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Today in History for May 17, 2022

Astronaut Gordon Cooper Returns to Earth

Astronaut Leroy Gordon Cooper and his space capsule, Faith 7, are lifted by a crane to the deck of the USS carrier Kearsarge after rescue from the Pacific Ocean on May 17, 1963. (AP Photo)

Today’s Highlight in History

On May 17, 1954: A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court handed down its Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision which held that racially segregated public schools were inherently unequal, and therefore unconstitutional.

On this date

In 1536: Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer declared the marriage of England’s King Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn invalid after she failed to produce a male heir; Boleyn, already condemned for high treason, was executed two days later.

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

In 1946: President Harry S. Truman seized control of the nation’s railroads, delaying — but not preventing — a threatened strike by engineers and trainmen.

In 1973: A special committee convened by the U.S. Senate began its televised 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 apologized for the attack, calling it a mistake, and paid more than $27 million in compensation.)

In 1996: President Bill Clinton signed a measure requiring neighborhood notification when sex offenders move in. (“Megan’s Law,” as it’s known, was named for Megan Kanka, a 7-year-old New Jersey girl who was raped and murdered in 1994.)

In 2004: Massachusetts became the first state to allow same-sex marriages.

In 2010: The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that young people serving life prison terms should have “a meaningful opportunity to obtain release” provided they didn’t kill their victims.

In 2015: A shootout erupted between bikers and police outside a restaurant in Waco, Texas, leaving nine of the bikers dead and 20 people injured.

In 2017: The Justice Department appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to oversee a federal investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the 2016 Donald Trump campaign.

In 2020,: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was tested for the coronavirus on live TV as he announced that all people in the state who were experiencing flu-like symptoms were eligible for tests.

Ten years ago: Washington’s envoy to Israel, Dan Shapiro, told the Israel Bar Association the U.S. had plans in place to attack Iran if necessary to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons. Donna Summer, 63, the “Queen of Disco,” died in Naples, Florida. Frank Edward “Ed” Ray, the California school bus driver hailed as a hero for helping 26 students escape after three kidnappers buried them underground in 1976, died at age 91.

Five years ago: The Justice Department appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to oversee a federal investigation into potential coordination between Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign during the 2016 presidential election. Pvt. Chelsea Manning, the soldier who was sentenced to 35 years in a military prison for giving classified materials to WikiLeaks, walked free after serving seven years behind bars, her sentence having been commuted by President Barack Obama. Chris Cornell, who was lead singer with rock bands Soundgarden and Audioslave, took his own life in a Detroit hotel room; he was 52.

One year ago: The Supreme Court, with a 6-3 conservative majority, agreed to consider a major rollback of abortion rights by hearing a challenge to a Mississippi abortion law that would ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. (A decision in the case is expected next month.) The White House said President Joe Biden expressed support for a cease-fire in a call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after eight days of Israeli-Palestinian airstrikes and rocket attacks. AT&T announced a deal to combine its massive media operations, including HBO and CNN, with Discovery, the owner of lifestyle networks including the Food Network and HGTV.

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