Today in History
Today is Wednesday, Aug. 4, the 216th day of 2021. There are 149 days left in the year.
Today’s Highlight in History
On August 4, 1987, the Federal Communications Commission voted 4-0 to abolish the Fairness Doctrine, which required radio and television stations to present balanced coverage of controversial issues.
On this date:
In 1735, a jury found John Peter Zenger of the New York Weekly Journal not guilty of committing seditious libel against the colonial governor of New York, William Cosby.
In 1790, the U.S. Coast Guard had its beginnings as President George Washington signed a measure authorizing a group of revenue cutters to enforce tariff and trade laws and prevent smuggling.
In 1892, businessman Andrew Borden and his wife, Abby, were axed to death in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts. Lizzie Borden, Andrew’s daughter from a previous marriage, was accused of the killings, but acquitted at trial.
In 1914, Britain declared war on Germany for invading Belgium; the United States proclaimed its neutrality in the mushrooming world conflict.
In 1916, the United States reached agreement with Denmark to purchase the Danish Virgin Islands for $25 million.
In 1936, Jesse Owens of the United States won the second of his four gold medals at the Berlin Olympics as he prevailed in the long jump over German Luz Long, who was the first to congratulate him.
In 1944, 15-year-old diarist Anne Frank was arrested with her sister, parents and four others by the Gestapo after hiding for two years inside a building in Amsterdam. (Anne and her sister, Margot, died at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.)
In 1964, the bodies of missing civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney were found buried in an earthen dam in Mississippi.
In 1972, Arthur Bremer was convicted and sentenced in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, to 63 years in prison for his attempt on the life of Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace (the sentence was later reduced to 53 years; Bremer was released from prison in 2007).
In 1993, a federal judge sentenced Los Angeles police officers Stacey Koon and Laurence Powell to 2 1/2 years in prison for violating Rodney King’s civil rights.
In 2009, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il pardoned American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee for entering the country illegally and ordered their release during a surprise visit by former U.S. President Bill Clinton.
In 2019, a masked gunman fired on revelers enjoying summer nightlife in a popular entertainment district of Dayton, Ohio, leaving nine people dead and 27 wounded; police said officers shot and killed the shooter within 30 seconds of the start of his rampage.
Ten years ago: A Texas jury convicted polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs of child sexual assault in a case stemming from two young followers he’d taken as brides in what his church called “spiritual marriages.” (Jeffs was sentenced to life in prison.)
Five years ago: Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, President Barack Obama vigorously denied that a $400 million cash payment to Iran was ransom to secure the release of four Americans jailed in Tehran. During a practice session on the eve of the Rio Olympics, South Korean gymnast Lee Eun-ju took a smiling selfie with North Korean gymnast Hong Un Jong in a warmly received scene captured by journalists.
One year ago: Nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate that had been improperly stored for years in the port of Beirut, Lebanon, exploded, killing more than 200 people, injuring more than 6,000 and devastating nearby neighborhoods; it was one of the largest non-nuclear explosions ever recorded. After months of criticizing the practice, President Donald Trump urged voters in the critical swing state of Florida to vote by mail, even as the Trump campaign and Republican officials sued to block a Nevada plan to automatically send voters mail ballots. Virgin Atlantic, the airline founded by British businessman Richard Branson, filed for protection in U.S. bankruptcy court.
Today’s Birthdays: Actor-singer Tina Cole is 78. Actor-comedian Richard Belzer is 77. Football Hall of Famer John Riggins is 72. Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is 66. Actor-screenwriter Billy Bob Thornton is 66. Actor Kym Karath (Film: “The Sound of Music”) is 63. Hall of Fame track star Mary Decker Slaney is 63. Actor Lauren Tom is 62. Former President Barack Obama is 60. Producer Michael Gelman (TV: “Live with Kelly & Ryan”) is 60. Retired MLB All-Star pitcher Roger Clemens is 59. Actor Crystal Chappell is 56. Author Dennis Lehane is 56. Rock musician Rob Cieka (Boo Radleys) is 53. Actor Daniel Dae Kim is 53. Actor Michael DeLuise is 52. Former race car driver Jeff Gordon is 50. Rapper-actor Yo-Yo is 50. Country singer Jon Nicholson is 48. R&B singer-actor Marques (MAR’-kus) Houston is 40. Britain’s Duchess of Sussex, the former actor Meghan Markle, is 40. Actor Abigail Spencer is 40. Actor/director Greta Gerwig is 38. Country singer Crystal Bowersox (TV: “American Idol”) is 36. Rock singer Tom Parker (The Wanted) is 33. Actors Dylan and Cole Sprouse are 29. Singer Jessica Sanchez (TV: “American Idol”) is 26.