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Thursday, May 8, 1997

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  • "I am still a soldier and I believe in human rights. The American people should know I have not done any of these things my accusers say."

    -- Sergeant Major of the Army Gene McKinney.

    Today's events

    • U.S. President Bill Clinton and U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright attend a regional summit in Costa Rica.

    • The Tokyo District Court is scheduled to hold a fourth trial session of former Sumitomo Corp. copper trader Yasuo Hamanaka.

    • Bill Gates hosts a Microsoft summit in Seattle on the future of technology. U.S. Vice President Al Gore and 100 chief executives from around the world are scheduled to attend.

    • Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz is scheduled to make a one-day visit to Moscow.


    On the horizon

    • On Friday, May 9, America's first ambassador to Vietnam, Douglas "Pete" Peterson, takes up his post.

    • On Saturday, May 10, Pope John Paul II is scheduled to visit Lebanon. The trip marks the Pope's first visit to the Middle East.

    • On Sunday, May 11, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl is scheduled to visit Kazakhstan.

    • On Monday, May 12, U.S. and North Korean senior officials are scheduled to hold talks to discuss U.S. concerns over North Korea's export of missiles, including those to such countries as Iran.

    • On Tuesday, May 12, the 38th annual Clio advertising awards will be presented in New York.


    On this day

    • In 1429, the siege of Orleans ended when French troops stormed the English forts in the Hundred Years War.

    • In 1794, Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier, French chemist who identified oxygen, was guillotined in Paris by the Revolutionary Convention.

    • In 1846, the Battle of Palo Alto was won by Gen. Zachary Taylor and his American troops against Mexican forces.

    • In 1849, the first international yacht race was won by Pearl of Bermuda, beating the U.S. yacht, Brenda.

    • In 1852, the Treaty of London was signed by Britain, France, Russia, Prussia, Austria and Sweden, guaranteeing the integrity of Denmark.

    • In 1902, Mount Pelee on Martinique erupted and destroyed the town of St. Pierre; over 30,000 people died.

    • In 1921, Sweden abolished capital punishment.

    • In 1929, Norway annexed Jan Mayen island.

    • In 1942, the Battle of the Coral Sea ended when a U.S. fleet turned back a Japanese invasion force heading for Port Moresby in New Guinea.

    • In 1944, a Czech-Soviet agreement was signed to cover possible entry of Soviet troops into Czechoslovakia.

    • In 1945, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill broadcast to the nation as part of VE (Victory in Europe) Day celebrations; President Truman broadcast to the American people.

    • In 1945, King Leopold of Belgium was freed by the U.S. 7th Army.

    • In 1973, the siege of Wounded Knee in South Dakota ended peacefully as militant Indians who had occupied the tiny prairie settlement for almost 10 weeks began to file out and surrender to the authorities. It had been the most tense conflict between the U.S. government and American Indians since the bloody Indian wars in the 1880s.

    • In 1977, in Amsterdam, the trial began of Peter Menten, a Dutch art dealer and Nazi collaborator, who was accused of murdering Polish Jews in order to obtain their art collections.

    • In 1984, the Thames Barrier in London, constructed to stem the flow of the tidal river and prevent flooding, was officially opened.

    • In 1984, the Soviet Union announced it would not compete at the Los Angeles Olympic Games.

    • In 1989, Janos Kadar, the architect of modern Hungary, was dropped from his ceremonial post of Communist Party president and from his post on the policy-making Central Committee of the party.

    • In 1990, the Estonian parliament voted to change the country's name to Republic of Estonia from the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic.

    • In 1995, French President-elect Jacques Chirac began a symbolic takeover of power to meet world leaders celebrating VE Day in Paris.

    • In 1995, Germans and leaders of the main wartime Allies who defeated them 50 years ago sat side by side in Berlin to honor the dead of World War II.

    • In 1996, South Africa's Constitutional Assembly adopted the country's permanent post-apartheid constitution.

    • In 1996, former Nazi SS captain Erich Priebke went on trial in Rome charged with involvement in the killing of 335 men and boys in Italy's worst World War II atrocity.



    It's tulip time! At least in Michigan. Holland, Michigan, is celebrating the tulip and promoting the Dutch cultural heritage with its annual festival. Want to learn more? Click here.


    Holidays and more

    • Today is the First of Muharem in Algeria.

    • It's Ascension Day in much of the world.

    • Today is the First of Hijrah in Bahrain, Brunei Darussalam, Iraq, Kuwait, Maldives, Oman, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

    • It's the Anniversary of Liberation in the Czech Republic.

    • Today is the Muslim New Year in Djibouti and Mauritania.

    • It's New Year's Day in Egypt.

    • Author Peter Benchley is 57.

    • Actress Melissa Gilbert is 33.

    • Actor David Keith is 43.

    • Comedian Don Rickles is 71.

    • Singer Toni Tennille is 54.


    Sources: Associated Press,
    Chase's Calendar of Events 1997, J.P. Morgan

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