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Today in History

Today is Friday, May 7, the 127th day of 2021. There are 238 days left in the year.

Birthdays: R&B singer Thelma Houston is 78. Actor Robin Strasser is 76. Singer-songwriter Bill Danoff is 75. Rock musician Bill Kreutzmann (Grateful Dead) is 75. Former Utah Governor Gary Herbert is 74. Rock musician Prairie Prince is 71. Movie writer-director Amy Heckerling is 69. Actor Michael E. Knight is 62. Rock musician Phil Campbell (Motorhead) is 60. Rock singer-musician Chris O’Connor (Primitive Radio Gods) is 56. Actor Traci Lords is 53. Actor Morocco Omari is 51. Singer Eagle-Eye Cherry is 50. Rock musician Matt Helders (Arctic Monkeys) is 35. Actor-comedian Aidy Bryant is 34. Actor Dylan Gelula is 27.

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In 1833, composer Johannes Brahms was born in Hamburg, Germany.

In 1840, composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky was born in Votkinsk, Russia.

In 1915, a German U-boat torpedoed and sank the British liner RMS Lusitania off the southern coast of Ireland, killing 1,198 people, including 128 Americans, out of the nearly 2,000 on board.

In 1928, the minimum voting age for British women was lowered from 30 to 21 — the same age as men.

In 1939, Germany and Italy announced a military and political alliance known as the Rome-Berlin Axis.

In 1945, Germany signed an unconditional surrender at Allied headquarters in Rheims, France, ending its role in World War II.

In 1946, Sony Corp. had its beginnings as the Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corp. was founded in the Japanese capital by Akio Morita and Masaru Ibuka.

In 1954, the 55-day Battle of Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam ended with Vietnamese insurgents overrunning French forces.

In 1963, the United States launched the Telstar 2 communications satellite.

In 1975, President Gerald R. Ford formally declared an end to the “Vietnam era.” In Ho Chi Minh City — formerly Saigon — the Viet Cong celebrated its takeover.

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In 1998, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz agreed to buy Chrysler Corp. for more than $37 billion. Londoners voted overwhelmingly to elect their own mayor for the first time in history. (In May 2000, Ken Livingstone was elected.)

In 2010, a BP-chartered vessel lowered a 100-ton concrete-and-steel vault onto the ruptured Deepwater Horizon well in an unprecedented, and ultimately unsuccessful, attempt to stop most of the gushing crude fouling the sea.

In 2011, the US released videos seized from Osama bin Laden’s hideout showing the terrorist leader watching newscasts of himself amid shabby surroundings. Justin Verlander threw his second career no-hitter, leading the Detroit Tigers to a 9-0 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. World Golf Hall of Famer Seve Ballesteros, 54, died in Pedrena, Spain.

In 2016, a Tesla Model S sedan that was in self-driving mode crashed into the side of a tractor-trailer in Williston, Fla., killing its occupant, Joshua D. Brown. President Barack Obama told the graduating class at Howard University in Washington, D.C. that the country was “a better place” than when he left college more than 30 years earlier, but acknowledged that gaps persisted, citing racism and inequality.

In 2019, two gunmen opened fire inside a charter school in a Denver suburb not far from Columbine High School, killing a student, 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo, who authorities said had charged at the shooters to protect classmates; two students at the school were charged in the attack. (A 16-year-old, Alec McKinney, pleaded guilty to 17 felonies and was sentenced to life in prison plus 38 years; 19-year-old Devon Erickson pleaded not guilty to the same charges; his trial has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.)

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In 2020, Georgia authorities arrested a white father and son and charged them with murder in the February shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man they had pursued in a truck after spotting him running in their neighborhood near the port city of Brunswick. In an abrupt about-face, the Justice Department dropped a criminal case against Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s first national security adviser, who was accused of lying to the FBI about conversations with the Russian ambassador. The White House said a member of the military serving as one of Trump’s valets tested positive for the coronavirus. A Texas hair salon owner, Shelley Luther, sentenced to a week behind bars for keeping her business open despite Governor Greg Abbott’s emergency orders, was freed after less than 48 hours; Abbott had removed jail as a punishment for defying virus safeguards. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found no evidence of benefit from a malaria drug that was promoted as a treatment for the coronavirus. Neiman Marcus said it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, becoming the first department store chain to be toppled by the pandemic.