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Today in history: August 17

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

Today is Thursday, Aug. 17, the 229th day of 2006. There are 136 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On Aug. 17, 1807, Robert Fulton’s North River Steam Boat began heading up New York’s Hudson River on its successful round-trip to Albany.

On this date:
In 1863, Federal batteries and ships bombarded Fort Sumter in Charleston, S.C., harbor during the Civil War.

In 1896, a prospecting party discovered gold in Alaska, a finding that touched off the Klondike gold rush.

In 1915, a mob in Cobb County, Ga., lynched Jewish businessman Leo Frank, 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 1942, during World War II, U.S. 8th Air Force bombers attacked Rouen, France.

In 1943, the Allied conquest of Sicily was completed as U.S. and British forces entered Messina.

In 1969, 248 people were killed as Hurricane Camille slammed into the Gulf Coast.

In 1969, the Woodstock Music and Art Fair concluded near Bethel, N.Y.

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 1985, more than 1,400 meatpackers walked off the job at the Geo. A. Hormel and Company’s main plant in Austin, Minn., 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 a Berlin hospital near Spandau Prison at age 93, having apparently committed suicide.

Ten years ago: A military cargo plane carrying gear for President Clinton crashed and exploded shortly after takeoff from Jackson Hole Airport in Wyoming; eight crew members and a Secret Service employee were killed. The Reform Party announced Ross Perot had won its nomination to be its first-ever presidential candidate.

Five years ago: Millionaire balloonist Steve Fossett’s fifth attempt to fly solo around the world ended in Brazil after running into bad weather.

One year ago: Israeli security forces poured into four Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip, beginning the forcible removal of protesters who’d refused orders to leave the area ahead of a deadline. Three car bombs exploded in Baghdad, killing up to 43 people. Hundreds of anti-war vigils were held nationwide, part of an effort spurred by Cindy Sheehan’s protest near President Bush’s Texas ranch in memory of her son Casey, who was killed in Iraq.

Today’s Birthdays: Actress Maureen O’Hara is 86. Actor Robert DeNiro is 63. Movie director Martha Coolidge is 60. Rock musician Sib Hashian is 57. Actor Robert Joy is 55. Rock singer Kevin Rowland (Dexy’s Midnight Runners) is 53. Rock musician Colin Moulding (XTC) is 51. Country singer-songwriter Kevin Welch is 51. Singer Belinda Carlisle is 48. Actor Sean Penn is 46. Jazz musician Everette Harp is 45. Rock musician Gilby Clarke is 44. Singer Maria McKee is 42. Rock musician Steve Gorman (The Black Crowes) is 41. Rock musician Jill Cunniff is 40. Actor David Conrad is 39. Singer Donnie Wahlberg is 37. Rapper Posdnuos is 37. Tennis player Jim Courier is 36. Actor Bryton McClure is 20. Actor Brady Corbet is 18.

Thought for Today: “A river has no politics.” — David E. Lilienthal, American public official (1899-1981).