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Today in History — June 21

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

Today is Wednesday, June 20, the 171st day of 2007. There are 194 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On June 20, 1893, a jury in New Bedford, Mass., found Lizzie Borden innocent of the ax murders of her father and stepmother.

On this date:
In 1756, in India, a group of British soldiers was imprisoned in a suffocating cell that gained notoriety as the “Black Hole of Calcutta”; most died. (However, the exact circumstances of this incident — such as the number of prisoners, originally put at 146 — are disputed.)

In 1782, Congress approved the Great Seal of the United States.

In 1837, Queen Victoria acceded to the British throne following the death of her uncle, King William IV.

In 1863, West Virginia became the 35th state.

In 1943, race-related rioting erupted in Detroit; federal troops were sent in two days later to quell the violence that resulted in more than 30 deaths.

In 1947, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel was shot dead at the Beverly Hills, Calif., mansion of his girlfriend, Virginia Hill, apparently at the order of mob associates.

In 1947, President Truman vetoed the Taft-Hartley Act, but had his veto overridden by Congress.

In 1963, the United States and Soviet Union signed an agreement to set up a “hot line” between the two superpowers.

In 1967, boxer Muhammad Ali was convicted in Houston of violating Selective Service laws by refusing to be drafted. (Ali’s conviction was ultimately overturned by the Supreme Court).

In 2001, Houston resident Andrea Yates drowned her five children in the family bathtub, then called police. (Yates was later convicted of murder, but had her conviction overturned; she was acquitted in a retrial.)

Ten years ago: The tobacco industry agreed to a massive settlement in exchange for major relief from mounting lawsuits and legal bills. The summit of industrialized nations opened in Denver, with Russia taking its place as the new eighth partner. A jury in Trenton, N.J., ordered the death penalty for Jesse K. Timmendequas, whose rape and strangling of his 7-year-old neighbor, Megan Kanka, led to the creation of “Megan’s Laws” requiring that communities be notified of sex offenders in their midst.

Five years ago: The U.S. Supreme Court declared that executing mentally retarded murderers was unconstitutionally cruel.

One year ago: The U.S. military recovered the booby-trapped bodies of two missing soldiers in Iraq. Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi announced the withdrawal of Japanese ground troops from Iraq. National Guardsmen rolled into New Orleans to reinforce a depleted police department and battle a surge in violence. Dan Rather reached an agreement with CBS News to leave the network after 44 years. The Miami Heat won their first NBA title, beating the Dallas Mavericks 95-92 in Game 6.

Today’s Birthdays: Actress Olympia Dukakis is 76. Actor James Tolkan is 76. Actor Danny Aiello is 74. Blues musician Lazy Lester is 74. Actor John Mahoney is 67. Movie director Stephen Frears is 66. Singer-songwriter Brian Wilson is 65. Actor John McCook is 62. Singer Anne Murray is 62. TV personality Bob Vila is 61. Musician Andre Watts is 61. Actress Candy Clark is 60. Producer Tina Sinatra is 59. Rhythm-and-blues singer Lionel Richie is 58. Actor John Goodman is 55. Rock musician Michael Anthony is 53. Musician John Taylor is 47. Rock musician Mark DeGliantoni is 45. Rock musician Murphy Karges (Sugar Ray) is 40. Actress Nicole Kidman is 40. Movie director Robert Rodriguez is 39. Actor Peter Paige is 38. Actor Josh Lucas is 36. Country-folk singer-songwriter Amos Lee is 30.

Thought for Today: “The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order.” — Alfred North Whitehead, English philosopher and mathematician (1861-1947).