Today in History
By The Associated Press
Today is Monday, April 17, the 107th day of 2017. There are 258 days left in the year.
Today’s highlight in history:
In 1937, cartoon character Daffy Duck made his debut in the Warner Bros. animated short “Porky’s Duck Hunt,” directed by Tex Avery.
On this date:
In 1492, a contract was signed by Christopher Columbus and a representative of Spain’s King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, giving Columbus a commission to seek a westward ocean passage to Asia.
In 1861, the Virginia State Convention voted to secede from the Union.
In 1924, the motion picture studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was founded, the result of a merger of Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Pictures and the Louis B. Mayer Co.
In 1941, Yugoslavia surrendered to Germany during World War II.
In 1961, some 1,500 CIA-trained Cuban exiles launched the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in an attempt to topple Fidel Castro, whose forces crushed the incursion by the third day.
In 1964, Geraldine “Jerrie” Mock became the first woman to complete a solo airplane trip around the world as she returned to Columbus after 29 1/2 days in her Cessna 180. Ford Motor Co. unveiled the Mustang at the New York World’s Fair. The first game was played at New York’s Shea Stadium; the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Mets, 4-3.
In 1970, Apollo 13 astronauts James A. Lovell, Fred W. Haise and Jack Swigert splashed down safely in the Pacific, four days after a ruptured oxygen tank crippled their spacecraft while en route to the moon.
In 1972, the Boston Marathon allowed women to compete for the first time; Nina Kuscsik was the first officially recognized women’s champion, with a time of 3:10:26.
In 1975, Cambodia’s five-year war ended as the capital Phnom Penh fell to the Khmer Rouge, which instituted brutal, radical policies that claimed an estimated 1.7 million lives until the regime was overthrown in 1979.
In 1984, an 11-day police siege began at Libya’s embassy in London when an unidentified shooter inside the building fired on a crowd of protesters, killing police officer Yvonne Fletcher. (The Libyans in the embassy were eventually allowed to leave the country as Britain and Libya severed relations.)
In 1986, at London’s Heathrow Airport, a bomb was discovered in the bag of Anne-Marie Murphy, a pregnant Irishwoman about to board an El Al jetliner to Israel; she’d been tricked into carrying the bomb by her Jordanian fiance, Nezar Hindawi.
The bodies of kidnapped American Peter Kilburn and Britons Philip Padfield and Leigh Douglas were found near Beirut; they had been slain in apparent retaliation for the U.S. raid on Libya.
In 1997, former Israeli president Chaim Herzog died in Tel Aviv at age 78.
Ten years ago: A day after the Virginia Tech massacre, President George W. Bush visited the campus, where he told students and teachers at a somber convocation that the nation was praying for them and “there’s a power in these prayers.” In Rome, a U.S. soldier went on trial in absentia for the shooting death of Italian intelligence agent Nicola Calipari at an Iraqi checkpoint in March 2005. (However, a court later threw out the proceedings against Spc. Mario Lozano, saying Italy had no jurisdiction.) Actress Kitty Carlisle Hart died in New York at age 96.
Five years ago: Riding on the back of a 747 jet, retired space shuttle Discovery traveled from Cape Canaveral, Florida, to Chantilly, Virginia, to be installed in its new home: the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum annex near Washington Dulles Airport in Northern Virginia. Jamie Moyer, at age 49, became the oldest pitcher ever to win a major league contest as the Colorado Rockies beat the San Diego Padres 5-3.
One year ago: Brazil’s lower house of Congress voted to impeach President Dilma Rousseff, who repeatedly argued that the push against her was a “coup.” (Rousseff was removed the following August.) Pennsylvania became the 24th state to legalize a comprehensive medical marijuana program as Gov. Tom Wolf signed the bill into law. Actress Doris Roberts, who played the tart-tongued, endlessly meddling mother on CBS’ “Everybody Loves Raymond,” died at age 90.