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Thursday, May 15, 1997

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  • "There was an horrific explosion. We felt ... heat and pressure, it kind of spun us around a bit. I thought the boilers in our building had blowed up."

    -- Oklahoma City bombing witness Richard Nichols

    Today's events

  • The U.S. Space Shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to launch on a mission to the Russian Mir space station.

  • Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop is scheduled to kick off a new initiative against obesity. He is expected to also announce the results of a landmark survey on diet and obesity.

  • Today is the deadline for public debate on the Russian-Belarussian union charter.

  • Chairman and Chief Executive of News Corp Ltd. Rupert Murdoch is scheduled to deliver a speech on "Mass Communication in the 21 Century" on the final day of the International Federation of the Periodical Press World Congress in Tokyo.

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    On the horizon

  • On Friday, May 16, Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari follows up a visit to South Africa with a stop in Tanzania.

  • On Saturday, May 17, Hong Kong's governor is scheduled to visit London to brief Britain's Labour government on the pre-handover situation.

  • On Sunday, May 18, the Hong Kong pro-democracy and pro-dissident movement stages a kite-flying event in remembrance of the crushed Chinese pro-democracy movement.

  • On Monday, May 19, Attorney General Janet Reno is scheduled to deliver the commencement address at Boston College.

  • On Tuesday, May 20, the National Football League spring meeting is scheduled to be held in San Diego.

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    On this day

  • In 1004, Henry II, the last Saxon ruler of Germany, was crowned king of Lombardy following the defeat of Arduin of Ivrea. The city of Pavia rioted at the news.

  • In 1567, Mary, Queen of Scots married James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh just three months after the death of her former husband King Henry who was assassinated.

  • In 1718, James Puckle, a London lawyer, patented the world's first machine gun.

  • In 1800, King George III survived a second assassination attempt when James Hadfield fired a shot during a performance at the Drury Lane Theater, London.

  • In 1860, Giuseppe Garibaldi with 1,000 volunteers heavily defeated the superior Neapolitan army under General Landi at the Battle of Calatafimi.

  • In 1916, in Italy, Asiago fell when Austrian troops under von Hotzendorf attacked the Italian front along the Trentino.

  • In 1918, the world's first airmail postal service began between New York, Philadelphia and Washington, using planes supplied by the U.S. War Department.

  • In 1934, Karlis Ulmanis seized dictatorial power in a coup d'etat in Latvia.

  • In 1936, Amy Johnson arrived in Croydon, England, after a record-breaking return flight from South Africa taking just four days and 16 hours.

  • In 1940, nylon stockings went on sale for the first time in the United States.

  • In 1940, the Dutch army surrendered to Nazi Germany.

  • In 1941, Britain's first jet-propelled aircraft, the Gloster-Whittle E.28/39, flew for the first time.

  • In 1955, the Vienna Treaty, signed by Britain, France, the United States and the USSR, restored Austria's independence.

  • In 1957, Britain dropped its first hydrogen bomb on Christmas Island in the Pacific.

  • In 1972, Alabama Gov. George Wallace was shot and crippled in an assassination attempt as he campaigned in Maryland for the U.S. presidency.

  • In 1988, Moscow began the withdrawal of its estimated 115,000 troops in Afghanistan by pulling a unit out of Jalalabad.

  • In 1990, "Portrait of Doctor Gachet" by Vincent Van Gogh sold for $82.5 million at Christies in New York smashing the world record of $53.9 million.

  • In 1992, Opposition Popular Front forces in Azerbaijan swept President Ayaz Mutalibov from power only a day after parliament reinstated him.

  • In 1993, French police rescued six schoolgirls and a teacher after a 46-hour hostage drama at a Paris suburban school.

  • In 1995, China conducted an underground nuclear test just days after it had agreed to an extension of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

  • In 1996, right-wing leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee became India's first Hindu nationalist prime minister after his Bharatiya Janata Party emerged as the largest single party in a hung parliament.

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    Want to know where new diseases throughout the world are emerging? For the latest information, click here.


    Holidays and more

  • Today is Buddha Jayanti in Nepal.

  • It's Independence Day in Paraguay.

  • Today is St. Isidro Day in Spain.

  • Singer Anna Marie Alberghetti is 61.

  • Former baseball player George Brett is 44.

  • Filmmaker David Cronenberg is 54.

  • Actor Lee Horsley is 42.

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

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