Today is Thursday, Aug. 17, the 229th day of 2017. There are 136 days left in the year.
Today’s Highlight in History:
On August 17, 1807, Robert Fulton’s North River Steamboat began heading up the Hudson River on its successful round trip between New York and Albany.
On this date:
- In 1863, Federal batteries and ships began bombarding Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor during the Civil War, but the Confederates managed to hold on despite several days of pounding.
- In 1915, a mob in Cobb County, Georgia, lynched Jewish businessman Leo Frank, 31, whose death sentence for the murder of 13-year-old Mary Phagan had been commuted to life imprisonment. (Frank, who’d maintained his innocence, was pardoned by the state of Georgia in 1986.)
- In 1943, the Allied conquest of Sicily during World War II was completed as U.S. and British forces entered Messina.
- In 1945, Indonesian nationalists declared their independence from the Netherlands. The George Orwell novel “Animal Farm,” an allegorical satire of Soviet Communism, was first published in London by Martin Secker & Warburg.
- In 1962, East German border guards shot and killed 18-year-old Peter Fechter, who had attempted to cross the Berlin Wall into the western sector.
- In 1969, Hurricane Camille slammed into the Mississippi coast as a Category 5 storm that was blamed for 256 U.S. deaths, three in Cuba.
- In 1978, the first successful trans-Atlantic balloon flight ended as Maxie Anderson, Ben Abruzzo and Larry Newman landed their Double Eagle II outside Paris.
- In 1982, the first commercially produced compact discs, a recording of ABBA’s “The Visitors,” were pressed at a Philips factory near Hanover, West Germany.
- In 1985, more than 1,400 meatpackers walked off the job at the Geo. A. Hormel and Co.’s main plant in Austin, Minnesota, in a bitter strike that lasted just over a year.
- In 1987, Rudolf Hess, the last member of Adolf Hitler’s inner circle, died at Spandau Prison at age 93, an apparent suicide. The musical drama “Dirty Dancing,” starring Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze, premiered in New York.
- In 1996, the Reform Party announced Ross Perot had been selected to be its first-ever presidential nominee, opting for the third-party’s founder over challenger Richard Lamm.
- In 1999, more than 17,000 people were killed when a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck Turkey.
Ten years ago: Hurricane Dean roared into the eastern Caribbean, tearing away roofs, flooding streets and causing at least three deaths on small islands as the powerful storm headed on a collision course with Jamaica and Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
Five years ago: In Moscow, a judge sentenced three punk rock-style activists, members of the band Pussy Riot, to two years in prison for hooliganism for briefly taking over a cathedral in a raucous prayer for deliverance from Russian President Vladimir Putin; the court decision drew protests around the world. (One of the three defendants was later released on probation; the other two were released several months short of their two-year sentence in December 2013.)
One year ago: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump announced a shake-up of his campaign leadership, naming Stephen Bannon of the conservative Breitbart News website as chief executive officer and promoting pollster Kellyanne Conway to campaign manager. Caster Semenya of South Africa made her debut at the Rio Olympics amid questions about how track and field can deal with hyper androgenic women; Semenya qualified for the 800 semifinals, an event she won three days later. Movie director Arthur Hiller (“Love Story”) died in Los Angeles at age 92.
Today’s Birthdays: Former Chinese president Jiang Zemin is 91. Author V.S. Naipaul is 85. Former MLB All-Star Boog Powell is 76. Actor Robert DeNiro is 74. Movie director Martha Coolidge is 71. Rock musician Gary Talley (The Box Tops) is 70. Actor-screenwriter-producer Julian Fellowes is 68. Actor Robert Joy is 66. International Tennis Hall of Famer Guillermo Vilas is 65. Rock singer Kevin Rowland (Dexy’s Midnight Runners) is 64. Rock musician Colin Moulding (XTC) is 62. Country singer-songwriter Kevin Welch is 62. Olympic gold medal figure skater Robin Cousins is 60. Singer Belinda Carlisle is 59. Author Jonathan Franzen is 58. Actor Sean Penn is 57. Jazz musician Everette Harp is 56. Rock musician Gilby Clarke is 55. Singer Maria McKee is 53. Rock musician Steve Gorman (The Black Crowes) is 52. Rock musician Jill Cunniff is 51. Actor David Conrad is 50. Actress Helen McCrory is 49. Singer Donnie Wahlberg is 48. College Basketball Hall of Famer and retired NBA All-Star Christian Laettner is 48. Rapper Posdnuos is 48. International Tennis Hall of Famer Jim Courier is 47. Retired MLB All-Star Jorge Posada is 46. TV personality Giuliana Rancic is 43. Actor Mark Salling is 35. Actor Bryton James is 31. Actor Brady Corbet is 29. Actress Taissa Farmiga is 23. Olympic bronze medal figure skater Gracie Gold is 22.
Thought for Today: “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle, or the mirror that reflects it.” — Edith Wharton, American author (1862-1937).