Today is Wednesday, July 31, the 212th day of 2013. There are 153 days left in the year.
Today’s highlight in history:
On July 31, 1777, the Marquis de Lafayette, a 19-year-old French nobleman, was made a major-general in the American Continental Army.
On this date:
In 1875, the 17th president of the United States, Andrew Johnson, died in Carter County, Tenn., at age 66.
In 1919, Germany’s Weimar Constitution was adopted by the republic’s National Assembly.
In 1930, the radio character “The Shadow” made his debut as narrator of the “Detective Story Hour” on CBS Radio.
In 1942, Oxfam International had its beginnings as the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief when it was founded in England.
In 1971, Apollo 15 crew members David Scott and James Irwin became the first astronauts to use a lunar rover on the surface of the moon.
In 1973, Delta Air Lines Flight 723, a DC-9, crashed while trying to land at Boston’s Logan International Airport, killing all 89 people on board.
In 1991, President George H.W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty in Moscow.
Ten years ago: The Vatican launched a global campaign against gay marriages, warning Catholic politicians that support of same-sex unions was “gravely immoral” and urging non-Catholics to join the offensive.
Five years ago: Three teenagers were shot to death when a gunman opened fire on a group of young people who’d gathered to go swimming in the Menominee River near Niagara, Wis. (The gunman, Scott J. Johnson, was later sentenced to life in prison without parole.)
One year ago: Three Indian electric grids collapsed in a cascade, cutting power to 620 million people in the world’s biggest blackout. At the London games, the team of Gabrielle Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Alexandra Raisman, Kyla Ross and Jordyn Wieber won the first U.S. Olympic team title in women’s gymnastics since 1996. Michael Phelps broke the Olympic medals record with his 19th as the United States romped to a dominating win in the 4 x 200-meter freestyle relay.
Today’s birthdays: Actor Don Murray is 84. Jazz composer-musician Kenny Burrell is 82. Actor Geoffrey Lewis is 78. Actresses France Nuyen and Susan Flannery are 74. Singer Lobo is 70. Actress Geraldine Chaplin and former movie studio executive Sherry Lansing are 69. Singer Gary Lewis is 68. Actor Lane Davies is 63. International Tennis Hall of Famer Evonne Goolagong Cawley and actor Barry Van Dyke are 62. Actor Alan Autry and jazz composer-musician Michael Wolff are 61. Actor James Read is 60. Actor Michael Biehn and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick are 57. Singer-musician Daniel Ash (Love and Rockets) is 56. Entrepreneur Mark Cuban and rock musician Bill Berry are 55. Actor Wesley Snipes is 51. Country singer Chad Brock and musician Fatboy Slim are 50. Rock musician Jim Corr is 49. Author J.K. Rowling is 48.
Actor Dean Cain is 47. Actors Ben Chaplin and Loren Dean are 44. Actress Eve Best and retired NFL quarterback Gus Frerotte are 42. Actress Annie Parisse is 38. Actor Robert Telfer is 36. Country singer-musician Zac Brown is 35. Actor-producer-writer B.J. Novak is 34. Actor Eric Lively is 32. Country singer Blaire Stroud (3 of Hearts) is 30. Singer Shannon Curfman is 28. Actor Rico Rodriguez (TV: “Modern Family”) is 15.
Thought for today: “History is idle gossip about a happening whose truth is lost the instant it has taken place.” — Gore Vidal (1925-2012).