This Day in History

Posted: Monday, April 17, 2006

In Alaska

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• In 1878, Sheldon Jackson College opened its doors in Sitka.

• In 1915, Leonhard Seppala won the All-Alaska Sweepstakes Race at Nome.

• In 1924, the Douglas Womens' Council decided to open a public library.

• In 1959, John Rader was appointed as the state's first Attorney General. The Arctic Circle Chamber of Commerce endorsed the Atomic Energy Commission's plan to blast a harbor at Cape Thompson using nuclear explosives.

• In 1975, for the first time, Alaskan residents were able to watch live national TV news, when NBC began sending its nightly news program via satellite to Juneau, Fairbanks and Anchorage.

In the nation

• In 1521, Martin Luther went before the Diet of Worms to face charges stemming from his religious writings.

• In 1861, the Virginia State Convention voted to secede from the Union.

• In 1964, Ford Motor Co. unveiled its new Mustang model at the New York World's Fair.

• In 1969, a jury in Los Angeles convicted Sirhan Sirhan of assassinating Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.

• In 1996, a jury in Los Angeles opted to spare Erik and Lyle Menendez the death penalty, recommending that the brothers instead serve life in prison without parole for gunning down their wealthy parents.

• In 2001, by a nearly 2-1 margin, Mississippi residents voted to keep the Confederate emblem on their state flag. San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds became the 17th major leaguer ever to reach 500 career home runs.

• In 2005, registered sex offender David Lee Onstott was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Sarah Michelle Lunde, the 13-year-old Florida girl whose body had been found the day before.

In the world

• In 1941, Yugoslavia surrendered to Germany in World War II.

• In 1961, about 1,500 CIA-trained Cuban exiles launched the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in a failed attempt to overthrow the government of Fidel Castro.

• In 1969, Czechoslovak Communist Party chairman Alexander Dubcek was deposed.

• In 1970, the astronauts of Apollo 13 splashed down safely in the Pacific, four days after a ruptured oxygen tank crippled their spacecraft.

• In 1986, the bodies of American librarian Peter Kilburn and two Britons were found near Beirut; the three hostages had been slain in apparent retaliation for the U.S. raid on Libya. At London's Heathrow Airport, a bomb was discovered in a bag carried by an Irish woman about to board an El Al jetliner; she had been tricked into carrying the bomb by her Jordanian boyfriend.

• In 1996, seeking to calm Pacific security jitters, President Clinton and Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto signed a joint declaration establishing new U.S.-Japan ties for a "stable and prosperous" Asia.

• In 2005, a Swiss tourist bus plunged into an Alpine ravine, killing 12 people.

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