Today In History

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Today is Tuesday, Aug. 21, the 234th day of 2012. There are 132 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Aug. 21, 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed an executive order making Hawaii the 50th state.

On this date:

In 1609, Galileo Galilei demonstrated his new telescope to a group of officials atop the Campanile (kahm-pah-NEE'-lay) in Venice.

In 1831, Nat Turner led a violent slave rebellion in Virginia resulting in the deaths of at least 55 white people. (He was later executed.)

In 1858, the first of seven debates between Illinois senatorial contenders Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas took place.

In 1878, the American Bar Association was founded in Saratoga, N.Y.

In 1911, Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" was stolen from the Louvre Museum in Paris. (The painting was recovered two years later in Italy.)

In 1912, the Boy Scouts of America named its first Eagle Scout, Arthur Rose Eldred of Troop 1 in Rockville Centre, N.Y.

1935, the Benny Goodman Orchestra played a concert that's considered to be the beginning of the Swing Era. The concert was at a ballroom in Los Angeles and included songs like "Just You, Just Me."

In 1940, exiled Communist revolutionary Leon Trotsky died in a Mexican hospital from wounds inflicted by an assassin the day before.

In In 1961, country singer Patsy Cline recorded the Willie Nelson song "Crazy" in Nashville for Decca Records. (The recording was released in October 1961.)

In 1972, the Republican National Convention opened in Miami Beach.

Also in 1972, Grace Slick was sprayed with mace and Paul Kantner was slammed to the floor by police following a chaotic show by Jefferson Airplane in Akron, Ohio. A bomb threat had been phoned in, fans threw rocks at police cars and officers responded with tear gas.

In 1980, singer Linda Ronstadt opened on Broadway in the opera "The Pirates of Penzance." She also starred in the film version.

In 1987, Sgt. Clayton Lonetree, the first Marine court-martialed for spying, was convicted in Quantico, Va., of passing secrets to the KGB. (Lonetree ended up serving eight years in a military prison.)

In 1991, the hard-line coup against Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev collapsed in the face of a popular uprising led by Russian federation President Boris N. Yeltsin.

In 1992, an 11-day siege began at the cabin of white separatist Randy Weaver in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, as government agents tried to arrest Weaver for failing to appear in court on charges of selling two illegal sawed-off shotguns; in the resulting shootout, Weaver's teenage son, Samuel, and Deputy U.S. Marshal William Degan were killed.

In 1994, John Denver was charged with drunk driving after he crashed his Porsche into a tree.
In 1995, REM sued Hershey Foods, claiming the company exploited its name when it ran a "Kit Kat REM concert" sweepstakes in Hershey candy bars. The suit was eventually dropped.

In 1996, singer Rick James was released from prison after serving two years for assaulting a woman. Two days earlier, the woman he was to marry was jailed for shoplifting a $39 pair of boots.

Also in 1996, singer David Byrne sued to prevent the rest of Talking Heads from touring as The Heads. The suit was settled out of court.

Ten years ago: President George W. Bush told reporters at his Texas ranch that ousting Iraq's Saddam Hussein was "in the interests of the world" but indicated the United States was in no hurry. Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien announced he would not seek a fourth straight term, and would step down in 2004. A jury in San Diego convicted David Westerfield of kidnapping 7-year-old Danielle van Dam from her home and killing her. (Westerfield was later sentenced to death.)

Five years ago: Hurricane Dean struck Mexico's coast as a Category 5 storm. The postwar Iraqi tribunal trying former Saddam Hussein aides opened its third proceeding, putting former Defense Minister Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as "Chemical Ali," and 14 other men on trial. Space shuttle Endeavour, with teacher-astronaut Barbara Morgan aboard, safely returned to Cape Canaveral, Fla.

One year ago: Euphoric Libyan rebels raced into Tripoli and took control of the center with little resistance as Moammar Gadhafi's defenses collapsed and his four-decade regime appeared to be crumbling. In a statement from Martha's Vineyard, where he was vacationing with his family, President Barack Obama called on Gadhafi to acknowledge reality and step down.


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