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Today in History — July 18

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

Today is Wednesday, July 18, the 199th day of 2007. There are 166 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On July 18, 1947, President Harry Truman signed the Presidential Succession Act, which placed the speaker of the House and the Senate president pro tempore next in the line of succession after the vice president.

On this date:
In A.D. 64, the Great Fire of Rome began.

In 1792, American naval hero John Paul Jones died in Paris at age 45.

In 1927, Ty Cobb hit safely for the 4,000th time in his career.

In 1932, the United States and Canada signed a treaty to develop the St. Lawrence Seaway.

In 1936, the Spanish Civil War began.

In 1940, the Democratic National Convention in Chicago nominated President Franklin Roosevelt for an unprecedented third term in office.

In 1969, a car driven by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., plunged off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island near Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.; passenger Mary Jo Kopechne died.

In 1984, a gunman opened fire at a McDonald’s fast food restaurant in San Ysidro, Calif., killing 21 people before being shot dead by police.

In 1984, Walter F. Mondale won the Democratic presidential nomination in San Francisco.

In 1986, the world got its first look at the remains of the Titanic as videotapes of the British luxury liner, which sank in 1912, were released by researchers from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Ten years ago: German businessman Thomas Kramer was slapped with a record $323,000 penalty by the Federal Election Commission for making illegal U.S. political contributions. All key systems on the Russian space station Mir returned to near-normal, about 24 hours after the already disabled spacecraft had lost power.

Five years ago: Accused 9-11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui tried to plead guilty to charges that could have brought the death penalty, but a federal judge in Alexandria, Va., insisted he take time to think about it. Bob Pittman stepped down as chief operating officer of AOL Time Warner in a shake-up at the world’s largest media company.

One year ago: The Senate voted after two days of emotional debate to expand federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, sending the measure to President George Bush for a promised veto. A doctor and two nurses who labored at a flooded-out New Orleans hospital in Hurricane Katrina’s chaotic aftermath were arrested and accused of killing four trapped and desperately ill patients with injections of morphine and sedatives.

Today’s Birthdays: Former South African President Nelson Mandela is 89. Former Sen. John Glenn, D-Ohio, is 86. Skating champion and commentator Dick Button is 78. Movie director Paul Verhoeven is 69. Singer Brian Auger is 68. Singer Dion DiMucci is 68. Actor James Brolin is 67. Singer Martha Reeves is 66. Blues guitarist Lonnie Mack is 66. Singer Ricky Skaggs is 53. Rock musician Nigel Twist (The Alarm) is 49. Actress Anne-Marie Johnson is 47. Actress Elizabeth McGovern is 46. Rock musician John Hermann (Widespread Panic) is 45. Rock musician Jack Irons (Pearl Jam) is 45. Actor Vin Diesel is 40. Rock musician Daron Malakian (System of a Down) is 32. Rock musician Tony Fagenson (Eve 6) is 29. Movie director Jared Hess is 28. Actor Jason Weaver is 28. Actress Kristen Bell is 27. Rock singer Ryan Cabrera is 25.

Thought for Today: “Much misconstruction and bitterness are spared to him who thinks naturally upon what he owes to others, rather than on what he ought to expect from them.” — Elizabeth de Meulan Guizot, French author (1773-1827).