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Today in history: May 17

Celebrity birthdays, highlights in history, plus more facts about this day
/ Source: The Associated Press

Today is Wednesday, May 17, the 137th day of 2006. There are 228 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On May 17, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its Brown v. Board of Education decision, which found that racially segregated public schools were inherently unequal, and therefore unconstitutional.

On this date:
In 1792, the New York Stock Exchange was founded by brokers meeting under a tree located on what is now Wall Street.

In 1875, the first Kentucky Derby was run; the winner was “Aristides.”

In 1906, 100 years ago, opera singer Zinka Milanov was born in Zagreb, Croatia.

In 1938, Congress passed the Vinson Naval Act, providing for a two-ocean navy.

In 1939, Britain’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth arrived in Quebec on the first visit to Canada by reigning British sovereigns.

In 1940, the Nazis occupied Brussels, Belgium, during World War II.

In 1946, President Truman seized control of the nation’s railroads, delaying a threatened strike by engineers and trainmen.

In 1973, the Senate opened its hearings into the Watergate scandal.

In 1980, rioting that claimed 18 lives erupted in Miami’s Liberty City after an all-white jury in Tampa acquitted four former Miami police officers of fatally beating black insurance executive Arthur McDuffie.

In 1987, 37 American sailors were killed when an Iraqi warplane attacked the U.S. Navy frigate Stark in the Persian Gulf. (Iraq and the U.S. called the attack a mistake.)

Ten years ago: President Clinton signed a measure requiring neighborhood notification when sex offenders move in. (“Megan’s Law,” as it’s known, is named for Megan Kanka, a 7-year-old New Jersey girl who was raped and slain in 1994.)

Five years ago: President Bush unveiled his energy plan, bracing Americans for a summer of blackouts, layoffs, business closings and skyrocketing fuel costs and warning of “a darker future” without his aggressive plans to drill for more oil and gas and rejuvenate nuclear power.

One year ago: British lawmaker George Galloway denounced U.S. senators in testimony on Capitol Hill, denying accusations that he’d profited from the U.N. oil-for-food program and accusing them of unfairly tarnishing his name. Los Angeles Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa trounced Mayor James Hahn to be elected the city’s first Hispanic mayor in more than a century. Impressionist and actor Frank Gorshin died in Burbank, Calif., at age 72.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor-director Dennis Hopper is 70. Rhythm-and-blues singer Pervis Jackson (The Spinners) is 68. Actor Peter Gerety is 66. Singer Taj Mahal is 64. Singer-songwriter Jesse Winchester is 62. Rock musician Bill Bruford is 57. Singer-musician George Johnson (The Brothers Johnson) is 53. TV personality Kathleen Sullivan is 53. Actor Bill Paxton is 51. Boxing Hall of Famer Sugar Ray Leonard is 50. Actor-comedian Bob Saget is 50. Singer Enya is 45. Talk show host-actor Craig Ferguson is 44. Singer-musician Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) is 41. Rhythm-and-blues musician O’Dell (Mint Condition) is 41. Actress Paige Turco is 41. TV personality/interior designer Thom Filicia is 37. Singer Jordan Knight is 36. Rhythm-and-blues singer Darnell Van Rensalier (Shai) is 36. Actor Hill Harper is 33. Rock singer Andrea Corr (The Corrs) is 32. Singer Kandi Burruss is 30. Actor Tahj Mowry is 20. Actress Samantha Browne-Walters is 15.

Thought for Today: “A burning purpose attracts others who are drawn along with it and help fulfill it.” — Margaret Bourke-White, American photojournalist (1904-1971).