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Tuesday, May 20, 1997

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  • "I am only a refugee. I am innocent; I did nothing."

    -- Zairian refugee as rebel points gun to his head

    Today's events

  • Christie's holds its spring jewelry auction in Geneva.

  • German Chancellor Helmut Kohl meets President Jacques Chirac to discuss the European Union summit planned for mid-June.

  • The White House Mayors Conference on Drug Control is scheduled to begin a two-day conference in Washington.

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    On the horizon

  • On Wednesday, May 21, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber sells his wine collection of 18,000 bottles at auction in London. Said by Sotheby's to be "undoubtedly the greatest single wine collection ever to appear at auction," the sale is expected to fetch more than $3.3 million.

  • On Thursday, May 22, the International Coffee Organization holds a two-day council meeting in London.

  • On Friday, May 23, presidential elections are to be held in Iran to elect a successor to President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

  • On Saturday, May 24, Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori is scheduled to visit Dhaka.

  • On Sunday, May 25, the first round of French elections are scheduled to begin.

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    On this day

  • In 1303, the Treaty of Paris restored Gascony to the British in the Hundred Years War.

  • In 1347, in Rome, Cola di Rienza took the title of Tribune and assumed dictatorial powers in his drive to revive the city as the capital of Italy.

  • In 1498, the explorer Vasco da Gama arrived at Calicut, India, to complete his voyage around Africa.

  • In 1501, the Portuguese discovered an island in the south Atlantic on Ascension Day and named it Ascension Island.

  • In 1506, Christopher Columbus, Italian navigator and explorer, died. His four voyages to the New World led to European exploitation and colonization.

  • In 1774, Britain passed the Quebec Act, extending its boundaries northwards to Hudson's Bay land and as far south as the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.

  • In 1867, in London, Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone of the Royal Albert Hall.

  • In 1902, Cuba was handed over to a republican government and the last U.S. troops left.

  • In 1922, the P&O liner Egypt sank off Ushant after colliding in fog with the French steamship Seine, with the loss of 90 lives. The ship was also carrying one million sterling worth of gold and silver.

  • In 1923, British Prime Minister Bonar Law resigned due to ill health and was replaced by Stanley Baldwin.

  • In 1927, the Treaty of Jeddah was signed between Great Britain and King Ibn Saud, recognizing the independence of Saudi Arabia.

  • In 1939, Pan American Airways began the first regular transatlantic airmail service across the North Atlantic.

  • In 1941, the Mediterranean island of Crete was invaded by German troops.

  • In 1956, the first hydrogen bomb to be dropped from the air was exploded by the Americans over the Bikini Atoll in the Pacific.

  • In 1972, referendum in Cameroon approved change of country from federation into a unitary state.

  • In 1980, the Canadian province of Quebec voted against a proposal to negotiate independence from Canada.

  • In 1983, in one of the worst terrorist attacks in South Africa, about 20 people died in a car bomb explosion outside the Air Force headquarters in Pretoria.

  • In 1989, martial law was imposed in Peking after student-led protests drew millions of people onto the streets.

  • In 1991, the Soviet parliament approved in principle a law which would allow citizens to travel aboard freely.

  • In 1993, the British parliament finally passed a bill aimed at ratifying the Maastricht treaty, after six months of feuding.

  • In 1995, a riot began at the Whitehead detention camp in Hong Kong by refugees about to be forcibly repatriated to Vietnam.

  • In 1996, Iraq, whose economy had been devastated by nearly six years of sanctions, accepted a tough U.N. plan to sell limited quantities of oil in order to buy food and medicine.

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    Actor Jimmy Stewart turns 89 today. The actor, best known for his roles in "It's a Wonderful Life," "Rear Window" and "Philadelphia Story," is a legend in his own right. So join in on the celebration and take a visit to the Jimmy Stewart Museum where you can sit back and take a casual reminiscence through the life and career of an American icon.


    Holidays and more

  • Today is National Day in Cameroon.

  • It's Wisakha Bucha Day in Thailand.

  • Singer Cher is 51.

  • Singer Joe Cocker is 53.

  • Actor Bronson Pinchot is 38.

  • Dancer Ronald P. Reagan is 39.

  • Actor Jimmy Stewart is 89.

  • Actor Anthony Zerbe is 61.

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

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