updated 5/5/2006 12:06:04 AM ET 2006-05-05T04:06:04

Today is Friday, May 5, the 125th day of 2006. 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 in a capsule launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

On this date:
In 1821, Napoleon Bonaparte 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, Carnegie Hall (then named “Music Hall”) had its opening night in New York City.

In 1925, John T. Scopes was arrested in Tennessee for teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution.

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

In 1955, West Germany became a sovereign state.

In 1955, the baseball musical “Damn Yankees” opened on Broadway.

In 1980, a siege at the Iranian embassy in London by armed men demanding the release of political prisoners in Iran ended as British commandos and police stormed the building. Nineteen hostages were rescued; two others had already been killed by their captors; four of the five hostage-takers were also killed.

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

In 1985, President Reagan kept a promise to West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl by leading a wreath-laying ceremony at the military cemetery in Bitburg.

Ten years ago: Israel and the Palestinians began the final stage of their peace talks in Taba, Egypt. The FBI released preliminary figures showing that serious crimes reported to police fell for the fourth straight year in 1995.

Five 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.

One year ago: Tony Blair won a historic third term as Britain’s prime minister, but his Labour Party suffered a sharply reduced parliamentary majority. “Precious Doe,” a slain girl mourned but unknown for four years in Kansas City, Mo., was identified as Erica Michelle Marie Green; her mother and stepfather were charged with murder. Michael Jackson’s lawyers opened their case in his molestation and conspiracy trial after the judge denied a defense motion for an acquittal.

Today’s Birthdays: Actress Ann B. Davis is 80. Actress Pat Carroll is 79. AFL-CIO president John J. Sweeney is 72. Saxophonist Ace Cannon is 72. Country singer-musician Roni Stoneman is 68. Actor Michael Murphy is 68. Actor Lance Henriksen is 66. Comedian-actor Michael Palin is 63. Actor John Rhys-Davies is 62. Actor Roger Rees is 62. Rock correspondent Kurt Loder is 61. Actor Richard E. Grant is 49. Broadcast journalist John Miller is 48. Rock singer Ian McCulloch (Echo and the Bunnymen) is 47. NBC News anchor Brian Williams is 47. TV personality Kyan Douglas is 36. Actress Tina Yothers is 33. Singer Craig David is 25. Actress Danielle Fishel is 25. Rock singer Skye Sweetnam is 18. Rhythm-and-blues singer Chris Brown is 17.

Thought for Today: “Wars on nations change maps. War on poverty maps change.” — Muhammad Ali, American boxing champion.

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