It's Wednesday, July 17, the 198th day of 2013. There are 167 days left in the year.
Highlight: In 1918, Russia's Czar Nicholas II and his family were executed by the Bolsheviks.
In 1763, American entrepreneur John Jacob Astor was born in Walldorf in present-day Germany.
In 1821, Spain ceded Florida to the United States.
In 1862, during the Civil War, Congress approved the Second Confiscation Act, which declared that all slaves taking refuge behind Union lines were to be set free.
In 1936, the Spanish Civil War began as right-wing army generals launched a coup attempt against the Second Spanish Republic.
In 1938, aviator Douglas Corrigan took off from New York, saying he was headed for California; he ended up in Ireland, supposedly by accident, earning the nickname “Wrong Way Corrigan.”
In 1944, during World War II, 320 men, two-thirds of them African-Americans, were killed when a pair of ammunition ships exploded at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine in California.
In 1955, Disneyland had its opening day in Anaheim, Calif.
In 1962, the United States conducted its last atmospheric nuclear test to date, detonating a 20-kiloton device, code-named Little Feller I, at the Nevada Test Site.
In 1975, an Apollo spaceship docked with a Soyuz spacecraft in orbit in the first superpower link-up of its kind.
In 1981, 114 people were killed when a pair of suspended walkways above the lobby of the Kansas City Hyatt Regency Hotel collapsed during a tea dance.
In 1996, TWA Flight 800, a Europe-bound Boeing 747, exploded and crashed off Long Island, N.Y., shortly after leaving John F. Kennedy International Airport, killing all 230 people aboard.
In 1998, Nicholas II, last of the Romanov czars, was formally buried in Russia 80 years after he and his family were slain by the Bolsheviks.
Ten years ago: President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair forcefully defended their decision to topple Saddam Hussein during a joint White House news conference. In a speech to the U.S. Congress, Blair said even if they were proved wrong about Iraq's weapons capabilities, “We will have destroyed a threat that at its least is responsible for inhuman carnage and suffering.”
Five years ago: The FDA lifted its salmonella warning on tomatoes amid signs the record outbreak, while not over, might finally be slowing. President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki held a secure video conference during which they agreed to set a “general time horizon” for bringing more U.S. troops home from the Iraq war.
One year ago: Testifying before the Senate Banking Committee, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke painted a dark picture of where the U.S. economy was headed if Congress failed to reach agreement soon to avert a budget crisis. Israel plunged toward a political crisis after the largest party in the government quit, leaving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in charge of a hard-line coalition opposed to most Mideast peace moves.
Actor Donald Sutherland is 78. Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, is 66. Actor David Hasselhoff is 61. Actor Andre Royo is 45. Actor Tom Cullen (TV: “Downton Abbey”) is 28.
— From wire reports