Today is Sunday, August 17, the 229th day of 2014. There are 136 days left in the year.
On August 17, 1969, Hurricane Camille slammed into the Mississippi coast as a Category 5 storm that was blamed for 256 U.S. deaths, three in Cuba.
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, 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 1943, the Allied conquest of Sicily during World War II was completed as U.S. and British forces entered Messina.
In 1945, Indonesian nationalists declared their independence from the Netherlands.
In 1962, East German border guards shot and killed 18-year-old Peter Fechter, who had attempted to cross the Berlin Wall into the western sector.
In 1964, Teamsters union president Jimmy Hoffa was sentenced in Chicago to five years in federal prison for defrauding his union’s pension fund. (Hoffa was released in 1971 after President Richard Nixon commuted his sentence for this conviction and jury tampering.) Washington D.C.’s just-completed Capital Beltway was opened to traffic.
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 1982, the first commercially produced compact discs, a recording of ABBA’s “The Visitors,” were pressed at a Philips factory near Hanover, West Germany.
In 1985, more than 1,400 meatpackers walked off the job at the Geo. A. Hormel and Co.’s main plant in Austin, Minnesota, 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 Spandau Prison at age 93, an apparent suicide.
In 1999, more than 17,000 people were killed when a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck Turkey.
Ten years ago: British police charged eight terrorism suspects. (The leader of the group, al-Qaida operative Dhiren Barot, later pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mass murder and was sentenced to life in prison, although the term was subsequently reduced to 30 years; the other seven received sentences ranging up to 26 years.) 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.
Five years ago: President Barack Obama, addressing the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Phoenix, chastised the defense industry and Congress for wasting tax dollars “with doctrine and weapons better suited to fight the Soviets on the plains of Europe than insurgents in the rugged terrain of Afghanistan.” The publisher of Reader’s Digest announced plans to seek bankruptcy protection. (The Reader’s Digest Association Inc. exited Chapter 11 protection about six months later; in February 2013, it again filed for Chapter 11.) An accident at Russia’s largest hydroelectric plant killed 75 workers.
One year 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.
Today’s birthdays: Actress Maureen O’Hara is 94. Former Chinese president Jiang Zemin is 88. Author V.S. Naipaul is 82. Former MLB All-Star Boog Powell is 73. Actor Robert DeNiro is 71. Movie director Martha Coolidge is 68. Rock musician Gary Talley (The Box Tops) is 67. Rock musician Sib Hashian is 65. Actor Robert Joy is 63. International Tennis Hall of Famer Guillermo Vilas is 62. Rock singer Kevin Rowland (Dexy’s Midnight Runners) is 61. Rock musician Colin Moulding (XTC) is 59. Country singer-songwriter Kevin Welch is 59. Olympic gold medal figure skater Robin Cousins is 57. Singer Belinda Carlisle is 56. Author Jonathan Franzen is 55. Actor Sean Penn is 54. Jazz musician Everette Harp is 53. Rock musician Gilby Clarke is 52. Singer Maria McKee is 50. Rock musician Steve Gorman (The Black Crowes) is 49. Rock musician Jill Cunniff is 48. Actor David Conrad is 47. Singer Donnie Wahlberg is 45. Retired NBA All-Star Christian Laettner is 45. Rapper Posdnuos is 45. International Tennis Hall of Famer Jim Courier is 44. MLB player Jorge Posada is 43. Actor Mark Salling (“Glee”) is 32. Actor Bryton James is 28. Actor Brady Corbet is 26. Olympic bronze medal figure skater Gracie Gold is 19.
Thought for today: “A river has no politics.” — David E. Lilienthal, American public official (1899-1981).