Today in History - Jan. 17

/ Source: The Associated Press

Today is Wednesday, Jan. 17, the 17th day of 2007. There are 348 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On Jan. 17, 1945, Soviet and Polish forces liberated Warsaw during World War II.

On this date:
In 1893, the 19th president of the United States, Rutherford B. Hayes, died in Fremont, Ohio, at age 70.

In 1893, Hawaii’s monarchy was overthrown as a group of businessmen and sugar planters forced Queen Liliuokalani to abdicate.

In 1917, the United States paid Denmark $25 million for the Virgin Islands.

In 1919, pianist and statesman Ignace Jan Paderewski became the first premier of the newly created republic of Poland.

In 1945, Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, credited with saving tens of thousands of Jews, disappeared in Hungary while in Soviet custody.

In 1961, in his farewell address, President Eisenhower warned against the rise of “the military-industrial complex.”

In 1966, a U.S. Air Force B-52 carrying four unarmed hydrogen bombs crashed on the Spanish coast. (Three of the bombs were quickly recovered, but the fourth wasn’t found until April.)

In 1977, convicted murderer Gary Gilmore, 36, was shot by a firing squad at Utah State Prison in the first U.S. execution in a decade.

In 1994, a 6.7-magnitude earthquake struck Southern California, killing at least 60 people and causing $20 billion in damage.

In 1995, more than 6,000 people were killed when an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.2 devastated the city of Kobe, Japan.

Ten years ago: Speaker Newt Gingrich agreed to submit to a reprimand by the House and pay a $300,000 penalty as punishment for his ethics violations. Israel handed over its military headquarters in Hebron to the Palestinians, ending 30 years of Israeli occupation of the West Bank city. A court in Ireland granted the first divorce in the Roman Catholic country’s history.

Five years ago: Enron fired accounting firm Arthur Andersen, citing its destruction of thousands of documents and its accounting advice; for its part, Andersen said its relationship with Enron ended in early December 2001 when the company slid into the biggest corporate bankruptcy in U.S. history. A Palestinian gunman walked into a confirmation party in northern Israel and opened fire with an assault rifle, killing six people; the gunman was killed by police.

One year ago: The Supreme Court protected Oregon’s assisted-suicide law, ruling that doctors there who helped terminally ill patients die could not be arrested under federal drug laws. Hostage American reporter Jill Carroll appeared in a silent 20-second video aired by Al-Jazeera television, which said her abductors had given the United States 72 hours to free female prisoners in Iraq or she would be killed. (Carroll was freed unharmed on March 30, 2006.) California executed convicted killer Clarence Ray Allen a day after his 76th birthday.

Today’s Birthdays: Actress Betty White is 85. Singer-actress Eartha Kitt is 80. Actor James Earl Jones is 76. Talk show host Maury Povich is 68. Former heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali is 65. Rhythm-and-blues singer William Hart (The Delfonics) is 62. Rock musician Mick Taylor is 59. Rhythm-and-blues singer Sheila Hutchinson (The Emotions) is 54. Singer Steve Earle is 52. Singer Paul Young is 51. Actor-comedian Steve Harvey is 50. Singer Susanna Hoffs (The Bangles) is 48. Actor-comedian Jim Carrey is 45. Actor Joshua Malina is 41. Singer Shabba Ranks is 41. Actor Naveen Andrews is 38. Rapper Kid Rock is 36. Actor Freddy Rodriguez is 32. Actress Zooey Deschanel is 27. Singer Ray J is 26. Country singer Amanda Wilkinson is 25.

Thought for Today: “If there is one basic element in our Constitution, it is civilian control of the military.” — President Truman (1884-1972).