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Today in history: July 8

Celebrity birthdays, highlights in history, plus more facts about this day
/ Source: The Associated Press

Today is Saturday, July 8, the 189th day of 2006. There are 176 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On July 8, 1776, Colonel John Nixon gave the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence, in Philadelphia.

On this date:
In 1663, King Charles II of England granted a charter to Rhode Island.

In 1853, an expedition led by Commodore Matthew Perry arrived in Yedo Bay, Japan, on a mission to seek diplomatic and trade relations with the Japanese.

In 1889, The Wall Street Journal was first published.

In 1919, President Wilson received a tumultuous welcome in New York City after his return from the Versailles Peace Conference in France.

In 1947, demolition work began in New York City to make way for the new permanent headquarters of the United Nations.

In 1950, Gen. Douglas MacArthur was named commander-in-chief of United Nations forces in Korea.

In 1975, President Ford announced he would seek the Republican nomination for the presidency in 1976.

In 1986, Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, widely regarded as “father of the nuclear navy,” died in Arlington, Va., at age 86.

In 1986, Kurt Waldheim was inaugurated as president of Austria despite controversy over his alleged ties to Nazi war crimes.

In 1994, Kim Il Sung, North Korea’s communist leader since 1948, died at age 82.

Ten years ago: Hurricane Bertha slammed into the Virgin Islands with torrential rains and winds that gusted to 105 mph.

Five years ago: Cable operator Comcast mounted a hostile bid to merge with AT&T Broadband. (Although AT&T spurned that offer, the company’s board ultimately agreed to merge the cable unit with Comcast.) Venus Williams won her second consecutive Wimbledon title by beating Belgian Justine Henin 6-1, 3-6, 6-0.

One year ago: Group of Eight leaders meeting in Gleneagles, Scotland, unveiled a $50 billion package to help lift Africa from poverty and pledged new joint efforts against terrorism in response to the deadly London bombings the day before. Hurricane Dennis slammed into Cuba.

Today’s Birthdays: Singer Jerry Vale is 74. Singer Steve Lawrence is 71. Actor Jeffrey Tambor is 62. Ballerina Cynthia Gregory is 60. Actress Kim Darby is 59. Children’s performer Raffi is 58. Actress Anjelica Huston is 55. News columnist Anna Quindlen is 54. Actor Kevin Bacon is 48. Rock musician Andy Fletcher (Depeche Mode) is 45. Country singer Toby Keith is 45. Rock musician Graham Jones (Haircut 100) is 45. Rock singer Joan Osborne is 44. Writer-producer Rob Burnett is 44. Actor Corey Parker is 41. Actor Billy Crudup is 38. Actor Michael Weatherly (“Dark Angel”) is 38. Singer Beck is 36. Country singer Drew Womack (Sons of the Desert) is 36. Christian rock musician Stephen Mason (Jars of Clay) is 31. Actor Milo Ventimiglia is 29. Rock musician Tavis Werts (Reel Big Fish) is 29. Singer Ben Jelen is 27. Actress Sophia Bush is 24.

Thought for Today: “Nothing astonishes men so much as common sense and plain dealing.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist, poet and philosopher (1803-1882).