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On This Day: Explorer begins journey to sail papyrus boat across Atlantic

On May 17, 1970, Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl set sail from Morocco in a papyrus boat called the Ra II, modeled on drawings of ancient Egyptian sailing vessels.

On May 17, 1970, Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl set sail from Morocco in a papyrus boat called the Ra II, modeled on drawings of ancient Egyptian vessels. File Photo by Pedro Ximenez/Wikimedia Commons
On May 17, 1970, Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl set sail from Morocco in a papyrus boat called the Ra II, modeled on drawings of ancient Egyptian vessels. File Photo by Pedro Ximenez/Wikimedia Commons

On this date in history:

In 1792, 24 brokers met in New York City and formed the New York Stock Exchange.

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In 1875, Aristides was the winner of the first Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

In 1943, the Memphis Belle became one of the first B-17 to complete 25 missions in World War II, securing the plane and crew's reputations as rockstars. The plane was the subject of a documentary at the time and a film about the crew was made in 1990 starring Matthew Modine, Eric Stoltz and Harry Connick Jr. Ten days after the 25th mission, the pilot, Capt. Robert K. Morgan and co-pilot, Capt. James Verinis, met the king and queen of England, to whom Morgan explained the origin of the plane's name.

In 1954, in a major civil rights victory, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kan., ruled unanimously that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional.

In 1970, Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl set sail from Morocco in a papyrus boat called the Ra II, modeled on drawings of ancient Egyptian sailing vessels. His mission was to prove his theory that ancient civilizations could have sailed to the Americas. He arrived in Barbados 57 days later.

In 1973, the U.S. Senate Watergate Committee opened hearings into a break-in at Democratic National headquarters in Washington.

File Photo by Alexis C. Glenn/UPI

In 1987, two Iraqi Exocet missiles hit the frigate USS Stark in the Persian Gulf, killing 37 seamen. Iraq apologized for mistaking the ship's identity and the Stark's top officers were reprimanded and retired.

In 1989, 1 million people demonstrated for democratic reforms in Beijing. The number of students fasting to support the drive reached 3,000.

In 1999, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lost his bid for re-election when voters chose Ehud Barak, head of the center-left Israel One coalition, to succeed him.

File Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI

In 2004, Massachusetts became the first state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

In 2005, Los Angeles voters elected Antonio Villaraigosa as the city's first Hispanic mayor since 1872.

In 2007, the United States' "minority" citizenship topped the 100 million mark, about one-third of the total U.S. population, the U.S. Census Bureau said. Hispanics made up the largest group, ahead of African-Americans, 44.3 million to 40.2 million.

In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court banned the sentencing of a juvenile to life in prison for a non-homicide case, calling the practice unconstitutional, and cruel and unusual punishment.

In 2018, the Senate confirmed Gina Haspel to be the first female director of the CIA, ending weeks of speculation over whether her past role in using torture as an interrogation technique would derail her nomination.

In 2019, Taiwan became the first Asian nation to legalize same-sex marriage.

DAVID CHANG Medianumber 53185697 Date Created 26.12.2016 Region Asia > Taiwan > TAIPEI Category Politics Title TAIWAN POLITICS SAME SEX MARRIAGE Headline Taiwan parliament reviews same-sex bill as supporters and opponents rally Description epa05688415 An LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community member marches while displaying a rainbow banner outside the Taiwan Parliament building in Taipei, Taiwan, 26 December 2016. Supporters and opponents of same-sex marraige in Taiwan held rallys as parliament was reviewing a bill on legalizing same-sex marriage. According to media reports, members of pro-family values groups clashed with police as they tried to storm the parliament building to block the bill. EPA/DAVID CHANG Scene general view Credit EPA Source EPA Caption Writer DC JMA Image Size 4608px x 3456px

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