Today in history


Today is Wednesday, June 17, the 169th day of 2020. There are 197 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On June 17, 1972, President Richard Nixon’s eventual downfall began with the arrest of five burglars inside the Democratic headquarters in Washington, D.C.’s Watergate complex.

On this date:

In 1579, Sir Francis Drake arrived in present-day northern California, naming it New Albion and claiming English sovereignty.

In 1775, the Revolutionary War Battle of Bunker Hill resulted in a costly victory for the British, who suffered heavy losses.

In 1928, Amelia Earhart embarked on a trans-Atlantic flight from Newfoundland to Wales with pilots Wilmer Stultz and Louis Gordon, becoming the first woman to make the trip as a passenger.

In 1930, President Herbert Hoover signed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, which boosted U.S. tariffs to historically high levels, prompting foreign retaliation.

In 1933, the “Kansas City Massacre” took place outside Union Station in Kansas City, Mo., as a group of gunmen attacked law enforcement officers escorting federal prisoner Frank Nash; four of the officers were killed, along with Nash.

In 1944, the Republic of Iceland was established.

In 1953, U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas stayed the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, originally set for the next day, the couple’s 14th wedding anniversary. (They were put to death June 19.)

In 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Abington (Pa.) School District v. Schempp, struck down, 8-1, rules requiring the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer or reading of Biblical verses in public schools.

In 1967, China successfully tested its first thermonuclear (hydrogen) bomb.

In 1986, President Ronald Reagan announced the retirement of Chief Justice Warren Burger, who was succeeded by William Rehnquist.

In 1994, after leading police on a slow-speed chase on Southern California freeways, O.J. Simpson was arrested and charged with murder in the slayings of his ex-wife, Nicole, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. (Simpson was later acquitted in a criminal trial but held liable in a civil trial.)

In 2009, President Barack Obama extended some benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees. Nevada Sen. John Ensign resigned from the GOP leadership a day after admitting an affair with a former campaign staffer.

Ten years ago: BP chief executive Tony Hayward told a congressional hearing he was “deeply sorry” for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, but infuriated lawmakers as he disclaimed knowledge of any of the myriad problems leading up to the disaster. Israel agreed to ease its three-year-old land blockade of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. The Los Angeles Lakers rallied in Game 7 of the NBA finals, defeating the Boston Celtics 83-79 to repeat as champions.

Five years ago: Nine people were shot to death in a historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina; suspect Dylann Roof was arrested the following morning. (Roof was convicted of federal hate crimes and sentenced to death; he later pleaded guilty to state murder charges and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.)

One year ago: Iran announced that it was breaking compliance with the international accord that kept it from making nuclear weapons; the announcement meant that Iran could soon start to enrich uranium to just a step away from weapons-grade levels. The Trump administration followed Iran’s announcement by ordering 1,000 more troops to the Middle East. Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Islamist leader Mohammed Morsi, collapsed in court while on trial and died; Morsi had been ousted by the military in 2013 after a year in office. Gloria Vanderbilt, an heiress and artist who later became a designer jeans pioneer, died at her New York home; she was 95. Gunfire broke out, and a stampede developed, as fans in Toronto celebrated at a rally for the NBA champion Raptors; four people were shot and thousands of others fled, just a block from the rally stage.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Peter Lupus is 88. Movie director Ken Loach is 84. Actor William Lucking is 79. Singer Barry Manilow is 77. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is 77. Comedian Joe Piscopo is 69. Actor Mark Linn-Baker is 66. Actor Jon Gries (gryz) is 63. Rock singer Jello Biafra is 62. Movie producer-director-writer Bobby Farrelly is 62. Actor Thomas Haden Church is 60. Actor Greg Kinnear is 57. Actress Kami Cotler is 55. Olympic gold medal speed skater Dan Jansen is 55. Actor Jason Patric is 54. Rhythm and blues singer Kevin Thornton is 51. Actor-comedian Will Forte is 50. Latin pop singer Paulina Rubio is 49. Tennis player Venus Williams is 40. Actor Arthur Darvill is 38. Actress Jodie Whittaker is 38. Actor Manish Dayal is 37. Country singer Mickey Guyton is 37. Actor-rapper Herculeez (AKA Jamal Mixon) is 37. Actress Marie Avgeropoulos is 34. Rapper Kendrick Lamar is 33. NHL forward Nikita Kucherov is 27. Actor Damani Roberts is 24. Actor KJ Apa is 23.

Thought for Today: “One has two duties — to be worried and not to be worried.” — E.M. Forster, British author (1879-1970).

By the Associated Press

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