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Today in History: May 12, Soviets lift Berlin Blockade

Today in History

Today is Friday, May 12, the 132nd day of 2023. There are 233 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On May 12, 1949, the Soviet Union lifted the Berlin Blockade, which the Western powers had succeeded in circumventing with their Berlin Airlift.

On this date:

In 1780, during the Revolutionary War, the besieged city of Charleston, South Carolina, surrendered to British forces.

In 1932, the body of Charles Lindbergh Jr., the 20-month-old kidnapped son of Charles and Anne Lindbergh, was found in a wooded area near Hopewell, New Jersey.

In 1933, the Federal Emergency Relief Administration and the Agricultural Adjustment Administration were established to provide help for the needy and farmers.

In 1943, during World War II, Axis forces in North Africa surrendered. The two-week Trident Conference, headed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, opened in Washington.

In 1958, the United States and Canada signed an agreement to create the North American Air Defense Command (later the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD).

In 1970, the Senate voted unanimously to confirm Harry A. Blackmun as a Supreme Court justice.

In 1975, the White House announced the new Cambodian government had seized an American merchant ship, the Mayaguez, in international waters. (U.S. Marines gained control of the ship three days after its seizure, not knowing the 39 civilian members of the crew had already been released by Cambodia.)

In 1982, in Fatima, Portugal, security guards overpowered a Spanish priest armed with a bayonet who attacked Pope John Paul II. (In 2008, the pope’s longtime private secretary revealed that the pontiff was slightly wounded in the assault.)

In 1986, the military action-drama film “Top Gun,” starring Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis and released by Paramount Pictures, had its world premiere in New York.

In 2008, a devastating 7.9 magnitude earthquake in China’s Sichuan province left more than 87,000 people dead or missing.

In 2009, five Miami men were convicted in a plot to blow up FBI buildings and Chicago’s Sears Tower; one man was acquitted. Suspected Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk (dem-YAHN’-yuk) was deported from the United States to Germany. (On this date in 2011, Demjanjuk, who maintained his innocence, would be convicted by a German court of being an accessory to the murder of tens of thousands of Jews; he died in March 2012 at age 91.)

In 2011, CEOs of the five largest oil companies went before the Senate Finance Committee, where Democrats challenged the executives to justify tax breaks at a time when people were paying $4 a gallon for gas.

Ten years ago: Pope Francis gave the Catholic Church new saints, including hundreds of 15th-century martyrs who were beheaded for refusing to convert to Islam, as he led his first canonization ceremony before tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square. Nineteen people were wounded in a gang-related shooting during a Mother’s Day parade in New Orleans. Serena Williams kept her No. 1 ranking and added career title No. 50 as she beat Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-4 in the final of the Madrid Open; Rafael Nadal won his fifth title since returning from a knee injury by beating Stanislas Wawrinka (vah-VRINK’-ah) 6-2, 6-4.

Five years ago: North Korea said it would dismantle its nuclear test site later in the month, in what analysts described as a mostly symbolic event that wouldn’t represent a material step toward denuclearization. Iraq held its first elections since the collapse of the Islamic State group; there was a record-low turnout for balloting that saw the political coalition of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr win the most seats in parliament without capturing a majority.

One year ago: Finland’s leaders came out in favor of applying to join NATO in part of a historic realignment on the continent 2 1/2 months after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine sent a shiver of fear through Moscow’s neighbors. The Kremlin reacted by warning it will be forced to take retaliatory “military-technical” steps. (Finland would be admitted into NATO in 2023). The world got a look at the first wild but fuzzy image of the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy, with astronomers calling it a “gentle giant” on a near-starvation diet.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Millie Perkins is 87. R&B singer Jayotis Washington is 82. Country singer Billy Swan is 81. Actor Linda Dano is 80. Actor Lindsay Crouse is 75. Singer-musician Steve Winwood is 75. Actor Gabriel Byrne is 73. Actor Bruce Boxleitner is 73. Singer Billy Squier is 73. Blues singer-musician Guy Davis is 71. Country singer Kix Brooks is 68. Actor Kim Greist is 65. Rock musician Eric Singer (KISS) is 65. Actor Ving Rhames is 64. Rock musician Billy Duffy is 62. Actor Emilio Estevez is 61. Actor April Grace is 61. TV personality/chef Carla Hall is 59. Actor Stephen Baldwin is 57. Actor Scott Schwartz is 55. Actor Kim Fields is 54. Actor Samantha Mathis is 53. Actor Jamie Luner is 52. Actor Christian Campbell is 51. Actor Rhea Seehorn is 51. Actor Mackenzie Astin is 50. Country musician Matt Mangano (The Zac Brown Band) is 47. Actor Rebecca Herbst is 46. Actor Malin (MAH’-lin) Akerman is 45. Actor Jason Biggs is 45. Actor Rami Malek (RAH’-mee MA’-lihk) is 42. Actor-singer Clare Bowen is 39. Actor Emily VanCamp is 37. Actor Malcolm David Kelley is 31. Actor Sullivan Sweeten is 28.