Today In History, July 17th


Today is Friday, July 17, the 199th day of 2020. There are 167 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On July 17, 1944, during World War II, 320 men, two-thirds of them African-Americans, were killed when a pair of ammunition ships exploded at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine in California.
On this date:
In 1717, George Frideric Handel’s “Water Music” was first performed by an orchestra during a boating party on the River Thames (tehmz), with the musicians on one barge, and King George I listening from another.
In 1862, during the Civil War, Congress approved the Second Confiscation Act, which declared that all slaves taking refuge behind Union lines were to be set free.
In 1918, Russia’s Czar Nicholas II and his family were executed by the Bolsheviks.
In 1945, following Nazi Germany’s surrender, President Harry S. Truman, Soviet leader Josef Stalin and British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill began meeting at Potsdam in the final Allied summit of World War II.
In 1962, the United States conducted its last atmospheric nuclear test to date, detonating a 20-kiloton device, codenamed Little Feller I, at the Nevada Test Site.
In 1975, an Apollo spaceship docked with a Soyuz spacecraft in orbit in the first superpower link-up of its kind.
In 1981, 114 people were killed when a pair of suspended walkways above the lobby of the Kansas City Hyatt Regency Hotel collapsed during a tea dance.
In 1996, TWA Flight 800, a Europe-bound Boeing 747, exploded and crashed off Long Island, New York, shortly after departing John F. Kennedy International Airport, killing all 230 people on board.
In 1997, Woolworth Corp. announced it was closing its 400 remaining five-and-dime stores across the country, ending 117 years in business.
In 2007, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick was indicted by a federal grand jury in Richmond, Virginia, on charges related to competitive dogfighting. (Vick later admitted bankrolling the dogfighting operation and helping to kill six to eight dogs; he served 23 months in federal custody, the last 60 days in home confinement.)
In 2009, former CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite died in New York at 92.
In 2014, Eric Garner, an unarmed Black man accused of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes, died shortly after being wrestled to the ground by New York City police officers; a video of the takedown showed Garner repeatedly saying, “I can’t breathe.” (Garner’s family received $5.9 million from the city in 2015 to settle a wrongful death claim.) All 298 passengers and crew aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 were killed when the Boeing 777 was shot down over rebel-held eastern Ukraine; both Ukraine’s government and pro-Russian separatists denied responsibility.
Ten years ago: Federal authorities in Puerto Rico arrested alleged drug kingpin Jose Figueroa Agosto after a decade-long chase through the Caribbean. Thousands of gays and lesbians from around Europe marched through Poland’s capital, Warsaw, to demand equal rights and more tolerance in the heavily Roman Catholic nation.
Five years ago: More than 1,000 people attended an interfaith service in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to mourn four Marines who had been shot to death at a reserve facility by a Kuwaiti-born gunman. A suicide bomber with the Islamic State group attacked a crowded marketplace in Iraq’s Diyala province, killing 115 people.
One year ago: Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was sentenced to life behind bars in a U.S. prison. Prosecutors in Massachusetts dropped a case accusing actor Kevin Spacey of groping a young man at a resort island bar in 2016; the accuser had refused to testify about a missing cellphone that defense lawyers said would support Spacey’s claims of innocence.
Today’s Birthdays: Actor Donald Sutherland is 85. Rock musician Spencer Davis is 81. Sportscaster Verne Lundquist is 80. Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, is 73. Rock musician Terry “Geezer” Butler is 71. Actress Lucie Arnaz is 69. Actor David Hasselhoff is 68. Rock musician Fran Smith Jr. (The Hooters) is 68. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is 66. Television producer Mark Burnett is 60. Actress Nancy Giles is 60. Singer Regina Belle is 57. Country singer Craig Morgan is 56. Rock musician Lou Barlow is 54. Contemporary Christian singer Susan Ashton is 53. Actor Andre Royo is 52. Actress Bitty Schram is 52. Actor Jason Clarke is 51. Movie director F. Gary Gray is 51. Singer JC (PM Dawn) is 49. Rapper Sole’ is 47. Country singer Luke Bryan is 44. Actor Eric Winter is 44. Actor Mike Vogel is 41. Actor Tom Cullen is 35. Actor Brando Eaton is 34. Rhythm-and-blues singer Jeremih (jehr-uh-MY’) is 33. Actress Summer Bishil is 32. Actress Billie Lourd is 28. Actor Leo Howard is 23.