Today in History for August 17

Today is Saturday, Aug. 17, the 229th day of 2013. There are 136 days left in the year.

Saturday, Aug 17, 2013  |  Updated 10:59 AM EDT
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FILE - In this Aug. 27, 2008, file photo, former President Bill Clinton speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

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Today's Highlight in History:

On August 17, 1943, the Allied conquest of Sicily during World War II was completed as U.S. and British forces entered Messina.

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, 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 German forces in Rouen, France. U.S. Marines raided a Japanese seaplane base on Makin Island.

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 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 1983, lyricist Ira Gershwin died in Beverly Hills, Calif., at age 86.

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.

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

In 1998, President 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.

Ten years ago: Federal investigators joined industry teams in the search for clues into what triggered the country's worst power blackout in the Midwest and Northeast as the Bush administration promised to get answers and address whatever problem was found. Insurgents attacked a police station in Afghanistan, killing some two dozen people.

Five years ago: At the Beijing Olympics, Michael Phelps and three teammates won the 400-meter medley relay for Phelps' eighth gold medal. In tennis, Venus and Serena Williams defeated Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual of Spain in women's doubles; Rafael Nadal defeated Fernando Gonzalez of Chile in the men's singles; Elena Dementieva defeated fellow Russian Dinara Safina in the women's singles. Matamoros, Mexico, pitcher Jesus Sauceda had the fifth perfect game in Little League World Series history as he struck out all 12 batters in a 12-0 win over Emilia, Italy.

One year ago: In Moscow, a judge sentenced three punk rock-style activists, members of the band Pussy Riot, to two years in prison for hooliganism for briefly taking over a cathedral in a raucous prayer for deliverance from Russian President Vladimir Putin; the court decision drew protests around the world. (One of the three defendants was later released on probation.)

Today's Birthdays: Actress Maureen O'Hara is 93. Former Chinese president Jiang Zemin is 87. Author V.S. Naipaul is 81. Former MLB All-Star Boog Powell is 72. Actor Robert DeNiro is 70. Movie director Martha Coolidge is 67. Rock musician Gary Talley (The Box Tops) is 66. Rock musician Sib Hashian is 64. Actor Robert Joy is 62. International Tennis Hall of Famer Guillermo Vilas is 61. Rock singer Kevin Rowland (Dexy's Midnight Runners) is 60. Rock musician Colin Moulding (XTC) is 58. Country singer-songwriter Kevin Welch is 58. Olympic gold medal figure skater Robin Cousins is 56. Singer Belinda Carlisle is 55. Author Jonathan Franzen is 54. Actor Sean Penn is 53. Jazz musician Everette Harp is 52. Rock musician Gilby Clarke is 51. Singer Maria McKee is 49. Rock musician Steve Gorman (The Black Crowes) is 48. Rock musician Jill Cunniff is 47. Actor David Conrad is 46. Singer Donnie Wahlberg is 44. Former NBA player Christian Laettner is 44. Rapper Posdnuos is 44. International Tennis Hall of Famer Jim Courier is 43. MLB player Jorge Posada is 42. Actor Mark Salling (TV: "Glee") is 31. Actor Bryton James is 27. Actor Brady Corbet is 25.

Thought for Today: "There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle, or the mirror that reflects it." — Edith Wharton, American author (1862-1937).

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