Today is Saturday, July 31, the 212th day of 2010 with 153 to follow.
The moon is waning. The morning stars are Neptune, Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus. The evening stars are Mercury, Venus and Mars.
Those born on this date are under the sign of Leo. They include author and jurist James Kent in 1763; Confederate Army guerrilla leader William Quantrill, in 1837; pollster Elmo Burns Roper Jr., in 1900; economist Milton Friedman and former TV talk-show host and columnist Irv Kupcinet, both in 1912; sports announcer Curt Gowdy in 1919; recording industry executive Ahmet Ertegun in 1923; actors Don Murray in 1929 (age 81), Ted Cassidy in 1932; France Nuyen in 1939 (age 71) and Geraldine Chaplin in 1944 (age 66); musicians Gary Lewis in 1945 (age 65) and Bob Welch in 1946 (age 64); Australian tennis player Evonne Goolagong in 1951 (age 59); businessman and NBA team owner Mark Cuban in 1958 (age 52); actors Wesley Snipes in 1962 (age 48) and Dean Cain in 1966 (age 44); and writer J.K. Rowling in 1965 (age 45).
On this date in history:
In 1498, on his third voyage to the New World, Christopher Columbus discovered the island of Trinidad.
In 1556 Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order of Roman Catholic missionaries and educators, died in Rome.
In 1792, director David Rittenhouse laid the cornerstone in Philadelphia for the U.S. Mint, the first building of the federal government.
In 1964, Ranger 7, an unmanned U.S. lunar probe, took the first close-up images of the moon.
In 1974, Watergate figure John Ehrlichman was sentenced to 20 months in prison for his role in the break-in at the office of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist. Ellsberg was the Pentagon consultant who leaked the "Pentagon Papers," documents about the war in Vietnam.
In 1991, the U.S. Senate overturned a 43-year-old law and voted to allow women to fly military warplanes in combat.
In 1992, all aboard were killed when a Thai Airways jetliner carrying more than 100 people crashed in bad weather in Nepal.
In 1995, the Walt Disney Co. announced it was buying Capital Cities/ABC for $19 billion.
In 2002, Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, a reputed Russian crime figure, was arrested at his resort in Italy on charges he tried to fix two ice skating events at the Salt Lake City Olympic Games.
In 2003, North Korea reversed its long-standing opposition to multilateral talks on its nuclear weapons program.
In 2004, Pakistani investigators blamed al-Qaida for an assassination attempt on Prime Minister-designate Shaukat Aziz. Eight people died in the suicide bombing attack.
In 2006, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, two weeks before his 80th birthday, formally transferred power temporarily to his brother Raul in preparation for intestinal surgery.
In 2007, the U.S. House of Representatives passed, in a 411-8 vote, a bill overhauling ethics rules focused on large donations and gifts to lawmakers.
Also in 2007, the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to deploy as many as 26,000 peacekeepers to end the violence in Sudan's Darfur region that reportedly killed about 200,000 people since 2003.
And, media mogul Rupert Murdoch won approval to buy the Dow Jones & Company, publisher of The Wall Street Journal.
In 2008, Exxon Mobil announced it had broken its own record for the greatest quarterly profit for a corporation with $11.68 billion.
In 2009, the widening war in Afghanistan claimed a record monthly toll in July with 76 coalition troops killed, 45 of them Americans. U.S. troops reached 62,000 at the end of July. Meanwhile, U.S. military deaths numbered eight in Iraq for the month, smallest total since the war began in March of 2003.
Also in 2009, the U.S. stock market responded to hopeful economic signs with a new growth spurt, topped by an 8.6 percent jump for July by the Dow Jones industrial average, closing at 9,171.61. The Nasdaq composite was up 7.8 percent and the Standard and Poor's 500 climbed 7.4 percent.
A thought for the day: Milton Friedman said, "Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it."