Today is Thursday, July 31, the 212th day of 2014. There are 153 days left in the year.

Highlights in history on this date:

1498 - During his third voyage to the Western Hemisphere, Christopher Columbus arrives at the island of Trinidad.

1658 - Aurangzeb is proclaimed Mogul Emperor in India.

1789 - Austrian and Russian troops under Francis Duke of Coburg and Count Alexander Suvorov defeat Turks at Focshani in Romania.

1812 - Venezuelan Republic falls to Spanish forces, and Francisco de Miranda is arrested.

1919 - Germany adopts Weimar Constitution.

1926 - Afghanistan signs nonaggression pact with Soviet Union.

1944 - U.S. troops break through the German lines around the Normandy beachhead, opening the way to liberating the rest of France.

1951 - French Brigadier General Charles Marie Chanson and Governor Thai Lap Thanh, of French-backed South Vietnam, are killed 97 kilometers (60 miles) south of Saigon by a Communist suicide bomber.

1956 - Britain and West Germany sign 10-year agreement on nuclear cooperation.

1962 - Britain agrees to establish wider Malaysian federation.

1964 - U.S. Ranger 7 spacecraft transmits to Earth first closeup pictures of the moon.

1971 - Two U.S. Apollo 15 astronauts begin three days of moon exploration in an electric car.

1974 - Cease-fire takes effect between Turkey and Greece in fighting on Cyprus.

1978 - Gunman shoots his way into Iraqi embassy in Paris and holds hostages for several hours before surrendering to French police.

1980 - Eleven people are executed in Tehran, Iran, after being convicted of participating in an attempted anti-government coup earlier in the month. Ten of them were members of the armed forces.

1986 - Britain's cabinet unanimously supports Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's resistance to stiff sanctions against South Africa.

1988 - Pier jammed with thousands of festival travelers collapses at ferry terminal in northwest Malaysia, killing at least 30 people and injuring about 370.

1989 - Thousands of residents flee Beirut, Lebanon, as fierce shelling continues.

1990 - U.S. government panel approves use of gene therapy for first time in treatment of human disease.

1991 - U.S. President George Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev sign a long-range nuclear weapons reduction pact at Moscow summit.

1992 - A Thai Airways jetliner crashes into a Himalayan mountain minutes after the pilot reports a technical problem, killing all 113 people on board.

1993 - Truce ends weeklong Israeli offensive against guerrillas in southern Lebanon that killed 140 people and sent 500,000 fleeing north.

1994 - U.N. Security Council approves possible U.S.-led invasion of Haiti.

1995 - Hundreds of Israeli police and soldiers drag Jewish settlers away from an encampment on a West Bank hilltop where they protested the emerging Israel-Palestine Liberation Organization accord.

1996 - African leaders agree to impose sanctions on Burundi for the July 25 military coup that ousted the country's fragile coalition government.

1997 - As Israelis bury the 13 dead from the worst terrorist bombing in more than a year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatens to send troops into the autonomous Palestinian areas.

1998 - South Africa ends the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's public exploration of apartheid's horrors after two years of hearings that laid bare decades of massacres, beatings and torture.

1999 - Two years after devastating earthquakes, 17th-century church of St. Francis of Assisi reopens in central Italy.

2002 - U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds hearings on U.S. plans to attack Iraq and oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

2003 - The Vatican issues a 12-page document strongly urging Roman Catholic lawmakers worldwide to reject legislation sanctioning same-sex civil unions and adoption rights.

2004 - World Trade Organization members approve a plan to end export subsidies on farm products and cut import duties across the world, a key step toward a comprehensive global accord that has been discussed since 2001, trade officials say.

2005 - Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora visits Syria in an attempt to repair relations damaged after Damascus was forced to end its 29-year military presence in Lebanon.

2006 - The U.N. Security Council passes a resolution giving Iran one month to suspend uranium enrichment or face the threat of economic and diplomatic sanctions.

2007 - Deployment of British troops to support Northern Ireland police, codenamed Operation Banner, officially ends after 38 years.

2008 - Haitian lawmakers ratify Michele Pierre-Louis to be the country's prime minister, ending more than three months of political bickering and deadlock in Parliament.

2009 - A string of bombings targets Shiite worshippers in the Baghdad area, killing at least 29 people in an apparently coordinated attack against followers of an anti-U.S. cleric who were blamed for some of Iraq's worst sectarian violence.

2010 - The death toll in the massive flooding in Pakistan surges past 800 as floodwaters receded in the hard-hit northwest. The threat of disease looms as some evacuees arrive in camps with fever, diarrhea and skin problems.

2011 - Syrian security forces backed by tanks and snipers launch a ferocious assault on defiant cities and towns, killing at least 70 people and possibly many more as the regime raced to crush dissent ahead of Ramadan.

2012 - New Delhi's metro shut down and hundreds of coal miners were trapped underground after three Indian electric grids collapse in a cascade, cutting power to 620 million people in the world's biggest blackout.

2013 — A former U.S. general says the classified information Pfc. Bradley Manning revealed through WikiLeaks fractured U.S. military relationships with foreign governments and Afghan villagers.

Today's Birthdays:

Augustus, leader of Protestant Germany (1526-1586), John Ericsson, Swedish-born inventor (1803-1889); Milton Friedman, U.S. economist (1912-2006); Henri Brisson, French statesman (1835-1912), Primo Levi, Italian writer/chemist (1919-1987); Whitney Young, U.S. civil rights leader (1921-1971); Wesley Snipes, U.S. actor (1962--); J.K. Rowling, British author of Harry Potter books (1965--); Dean Cain, U.S. actor (1966--).

Thought For Today:

Equal opportunity means everyone will have a fair chance at being incompetent — Laurence J. Peter, U.S. writer (1919 - 1990).