updated 5/24/2006 12:01:08 AM ET 2006-05-24T04:01:08

Today is Wednesday, May 24, the 144th day of 2006. There are 221 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On May 24, 1844, Samuel F.B. Morse transmitted the message, “What hath God wrought!” from Washington to Baltimore as he formally opened America’s first telegraph line.

On this date:
In 1819, Queen Victoria was born in London.

In 1881, some 200 people died when the Canadian ferry Princess Victoria sank near London, Ontario.

In 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge, linking Brooklyn and Manhattan, was opened to traffic.

In 1941, the German battleship Bismarck sank the British dreadnought Hood in the North Atlantic.

In 1958, United Press International was formed through a merger of the United Press and the International News Service.

In 1962, astronaut Scott Carpenter became the second American to orbit the Earth as he flew aboard Aurora 7.

In 1976, Britain and France opened trans-Atlantic Concorde service to Washington.

In 1977, in a surprise move, the Kremlin ousted Soviet President Nikolai Podgorny from the Communist Party’s ruling Politburo.

In 1980, Iran rejected a call by the World Court in The Hague to release the American hostages.

In 1986, the Union Jack was flown in Israel for the first time in 38 years as Margaret Thatcher became the first British prime minister to visit the Jewish state.

Ten years ago: President Clinton underwent his annual physical at Bethesda Naval Medical Center, where he had a precancerous lesion removed from his nose. On the plus side, his weight was the same as the year before — 216 pounds — and his cholesterol count had improved from 203 to 191.

Five years ago: Democrats gained control of the U.S. Senate for the first time since 1994 when Vermont Sen. James Jeffords abandoned the Republican Party and declared himself an independent. Twenty-three people died when the floor of a Jerusalem wedding hall collapsed beneath dancing guests in a horrifying scene captured on videotape.

One year ago: Breaking years of gridlock, the Senate cleared the way for confirmation of Priscilla Owen to the U.S. appeals court following a compromise on President Bush’s current and future judicial nominees. Ignoring President Bush’s veto threat, the House voted to lift limits on embryonic stem cell research.

Today’s Birthdays: Comedian Tommy Chong is 68. Singer Bob Dylan is 65. Actor Gary Burghoff is 63. Singer Patti LaBelle is 62. Actress Priscilla Presley is 61. Country singer Mike Reid is 59. Actor Jim Broadbent is 56. Actor Alfred Molina is 53. Singer Rosanne Cash is 51. Actress Kristin Scott Thomas is 46. Rock musician Vivian Trimble is 43. Actor John C. Reilly is 41. Actor Eric Close is 39. Rapper-recording executive Heavy D is 39. Rock musician Rich Robinson is 37. Actor Billy L. Sullivan is 26. Actor-rapper Big Tyme is 23. Country singer Billy Gilman is 18. Actor Cayden Boyd is 12.

Thought for Today: “Success is getting what you want; happiness is wanting what you get.” — Anonymous.

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