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Today in History

Today is Saturday, Aug. 21, the 233rd day of 2021. There are 132 days left in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:

  • On August 21, 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.

On this date: 

  • In 1831, Nat Turner launched a violent slave rebellion in Virginia, resulting in the deaths of at least 55 whites; scores of Blacks were killed in retribution in the aftermath of the rebellion. (Turner was later captured and executed.) 
  • 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 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed an executive order making Hawaii the 50th state.
  • In 1986, more than 1,700 people died when toxic gas erupted from a volcanic lake in the West African nation of Cameroon.
  • 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 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; on the first day of the siege, Weaver's teenage son, Samuel, and Deputy U.S. Marshal William Degan were killed.
  • In 1993, in a serious setback for NASA, engineers lost contact with the Mars Observer spacecraft as it was about to reach the red planet on a $980 million mission.
  • In 2000, rescue efforts to reach the sunken Russian nuclear submarine Kursk ended with divers announcing none of the 118 sailors had survived.
  • In 2010, Iranian and Russian engineers began loading fuel into Iran's first nuclear power plant, which Moscow promised to safeguard to prevent material at the site from being used in any potential weapons production.
  • In 2013, an Army private now known as Chelsea Manning was sentenced at Fort Meade, Maryland, to up to 35 years in prison for spilling an unprecedented trove of government secrets. (The sentence for the former intelligence analyst was commuted by President Barack Obama in his final days in office.)
  • In 2014, Gov. Jay Nixon ordered the Missouri National Guard to begin withdrawing from Ferguson, where nightly scenes of unrest had erupted since a white police officer fatally shot a Black 18-year-old nearly two weeks earlier.
  • In 2015, a trio of Americans, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Spencer Stone, National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos and college student Anthony Sadler, and a British businessman, Chris Norman, tackled and disarmed a Moroccan gunman on a high-speed train between Amsterdam and Paris.
  • Ten years 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. 
  • Five years ago: Shaking to samba and sharing reflections in uniquely Brazilian words, Olympians and fans said goodbye to the Rio Games with one last big bash inside Maracana Stadium. Earlier in the day, Kevin Durant scored 30 points and helped the Americans rout Serbia 96-66 for their third straight gold medal, capping an Olympics in which the U.S. dominated the medal tables, both the gold (46) and overall totals (121).
  • One year ago: Michigan's appeals court said Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's emergency declarations and orders to curb the coronavirus clearly fell within the scope of her legal powers. Police in Lafayette, Louisiana, shot and killed a Black man, Trayford Pellerin, outside a convenience store; they said he was carrying a knife and ignored commands to drop it. (A grand jury declined charges against the officers.) A spokeswoman for Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny said he was in a coma in a hospital in Siberia after falling ill from a suspected poisoning. A former police officer who became known as the Golden State Killer, Joseph James DeAngelo, told victims in a Sacramento courtroom that he was "truly sorry" before he was sentenced to multiple life prison sentences for a decade-long string of rapes and murders. "Full House" star Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, were sentenced to prison for paying half a million dollars in bribes to get their daughters into USC as crew recruits. (Giannulli would spend more than four months behind bars, Loughlin served two months.) 
  • Today's Birthdays:                                                                                                                                        Actor-director Melvin Van Peebles is 89. Rock-and-roll musician James Burton is 82. Singer Jackie DeShannon is 80. College and Pro Football Hall of Famer Willie Lanier is 76. Actor Patty McCormack is 76. Pop singer-musician Carl Giammarese (jee-ah mah-REE'-see) is 74. Actor Loretta Devine is 72. NBC newsman Harry Smith is 70. Singer Glenn Hughes is 69. Actor Kim Cattrall is 65. College Football Hall of Famer and former NFL quarterback Jim McMahon is 62. Actor Cleo King is 59. Rock singer Serj Tankian (TAN'-kee-ahn) (System of a Down) is 54. Figure skater Josee Chouinard is 52. Actor Carrie-Anne Moss is 51. MLB player-turned-manager Craig Counsell is 51. Rock musician Liam Howlett (Prodigy) is 50. Actor Alicia Witt is 46. Singer Kelis (kuh-LEES') is 42. TV personality Brody Jenner is 38. Singer Melissa Schuman is 37. Olympic gold medal sprinter Usain (yoo-SAYN') Bolt is 35. Actor Carlos Pratts is 35. Actor-comedian Brooks Wheelan is 35. Actor Cody Kasch is 34. Country singer Kacey Musgraves is 33. Actor Hayden Panettiere (pan'-uh-tee-EHR') is 32. Actor RJ Mitte is 29. Actor Maxim Knight is 22.