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Today in history: August 3

Celebrity birthdays, highlights in history, plus more facts about this day
/ Source: The Associated Press

Today is Thursday, August third, the 215th day of 2006. There are 150 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History
Twenty-five years ago, on August third, 1981, U.S. air traffic controllers went on strike, despite a warning from President Reagan they would be fired, which they were.

On this date
In 1492, Christopher Columbus set sail from Palos, Spain, on a voyage that took him to the present-day Americas.

In 1914, Germany declared war on France.

In 1923, Calvin Coolidge was sworn in as the 30th president of the United States, following the death of Warren G. Harding.

In 1936, the State Department urged Americans in Spain to leave because of that country’s civil war.

In 1943, General George S. Patton slapped a private at an army hospital in Sicily, accusing him of cowardice. (Patton was later ordered by General Dwight D. Eisenhower to apologize for this and a second, similar episode.)

In 1949, the National Basketball Association was formed as a merger of the Basketball Association of America and the National Basketball League.

In 1958, the nuclear-powered submarine Nautilus became the first vessel to cross the North Pole underwater.

In 1980, closing ceremonies were held in Moscow for the Summer Olympic Games, which had been boycotted by dozens of countries, including the United States.

In 1993, the Senate voted 96-to-three to confirm Supreme Court nominee Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

In 1994, Stephen G. Breyer was sworn in as the Supreme Court’s newest justice in a private ceremony at Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist’s Vermont summer home.

Ten years ago: At the Atlanta Olympics, the U.S. men’s 400-meter relay, without Carl Lewis, failed to win the gold medal, finishing behind Canada. The American women’s 400 and 16-hundred relays, and the men’s 16-hundred, all won gold. The U.S. men’s basketball “Dream Team” beat Yugoslavia, 95-69, to win the gold.

Five years ago: U.S. Fulbright scholar John Tobin was released from a Russian prison after serving half of a one-year drug sentence and winning parole. Actor Christopher Hewett died at age 80.

One year ago: Fourteen Marines from a Reserve unit in Ohio were killed in the deadliest roadside bombing suffered by American forces in the Iraq war. Spacewalking astronaut Stephen Robinson removed two worrisome pieces of filler material from the shuttle Discovery’s belly in an unprecedented space repair job.

Today’s Birthdays: Author P.D. James is 86. Broadway composer Richard Adler is 85. Singer Gordon Stoker (The Jordanaires) is 82. Singer Tony Bennett is 80. Actor Martin Sheen is 66. Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart is 65. Singer Beverly Lee (The Shirelles) is 65. Movie director John Landis is 56. Actress JoMarie Payton is 56. Actor Jay North (“Dennis the Menace”) is 55. Actor John C. McGinley is 47. Rock singer-musician Lee Rocker (The Stray Cats) is 45. Rock singer James Hetfield (Metallica) is 43. Rock singer-musician Ed Roland (Collective Soul) is 43. Actor Isaiah Washington is 43. Country musician Dean Sams (Lonestar) is 40. Hip-hop artist Spin (Salt-N-Pepa) is 35. Actress Brigid Brannagh is 34. Actress Evangeline Lilly is 27. Singer Holly Arnstein (Dream) is 21.

Thought for Today
“It takes a great deal of history to produce a little literature.” -- Henry James, American author (1843-1916).