Today in History

AP News
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Posted: May 05, 2011 12:00 AM
Today in History

Today is Thursday, May 5, the 125th day of 2011. There are 240 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On May 5, 1961, astronaut Alan B. Shepard Jr. became America's first space traveler as he made a 15-minute suborbital flight aboard Freedom 7, a Mercury capsule launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

On this date:

In 1821, Napoleon Bonaparte, 51, died in exile on the island of St. Helena.

In 1862, Mexican forces loyal to Benito Juarez defeated French troops sent by Napoleon III in the Battle of Puebla.

In 1891, New York's Carnegie Hall (then named "Music Hall") had its official opening night.

In 1925, schoolteacher John T. Scopes was charged in Tennessee with violating a state law that prohibited teaching the theory of evolution. (Scopes was found guilty, but his conviction was later set aside.)

In 1936, the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, fell to Italian invaders.

In 1941, Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie returned to Addis Ababa after the Italians were driven out with the help of Allied forces.

In 1942, during World War II, Japanese forces landed on the Philippine island of Corregidor.

In 1955, West Germany became a fully sovereign state. The baseball musical "Damn Yankees" opened on Broadway.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy signed a law raising the minimum wage to $1.15 an hour, then to $1.25 an hour, for currently covered workers.

In 1981, Irish Republican Army hunger-striker Bobby Sands died at the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland in his 66th day without food.

Ten years ago: Pope John Paul II became the first pope to visit Syria, where President Bashar Assad asked him to take the Arabs' side in their dispute with Israel, referring to what Assad described as Jewish persecution of Jesus Christ. Monarchos won the Kentucky Derby.

Five years ago: A military transport helicopter crashed in eastern Afghanistan, killing all ten U.S. soldiers on board. CIA Director Porter Goss resigned in a second-term shake-up of President George W. Bush's team. British Prime Minister Tony Blair shuffled his Cabinet, replacing Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.

One year ago: Preliminary plans for a mosque and cultural center near ground zero in New York were unveiled, setting off a national debate over whether the project was disrespectful to 9/11 victims and whether opposition to it exposed anti-Muslim biases. Three people, trapped in an Athens bank torched by rioters, died during a nationwide strike against the cash-strapped Greek government's harsh austerity measures.

Today's Birthdays: Actress Pat Carroll is 84. Former AFL-CIO president John J. Sweeney is 77. Saxophonist Ace Cannon is 77. Country singer-musician Roni Stoneman is 73. Actor Michael Murphy is 73. Actor Lance Henriksen is 71. Comedian-actor Michael Palin is 68. Actor John Rhys-Davies is 67. Actor Roger Rees is 67. Rock correspondent Kurt Loder is 66. Rock musician Bill Ward (Black Sabbath) is 63. Actor Richard E. Grant is 54. Broadcast journalist-turned-FBI spokesman John Miller is 53. Rock singer Ian McCulloch (Echo and the Bunnymen) is 52. NBC News anchor Brian Williams is 52. Rock musician Shawn Drover (Megadeth) is 45. TV personality Kyan (KY'-ihn) Douglas is 41. Actress Tina Yothers is 38. Actor Vincent Kartheiser is 32. Singer Craig David is 30. Actress Danielle Fishel is 30. Actor Henry Cavill is 28. Soul singer Adele is 23. Rock singer Skye Sweetnam is 23. Rhythm-and-blues singer Chris Brown is 22.

Thought for Today: "It's a very sobering feeling to be up in space and realize that one's safety factor was determined by the lowest bidder on a government contract." _ Alan B. Shepard Jr., American astronaut (1923-1998).

(Above Advance for Use Thursday, May 5)

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