Today is Thursday, May 18, the 138th day of 2023. There are 227 days left in the year.
Today’s Highlight in History:
On May 18, 1980, the Mount St. Helens volcano in Washington state exploded, leaving 57 people dead or missing.
On this date:
In 1652, Rhode Island became the first American colony to pass a law abolishing African slavery; however, the law was apparently never enforced.
In 1863, the Siege of Vicksburg began during the Civil War, ending July 4 with a Union victory.
In 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Plessy v. Ferguson, endorsed “separate but equal” racial segregation, a concept renounced 58 years later by Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.
In 1910, Halley’s Comet passed by earth, brushing it with its tail.
In 1927, in America’s deadliest school attack, part of a schoolhouse in Bath Township, Michigan, was blown up with explosives planted by local farmer Andrew Kehoe, who then set off a bomb in his truck; the attacks killed 38 children and six adults, including Kehoe, who’d earlier killed his wife. (Authorities said Kehoe, who suffered financial difficulties, was seeking revenge for losing a township clerk election.)
In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a measure creating the Tennessee Valley Authority.
In 1934, Congress approved, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed, the so-called “Lindbergh Act,” providing for the death penalty in cases of interstate kidnapping.
In 1973, Harvard law professor Archibald Cox was appointed Watergate special prosecutor by U.S. Attorney General Elliot Richardson.
In 1981, the New York Native, a gay newspaper, carried a story concerning rumors of “an exotic new disease” among homosexuals; it was the first published report about what came to be known as AIDS.
In 1998, the U.S. government filed an antitrust case against Microsoft, saying the powerful software company had a “choke hold” on competitors that was denying consumers important choices about how they bought and used computers. (The Justice Department and Microsoft reached a settlement in 2001.)
In 2015, President Barack Obama ended long-running federal transfers of some combat-style gear to local law enforcement in an attempt to ease tensions between police and minority communities, saying equipment made for the battlefield should not be a tool of American criminal justice.
In 2020, President Donald Trump said he’d been taking a malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine, and a zinc supplement to protect against the coronavirus despite warnings from his own government that the drug should be administered only in a hospital or research setting.
Ten years ago: A car driven by an 87-year-old man plowed into dozens of hikers during a parade in Damascus, Virginia, injuring about 50 people. (The driver, who suffered from a medical condition, was not charged.) French President Francois Hollande signed a law authorizing same-sex marriages and adoption by gay couples. Oxbow, ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, led from start to finish to win the Preakness; Kentucky Derby winner Orb came in fourth.
Five years ago: A 17-year-old armed with a shotgun and a pistol opened fire at a Houston-area high school, killing eight students and two teachers. (Dimitrios Pagourtzis is charged in state court with capital murder; his attorney says he is facing 11 federal charges.) A 39-year-old airliner crashed and burned in a field just after taking off from Havana, Cuba, killing 112 people. President Donald Trump said he would nominate acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie to permanently lead the department. (Wilkie was confirmed by the Senate in July.) Hasbro announced that the United States Patent and Trademark Office had issued a trademark for the scent of Play-doh.
One year ago: Nearly 1,000 last-ditch Ukrainian fighters who had held out inside Mariupol’s pulverized steel plant surrendered, Russia said, as the battle that turned the city into a worldwide symbol of defiance and suffering draws toward a close. President Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to speed production of infant formula and authorized flights to import supply from overseas amid a national shortage. The U.S. Soccer Federation reached milestone agreements to pay its men’s and women’s teams equally.
Today’s Birthdays: Actor Priscilla Pointer is 99. Baseball Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson is 85. Actor Candice Azzara is 82. Bluegrass singer-musician Rodney Dillard (The Dillards) is 81. Baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson is 77. Former Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., is 75. Country singer Joe Bonsall (The Oak Ridge Boys) is 75. Rock musician Rick Wakeman (Yes) is 74. Rock singer Mark Mothersbaugh (Devo) is 73. Actor James Stephens is 72. Country singer George Strait is 71. Actor Chow Yun-Fat is 68. International Tennis Hall of Famer Yannick Noah is 63. Rock singer-musician Page Hamilton is 63. Contemporary Christian musician Barry Graul (MercyMe) is 62. Contemporary Christian singer Michael Tait is 57. Singer-actor Martika is 54. Comedian-writer Tina Fey is 53. Rock singer Jack Johnson is 48. Country singer David Nail is 44. Actor Matt Long is 43. Actor Allen Leech is 42. Christian singer Francesca Battistelli is 38. Actor Spencer Breslin is 31. Actor Violett Beane is 27. Actor Hala Finley is 14.