Today in History

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Posted: Aug 24, 2011 12:00 AM
Today in History

Today is Wednesday, Aug. 24, the 236th day of 2011. There are 129 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Aug. 24, 1814, during the War of 1812, British forces invaded Washington, D.C., setting fire to the Capitol and the White House, as well as other buildings.

On this date:

In A.D. 79, long-dormant Mount Vesuvius erupted, burying the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in volcanic ash; an estimated 20,000 people died.

In 1572, the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre of French Protestants at the hands of Catholics began in Paris.

In 1821, the Treaty of Cordoba was signed, granting independence to Mexico from Spanish rule.

In 1932, Amelia Earhart embarked on a 19-hour flight from Los Angeles to Newark, N.J., making her the first woman to fly solo, non-stop, from coast to coast.

In 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty came into force.

In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Communist Control Act, outlawing the Communist Party in the United States.

In 1968, France became the world's fifth thermonuclear power as it exploded a hydrogen bomb in the South Pacific.

In 1970, an explosives-laden van left by anti-war extremists blew up outside the University of Wisconsin's Sterling Hall in Madison, killing 33-year-old researcher Robert Fassnacht.

In 1981, Mark David Chapman was sentenced in New York to 20 years to life in prison for murdering John Lennon.

In 1992, Hurricane Andrew smashed into Florida, causing $30 billion in damage; 43 U.S. deaths were blamed on the storm.

Ten years ago: President George W. Bush blamed the slumping economy for the shrinking budget surplus, rather than his tax cut, and said it was up to Congress to restrain spending. Tom Green, a Mormon fundamentalist with five wives and 30 children, was sentenced by a court in Provo, Utah, to five years in prison for his conviction on four counts of bigamy and one count of failure to pay child support. Actress Jane Greer died in Los Angeles at age 76.

Five years ago: The International Astronomical Union declared that Pluto was no longer a planet, demoting it to the status of a "dwarf planet."

One year ago: A Chinese passenger jet broke apart and burst into flames as it hit the runway, killing 42 people and injuring 54 others. A suicide bomber and gunmen attacked a hotel near Somalia's presidential palace; at least 32 people were killed, along with two militants. In Florida, political newcomer Rick Scott beat Bill McCollum for the GOP gubernatorial nomination. (Scott went on to win election in November, narrowly defeating Alex Sink.)

Today's Birthdays: Former education secretary Shirley Hufstedler is 86. Actor Kenny Baker ("Star Wars") is 77. Composer-musician Mason Williams is 73. Rhythm-and-blues singer Marshall Thompson (The Chi-Lites) is 69. Rock musician Ken Hensley is 66. Actress Anne Archer is 64. Actor Joe Regalbuto is 62. Actor Kevin Dunn (TV: "Samantha Who?") is 56. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is 56. Actor-writer Stephen Fry is 54. Actor Steve Guttenberg is 53. Baseball Hall-of-Famer Cal Ripken Jr. is 51. Talk show host Craig Kilborn is 49. Rock singer John Bush is 48. Actress Marlee Matlin is 46. Retired NBA All-Star Reggie Miller is 46. Broadcast journalist David Gregory ("Meet the Press") is 41. Country singer Kristyn Osborn (SheDaisy) is 41. Actor-comedian Dave Chappelle is 38. Actor Carmine Giovinazzo is 38. Actress Beth Riesgraf is 33. Actor Chad Michael Murray is 30. Christian rock musician Jeffrey Gilbert (Kutless) is 28. Singer Mika is 28. Actor Rupert Grint ("Harry Potter" films) is 23.

Thought for Today: "Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage." _ Lao Tzu, Chinese philosopher (born and died in the 6th century, B.C.E.)

(Above Advance for Use Wednesday, Aug. 24)

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