updated 6/15/2006 12:01:47 AM ET 2006-06-15T04:01:47

Today is Thursday, June 15th, the 166th day of 2006. There are 199 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On June 15th, 1215, England’s King John put his seal to Magna Carta (“the Great Charter”) at Runnymede.

On this date:
In 1520, Pope Leo the Tenth threatened to excommunicate Martin Luther if he did not recant his religious beliefs.

In 1775, the Second Continental Congress voted unanimously to appoint George Washington head of the Continental Army.

In 1836, Arkansas became the 25th state.

In 1844, Charles Goodyear received a patent for his process to strengthen rubber.

In 1849, James Polk, the eleventh president of the United States, died in Nashville, Tennessee.

In 1864, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton signed an order establishing a military burial ground, which became Arlington National Cemetery.

In 1904, more than a thousand people died when fire erupted aboard the steamboat General Slocum in New York’s East River.

In 1944, American forces began their successful invasion of Saipan during World War II. Meanwhile, B-29 Superfortresses made their first raids on Japan.

In 1978, King Hussein of Jordan married 26-year-old American Lisa Halaby, who became Queen Noor.

In 1994, Israel and the Vatican established full diplomatic relations.

Ten years ago: A truck bomb blew up in a retail district of Manchester, England, injuring more than 200 people in an attack claimed by the Irish Republican Army. Ella Fitzgerald, the “first lady of song,” died in Beverly Hills, California, at age 78.

Five years ago: On the eve of his first meeting with Vladimir Putin, President Bush, in Poland, chastised Russia for suspected nuclear commerce and encouraged the former Cold War rival to help “erase the false lines that have divided Europe.” The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 108-to-96 in Game Five to win their second straight NBA championship.

One year ago: The autopsy released on Terri Schiavo backed the contention of her husband, Michael, that she was in a persistent vegetative state, finding she was severely and irreversibly brain-damaged and blind as well. Iraqi and U.S. forces freed Australian hostage Douglas Wood. Former Baylor basketball player Carlton Dotson was sentenced to 35 years in prison, a week after he unexpectedly pleaded guilty to murdering teammate Patrick Dennehy.

Today’s Birthdays: Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo is 74. Rock musician Lee Dorman (Iron Butterfly) is 64. Singer Russell Hitchcock (Air Supply) is 57. Rock singer Steve Walsh (Kansas) is 55. Comedian-actor Jim Belushi is 52. Country singer Terri Gibbs is 52. Actress Julie Hagerty is 51. Actress Eileen Davidson is 47. Actress Helen Hunt is 43. Rock musician Scott Rockenfield (Queensryche) is 43. Actress Courteney Cox is 42. Country musician Tony Ardoin is 42. Country musician Michael Britt (Lonestar) is 40. Musician Rob Mitchell is 40. Rock musician Jimmy McD is 38. Actor-rapper Ice Cube is 37. Actress Leah Remini is 36. Actor Jake Busey is 35. Rock musician T-Bone Willy (Save Ferris) is 34. Actor Neil Patrick Harris is 33. Rock singer Dryden Mitchell (Alien Ant Farm) is 30. Rock musician Billy Martin (Good Charlotte) is 25.

Thought for Today: “In trying to make something new, half the undertaking lies in discovering whether it can be done. Once it has been established that it can, duplication is inevitable.” — Helen Gahagan Douglas, U.S. representative (1900-1980).

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