Today’s Highlight in History:
On April 17, 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.
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 1521, Martin Luther went before the Diet of Worms (vohrms) to face charges stemming from his religious writings. (Luther was later declared an outlaw by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.)
In 1524, Giovanni da Verrazano reached present-day New York Harbor.
In 1969, a jury in Los Angeles convicted Sirhan Sirhan of assassinating Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.
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 1973, Federal Express (later FedEx) began operations as 14 planes carrying 186 packages took off from Memphis International Airport, bound for 25 U.S. cities.
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 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 1991, the Dow Jones industrial average closed above 3,000 for the first time, ending the day at 3,004.46, up 17.58.
In 1993, a federal jury in Los Angeles convicted two former police officers of violating the civil rights of beaten motorist Rodney King; two other officers were acquitted. Turkish President Turgut Ozal died at age 66.
In 2007, 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.”
Ten years ago: Some 100,000 Poles filled Warsaw’s biggest public square, joining together for a memorial and funeral Mass for the 96 people killed in a plane crash a week earlier. (A thickening cloud of volcanic ash over Europe caused some world leaders — including President Barack Obama — to cancel plans to attend a state funeral the next day.) Pope Benedict XVI began a pilgrimage in Malta, a Catholic nation buffeted by the worldwide clerical sex abuse scandal.
Five years ago: President Barack Obama left open the door to “creative negotiations” in response to Iran’s demand that punishing sanctions be immediately lifted as part of a nuclear deal (the president spoke at a White House news conference with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi). Financial officials from the world’s major economies, meeting in Washington, issued a communique welcoming modest improvements in the global economy while side-stepping fears rattling global financial markets that Greece would default on its bailout loans. Cardinal Francis George, the retired archbishop of Chicago, died at age 78.
One year ago: Just days after Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was ravaged by a fire, police in New York said they had arrested a college philosophy teacher who they said had entered St. Patrick’s Cathedral carrying two cans of gasoline, lighter fluid and butane lighters; they said he had also booked a flight to Rome the following day. (A judge later decided to commit the man to a mental health facility.) The Trump administration intensified its crackdown on Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, rolling back Obama administration policy and announcing new restrictions and sanctions against the three countries. A Florida 18-year-old who authorities said was obsessed with the Columbine school shooting and may have been planning her own attack in Colorado ahead of the 20th anniversary of that shooting was found dead in the mountains outside Denver after a nearly 24-hour manhunt; authorities said Sol Pais had apparently taken her own life.
Today’s Birthdays: Actor David Bradley is 78. Composer-musician Jan Hammer (yahn HAH’-mur) is 72. Actress Olivia Hussey is 69. Actor Clarke Peters is 68. Rapper Afrika Bambaataa is 63. Actor Sean Bean is 61. Former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason (eh-SY’-uh-suhn) is 59. Actor Joel Murray is 58. Rock singer Maynard James Keenan is 56. Actress Lela Rochon (LEE’-lah rohn-SHAHN’) is 56. Actor William Mapother is 55. Actress Leslie Bega is 53. Actor Henry Ian Cusick is 53. Actress Kimberly Elise is 53. Singer Liz Phair is 53. Director/producer Adam McKay is 52. Rapper-actor Redman is 50. Actress Jennifer Garner is 48. Country musician Craig Anderson is 47. Singer Victoria Adams Beckham is 46. Actress-singer Lindsay Korman is 42. Actor Tate Ellington is 41. Actor Nicholas D’Agosto is 40. Actor Charlie Hofheimer is 39. Actress Rooney Mara is 35. Actress Jacqueline MacInnes Wood is 33. Actor Paulie Litt is 25. Actress Dee Dee Davis is 24.
Thought for Today: “A cynic is not merely one who reads bitter lessons from the past; he is one who is prematurely disappointed in the future.” — Sydney J. Harris, American journalist (1917-1986).