Today is Wednesday, Aug. 17, the 229th day of 2011. There are 136 days left in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:
On Aug. 17, 1807, Robert Fulton's North River Steamboat began heading up the Hudson River on its successful round trip between New York and Albany. (Contrary to popular belief, the vessel was not called the "Clermont.")
On this date:
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, 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'd maintained his innocence, was pardoned by the state of Georgia in 1986.)
In 1942, during World War II, U.S. 8th Air Force bombers attacked Rouen, France.
In 1943, the Allied conquest of Sicily was completed as U.S. and British forces entered Messina.
In 1960, the newly renamed Beatles (formerly the Silver Beetles) began their first gig in Hamburg, West Germany, at the Indra Club. The West African country of Gabon became independent of France.
In 1961, the United States and 19 Latin American countries signed the Charter of Punta del Este in Uruguay, creating the Alliance for Progress aimed at promoting economic growth and social justice.
In 1969, Hurricane Camille slammed into the Mississippi coast as a Category 5 storm that was blamed for 256 U.S. deaths, three in Cuba.
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 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 Spandau Prison at age 93, an apparent suicide.
Ten years ago: Millionaire Steve Fossett's fifth attempt to fly solo around the world ended in Brazil after his helium balloon ran into bad weather.
Five years ago: In a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, a federal judge in Detroit ruled that President George W. Bush's warrantless surveillance program was unconstitutional. (A divided federal appeals court threw out the lawsuit in July 2007, and the U.S. Supreme Court later let the appeals court decision stand.) President Bush signed new rules to prod companies into shoring up their pension plans. Jordan became the first Arab state to send a fully accredited ambassador to Iraq.
One year ago: A mistrial was declared on 23 corruption charges against ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was accused of trying to sell President Barack Obama's old Senate seat; the jury convicted him on one charge, that of lying to the FBI. (Blagojevich was convicted of 17 counts of corruption in a retrial; a sentencing hearing is scheduled for Oct. 2011.) A suicide bomber in Iraq detonated nail-packed explosives strapped to his body, killing 61 people, many of them army recruits.
Today's Birthdays: Actress Maureen O'Hara is 91. Former Chinese president Jiang Zemin is 85. Author V.S. Naipaul is 79. Former MLB All-Star Boog Powell is 70. Actor Robert DeNiro is 68. Movie director Martha Coolidge is 65. Rock musician Gary Talley (The Box Tops) is 64. Rock musician Sib Hashian is 62. Actor Robert Joy is 60. International Tennis Hall of Famer Guillermo Vilas is 59. Rock singer Kevin Rowland (Dexy's Midnight Runners) is 58. Rock musician Colin Moulding (XTC) is 56. Country singer-songwriter Kevin Welch is 56. Olympic gold medal figure skater Robin Cousins is 54. Singer Belinda Carlisle is 53. Author Jonathan Franzen is 52. Actor Sean Penn is 51. Jazz musician Everette Harp is 50. Rock musician Gilby Clarke is 49. Singer Maria McKee is 47. Rock musician Steve Gorman (The Black Crowes) is 46. Rock musician Jill Cunniff is 45. Actor David Conrad is 44. Singer Donnie Wahlberg is 42. Former NBA player Christian Laettner is 42. Rapper Posdnuos is 42. International Tennis Hall of Famer Jim Courier is 41. MLB player Jorge Posada is 40. Actor Mark Salling (TV: "Glee") is 29. Actor Bryton James is 25. Actor Brady Corbet is 23.
Thought for Today: "It is not love that is blind, but jealousy." -- Lawrence Durrell, British-born author (1912-1990).