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Today in History — May 9

Celebrity birthdays, highlights in history, plus more facts about this day.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Today is Wednesday, May 9, the 129th day of 2007. There are 236 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On May 9, 1961, Federal Communications Commission chairman Newton N. Minow condemned television programming as a “vast wasteland” in a speech to the National Association of Broadcasters.

On this date:
In 1754, a cartoon in Benjamin Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette showed a snake cut into sections, each part representing an American colony; the caption read, “Join or die.”

In 1926, Americans Richard Byrd and Floyd Bennett became the first men to fly over the North Pole.

In 1936, Italy annexed Ethiopia.

In 1945, U.S. officials announced that a midnight entertainment curfew was being lifted immediately.

In 1960, the Food and Drug Administration approved the pill Enovid as safe for birth control use.

In 1974, the House Judiciary Committee opened hearings on whether to recommend the impeachment of President Richard Nixon.

In 1978, the bullet-riddled body of former Italian prime minister Aldo Moro, who had been abducted by the Red Brigades, was found in an automobile in the center of Rome.

In 1980, 35 people were killed when a freighter rammed the Sunshine Skyway Bridge over Tampa Bay in Florida, causing a 1,400-foot section to collapse.

In 1982, the musical “Nine,” inspired by Federico Fellini’s film “Eight and a-Half,” opened on Broadway.

In 1987, 183 people were killed when a New York-bound Polish jetliner crashed while attempting an emergency return to Warsaw.

Ten years ago: During a visit to a rainforest in Costa Rica, President Bill Clinton urged nations not to sacrifice their environment in pursuit of economic gain.

Five years ago: Following the example set by Illinois, Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening suspended all executions in his state while a study was done on whether the death penalty was being meted out in a racially discriminatory way. A remote-controlled mine exploded during a military parade in a Russian town near Chechnya, killing 43 people. Veteran Mexican musician Juan Gabriel won four awards, including top songwriter, at the Billboard Latin Music Awards in Miami Beach, Fla.

One year ago: Freed by rescuers drilling round-the-clock by hand, two men walked out of an Australian mine where they had been trapped for two weeks by an earthquake. (The joy over the survival of Brant Webb and Todd Russell was tempered by the loss of Larry Knight, who died in the same rock collapse.)

Today’s Birthdays: CBS News correspondent Mike Wallace is 89. Actress Geraldine McEwan is 75. Actor-writer Alan Bennett is 73. Actor Albert Finney is 71. Actress-turned-politician Glenda Jackson is 71. Musician Sonny Curtis (Buddy Holly and the Crickets) is 70. Producer-director James L. Brooks is 67. Singer Tommy Roe is 65. Singer-musician Richie Furay (Buffalo Springfield and Poco) is 63. Actress Candice Bergen is 61. Pop singer Clint Holmes is 61. Actor Anthony Higgins is 60. Singer Billy Joel is 58. Blues singer-musician Bob Margolin is 58. Rock singer-musician Tom Petersson (Cheap Trick) is 57. Actress Alley Mills is 56. Actress Wendy Crewson is 51. Actor John Corbett is 46. Singer Dave Gahan (Depeche Mode) is 45. Rapper Ghostface Killah is 37. Country musician Mike Myerson (Heartland) is 36. Rhythm-and-blues singer Tamia is 32. Rock musician Dan Regan (Reel Big Fish) is 30. Rock singer Pierre Bouvier (Simple Plan) is 28. Actress Rosario Dawson is 28. Actress Rachel Boston is 25.

Thought for Today: “Television has changed the American child from an irresistible force into an immovable object.” — Laurence J. Peter, Canadian-born educator (1919-1990).