Today in History

Today is Thursday, Aug. 4, the 217th day of 2016. There are 149 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Aug. 4, 1991, the Greek luxury liner Oceanos sank in heavy seas off South Africa’s southeast coast; the 402 passengers and 179 crew members all survived, largely through the efforts of ship’s entertainers who oversaw rescue operations. (Capt. Yiannis Avranas and other officers faced criticism for leaving the ship while some passengers were still on board.)

On this date:

In 1735, a jury found John Peter Zenger of the New York Weekly Journal not guilty of committing seditious libel against the colonial governor of New York, William Cosby.

In 1790, the U.S. Coast Guard had its beginnings as President George Washington signed a measure authorizing a group of revenue cutters to enforce tariff and trade laws and prevent smuggling.

In 1830, plans for the city of Chicago were laid out.

In 1892, Andrew and Abby Borden were axed to death in their home in Fall River, Mass. Lizzie Borden, Andrew’s daughter from a previous marriage, was accused of the killings, but acquitted at trial.

In 1914, Britain declared war on Germany for invading Belgium; the United States proclaimed its neutrality in the mushrooming world conflict.

In 1936, Jesse Owens of the U.S. won the second of his four gold medals at the Berlin Olympics as he prevailed in the long jump over German Luz Long, who was the first to congratulate him.

n In 1944, 15-year-old diarist Anne Frank was arrested with her sister, parents and four others by the Gestapo after hiding for two years inside a building in Amsterdam. (Anne and her sister, Margot, died at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.)

n In 1964, the bodies of missing civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney were found buried in an earthen dam in Mississippi.

In 1977, President Jimmy Carter signed a measure establishing the Department of Energy.

In 1987, the Federal Communications Commission voted to abolish the Fairness Doctrine, which required radio and television stations to present balanced coverage of controversial issues.

In 1996, on the final day of the Atlanta Olympics, Josiah Thugwane became the first black South African to win a gold medal as he finished first in the marathon.

In 2001, thousands of admirers turned out in London for what would prove to be the last birthday celebration for Britain’s Queen Mother Elizabeth, who was 101. (The Queen Mother died in March 2002.)

Ten years ago: Israeli warplanes destroyed four key bridges on Lebanon’s last untouched highway, severing the country’s final major connection to Syria. Authorities in Phoenix announced the arrests of two suspects in a string of apparently random late-night killings that had terrorized residents for months. (Dale Hausner received six death sentences after he was convicted of killing six people and attacking 19 others; he committed suicide in prison in June 2013. Samuel Dieteman, who had testified against Hausner, was sentenced to life in prison.)

Five years ago: A Texas jury convicted polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs of child sexual assault in a case stemming from two young followers he’d taken as brides in what his church called “spiritual marriages.” (Jeffs was sentenced to life in prison.)

One year ago: President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made dueling appeals to the American Jewish community as they sought to rally support for their opposing positions on the Iranian nuclear deal; Netanyahu made his case against the agreement in a live webcast with more than 10,000 participants, according to the U.S. Jewish groups that organized the event, while Obama held a private meeting at the White House with Jewish leaders.

Today’s Birthdays: Actress-singer Tina Cole is 73. Actor-comedian Richard Belzer is 72. Football Hall-of-Famer John Riggins is 67. Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is 61. Actor-screenwriter Billy Bob Thornton is 61. Actress Kym Karath (Film: “The Sound of Music”) is 58. Hall of Fame track star Mary Decker Slaney is 58. Actress Lauren Tom is 57. President Barack Obama is 55. Producer Michael Gelman (TV: “Live with Kelly”) is 55. Retired MLB All-Star pitcher Roger Clemens is 54. Actress Crystal Chappell is 51. Author Dennis Lehane is 51. Rock musician Rob Cieka (Boo Radleys) is 48. Actor Daniel Dae Kim is 48. Actor Michael DeLuise is 47. Race car driver Jeff Gordon is 45. Rapper-actress Yo-Yo is 45. Country singer Jon Nicholson is 43. Rhythm-and-blues singer-actor Marques Houston is 35. Actress Meghan Markle is 35. Actress Greta Gerwig is 33. Country singer Crystal Bowersox (TV: “American Idol”) is 31. Rock singer Tom Parker (The Wanted) is 28. Actors Cole and Dylan Sprouse are 24. Singer Jessica Sanchez (TV: “American Idol”) is 21.

Thought for Today: “The beginning is the most important part of the work.” — Plato, Classical Greek philosopher.

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