Today in History


Today is Monday, May 8, the 128th day of 2023. There are 237 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On May 8, 1996, South Africa took another step from apartheid to democracy by adopting a constitution that guaranteed equal rights for Blacks and whites.

On this date:

In 1541, Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto reached the Mississippi River.

In 1846, the first major battle of the Mexican-American War was fought at Palo Alto, Texas; U.S. forces led by Gen. Zachary Taylor were able to beat back Mexican forces.

In 1915, Regret became the first filly to win the Kentucky Derby.

In 1945, President Harry S. Truman announced on radio that Nazi Germany’s forces had surrendered, and that “the flags of freedom fly all over Europe.”

In 1972, President Richard Nixon announced that he had ordered the mining of Haiphong Harbor during the Vietnam War.

In 1973, militant American Indians who had held the South Dakota hamlet of Wounded Knee for 10 weeks surrendered.

In 1978, David R. Berkowitz pleaded guilty in a Brooklyn courtroom to murder, attempted murder and assault in connection with the “Son of Sam” shootings that claimed six lives and terrified New Yorkers. (Berkowitz was sentenced to six consecutive life prison terms.)

In 1984, the Soviet Union announced it would boycott the upcoming Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

In 1993, the Muslim-led government of Bosnia-Herzegovina and rebel Bosnian Serbs signed an agreement for a nationwide cease-fire.

In 2003, the Senate unanimously endorsed adding to NATO seven former communist nations: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

In 2020, the unemployment level surged to 14.7%, a level last seen when the country was in the throes of the Great Depression; the government reported that 20 million Americans had lost their jobs in April amid the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Ten years ago: A jury in Phoenix convicted Jodi Arias of first-degree murder in the 2008 death of her one-time boyfriend, Travis Alexander (Arias was later sentenced to life in prison). George Karl was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year for leading the Denver Nuggets to a team-record 57-win regular season. An apparent game-tying homer by Oakland’s Adam Rosales was ruled a double by umpires in the ninth inning, and the Cleveland Indians held on to beat the Athletics 4-3. Jeanne Cooper, the enduring soap opera star who had played grande dame Katherine Chancellor for nearly four decades on “The Young and the Restless,” and the mother of actor Corbin Bernsen, died in Los Angeles at age 84.

Five years ago: President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the nuclear accord with Iran and restored harsh sanctions; Trump had been a severe critic of the deal negotiated by the Obama administration in which Iran agreed to restrictions on its nuclear program. Gina Haspel, nominated to be CIA director, said that if confirmed, she would not undertake a detention and harsh interrogation program like the controversial one used after 9/11. (Haspel would be confirmed by a Senate vote of 54-45.) James Paxton of the Seattle Mariners pitched a no-hitter against the Blue Jays in Toronto, becoming the first Canadian to achieve that feat in his home country.

One year ago: A Russian bomb destroyed a school sheltering about 90 people in eastern Ukraine, killing as many as 60 people. The governor of Luhansk province said 30 people were rescued from the rubble of the school in the village of Bilohorivka. Jill Biden made an unannounced visit to western Ukraine, holding a surprise Mother’s Day meeting with first lady Olena Zelenska to show U.S. support for the embattled nation. The summer movie season got off to a blockbuster start thanks to “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness.” The superhero extravaganza grossed an estimated $185 million in ticket sales in its first weekend in U.S. and Canadian theaters.

Today’s Birthdays: Naturalist Sir David Attenborough is 97. Singer Toni Tennille is 83. Actor James Mitchum is 82. Country singer Jack Blanchard is 81. Jazz musician Keith Jarrett is 78. Actor Mark Blankfield is 75. Singer Philip Bailey (Earth, Wind and Fire) is 72. Rock musician Chris Frantz (Talking Heads) is 72. Rockabilly singer Billy Burnette is 70. Rock musician Alex Van Halen is 70. Actor David Keith is 69. Actor Raoul Max Trujillo is 68. Sports commentator/former NFL coach Bill Cowher is 66. Former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is 62. Actor Melissa Gilbert is 59. Rock musician Dave Rowntree (Blur) is 59. Rock singer Darren Hayes is 51. Singer Enrique Iglesias is 48. Blues singer-musician Joe Bonamassa is 46. Actor Matt Davis is 45. Actor Elyes Gabel is 40. Actor Domhnall Gleeson is 40. Actor Julia Whelan (WAY’-lan) is 39. Actor Nora Anezeder is 34.

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