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Today in history: July 12

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

Today is Wednesday, July 12th, the 193rd day of 2006. There are 172 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On July 12th, 1862, Congress authorized the Medal of Honor.

On this date:
In 100 B.C., Roman dictator Julius Caesar was born.

In 1543, England’s King Henry the Eighth married his sixth and last wife, Catherine Parr.

In 1690, Protestant forces led by William of Orange defeated the Roman Catholic army of James the Second at the Battle of the Boyne in Ireland.

In 1817, naturalist-author Henry David Thoreau was born in Concord, Massachusetts.

In 1948, the Democratic national convention opened in Philadelphia.

In 1972, George McGovern won the Democratic presidential nomination at the party’s convention in Miami Beach.

In 1977, President Carter defended Supreme Court decisions limiting government payments for poor women’s abortions, saying, “There are many things in life that are not fair.”

In 1984, Democratic presidential candidate Walter F. Mondale announced he’d chosen U-S Representative Geraldine A. Ferraro of New York to be his running-mate; Ferraro was the first woman to run for vice president on a major-party ticket.

In 1985, doctors discovered what turned out to be a cancerous growth in President Reagan’s large intestine, prompting surgery the following day.

In 1993, 196 people were killed when an earthquake measuring a magnitude of seven-point-eight struck northern Japan.

Ten years ago: The House voted overwhelmingly to define marriage in federal law as a legal union of one man and one woman -- no matter what states might say. Hurricane Bertha slapped North Carolina’s Cape Fear, then moved on to batter a string of coastal towns.

Five years ago: Abner Louima, the Haitian immigrant tortured in a New York City police station, agreed to an eight-point-seven (m) million-dollar settlement.

One year ago: Mohammed Bouyeri, a Muslim extremist on trial in the slaying of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, unexpectedly confessed in court, saying he was driven by religious conviction. (Bouyeri was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.) Prince Albert the Second of Monaco acceded to the throne of a 700-year-old dynasty. Miguel Tejada and Mark Teixeira led the American League to a 7-to-5 win over the National League in Detroit for the A-L’s eighth straight All-Star victory.

Today’s Birthdays: Artist Andrew Wyeth is 89. Movie director Monte Hellman is 74. Pianist Van Cliburn is 72. Comedian Bill Cosby is 69. Singer-musician Christine McVie is 63. Actress Denise Nicholas is 62. Singer-songwriter Butch Hancock is 61. Fitness guru Richard Simmons is 58. Actor Jay Thomas is 58. Singer Walter Egan is 58. Actress Cheryl Ladd is 55. Country singer Julie Miller is 50. Gospel singer Sandi Patty is 50. Actress Mel Harris is 49. Actor Buddy Foster is 49. Rock guitarist Dan Murphy (Soul Asylum) is 44. Rock singer Robin Wilson is 41. Actress Lisa Nicole Carson is 37. Olympic gold medal figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi is 35. Country singer Shannon Lawson is 33. Rapper Magoo is 33. Rhythm-and-blues singer Tracie Spencer is 30. Actor Topher Grace is 28. Actress Michelle Rodriguez is 28. Actor Erik Per Sullivan is 15.

Thought for Today: “The tragedy is not that things are broken. The tragedy is that they are not mended again.” -- Alan Paton (PAYT’-uhn), South African author (1903-1988).