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Today in History — May 24

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

Today is Thursday, May 24, the 144th day of 2007. 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 two New York City boroughs, Brooklyn and Manhattan, was opened to traffic.

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

In 1957, anti-American rioting broke out in Taipei, Taiwan.

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 1986, the Union Flag 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.

In 2001, 23 people died when the floor of a Jerusalem wedding hall collapsed beneath dancing guests in a horrifying scene captured on video.

Ten years ago: The space shuttle Atlantis returned to Earth, bringing with it NASA astronaut Jerry Linenger, who’d spent four months aboard the Russian Mir space station.

Five years ago: President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a landmark nuclear arms reduction treaty in Moscow. U.S. Olympic Committee president Sandra Baldwin resigned, a day after she admitted lying about her academic credentials.

One year ago: In rare, election-year harmony, House Republican and Democratic leaders jointly demanded the FBI return documents taken in a Capitol Hill raid as part of a bribery investigation of Rep. William Jefferson of Louisiana. Taylor Hicks was named the new “American Idol” over runner-up Katharine McPhee.

Today’s Birthdays: Comedian Tommy Chong is 69. Singer Bob Dylan is 66. Singer Patti LaBelle is 63. Actress Priscilla Presley is 62. Country singer Mike Reid is 60. Actor Jim Broadbent is 57. Actor Alfred Molina is 54. Singer Rosanne Cash is 52. Actress Kristin Scott Thomas is 47. Rock musician Vivian Trimble is 44. Actor John C. Reilly is 42. Actor Eric Close is 40. Rapper-recording executive Heavy D is 40. Rock musician Rich Robinson is 38. Actor Billy L. Sullivan is 27. Actor-rapper Big Tyme is 24. Country singer Billy Gilman is 19. Actor Cayden Boyd is 13.

Thought for Today: “Man is what he believes.” — Anton Chekhov, Russian author-dramatist (1860-1904).