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Today in History — August 21

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

Today is Tuesday, Aug. 21, the 233rd day of 2007. There are 132 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
Two hundred years ago, on Aug. 21, 1807, Robert Fulton’s North River Steamboat set off from Albany on its return trip to New York, arriving some 30 hours later.

On this date:
In 1831, former slave Nat Turner led a violent insurrection in Virginia. (He was later executed.)

In 1858, the first of the famous debates between Illinois senatorial contenders Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas took place.

In 1878, the American Bar Association was founded in Saratoga, N.Y.

In 1911, Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” was stolen from the Louvre Museum. (The painting turned up two years later, in Italy.)

In 1940, exiled Communist revolutionary Leon Trotsky died in Mexico City from wounds inflicted by an assassin.

In 1944, the United States, Britain, the Soviet Union and China opened talks at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington that helped pave the way for establishment of the United Nations.

In 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed an executive order proclaiming Hawaii the 50th state of the union, five months after he had signed the Hawaiian statehood bill.

In 1982, a group of Palestinian guerrillas left Lebanon by ship under an evacuation plan mediated by the U.S.

In 1987, Sgt. Clayton Lonetree, the first Marine court-martialed for spying, was convicted in Quantico, Va., of passing secrets to the KGB. (Lonetree ended up serving eight years in a military prison.)

In 1991, the hard-line coup against Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev collapsed in the face of a popular uprising led by Russian federation President Boris N. Yeltsin.

Ten years ago: Hudson Foods Co. plant in Nebraska closed, agreeing to destroy some 25 million pounds of hamburger after the largest meat recall in U.S. history.

Five years ago: President George Bush told reporters at his Texas ranch that ousting Iraq’s Saddam Hussein was “in the interests of the world” but indicated the United States was in no hurry. Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien announced he would not seek a fourth straight term, and would step down in 2004. A jury in San Diego convicted David Westerfield of kidnapping 7-year-old Danielle van Dam from her home and killing her. (Westerfield was later sentenced to death.)

One year ago: A defiant Saddam Hussein refused to enter a plea on genocide charges and dismissed the court as illegitimate as his second trial began. British prosecutors announced that 11 people had been charged in an alleged plot to blow up trans-Atlantic jetliners bound for the U.S. A train crash on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt, killed at least 58 people. A bomb blast tore through a Moscow market, killing at least 11 people.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor-director Melvin Van Peebles is 75. Singer Kenny Rogers is 69. Actor Clarence Williams III is 68. Rock-and-roll musician James Burton is 68. Singer Harold Reid (The Statler Brothers) is 68. Singer Jackie DeShannon is 63. Actress Patty McCormack is 62. Actress Loretta Devine is 58. TV anchorman Harry Smith is 56. Singer Glenn Hughes is 55. Country musician Nick Kane is 53. Actress Kim Cattrall is 51. Rock singer Serj Tankian (System of a Down) is 40. Actress Carrie-Anne Moss is 37. Rock musician Liam Howlett (Prodigy) is 36. Actress Alicia Witt is 32. Singer Kelis is 28. Singer Melissa Schuman is 23. Actor Cody Kasch (“Desperate Housewives”) is 20. Actress Hayden Panettiere is 18.

Thought for Today: “When morality comes up against profit, it is seldom that profit loses.” — Shirley Chisholm, former U.S. representative (1924-2005).