Today In History, August 17th


Today is Monday, Aug. 17, the 230th day of 2020. There are 136 days left in the year.
Today’s Highlight in History:
On August 17, 2017, a van plowed through pedestrians along a packed promenade in the Spanish city of Barcelona, killing 13 people and injuring 120. (A 14th victim died later from injuries.) Another man was stabbed to death in a carjacking that night as the van driver made his getaway, and a woman died early the next day in a vehicle-and-knife attack in a nearby coastal town. (Six suspects in the attack were shot dead by police, two more died when a bomb workshop exploded.)
On this date:
In 1915, a mob in Cobb County, Georgia, lynched Jewish businessman Leo Frank, 31, 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 1960, the newly renamed Beatles (formerly the Silver Beetles) began their first gig in Hamburg, West Germany, at the Indra Club.
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.)
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 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 1983, lyricist Ira Gershwin died in Beverly Hills, Calif., at age 86.
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 (RAY’-fehl) were killed in a mysterious plane crash.
In 1998, President Bill 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.
In 1999, more than 17,000 people were killed when a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck Turkey.
In 2018, President Donald Trump said he had canceled plans for a Veterans Day military parade, citing what he called a “ridiculously high” price tag; he accused local politicians in Washington of price-gouging.
Ten years ago: A mistrial was declared on 23 corruption charges against ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (blah-GOY’-uh-vich), 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 and sentenced to 14 years in prison, but a federal appeals court dismissed five of the counts in July 2015. He was released from a federal prison in Colorado in February 2020 after his sentence was commuted by President Donald Trump.) A suicide bomber in Iraq detonated nail-packed explosives strapped to his body, killing 61 people, many of them army recruits.
Five years ago: A bomb exploded within a central Bangkok shrine that was among the city’s most popular tourist spots, killing at least 20 people and injuring more than 100. The National Labor Relations Board dismissed a historic ruling that Northwestern University football players were school employees entitled to form the nation’s first union of college athletes. Actor-dancer Yvonne Craig, 78, who played the sexy, crime-fighting Batgirl in the 1960s TV hit “Batman,” died in Los Angeles.
One year ago: A suicide bomber struck a wedding party in the Afghan capital, killing more than 60 people and wounding more than 180 others. Thousands of strangers gathered for the funeral of a woman who was among 22 people killed by a gunman at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas; they gathered after hearing that the woman’s longtime companion had few family members left.
Today’s Birthdays: Former Chinese president Jiang Zemin (jahng zuh-MEEN’) is 94. Former MLB All-Star Boog Powell is 79. Actor Robert DeNiro is 77. Movie director Martha Coolidge is 74. Rock musician Gary Talley (The Box Tops) is 73. Actor-screenwriter-producer Julian Fellowes is 71. Actor Robert Joy is 69. International Tennis Hall of Famer Guillermo Vilas is 68. Rock singer Kevin Rowland (Dexy’s Midnight Runners) is 67. Rock musician Colin Moulding (XTC) is 65. Country singer-songwriter Kevin Welch is 65. Olympic gold medal figure skater Robin Cousins is 63. Singer Belinda Carlisle is 62. Author Jonathan Franzen is 61. Actor Sean Penn is 60. Jazz musician Everette Harp is 59. Rock musician Gilby Clarke is 58. Singer Maria McKee is 56. Rock musician Steve Gorman (The Black Crowes) is 55. Rock musician Jill Cunniff (kuh-NIHF’) is 54. Actor David Conrad is 53. Actor Helen McCrory is 52. Singer Donnie Wahlberg is 51. College Basketball Hall of Famer and retired NBA All-Star Christian Laettner is 51. Rapper Posdnuos (PAHS’-deh-noos) is 51. International Tennis Hall of Famer Jim Courier is 50. Retired MLB All-Star Jorge Posada is 49. TV personality Giuliana Rancic is 46. Actor Bryton James is 34. Actor Brady Corbet (kohr-BAY’) is 32. Actor Austin Butler is 29. Actor Taissa Farmiga is 26. Olympic bronze medal figure skater Gracie Gold is 25.