.S. invasion.
In 2006, an earthquake under the Indian Ocean triggered a tsunami that struck the Indonesian island of Java, killing close to 700 people. Around 200 were reported missing and thousands were rendered homeless. A second quake hit the area two days later.
Also in 2006, the fierce fighting between Israel and Hezbollah militants in Lebanon continued almost steadily. At one point, Hezbollah shelling of Israel was reported running at a clip of a missile a minute while Israel's air force stepped up bombing runs.
In 2007, a Brazilian airliner skidded off the runway as it landed at San Paulo's Congonhas airport and crashed into a nearby building. Authorities placed the death toll at 200, reportedly the worst airline crash in Brazil's history.
Also in 2007, a U.S. National Intelligence Estimate report indicated that the terrorist network al-Qaida had gained strength in the past two years, posing a "persistent and evolving terrorist threat" for the United States in the near future.
A thought for the day: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe called architecture "frozen music."