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Today in history: November 17

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

Today is Friday, Nov. 17, the 321st day of 2006. There are 44 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On Nov. 17, 1800, Congress held its first session in Washington in the partially completed Capitol building.

On this date:
In 1558, Elizabeth I ascended the English throne upon the death of Queen Mary.

In 1869, the Suez Canal opened in Egypt.

In 1889, the Union Pacific Railroad Co. began direct, daily railroad service between Chicago and Portland, Ore., as well as Chicago and San Francisco.

In 1917, sculptor August Rodin died in Meudon, France, at age 77.

In 1934, Lyndon Baines Johnson married Claudia Alta Taylor, better known as “Lady Bird.”

In 1962, Washington’s Dulles International Airport was dedicated by President Kennedy.

In 1970, the Soviet Union landed an unmanned, remote-controlled vehicle on the moon, the Lunokhod 1.

In 1973, President Nixon told Associated Press managing editors meeting in Orlando, Fla.: “People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I’m not a crook.”

In 1979, Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini ordered the release of 13 female and black American hostages being held at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.

In 2002, Israeli statesman Abba Eban died near Tel Aviv at age 87.

Ten years ago: A Russian Mars space probe carrying plutonium plunged into the South Pacific Ocean after failing to break out of Earth’s orbit following its launch. The World Food Summit concluded a five-day meeting in Rome.

Five years ago: The Taliban confirmed the death of Osama bin Laden’s military chief Mohammed Atef in an airstrike three days earlier. Burhanuddin Rabbani, the Afghan president ousted five years earlier by the Taliban, returned to the capital Kabul. Lennox Lewis knocked out Hasim Rahman in the fourth round to get back his WBC and IBF heavyweight titles. Former U.S. Sen. Harrison A. Williams Jr., whose political career was ended by the Abscam bribery scandal, died in Denville, N.J., at age 81.

One year ago: U.S. Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, considered one of Congress’ most hawkish Democrats, called for an immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. A jury in Sarasota, Fla., convicted mechanic Joseph Smith of kidnapping, raping and strangling 11-year-old Carlie Brucia, whose abduction had been captured by a car-wash security camera.

Today’s Birthdays: Singer Gordon Lightfoot is 68. Movie director Martin Scorsese is 64. Actress Lauren Hutton is 63. Actor-director Danny DeVito is 62. “Saturday Night Live” producer Lorne Michaels is 62. Baseball Hall-of-Famer Tom Seaver is 62. Movie director Roland Joffe is 61. Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean is 58. Actor Stephen Root is 55. Actress-producer-director Yolanda King is 51. Actress Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio is 48. Actor William Moses is 47. Entertainer RuPaul is 46. Actor Dylan Walsh is 43. Actress Sophie Marceau is 40. Actress-model Daisy Fuentes is 40. Rhythm-and-blues singer Ronnie DeVoe (New Edition; Bell Biv DeVoe) is 39. Rock musician Ben Wilson (Blues Traveler) is 39. Rhythm-and-blues musician Jeff Allen (Mint Condition) is 38. Actress Leslie Bibb is 33. Actor Brandon Call is 30. Country singer Aaron Lines is 29. Actress Rachel McAdams is 28. Rock musician Isaac Hanson (Hanson) is 26. Actor Justin Cooper is 18. Actress Raquel Castro (“Jersey Girl”) is 12.

Thought for Today: “We have so many words for states of the mind, and so few for the states of the body.” — Jeanne Moreau, French actress.