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This day in history

Today is Tuesday, Aug. 4, the 217th day of 2020. There are 149 days left in the year.

Birthdays: Actor-comedian Richard Belzer is 76. Football Hall of Famer John Riggins is 71. Former attorney general Alberto Gonzales is 65. Actor-screenwriter Billy Bob Thornton is 65. Hall of Fame track star Mary Decker Slaney is 62. Former president Barack Obama is 59. Retired Red Sox All-Star pitcher Roger Clemens is 58. Actor Crystal Chappell is 55. Author Dennis Lehane is 55. Former race car driver Jeff Gordon is 49. Britain’s Duchess of Sussex, the former actor Meghan Markle, is 39. Actor Abigail Spencer is 39. Actor/director Greta Gerwig is 37.


In 1892, Andrew and Abby Borden were found hacked to death in their Fall River home. Police accused Lizzy Borden of the grisly murder of her father and stepmother, leading to a sensationalized trial that ended in her acquittal.

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 a 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, Md., to 63 years in prison for his attempt on the life of Alabama Governor George C. Wallace (the sentence was later reduced to 53 years; Bremer was released from prison in 2007).


In 1977, President Carter signed a measure establishing the Department of Energy.

In 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.

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 2010, BP PLC reported the broken well head at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico was plugged up with mud.

Last year, 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.