Today in History


Today is Thursday, Aug. 17, the 229th day of 2023. There are 136 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Aug. 17, 1982, the first commercially produced compact discs, a recording of ABBA’s “The Visitors,” were pressed at a Philips factory near Hanover, West Germany.

On this date:

In 1807, Robert Fulton’s North River Steamboat began heading up the Hudson River on its successful round trip between New York and Albany.

In 1863, federal batteries and ships began bombarding Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor during the Civil War, but the Confederates managed to hold on despite several days of pounding.

In 1915, a mob in Cobb County, Georgia, lynched Jewish businessman Leo Frank, 31, whose death sentence for the murder of 13-year-old Mary Phagan had been commuted to life imprisonment. (Frank, who’d maintained his innocence, was pardoned by the state of Georgia in 1986.)

In 1945, the George Orwell novel “Animal Farm,” an allegorical satire of Soviet Communism, was first published in London by Martin Secker & Warburg.

In 1978, the first successful trans-Atlantic balloon flight ended as Maxie Anderson, Ben Abruzzo and Larry Newman landed their Double Eagle II outside Paris.

In 1987, Rudolf Hess, the last member of Adolf Hitler’s inner circle, died at Spandau Prison at age 93, an apparent suicide.

In 1988, Pakistani President Mohammad Zia ul-Haq and U.S. Ambassador Arnold Raphel (RAY’-fehl) were killed in a mysterious plane crash.

In 1998, President Bill Clinton gave grand jury testimony via closed-circuit television from the White House concerning his relationship with Monica Lewinsky; he then delivered a TV address in which he denied previously committing perjury, admitted his relationship with Lewinsky was “wrong,” and criticized Kenneth Starr’s investigation.

In 1999, more than 17,000 people were killed when a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck Turkey.

In 2004, 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.

In 2011, Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Beijing to meet with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.

In 2020, Texas joined New York, New Jersey and California as states with at least 10,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths; about 80 percent of the Texas deaths were reported since June 1, after the state embarked on one of the fastest reopenings in the country.

Ten years ago: The attorney for a young man who’d testified he was fondled by former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky said his client had reached a settlement, the first among dozens of claims made against the school amid the Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. Nick Davilla threw six touchdown passes and the Arizona Rattlers defeated the Philadelphia Soul 48-39 in the ArenaBowl. Kansas City’s Miguel Tejada was suspended 105 games by Major League Baseball for violating its Joint Drug Program, one of the longest suspensions ever handed down.

Five years ago: President Donald Trump said he had canceled plans for a Veterans Day military parade, citing what he called a “ridiculously high” price tag; he accused local politicians in Washington of price-gouging. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, in an interview with The New York Times, said he’d been overwhelmed by job stress, an admission that pushed down the stock value of the electric car company and brought pressure on its board to take action; shares in Tesla tumbled about 9 percent.

One year ago: The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a shakeup of the organization, saying it failed to meet the moment of COVID-19′s arrival and needed to become more nimble. A bombing at a mosque in the Afghan capital of Kabul during evening prayers killed at least 10 people, including a prominent cleric, and wounded at least 27. Two former Pennsylvania judges who orchestrated a scheme to send children to for-profit jails in exchange for kickbacks were ordered to pay more than $200 million to hundreds of people they victimized.

Today’s Birthdays: Former MLB All-Star Boog Powell is 82. Actor Robert DeNiro is 80. Movie director Martha Coolidge is 77. Rock musician Gary Talley (The Box Tops) is 76. Actor-screenwriter-producer Julian Fellowes is 74. Actor Robert Joy is 72. International Tennis Hall of Famer Guillermo Vilas is 71. Rock singer Kevin Rowland (Dexy’s Midnight Runners) is 70. Rock musician Colin Moulding (XTC) is 68. Country singer-songwriter Kevin Welch is 68. Olympic gold medal figure skater Robin Cousins is 66. Singer Belinda Carlisle is 65. Author Jonathan Franzen is 64. Actor Sean Penn is 63. Jazz musician Everette Harp is 62. Rock musician Gilby Clarke is 61. Singer Maria McKee is 59. Rock musician Steve Gorman (The Black Crowes) is 58. Rock musician Jill Cunniff (kuh-NIHF’) is 57. Actor David Conrad is 56. Singer Donnie Wahlberg is 54. College Basketball Hall of Famer and retired NBA All-Star Christian Laettner is 54. Rapper Posdnuos (PAHS’-deh-noos) is 54. International Tennis Hall of Famer Jim Courier is 53. Retired MLB All-Star Jorge Posada is 52. TV personality Giuliana Rancic is 49. Actor Bryton James is 37. Actor Brady Corbet (kohr-BAY’) is 35. Actor Austin Butler is 32. Actor Taissa Farmiga is 29. Olympic bronze medal figure skater Gracie Gold is 28.

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