Saturday June 15, 2002

On June 15, 1215, King John put his seal to Magna Carta (“the Great Charter”) at Runnymede, England, guaranteeing certain rights and privileges within his realm. 

On this date: 

In 1520, Pope Leo X threatened to excommunicate Martin Luther if he did not recant his religious beliefs. 

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 1844, Charles Goodyear received a patent for his process to strengthen rubber. 

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 1944, American forces began their successful invasion of Saipan during World War II. Meanwhile, B-29 Superfortresses made their first raids on Japan. 

In 1978, King Hussein of Jordan married 26-year-old American Lisa Halaby, who became Queen Noor. 

In 1994, Israel and the Vatican established full diplomatic relations. 

Ten years ago: Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin arrived in the United States for his summit with President George H.W. Bush. The Supreme Court ruled the government may kidnap criminal suspects from a foreign country for prosecution. Vice President Dan Quayle, relying on a faulty flash card, erroneously instructed a Trenton, N.J., elementary school student to spell “potato” as “potatoe” during a spelling bee. 

Five years ago: Israel’s Supreme Court rejected an appeal to charge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with fraud in an influence-peddling scandal that had threatened to topple his government. 

One year ago: On the eve of his first meeting with Vladimir Putin, President 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 five to win their second straight NBA championship. 

Today’s Birthdays: Former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo is 70. Actor Aron Kincaid is 59. Actor-director Simon Callow is 53. Singer Russell Hitchcock (Air Supply) is 53. Rock singer Steve Walsh (Kansas) is 51. Comedian-actor Jim Belushi is 48. Country singer Terri Gibbs is 48. Actress Julie Hagerty is 47. Actress Eileen Davidson (“The Young and the Restless”) is 43. Actress Helen Hunt is 39. Rock musician Scott Rockenfield (Queensryche) is 39. Actress Courteney Cox Arquette is 38. Country musician Tony Ardoin is 38. Country musician Michael Britt (Lonestar) is 36. Rock musician Jimmy McD (formerly of Jimmie’s Chicken Shack) is 34. Actor-rapper Ice Cube is 33. Actress Leah Remini is 32. Actor Jake Busey is 31. Rock musician T-Bone Willy (Save Ferris) is 30. Actor Neil Patrick Harris is 29. Rock singer Dryden Mitchell (Alien Ant Farm) is 26. Rock musician Billy (Good Charlotte) is 21.