updated 8/24/2005 12:17:12 AM ET 2005-08-24T04:17:12

Today is Wednesday, Aug. 24, the 236th day of 2005. 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; 55 deaths in Florida, Louisiana and the Bahamas were blamed on the storm.

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 1572, the slaughter of French Protestants at the hands of Catholics began in Paris.

In 1814, British forces invaded Washington D.C., setting fire to the Capitol and the White House.

In 1932, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly non-stop across the United States, traveling from Los Angeles to Newark, N.J., in just over 19 hours.

In 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty went into effect.

In 1954, the Communist Control Act went into effect, virtually 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 Army Math Research Center in Madison, killing 33-year-old researcher Robert Fassnacht.

In 1981, Mark David Chapman was sentenced in New York to 20 years to life in prison for slaying rock star John Lennon.

In 1989, Baseball Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti banned Pete Rose from the game for gambling.

Ten years ago: China expelled Chinese-American human rights activist Harry Wu, hours after convicting him of spying. Microsoft Corp. began selling its highly publicized Windows 95 personal computer software.

Five years ago: Mexican President-elect Vicente Fox met with Vice President Al Gore and President Clinton in Washington, a day before he met with Texas Gov. George W. Bush in Dallas.

One year ago: An independent commission said the blame for abuses at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison lay mainly with the American soldiers who ran the jail, but said senior commanders and top-level Pentagon officials could also be faulted for failed leadership and oversight. Osama bin Laden’s chauffeur was arraigned at first U.S. military commission hearing since World War II. Chechen separatists set off bombs aboard two Russian airliners that crashed after taking off from the same Moscow airport, killing a total of 90 people. Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, who famously theorized that terminally ill patients go through five stages of grief, died in Scottsdale, Ariz., at age 78.

Today’s Birthdays: Former education secretary Shirley Hufstedler is 80. Actor Kenny Baker (“Star Wars”) is 71. Composer-musician Mason Williams is 67. Rhythm-and-blues singer Marshall Thompson (The Chi-Lites) is 63. Rock musician Ken Hensley (Uriah Heep) is 60. Actor Joe Regalbuto is 56. Actor-writer Stephen Fry is 48. Actor Steve Guttenberg is 47. Baseball star Cal Ripken Jr. is 45. Talk show host Craig Kilborn is 43. Rock singer John Bush is 42. Actress Marlee Matlin is 40. Country singer Kristyn Osborn (SheDaisy) is 35. Actor-comedian Dave Chappelle is 32. Actor Carmine Giovinazzo is 32. Actor Chad Michael Murray is 24. Actor Rupert Grint (“Harry Potter” films) is 17.

Thought for Today: “No one knows his true character until he has run out of gas, purchased something on the installment plan and raised an adolescent.” — Marcelene Cox, American writer.

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