The Almanac

Today is Friday, June 15, the 166th day of 2007 with 199 to follow.

The moon is new. The morning stars are Mars, Neptune and Uranus. The evening stars are Jupiter, Mercury, Venus and Saturn.


Those born on this date are under the sign of Gemini. They include Prince Edward of England, son of Edward III and known as the "Black Prince," in 1330; Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg in 1843; orchestra leader David Rose in 1910; artist Saul Steinberg in 1914; pianist Erroll Garner in 1921; U.S. Rep. Morris Udall, D-Ariz., in 1922; former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo in 1932 (age 75; country singer Waylon Jennings in 1937; singer/songwriter Harry Nilsson in 1941; and actors Jim Varney in 1949, Jim Belushi in 1954 (age 53), Julie Hagerty ("Airplane!") in 1955 (age 52), Helen Hunt in 1963 (age 44), Courtney Cox Arquette ("Friends") in 1964 (age 43) and Neil Patrick Harris ("Doogie Howser, M.D.") in 1973 (age 34).


On this date in history:

In 1215, under pressure from rebellious barons, England's King John signed the Magna Carta, a crucial first step toward creating Britain's constitutional monarchy.

In 1752, Benjamin Franklin, in a dangerous experiment, demonstrated the relationship between lightning and electricity by flying a kite during a storm in Philadelphia. An iron key suspended from the string attracted a lightning bolt.

In 1785, two Frenchmen attempting to cross the English Channel in a hot-air balloon were killed when their balloon caught fire and crashed. It was the first fatal aviation accident.

In 1846, the U.S.-Canadian border was established.

In 1877, Henry Ossian Flipper, born a slave in Thomasville, Ga., became the first African-American cadet to graduate from West Point.

In 1904, the excursion steamboat "General Slocum" caught fire on the East River in New York, killing 1,121 people.

In 1944, U.S. forces invaded the Japanese-occupied Mariana Islands. By days end, a beachhead had been established on the island of Saipan.

In 1963, Soviet cosmonaut Valery Bykovsky was launched on a space mission, during which he orbited the earth 81 times.

In 1987, Richard Norton of Philadelphia and Calin Rosetti of West Germany completed the first polar circumnavigation of the Earth in a single-engine propeller aircraft, landing in Paris after a 38,000-mile flight.


In 1992, more than 1,000 people were arrested and 95 police officers injured in the sporadic violence, looting and arson that erupted after the Chicago Bulls won a second straight NBA championship.

In 1996, 206 people were injured when a bomb exploded in a mall in Manchester, England.

In 1997, U.S. President Bill Clinton said he might support a formal apology to blacks for slavery.

In 1998, Nigeria's new military ruler ordered the release of some of the political prisoners jailed under the previous regime.

In 1999, South Korean ships sank a North Korean torpedo boat, killing all aboard. The incident followed a series of confrontations in disputed territorial waters.

In 2002, Arthur Andersen, one of the nation's top accounting firms, was convicted of obstruction of justice by a federal jury in connection with the Enron investigation.

Also in 2002, as wildfires plagued several Western states, a Forest Service veteran admitted accidentally starting the biggest Colorado fire, which by then had consumed 100,000 acres, while burning a letter from her estranged husband.

In 2003, U.S. troops, tanks, planes and helicopters staged a series of raids on Fallujah and other Iraqi cities to quell resistance.


In 2004, a U.S. Army general suspended after prisoner abuse was revealed at a Baghdad prison said she was ordered to treat prisoners like dogs. Brig Gen. Janis Karpinski said she was being made a scapegoat for the scandal.

In 2005, the trial of a man accused of organizing the abduction and slaying of three civil rights workers in 1964 got under way in Philadelphia, Miss.

In 2006, the U.S. Senate rejected an amendment that called for withdrawal of most U.S. troops from Iraq by year's end. The vote was 93-6.

Also in 2006, at least 61 people, including 15 children, were killed when their bus hit a land mine in northern Sri Lanka.

And, Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and the wealthiest person in the world, said he would gradually retire and, over the next few years, take a more part time role in the software giant's operations.

A thought for the day: Georg Christoph Lichtenberg said, "A book is a mirror: when a monkey looks in, no apostle can look out."

Latest Headlines