Today is Tuesday, July 31, the 213th day of 2012 with 153 to follow.
The moon is waxing. Morning stars are Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Neptune and Uranus. Evening stars are Saturn 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 83), Ted Cassidy in 1932; France Nuyen in 1939 (age 73), Geraldine Chaplin in 1944 (age 68) and Richard Griffiths in 1947 (age 65); musicians Gary Lewis (age 67) and Bob Welch, both in 1945; Australian tennis star Evonne Goolagong in 1951 (age 61); businessman and NBA team owner Mark Cuban in 1958 (age 54); actors Wesley Snipes in 1962 (age 50) and Dean Cain in 1966 (age 46); and author J.K. Rowling in 1965 (age 47).
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 in Italy on charges he tried to fix two ice skating events at the Salt Lake City Olympic Games.
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.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.
Also in 2007, media mogul Rupert Murdoch won approval to buy the Dow Jones and Co., 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.
In 2010, the U.S. gross domestic product posted a 2.4 percent annual rate growth increase for the second quarter, compared with 3.7 in the first quarter, the Commerce Department reported. Revised figures, however, placed the second quarter growth at an anemic 1.6 percent.
In 2011, with default by the U.S. government just days away and after months of frustrating debate, U.S. President Barack Obama and congressional leaders announced an agreement that would raise the debt ceiling by up to $2.4 trillion in two stages, enough to keep borrowing into 2013.
Also in 2011, the Syrian army unleashed a brutal crackdown on protesters seeking to force President Bashar Assad from office, hitting Hama and other rebellious cities with guns, tanks and bombs. A death toll of at least 140 people was reported and scores were injured. The United States and others condemned the attack as government forces struck again the next day and many others died.
A thought for the day: Milton Friedman said, "Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it."