updated 8/24/2007 12:00:51 AM ET 2007-08-24T04:00:51

Today is Friday, Aug. 24, the 236th day of 2007. There are 129 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On Aug. 24, 1992, Hurricane Andrew smashed into Florida, causing record damage and dozens of deaths.

On this date:
In A.D. 79, long-dormant Mount Vesuvius erupted, burying the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in volcanic ash. An estimated 20,000 people died.

In A.D. 410, Rome was overrun by the Visigoths, an event that symbolized the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

In 1572, the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre of French Protestants at the hands of Catholics began in Paris.

In 1814, British forces invaded Washington, setting fire to the Capitol and the White House, among other buildings.

In 1857, the New York branch of the Ohio Life Insurance and Trust Co. failed, sparking the Panic of 1857.

In 1932, Amelia Earhart embarked on a 19-hour flight from Los Angeles to Newark, N.J., making her the first woman to fly solo non-stop from coast to coast.

In 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty came into force.

In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Communist Control Act, outlawing the Communist Party in the United States.

In 1968, France became the world’s fifth thermonuclear power as it exploded a hydrogen bomb in the South Pacific.

In 1970, a bomb planted by anti-war extremists exploded at the University of Wisconsin’s Sterling Hall in Madison, killing 33-year-old researcher Robert Fassnacht.

Ten years ago: Pope John Paul II offered tough challenges and affectionate encouragement to more than a million faithful attending Mass during closing World Youth Day ceremonies in Paris.

Five years ago: In Oregon City, Ore., the FBI uncovered human remains in an outbuilding behind the house of Ward Weaver III, a suspect in the case of two missing girls who lived across the street. (Authorities recovered the remains of 12-year-old Ashley Pond and 13-year-old Miranda Gaddis; Weaver later pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and was sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison.)

One year ago: The International Astronomical Union declared that Pluto was no longer a planet, demoting it to the status of a “dwarf planet.”

Today’s Birthdays: Former education secretary Shirley Hufstedler is 82. Actor Kenny Baker (“Star Wars”) is 73. Composer-musician Mason Williams is 69. Rhythm-and-blues singer Marshall Thompson (The Chi-Lites) is 65. Rock musician Ken Hensley (Uriah Heep) is 62. Actor Joe Regalbuto is 58. Actor-writer Stephen Fry is 50. Actor Steve Guttenberg is 49. Baseball Hall-of-Famer Cal Ripken Jr. is 47. Talk show host Craig Kilborn is 45. Rock singer John Bush is 44. Actress Marlee Matlin is 42. Country singer Kristyn Osborn (SheDaisy) is 37. Actor-comedian Dave Chappelle is 34. Actor Carmine Giovinazzo is 34. Actor Chad Michael Murray is 26. Christian rock musician Jeffrey Gilbert (Kutless) is 24. Singer Mika is 24. Actor Rupert Grint (“Harry Potter” films) is 19.

Thought for Today: “Quarrel with a friend — and you are both wrong.” — Lao-Tzu, Chinese philosopher (570 B.C.-490 B.C.)

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