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Today in history: May 7

/ Source: The Associated Press

Today is Sunday, May 7, the 127th day of 2006. There are 238 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On May 7, 1915, nearly 12-hundred people died when a German torpedo sank the British liner Lusitania off the Irish coast.

On this date:
In 1789, the first inaugural ball was held in New York in honor of President and Mrs. Washington.

In 1847, the American Medical Association was founded in Philadelphia.

In 1939, Germany and Italy announced a military and political alliance known as the Rome-Berlin Axis.

In 1941, Glenn Miller and His Orchestra recorded “Chattanooga Choo Choo” for R-C-A Victor.

In 1945, Germany signed an unconditional surrender at Allied headquarters in Rheims (rams), France.

In 1954, the 55-day Battle of Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam ended with Vietnamese insurgents overrunning French forces.

In 1975, President Ford formally declared an end to the “Vietnam era.” In Ho Chi Minh City — formerly Saigon — the Viet Cong celebrated its takeover.

In 1977, “Seattle Slew” won the Kentucky Derby, the first of its Triple Crown victories.

In 1984, a $180 million out-of-court settlement was announced in the Agent Orange class-action suit brought by Vietnam veterans who charged they’d suffered injury from exposure to the defoliant.

In 2002, “Seattle Slew” died in Lexington, Kentucky, at age 28.

Ten years ago: The first international war crimes proceeding since Nuremberg opened at The Hague, with a Serbian police officer, Dusan Tadic, facing trial on murder-torture charges. (A year later on this date, Tadic was convicted of brutalizing prisoners, but was acquitted of more serious crimes, including murder.)

Five years ago: “Great Train Robber” Ronnie Biggs, who had eluded capture for decades following his prison escape in 1965, returned to Britain, where he was arrested and jailed to complete the 28 remaining years of his sentence. California grid operators ordered statewide rolling blackouts.

One year ago: During a visit to Riga, Latvia, President Bush said the United States played a role in Europe’s painful division after World War II — a decision that Bush said helped cause “one of the greatest wrongs of history” when the Soviet Union imposed its harsh rule across Central and Eastern Europe. Giacomo, a 50-1 long shot, won the Kentucky Derby. Former congressman Peter W. Rodino Junior, who’d led the House impeachment investigation of President Nixon, died in West Orange, New Jersey, at age 95.

Today’s Birthdays: Singer Teresa Brewer is 75. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Pete Domenici (Republican, New Mexico) is 74. Singer Jimmy Ruffin is 67. Singer Johnny Maestro is 67. Actress Robin Strasser is 61. Singer-songwriter Bill Danoff is 60. Rhythm-and-blues singer Thelma Houston is 60. Rock musician Bill Kreutzmann (The Dead) is 60. Rock musician Prairie Prince is 56. NBC newsman Tim Russert is 56. Actor Robert Hegyes is 55. Movie writer-director Amy Heckerling is 52. Actor Michael E. Knight is 47. Rock musician Phil Campbell (Motorhead) is 45. Country musician Rick Schell is 43. Rock singer-musician Chris O’Connor (Primitive Radio Gods) is 41. Actress Traci Lords is 37. Singer Eagle-Eye Cherry is 34. Actor Breckin Meyer is 32. Actor Taylor Abrahamse is 15.

Thought for Today: “When an old man dies, a library burns down.” — African proverb.