Today is Wednesday, June 15, the 166th day of 2011. There are 199 days left in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:
On June 15, 1215, England's King John put his seal to Magna Carta ("the Great Charter") at Runnymede.
On this date:
In 1219, forces led by King Valdemar II of Denmark defeated the Estonians in the Battle of Lyndanisse.
In 1775, the Second Continental Congress voted unanimously to appoint George Washington head of the Continental Army.
In 1836, Arkansas became the 25th state.
In 1849, James Polk, the 11th president of the United States, died in Nashville, Tenn.
In 1864, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton signed an order establishing a military burial ground, which became Arlington National Cemetery.
In 1904, more than 1,000 people died when fire erupted aboard the steamboat General Slocum in New York's East River.
In 1942, the Albert Camus novel "L'Etranger" (The Stranger) was first published in France.
In 1944, American forces began their successful invasion of Saipan (sy-PAN') during World War II. B-29 Superfortresses carried out their first raids on Japan.
In 1978, King Hussein (hoo-SAYN') of Jordan married 26-year-old American Lisa Halaby, who became Queen Noor.
In 1991, Mount Pinatubo in the northern Philippines exploded in one of the biggest volcanic eruptions of the 20th century, killing about 800 people.
Ten years ago: On the eve of his first meeting with Vladimir Putin, President George W. Bush, in Poland, chastised Russia for suspected nuclear commerce and encouraged the former Cold War rival to help "erase the false lines that have divided Europe." The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 108-96 in Game 5 to win their second straight NBA championship.
Five years ago: The death toll of U.S. servicemen and women in the Iraq war reached 2,500. A divided Supreme Court made it easier for police to barge into homes and seize evidence without knocking or waiting. House Democrats voted to strip embattled Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson of his seat on the House Ways and Means Committee while a federal bribery investigation ran its course. (Jefferson was later found guilty of taking bribes and is appealing his conviction.) Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates said he would transition from day-to-day responsibilities at the company to concentrate on the charitable work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
One year ago: In his first Oval Office address, President Barack Obama promised that "we will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused," describing the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as a "siege" on the shores of America. Mexican President Felipe Calderon appealed to his fellow citizens to support the fight against organized crime just hours after troops killed 15 suspected gang members.
Today's Birthdays: Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo is 79. Rock musician Lee Dorman (Iron Butterfly) is 69. Rock singer-actor Johnny Hallyday is 68. Singer Russell Hitchcock (Air Supply) is 62. Rock singer Steve Walsh (Kansas) is 60. Comedian-actor Jim Belushi is 57. Country singer Terri Gibbs is 57. Actress Julie Hagerty is 56. Rock musician Brad Gillis (Night Ranger) is 54. Baseball Hall-of-Famer Wade Boggs is 53. Actress Eileen Davidson is 52. Bluegrass musician Terry Smith is 51. Actress Helen Hunt is 48. Rock musician Scott Rockenfield (Queensryche) is 48. Actress Courteney Cox is 47. Country musician Tony Ardoin is 47. Country musician Michael Britt (Lonestar) is 45. Contemporary Christian musician Rob Mitchell is 45. Rock musician Jimmy McD is 43. Actor-rapper Ice Cube is 42. Actress Leah Remini is 41. Actor Jake Busey is 40. Bluegrass singer-musician Jamie Johnson is 39. Rock musician T-Bone Willy (Save Ferris) is 39. Actor Neil Patrick Harris is 38. Actor Greg Vaughan is 38. Actress Elizabeth Reaser is 36. Rock singer Dryden Mitchell (Alien Ant Farm) is 35. Rock musician Billy Martin (Good Charlotte) is 30. Actor Denzel Whitaker is 21.
Thought for Today: "The times are not so bad as they seem; they couldn't be." -- John Franklin Carter, American commentator and author (1897-1967).
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)