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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 Thursday, Nov. 17, the 321st day of 2005. 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 1917, sculptor August Rodin died in Meudon, France.

In 1925, actor Rock Hudson was born in Winnetka, Ill.

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: The commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific called the rape of a 12-year-old Okinawan girl “absolutely stupid” and said in Washington the incident could have been avoided if the U.S. servicemen involved had simply paid for sex. (Admiral Richard C. Macke later apologized for his remarks, and took early retirement.)

Five years ago: The Florida Supreme Court froze the state’s presidential tally, forbidding Secretary of State Katherine Harris from certifying results of the marathon vote count just as Republican George W. Bush was advancing his minuscule lead over Democrat Al Gore. Also, a federal appeals court refused to block recounts under way in two heavily Democratic counties.

One year ago: It was announced that Kmart was acquiring Sears in a surprise $11 billion deal. In Washington state, officials said Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi led Democratic opponent Christine Gregoire by only 261 votes. (After three counts of the ballots, Gregoire was declared the winner by just 129 votes out of 2.9 million cast.

Today’s Birthdays: Olympian-turned-politician Bob Mathias is 75. Singer Gordon Lightfoot is 67. Movie director Martin Scorsese is 63. Actress Lauren Hutton is 62. Actor-director Danny DeVito is 61. “Saturday Night Live” producer Lorne Michaels is 61. Baseball Hall-of-Famer Tom Seaver is 61. Movie director Roland Joffe is 60. Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean is 57. Actor Stephen Root is 54. Actress-producer-director Yolanda King is 50. Actress Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio is 47. Actor William Moses is 46. Entertainer RuPaul is 45. Actor Dylan Walsh is 42. Actress Sophie Marceau is 39. Actress-model Daisy Fuentes is 39. Rhythm-and-blues singer Ronnie DeVoe (New Edition; Bell Biv DeVoe) is 38. Rock musician Ben Wilson (Blues Traveler) is 38. Rhythm-and-blues musician Jeff Allen (Mint Condition) is 37. Actress Leslie Bibb is 32. Actor Brandon Call is 29. Country singer Aaron Lines is 28. Actress Rachel McAdams is 27. Rock musician Isaac Hanson (Hanson) is 25. Actor Justin Cooper is 17. Actress Raquel Castro (“Jersey Girl”) is 11.

Thought for Today: “Education is a private matter between the person and the world of knowledge and experience, and has little to do with school or college.” — Lillian Smith, American writer and social critic (1897-1966).