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April 17, 2015 07:08 GMT

Today is Friday, April 17, the 107th day of 2015. There are 258 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On April 17, 1975, Cambodia's five-year war ended as the capital Phnom Penh fell to the Khmer Rouge, which instituted brutal, radical policies that claimed an estimated 1.7 million lives until the regime was overthrown in 1979.

On this date:

In 1492, a contract was signed by Christopher Columbus and a representative of Spain's King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, giving Columbus a commission to seek a westward ocean passage to Asia.

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

In 1905, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Lochner v. New York, struck down, 5-4, a New York State law limiting the number of hours that bakers could be made to work. (This ruling was effectively overturned in 1937 by the high court's West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish decision.)

In 1924, the motion picture studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was founded, the result of a merger of Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Pictures, and the Louis B. Mayer Co.

In 1937, Daffy Duck made his debut in the Warner Bros. animated cartoon "Porky's Duck Hunt," directed by Tex Avery.

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

In 1961, some 1,500 CIA-trained Cuban exiles launched the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in an attempt to topple Fidel Castro, whose forces crushed the incursion by the third day.

In 1964, Geraldine "Jerrie" Mock became the first woman to complete a solo airplane trip around the world as she returned to Columbus, Ohio, after 29 1/2 days in her Cessna 180. Ford Motor Co. unveiled the Mustang at the New York World's Fair. The first game was played at New York's Shea Stadium; the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Mets, 4-3.

In 1970, Apollo 13 astronauts James A. Lovell, Fred W. Haise and Jack Swigert splashed down safely in the Pacific, four days after a ruptured oxygen tank crippled their spacecraft while en route to the moon.

In 1984, an 11-day police siege began at Libya's embassy in London when an unidentified shooter inside the building fired on a crowd of protesters, killing police officer Yvonne Fletcher. (The Libyans in the embassy were eventually allowed to leave the country as Britain and Libya severed relations.)

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

In 1993, a federal jury in Los Angeles convicted two former police officers of violating the civil rights of beaten motorist Rodney King; two other officers were acquitted. Turkish President Turgut Ozal died at age 66.

Ten years ago: Registered sex offender David Lee Onstott was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Sarah Michelle Lunde (LUHN'-dee), the 13-year-old Florida girl whose body had been found the day before. (Onstott was later convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.) A Swiss tourist bus plunged into an Alpine ravine, killing 12 people.

Five years ago: Some 100,000 Poles filled Warsaw's biggest public square, joining together for a memorial and funeral Mass for the 96 people killed in a plane crash a week earlier. (A thickening cloud of volcanic ash over Europe caused some world leaders -- including President Barack Obama -- to cancel plans to attend a state funeral the next day.) Pope Benedict XVI began a pilgrimage in Malta, a Catholic nation buffeted by the worldwide clerical sex abuse scandal. Ubaldo Jimenez pitched the first no-hitter in the Colorado Rockies' 18-year history, dominating the Atlanta Braves in a 4-0 victory.

One year ago: Ukraine and Russia agreed on a tentative halt to violence and to calm tensions along their shared border after more than a month of Cold-War style military posturing triggered by Moscow's annexation of Crimea. Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 87, died in Mexico City.

Today's Birthdays: Actor David Bradley is 73. Composer-musician Jan Hammer (yahn HAH'-mur) is 67. Actress Olivia Hussey is 64. Actor Clarke Peters is 63. Rock singer-musician Pete Shelley (Buzzcocks) is 60. Actor Sean Bean is 56. Former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason is 54. Actor Joel Murray is 53. Rock singer Maynard James Keenan is 51. Actress Lela Rochon (LEE'-lah rohn-SHAHN') is 51. Actor William Mapother is 50. Actress Leslie Bega is 48. Actor Henry Ian Cusick is 48. Actress Kimberly Elise is 48. Singer Liz Phair is 48. Rapper-actor Redman is 45. Actress Jennifer Garner is 43. Country musician Craig Anderson (Heartland) is 42. Singer Victoria Adams Beckham is 41. Actress-singer Lindsay Korman is 37. Actress Rooney Mara is 30. Actress Jacqueline MacInnes Wood is 28. Actor Paulie Litt is 20. Actress Dee Dee Davis is 19.

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).


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