Today in History

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Posted: May 15, 2012 12:00 AM
Today in History

Today is Tuesday, May 15, the 136th day of 2012. There are 230 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On May 15, 1972, Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace was shot and left paralyzed by Arthur H. Bremer while campaigning in Laurel, Md., for the Democratic presidential nomination. (Wallace died in 1998; Bremer was released from prison in November 2007 after serving 35 years of a 53-year sentence for attempted murder.)

On this date:

In 1602, English navigator Bartholomew Gosnold and his ship, the Concord, arrived at present-day Cape Cod, which he's credited with naming.

In 1776, Virginia endorsed American independence from Britain.

In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed an act establishing the Department of Agriculture. Austrian author and playwright Arthur Schnitzler was born in Vienna.

In 1911, the Supreme Court ruled that Standard Oil Co. was a monopoly in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act, and ordered its breakup.

In 1930, registered nurse Ellen Church, the first airline stewardess, went on duty aboard an Oakland-to-Chicago flight operated by Boeing Air Transport (a forerunner of United Airlines).

In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a measure creating the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps, whose members came to be known as WACs. Wartime gasoline rationing went into effect in 17 Eastern states, limiting sales to three gallons a week for non-essential vehicles.

In 1963, astronaut L. Gordon Cooper blasted off aboard Faith 7 on the final mission of the Project Mercury space program.

In 1970, just after midnight, Phillip Lafayette Gibbs and James Earl Green, two black students at Jackson State College in Mississippi, were killed as police opened fire during student protests.

In 1972, the United States returned the prefecture of Okinawa to Japanese administration.

In 1975, U.S. forces invaded the Cambodian island of Koh Tang and recaptured the American merchant ship Mayaguez. (All 40 crew members had already been released safely by Cambodia; some 40 U.S. servicemen were killed in the operation.)

In 1987, President Ronald Reagan told a gathering of out-of-town reporters at the White House he did not consider himself "mortally wounded" by the Iran-Contra affair. (The president got to relive his radio-announcer days when he complied with a reporter's request to read aloud a promo for Nashville station WSM.)

In 1991, Edith Cresson was appointed by French President Francois Mitterrand (frahn-SWAH' mee-teh-RAHN') to be France's first female prime minister.

Ten years ago: The White House acknowledged that in the weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks, President George W. Bush was told by U.S. intelligence that Osama bin Laden's terrorist network might hijack American airplanes, but that officials did not know suicide hijackers were plotting to use planes as missiles. Financier Martin Frankel pleaded guilty in New Haven, Conn., to 24 counts of securities fraud and racketeering, admitting that he'd looted insurance companies of more than $200 million. (Frankel was later sentenced to nearly 17 years in federal prison.)

Five years ago: The Rev. Jerry Falwell, who'd built the Christian right into a political force, died in Lynchburg, Va., at age 73. Yolanda King, the firstborn child of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, died in Santa Monica, Calif., at age 51. President George W. Bush chose Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute to oversee the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan as a war czar. Prime Minister Bertie Ahern became the first Irish leader to address the joint houses of the British Parliament. Kenny Chesney collected his third consecutive entertainer of the year trophy from the Academy of Country Music.

One year ago: Thousands of Arab protesters marched on Israel's borders with Syria, Lebanon and Gaza in an unprecedented wave of demonstrations, sparking clashes that left at least 15 dead. Finland scored five late goals to beat Sweden 6-1 and claim its second title at the ice hockey world championship played in Bratislava, Slovakia.

Today's Birthdays: Playwright Sir Peter Shaffer is 86. Actress-singer Anna Maria Alberghetti is 76. Counterculture icon Wavy Gravy is 76. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is 75. Singer Trini Lopez is 75. Singer Lenny Welch is 74. Actress-singer Lainie Kazan is 72. Actress Gunilla Hutton is 70. Country singer K.T. Oslin is 70. Singer-songwriter Brian Eno is 64. Actor Nicholas Hammond ("The Sound of Music") is 62. Actor Chazz Palminteri is 60. Baseball Hall-of-Famer George Brett is 59. Musician-composer Mike Oldfield ("Tubular Bells") is 59. Actor Lee Horsley is 57. TV personality Giselle Fernandez is 51. Football Hall-of-Famer Emmitt Smith is 43. Singer-rapper Prince Be (PM Dawn) is 42. Actor Brad Rowe is 42. Actor David Charvet (shahr-VAY') is 40. Actor Russell Hornsby is 38. Rock musician Ahmet Zappa is 38. Olympic gold-medal gymnast Amy Chow is 34. Actor David Krumholtz is 34. Actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler is 31. Rock musician Brad Shultz (Cage the Elephant) is 30. Rock musician Nick Perri is 28.

Thought for Today: "Martyrdom has always been a proof of the intensity, never of the correctness of a belief." _ Arthur Schnitzler (1862-1931).

(Above Advance for Use Tuesday, May 15)

(Comments, questions and suggestions can be emailed to history(at)ap.org)

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