Today in History: He’s French and he helps make America

Today in History

Today is Tuesday, July 31, the 212th day of 2018. There are 153 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On July 31, 1991, President George H.W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty in Moscow.

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On this date:

In 1777, during the Revolutionary War, the Marquis de Lafayette, a 19-year-old French nobleman, was made a major-general in the American Continental Army.

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

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

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In 1954, Pakistan’s K2 was conquered as two members of an Italian expedition, Achille Compagnoni (ah-KEE’-lay kohm-pahn-YOH’-nee) and Lino Lacedelli (LEE’-noh lah-chee-DEHL’-ee), reached the summit.

In 1957, the Distant Early Warning Line, a system of radar stations designed to detect Soviet bombers approaching North America, went into operation.

In 1964, the American space probe Ranger 7 reached the moon, transmitting pictures back to Earth before impacting the lunar surface.

In 1970, “The Huntley-Brinkley Report” came to an end after nearly 14 years as co-anchor Chet Huntley signed off for the last time; the broadcast was renamed “NBC Nightly News.”

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In 1971, Apollo 15 crew members David Scott and James Irwin became the first astronauts to use a lunar rover on the surface of the moon.

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

In 1989, a pro-Iranian group in Lebanon released a grisly videotape showing the body of American hostage William R. Higgins, a Marine lieutenant-colonel, dangling from a rope.

In 1992, the former Soviet republic of Georgia was admitted to the United Nations as its 179th member. Thai Airways Flight 311, an Airbus A310, crashed while approaching Tribhuvan International Airport in Nepal; all 113 people aboard died.

In 2002, a bomb exploded inside a cafeteria at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, killing nine people, including five Americans.

Ten years ago: Scientists reported the Phoenix spacecraft had confirmed the presence of frozen water in Martian soil. Three teenagers were shot to death when a gunman opened fire on a group of young people who’d gathered to go swimming in the Menominee River near Niagara, Wis. (The gunman, Scott J. Johnson, was later sentenced to life in prison without parole.)

Five years ago: President Barack Obama’s national security team acknowledged for the first time that, when investigating one suspected terrorist, it could read and store the phone records of millions of Americans. Voters in Zimbabwe went to the polls in national elections that were won by President Robert Mugabe amid opponents’ allegations of fraud.

One year ago: Retired Marine Gen. John Kelly was sworn in as White House chief of staff, replacing Reince Priebus. Hours later, White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci was let go, just 11 days after he was appointed to the job. Former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio was convicted of a criminal charge for refusing to stop traffic patrols that targeted immigrants. (Arpaio was later pardoned by President Donald Trump.) The Trump administration slapped financial sanctions on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro after a weekend election that gave his ruling party virtually unlimited powers. Los Angeles reached a deal with international Olympic leaders to host the 2028 Summer Games. (The games were officially awarded to Los Angeles in September.)

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Don Murray is 89. Jazz composer-musician Kenny Burrell is 87. Actress France Nuyen is 79. Actress Susan Flannery is 79. Singer Lobo is 75. Actress Geraldine Chaplin is 74. Former movie studio executive Sherry Lansing is 74. Singer Gary Lewis is 73. Actor Lane Davies is 68. Actress Susan Wooldridge is 68. International Tennis Hall of Famer Evonne Goolagong Cawley is 67. Actor Barry Van Dyke is 67. Actor Alan Autry is 66. Jazz composer-musician Michael Wolff is 66. Actor James Read is 65. Actor Michael Biehn is 62. Rock singer-musician Daniel Ash (Love and Rockets) is 61. Actor Dirk Blocker is 61. Entrepreneur Mark Cuban is 60. Rock musician Bill Berry is 60. Actor Wally Kurth is 60. Actor Wesley Snipes is 56. Country singer Chad Brock is 55. Musician Fatboy Slim is 55. Rock musician Jim Corr is 54. Author J.K. Rowling is 53. Actor Dean Cain is 52. Actor Jim True-Frost is 52. Actor Ben Chaplin is 49. Actor Loren Dean is 49. Actress Eve Best is 47. Retired NFL quarterback Gus Frerotte is 47. Actress Annie Parisse is 43. Actor Robert Telfer is 41. Country singer-musician Zac Brown is 40. Actor-producer-writer B.J. Novak is 39. Actor Eric Lively is 37. Country singer Blaire Stroud (3 of Hearts) is 35. Singer Shannon Curfman is 33. Hip-hop artist Lil Uzi Vert is 24. Actor Reese Hartwig is 20. Actor Rico Rodriguez is 20.

Thought for Today: “The trouble with the public is that there is too much of it.” — Don Marquis, American journalist, poet and dramatist (1878-1937).