Today is Wednesday, June 17, the 168th day of 2009 with 197 to follow.
The moon is waning. The morning stars are Neptune, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Mars and Uranus. The evening star is Saturn.
Those born on this date are under the sign of Gemini. They include John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, in 1703; Russian-born composer Igor Stravinsky in 1882; actor Ralph Bellamy in 1904; author John Hersey in 1914; former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., in 1943 (age 66); singer Barry Manilow in 1946 (age 63); comedian Joe Piscopo in 1951 (age 58); actors Mark Linn-Baker ("Perfect Strangers") in 1954 (age 55) and Greg Kinnear in 1963 (age 46); speed skater-turned-sportscaster Dan Jansen in 1965 (age 44); and tennis star Venus Williams in 1980 (age 29).
On this date in history:
In 1967, China announced it had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb.
In 1972, the Watergate scandal began with the arrest of five burglars inside Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington.
In 1982, Argentina's President Leopoldo Galtieri resigned in response to Britain's victory in the Falkland Islands war.
In 1986, Kate Smith, one of America's most popular singers in the '20s, '30s and '40s, died at the age of 79.
Also in 1986, Maryland basketball star Len Bias, about to enter the pro ranks, dropped dead from cocaine intoxication, focusing national attention on cocaine use by athletes.
In 1991, South African President F.W. de Klerk ended apartheid when he repealed the Population Registration Act that classified South Africans by race from birth.
In 1992, two Germans were released by their pro-Iranian kidnappers after three years' captivity in Lebanon. They were the last of the Western hostages to be freed.
In 1994, Los Angeles police charged O.J. Simpson with killing his ex-wife and her friend. The former football star and actor was acquitted in a controversial, high-profile trial.
Also in 1994, members of the Branch Davidian cult were sentenced to prison on charges stemming from the 1993 federal raid on their compound near Waco, Texas.
In 1996, ValuJet Airlines shut down about a month after a crash in the Florida Everglades led to questions about the carrier's safety and maintenance records.
In 2003, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien promised legislation that would legalize same-sex marriage throughout his country.
In 2004, a massive car bomb killed at least 30 people and wounded 150 others in central Baghdad, two weeks before the handover of power to Iraqis.
In 2005, L. Dennis Kozlowski, former chief executive of Tyco, was convicted of fraud, conspiracy and grand larceny charges.
In 2006, two men died and 12,000 villagers were left without water as Indonesia's most active volcano, Mount Merapi, erupted, spewing gas, rocks and lava.
In 2007, a fire at a Charleston, S.C., furniture store killed nine firefighters when the roof collapsed.
Also in 2007, British police said they rescued 31 children from abuse when they broke up a large international pedophile ring that stretched into 35 countries.
In 2008, the battle against flooding shifted to Illinois and Missouri as the Mississippi River threatened to spill over levees and flood towns in its path. Officials placed millions of sandbags atop levees along the great river in Illinois, Iowa and Missouri to prevent the rain-swollen waterway from overflowing.
Also in 2008, negotiators for Israel and Hamas, the militant group that controls the Gaza Strip, reported reaching agreement on a three-step cease-fire plan to quell the violence in the region.
A thought for the day: Martin Luther King, Jr., said, "We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools."