Today in History

Today is Thursday, May 12, the 133rd day of 2016. There are 233 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On May 12, 1949, the Soviet Union lifted the Berlin Blockade, which the Western powers had succeeded in circumventing with their Berlin Airlift.

On this date:

In 1780, during the Revolutionary War, the besieged city of Charleston, South Carolina, surrendered to British forces.

In 1870, an act creating the Canadian province of Manitoba was given royal assent, to take effect in July.

In 1922, a 20-ton meteor crashed near Blackstone, Virginia.

In 1932, the body of Charles Lindbergh Jr., the kidnapped son of Charles and Anne Lindbergh, was found in a wooded area near Hopewell, New Jersey.

In 1937, Britain’s King George VI was crowned at Westminster Abbey; his wife, Elizabeth, was crowned as queen consort.

In 1955, Manhattan’s last elevated rail line, the Third Avenue El, ceased operation.

In 1965, West Germany and Israel exchanged letters establishing diplomatic relations. The Rolling Stones recorded the final version of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” at RCA Studios in Hollywood.

In 1975, the White House announced the new Cambodian government had seized an American merchant ship, the Mayaguez, in international waters. (U.S. Marines gained control of the ship three days after its seizure, not knowing the 39 civilian members of the crew had already been released by Cambodia.)

In 1982, in Fatima, Portugal, security guards overpowered a Spanish priest armed with a bayonet who attacked Pope John Paul II. (In 2008, the pope’s longtime private secretary revealed that the pontiff was slightly wounded in the assault.)

In 1986, the military action-drama film “Top Gun,” starring Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis and released by Paramount Pictures, had its world premiere in New York.

In 1994, British Labour Party leader John Smith died at age 55.

In 2001, singer Perry Como died in Jupiter Inlet Colony, Florida, at age 88.

Ten years ago: Tony Snow made his debut as White House press secretary. A ruptured gas pipeline in southwestern Nigeria exploded as villagers were collecting fuel, killing up to 200 people. South Korean prosecutors indicted disgraced scientist Hwang Woo-suk on charges of fraud, embezzlement and bioethics violations linked to faked stem cell research. (Hwang was convicted in 2009 of embezzling research funds and illegally buying human eggs; he received a suspended prison term.)

Five years ago: CEOs of the five largest oil companies went before the Senate Finance Committee, where Democrats challenged the executives to justify tax breaks at a time when people were paying $4 a gallon for gas. A German court convicted retired U.S. autoworker John Demjanjuk of being an accessory to the murder of tens of thousands of Jews as a Nazi death camp guard. (Demjanjuk, who maintained his innocence, died in March 2012 at age 91.)

One year ago: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin with an eye on easing badly strained relations over conflicts in Ukraine and Syria. A new earthquake killed dozens of people in Nepal, which was still struggling to recover from a devastating quake nearly three weeks earlier that had killed more than 8,000. An Amtrak train traveling from Washington, D.C. to New York derailed and crashed in Philadelphia, killing eight people. Educator, author and journalist William Zinsser, 92, died in New York.

Today’s Birthdays: Critic John Simon is 91. Composer Burt Bacharach is 88. Actress Millie Perkins is 78. Rhythm-and-blues singer Jayotis Washington is 75. Country singer Billy Swan is 74. Actress Linda Dano is 73. Actress Lindsay Crouse is 68. Singer-musician Steve Winwood is 68. Actor Gabriel Byrne is 66. Actor Bruce Boxleitner is 66. Singer Billy Squier is 66. Blues singer-musician Guy Davis is 64. Country singer Kix Brooks is 61. Actress Kim Greist is 58. Rock musician Eric Singer (KISS) is 58. Actor Ving Rhames is 57. Rock musician Billy Duffy is 55. Actor Emilio Estevez is 54. Actress April Grace is 54. Actress Vanessa A. Williams is 53. TV personality/chef Carla Hall is 52. Country musician Eddie Kilgallon is 51. Actor Stephen Baldwin is 50. Actor Scott Schwartz is 48. Actress Kim Fields is 47. Actress Samantha Mathis is 46. Actress Jamie Luner is 45. Actor Christian Campbell is 44. Actress Rhea Seehorn is 44. Actor Mackenzie Astin is 43. Country musician Matt Mangano (The Zac Brown Band) is 40. Actress Rebecca Herbst is 39. Actress Malin Akerman is 38. Actor Jason Biggs is 38. Actor Rami Malek is 35. Actress-singer Clare Bowen is 32. Actress Emily VanCamp is 30. Actor Malcolm David Kelley is 24. Actor Sullivan Sweeten is 21.

Thought for Today: “Mistrust the man who finds everything good; the man who finds everything evil; and still more the man who is indifferent to everything.” — Johann Kaspar Lavater, Swiss theologian (1741-1801).

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