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Today in History — September 12

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

Today is Wednesday, Sept. 12, the 255th day of 2007. There are 110 days left in the year. The Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah begins at sunset.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On Sept. 12, 1609, English explorer Henry Hudson sailed up the river that now bears his name.

On this date:
In 1880, author and journalist H.L. Mencken was born in Baltimore.

In 1914, during World War I, the First Battle of the Marne ended in an Allied victory against Germany.

In 1938, Adolf Hitler demanded the right of self-determination for the Sudeten Germans in Czechoslovakia.

In 1943, German paratroopers took Benito Mussolini from the hotel where he was being held by the Italian government.

In 1944, the Second Quebec Conference opened with President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in attendance.

In 1953, Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kennedy married Jacqueline Lee Bouvier in Newport, R.I.

In 1960, Kennedy, then the Democratic presidential candidate, addressed questions about his Roman Catholic faith, telling a Southern Baptist group in Houston, “I do not speak for my church on public matters, and the church does not speak for me.”

In 1974, Emperor Haile Selassie was deposed by Ethiopia’s military, after ruling for 58 years.

In 1977, South African black student leader Steven Biko died while in police custody, triggering an international outcry.

In 1992, the space shuttle Endeavour blasted off, carrying with it Mark Lee and Jan Davis, the first married couple in space; Mae Jemison, the first black woman in space; and Mamoru Mohri, the first Japanese citizen to fly on a U.S. spaceship.

Ten years ago: With little to show after three days of shuttle diplomacy, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright declared she would not return to the Mideast until Israeli and Palestinian leaders had made the “hard decisions” necessary to restart peace talks. Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Jesse Helms, exercising iron control, prevented any committee hearing on William Weld’s nomination to be ambassador to Mexico.

Five years ago: Raising the specter of war, President Bush told skeptical world leaders at the United Nations to confront the “grave and gathering danger” of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq — or to stand aside as the U.S. acted. Three former Tyco International executives were charged with looting the conglomerate of hundreds of millions of dollars; all three pleaded innocent at their arraignment in New York. (Former CEO L. Dennis Kozlowski and former CFO Mark Swartz were later convicted of grand larceny and securities fraud. Tyco’s former top lawyer, Mark A. Belnick, was acquitted.)

One year ago: In a speech in his native Germany, Pope Benedict XVI quoted from an obscure medieval text that characterized some teachings of Islam’s founder as “evil and inhuman,” unleashing a torrent of rage across the Islamic world (the pontiff later said he regretted that Muslims were offended). Syrian guards foiled an attempt by suspected al-Qaida-linked militants to blow up the U.S. Embassy in Damascus.

Today’s Birthdays: Actress Irene Dailey is 87. Actor Dickie Moore (“Our Gang”) is 82. Actor Freddie Jones is 80. Country singer George Jones is 76. Actor Ian Holm is 76. Actress Linda Gray is 67. Singer Maria Muldaur is 64. Actor Joe Pantoliano is 56. Singer-musician Gerry Beckley (America) is 55. Rock musician Neil Peart (Rush) is 55. Actor Peter Scolari is 52. Actress Rachel Ward is 50. Actress Amy Yasbeck is 45. Rock musician Norwood Fisher (Fishbone) is 42. Actor Darren E. Burrows is 41. Rock singer-musician Ben Folds (Ben Folds Five) is 41. Rock musician Larry LaLonde (Primus) is 39. Actor Paul Walker is 34. Country singer Jennifer Nettles (Sugarland) is 33. Actor Benjamin McKenzie is 29. Singer Ruben Studdard is 29. Singer-actress Jennifer Hudson is 26. Actress Emmy Rossum is 21.

Thought for Today: “Civilization in itself is a long hard fight to maintain and advance.” — Thornton Wilder, American playwright (1897-1975).