This Day in History — May 17

Thursday, May 17, 2018

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Today is the 137th day of 2013. There are 228 days left in the year.


1997: Zaire's new leader Laurent Kabila renames the nation the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


1536: Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer declares the marriage of England's King Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn invalid after she fails to produce a male heir; Boleyn, already condemned for high treason, was executed two days later.

1792: Twenty-four merchants form the New York Stock Exchange at 70 Wall Street.

1814: Norway's Constitution is signed, providing for a limited monarchy.

1875: The first Kentucky Derby is run; the winner was Aristides, ridden by Oliver Lewis.

1934: Military seizes power in Bulgaria from democratic Government destabilised by Great Depression.

1938: Congress passes the Second Vinson Act, providing for a strengthened US Navy. The radio quiz show Information, Please! made its debut on the NBC Blue Network.

1940: Nazi Germany occupies Brussels, Belgium, in World War II.

1954: The US Supreme Court issues its landmark Brown vs Board of Education of Topeka ruling, which declares that racially segregated public schools are inherently unequal.

1968: Nine men and women, including brothers Daniel and Philip Berrigan, enter the Selective Service office in Catonsville, Maryland, seizes several hundred draft files and burn them outside to protest the Vietnam War before being arrested. (The “Catonsville Nine”, as they came to be known, received federal prison sentences ranging from 24 to 42 months.)

1973: A special committee convened by the US Senate begins its televised hearings into the Watergate scandal.

1978: Women are included in the White House honour guard for the first time as President Jimmy Carter welcomed Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda.

1980: Rioting that claims 18 lives erupts in Miami's Liberty City after an all-white jury in Tampa acquitted four former Miami police officers of fatally beating black insurance executive Arthur McDuffie.

1987: Some 37 American sailors are killed when an Iraqi warplane attacks the US Navy frigate Stark in the Persian Gulf. (Iraq apologises for the attack, calling it a mistake, and pays more than US$27 million in compensation.)

1994: Malawi voters stream from impoverished villages to take part in first multiparty election in three decades.

1995: Jacques Chirac becomes France's president with a promise to rejuvenate a nation scarred by unemployment and inequality.

1996: US President Bill Clinton signs a measure requiring neighbourhood notification when sex offenders move in. (“Megan's Law,” as it's known, is named for Megan Kanka, a seven-year-old New Jersey girl who was raped and murdered in 1994.)

1999: Labour party candidate Ehud Barak wins a decisive victory in Israeli elections over hard-line Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

2000: Indonesia's first human rights trial convicts 24 soldiers and a civilian of murdering dozens of villagers during a massacre in Aceh province in 1999.

2003: Sri Lanka's heaviest rains in 50 years causes flash flooding that kills an estimated 250 people and washes away whole villages, destroying about 55,000 homes. About 150,000 people are made homeless.

2006: The UN Security Council adopts a resolution pressing Syria to establish diplomatic relations and set its border with Lebanon as “a significant step” to asserting Beirut's sovereignty.

2007: Russian Orthodox leaders sign a pact to heal an 80-year schism between the church in Russia and an offshoot set up abroad, which split off in anger when the Russian church declined to defy the communist Government.

2008: Assassination threats derail plans by Zimbabwe's Opposition Leader Morgan Tsvangirai to return home to campaign for the presidential run-off vote. US Senator Edward Kennedy, D-Mass, is flown to a Boston hospital after suffering a seizure at his Cape Cod home (he is later diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumour, and dies in August 2009). Nearing the end of his five-day Mideast trip, US President George W Bush holds a rapid-fire series of diplomatic meetings at the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheik in Egypt.

2009: Tamil Tigers admit defeat in their fierce quarter-century war for a separate homeland as government forces race to clear last pockets of resistance in northern Sri Lanka.

2010: The last of 10 Americans detained while trying to take 33 children out of Haiti after the January 12 earthquake is freed when a judge convicts her but sentences her to time already served in jail.

2013: Jorge Rafael Videla, 87, the former dictator who took power in Argentina in a 1976 coup and led a military junta that killed thousands during a “dirty war” against alleged subversives, dies in Buenos Aires while serving life in prison for crimes against humanity.

2017: The US Justice Department appoints former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to oversee a federal investigation into potential coordination between Russia and Donald Trump's campaign during the 2016 presidential election. Private Chelsea Manning, the soldier who was sentenced to 35 years in a military prison for giving classified materials to WikiLeaks, walks free after serving seven years behind bars, her sentence having been commuted by President Barack Obama.


Sandro Botticelli, Italian painter (1444-1510); Maria Theresa, Queen of Hungary and Romania (1717-1780); Edward Jenner, English physician, inventor of vaccination (1749-1823); Birgit Nilsson, Swedish opera singer (1918-2005); Christian Lacroix, French couturier (1950-); Dennis Hopper, US actor-director (1936-2010); Bill Paxton, US actor (1955-); Enya, Irish New Age singer (1961-).




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