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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 Wednesday, Aug. 17, the 229th day of 2005. 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 annular-trip to Albany.

On this date:
In 1863, Federal batteries and ships bombarded Fort Sumter in Charleston 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 had maintained his innocence, was pardoned by the state of Georgia in 1986.)

In 1942, during World War II, U.S. Eighth 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 transatlantic 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 Co.'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: James B. McDougal, McDougal's ex-wife, Susan H. McDougal, and Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker were indicted by the Whitewater grand jury. (James McDougal was convicted on 18 of 19 counts of fraud and conspiracy; Tucker was found guilty on one count of fraud and one count of conspiracy; Susan McDougal was convicted on four fraud-related charges.)

Five years ago: Al Gore accepted the Democratic nomination for president, pledging a "better, fairer, more prosperous America" at the party's convention in Los Angeles. Shortly before Gore spoke, his running mate, Joseph Lieberman, was nominated by acclamation. Word leaked out that Independent Counsel Robert Ray was assembling a new grand jury to investigate President Clinton's conduct in the Monica Lewinsky scandal. (Democrats charged Republicans were behind the release of information, but a federal judge said he was inadvertently responsible for the disclosure.)

One year ago: British police charged eight terrorist suspects with conspiring to commit murder and use radioactive materials, toxic gases, chemicals or explosives to cause "fear or injury." At the Athens games, Romania won its second straight Olympic gold medal in women's gymnastics; the United States took silver while Russia won the bronze.

Today's Birthdays: Actress Maureen O'Hara is 85. Actor Robert DeNiro is 62. Movie director Martha Coolidge is 59. Rock musician Sib Hashian is 56. Actor Robert Joy is 54. Rock singer Kevin Rowland (Dexy's Midnight Runners) is 52. Rock musician Colin Moulding (XTC) is 50. Country singer-songwriter Kevin Welch is 50. Singer Belinda Carlisle is 47. Actor Sean Penn is 45. Jazz musician Everette Harp is 44. Rock musician Gilby Clarke is 43. Singer Maria McKee is 41. Rock musician Steve Gorman (The Black Crowes) is 40. Rock musician Jill Cunniff is 39. Actor David Conrad is 38. Singer Donnie Wahlberg is 36. Rapper Posdnuos is 36. Tennis player Jim Courier is 35. Actor Bryton McClure is 19.

Thought for Today: "There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle, or the mirror that reflects it." — Edith Wharton, American author (1862-1937).