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Today in History — April 17

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

Today is Tuesday, April 17, the 107th day of 2007. There are 258 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On April 17, 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.

On this date:
In 1521, Martin Luther went before the Diet of Worms to face charges stemming from his religious writings. (He was later declared an outlaw by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.)

In 1524, Giovanni da Verrazano reached present-day New York harbor.

In 1790, American statesman Benjamin Franklin died in Philadelphia at age 84.

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

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

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 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 1990, the Rev. Ralph D. Abernathy, the civil rights activist and top aide to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., died in Atlanta at age 64.

Ten years ago: House Speaker Newt Gingrich announced he would borrow $300,000 from retired Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole to pay a sanction imposed for violation of House rules. Former Israeli president Chaim Herzog died in Tel Aviv at age 78.

Five years ago: Secretary of State Colin Powell ended his 10-day Middle East peace mission after failing to get the cease-fire he’d sought between Israel and the Palestinians. A federal judge ruled the Justice Department couldn’t interfere with Oregon’s assisted-suicide law. (The law was ultimately upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.)

One year ago: A Palestinian suicide bomber struck a Tel Aviv restaurant during Passover, killing nine people; in a sharp departure from the previous Palestinian government’s condemnations of bombings, the Hamas-led administration said the attack resulted from Israel’s “brutal aggression.” A bus crash in Mexico claimed 57 lives. Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan was convicted of corruption (he was later sentenced to 6½ years in prison). Robert Cheruiyot and Rita Jeptoo pulled off a Kenyan sweep of the Boston Marathon.

Today’s Birthdays: Rock promoter Don Kirshner is 73. Composer-musician Jan Hammer is 59. Actress Olivia Hussey is 56. Rock singer-musician Pete Shelley (Buzzcocks) is 52. Actor Sean Bean is 48. Rock singer Maynard James Keenan (Tool) is 43. Actress Lela Rochon is 43. Actor William Mapother is 42. Actress Kimberly Elise is 40. Singer Liz Phair is 40. Rapper-actor Redman is 37. Actress Jennifer Garner (“Alias”) is 35. Country musician Craig Anderson (Heartland) is 34. Singer Victoria Adams Beckham is 33. Actress-singer Lindsay Korman is 29. Actor Paulie Litt is 12. Actress Dee Dee Davis (“The Bernie Mac Show”) is 11.

Thought for Today: “I think America is richer in intelligence than any other country in the world; and that its intelligence is more scattered than in any country of the world.” — Will Durant, American historian (1885-1981).