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Today in history: July 31

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

Today is Monday, July 31st, the 212th day of 2006. There are 153 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History
On July 31st, 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 1556, St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus -- the Jesuit order of Catholic priests and brothers -- died in Rome.

In 1875, the 17th president of the United States, Andrew Johnson, died in Carter Station, Tennessee, at age 66.

In 1919, Germany’s Weimar Constitution was adopted by the republic’s National Assembly.

In 1945, Pierre Laval, premier of the pro-Nazi Vichy government, surrendered to U.S. authorities in Austria; he was turned over to France, which later tried and executed him.

In 1948, President Truman helped dedicate New York International Airport (later John F. Kennedy International Airport) at Idlewild Field.

In 1953, Senator Robert A. Taft of Ohio, known as “Mr. Republican,” died in New York at age 63.

In 1964, the American space probe Ranger Seven transmitted pictures of the moon’s surface.

In 1972, Democratic vice-presidential candidate Thomas Eagleton withdrew from the ticket with George McGovern following disclosures Eagleton had once undergone psychiatric treatment.

In 1981, a seven-week-old Major League Baseball strike ended.

In 1991, President Bush and Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty in Moscow.

Ten years ago: After President Clinton’s announcement that he would sign it, 98 Democrats joined the House’s Republican majority to pass a historic welfare overhaul bill. The White House won agreement with key Republican lawmakers on a package of anti-terrorism measures.

Five years ago: The U.S. House of Representatives voted, 265-to-162, to ban all cloning of human embryos, casting Congress’ first votes on the divisive ethical issue. Israeli helicopters fired missiles into offices of the militant Hamas movement, killing eight Palestinians, including a senior Hamas leader and two young boys walking on the street outside.

One year ago: Police arrested seven people during a raid on an apartment in southern England, bringing to 21 the number in custody in the relentless hunt for accomplices in the failed July 21st transit bombings in London. Jeong Jang shot a 3-under 69 to win the Women’s British Open by four strokes.

Today’s Birthdays: Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman is 94. Record executive Ahmet Ertegun is 83. Actor Don Murray is 77. Jazz composer-musician Kenny Burrell is 75. Actor Geoffrey Lewis is 71. Actress France Nuyen is 67. Actress Susan Flannery is 63. Singer Lobo is 63. Actress Geraldine Chaplin is 62. Former movie studio executive Sherry Lansing is 62. Singer Gary Lewis is 61. Rock singer Bob Welch is 60. Tennis player Evonne Goolagong Cawley is 55. Actor Barry Van Dyke is 55. The mayor of Fresno, California, actor Alan Autry, is 54. Actor James Read is 53. Actor Michael Biehn is 50. Rock singer-musician Daniel Ash (Love and Rockets) is 49. Rock musician Bill Berry is 48. Actor Wesley Snipes is 44. Country singer Chad Brock is 43. Musician Fatboy Slim is 43. Rock musician Jim Corr is 42. Author J.K. Rowling is 41. Actor Dean Cain is 40. Actor Ben Chaplin is 37. Actor Loren Dean is 37. Actress Annie Parisse is 31. Actor Robert Telfer is 29. Country singer Blaire Stroud (3 of Hearts) is 23. Singer Shannon Curfman is 21.

Thought for Today
“The art of life is to show your hand. There is no diplomacy like candor. You may lose by it now and then, but it will be a loss well gained if you do. Nothing is so boring as having to keep up a deception.” -- E.V. Lucas, English author and critic (1868-1938).