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Today in History — August 1

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

Today is Wednesday, Aug. 1, the 213th day of 2007. There are 152 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
One hundred years ago, on Aug. 1, 1907, the U.S. Air Force had its beginnings as the U.S. Army Signal Corps established an aeronautical division in charge of “all matters pertaining to military ballooning, air machines and all kindred subjects.”

On this date:
In 1774, British scientist Joseph Priestley succeeded in isolating oxygen from air.

In 1876, Colorado was admitted as the 38th state.

In 1894, the First Sino-Japanese War erupted, the result of a dispute over control of Korea; Japan’s army routed the Chinese.

In 1914, Germany declared war on Russia at the onset of World War I.

In 1936, the Olympic games opened in Berlin with a ceremony presided over by Adolf Hitler.

In 1944, an uprising broke out in Warsaw, Poland, against Nazi occupation, a revolt that lasted two months before collapsing.

In 1946, President Harry S. Truman signed the Fulbright Program into law, establishing the scholarships named for Sen. William J. Fulbright.

In 1946, America’s Atomic Energy Commission was established.

In 1957, the United States and Canada agreed to create the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD).

In 1966, 25-year-old Charles Joseph Whitman went on a shooting rampage at the University of Texas in Austin, killing 14 people. Whitman, who had also murdered his wife and mother hours earlier, was gunned down by police.

Ten years ago: The National Cancer Institute reported that fallout from 1950s nuclear bomb tests had exposed millions of children across the country to radioactive iodine. President Bill Clinton lifted a 20-year-old ban on the sale of high-performance aircraft and other advanced weapons to Latin America.

Five years ago: Two former WorldCom executives were arrested on charges of falsifying the books at the now-bankrupt long-distance company. Two teenage girls were abducted from their dates at a lovers’ lane outside Lancaster, Calif.; they were rescued 100 miles away after their kidnapper crashed his getaway car and was shot to death by sheriff’s deputies. The United States and a bloc of Southeast Asian nations signed a sweeping anti-terrorism treaty.

One year ago: Mel Gibson issued a statement in which he denied being a bigot; he also apologized to “everyone in the Jewish community for the vitriolic and harmful words” he’d used when he was arrested for investigation of drunken driving. Fidel Castro released a statement a day after temporarily ceding power to his brother Raul in which he sought to reassure Cubans that his health was stable after intestinal surgery.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor-director Geoffrey Holder is 77. Singer Ramblin’ Jack Elliott is 76. Cartoonist Tom Wilson (retired creator of “Ziggy”) is 76. Actor-comedian Dom DeLuise is 74. Fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent is 71. Former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, R-N.Y., is 70. Actor Giancarlo Giannini is 65. Blues singer-musician Robert Cray is 54. Singer Michael Penn is 49. Rock singer Joe Elliott (Def Leppard) is 48. Rock singer-musician Suzi Gardner (L7) is 47. Rapper Chuck D (Public Enemy) is 47. Actor Jesse Borrego is 45. Rapper Coolio is 44. Rock singer Adam Duritz (Counting Crows) is 43. Movie director Sam Mendes is 42. Country singer George Ducas is 41. Country musician Charlie Kelley (Buffalo Club) is 39. Actress Tempestt Bledsoe is 34. Actor Jason Momoa is 28. Singer Ashley Parker Angel is 26. Actress Taylor Fry is 26. Actor James Francis Kelly is 18.

Thought for Today: “As scarce as truth is, the supply is always greater than the demand.” — Josh Billings, nom de plume of Henry Wheeler Shaw, American author (1818-1885).