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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 Thursday, July 12, the 193rd day of 2007. There are 172 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On July 12, 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 VIII married his sixth and last wife, Catherine Parr.

In 1690, forces led by William of Orange defeated the army of James II at the Battle of the Boyne in Ireland.

In 1812, U.S. forces led by Gen. William Hull entered Canada during the War of 1812 against Britain. (However, Hull retreated shortly thereafter to Detroit.)

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

In 1854, George Eastman, inventor of the Kodak camera and film, was born in Waterville, N.Y.

In 1948, the Democratic National Convention opened in Philadelphia.

In 1977, President Jimmy 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 had chosen U.S. Rep. 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 1993, some 200 people were killed when an earthquake measuring a magnitude of 7.8 struck northern Japan and triggered a tsunami.

Ten years ago: In Copenhagen, the last stop of an eight-day European tour, President Bill Clinton said political divisions in Europe were closing. In Spain, kidnapped Basque politician Miguel Angel Blanco was found mortally wounded shortly after a deadline set by his militant Basque captors.

Five years ago: The Senate adopted a ban on personal loans from companies to their top officials, a practice that had benefited executives from Enron to WorldCom. The U.N. Security Council agreed to exempt U.S. peacekeepers from war crimes prosecution for a year, ending a threat to U.N. peacekeeping operations.

One year ago: Hezbollah guerrillas kidnapped two Israeli soldiers and killed eight others in a cross-border raid; Israel sent ground troops into Lebanon in response. World powers agreed to send Iran before the U.N. Security Council for possible punishment, saying Tehran had given no sign it would bargain in earnest over its disputed nuclear program.

Today’s Birthdays: Artist Andrew Wyeth is 90. Movie director Monte Hellman is 75. Pianist Van Cliburn is 73. Comedian Bill Cosby is 70. Singer-musician Christine McVie is 64. Actress Denise Nicholas is 63. Singer-songwriter Butch Hancock is 62. Fitness guru Richard Simmons is 59. Actor Jay Thomas is 59. Singer Walter Egan is 59. Actress Cheryl Ladd is 56. Country singer Julie Miller is 51. Gospel singer Sandi Patty is 51. Actress Mel Harris is 50. Actor Buddy Foster is 50. Rock guitarist Dan Murphy (Soul Asylum) is 45. Rock singer Robin Wilson is 42. Actress Lisa Nicole Carson is 38. Olympic gold medal figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi is 36. Country singer Shannon Lawson is 34. Rapper Magoo is 34. Rhythm-and-blues singer Tracie Spencer is 31. Actor Topher Grace is 29. Actress Michelle Rodriguez is 29. Actor Erik Per Sullivan is 16.

Thought for Today: “We think according to nature. We speak according to rules. We act according to custom.” — Francis Bacon, English philosopher (1561-1626).