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This day in history

Today is Wednesday, May 20, the 141st day of 2020. There are 225 days left in the year.

► Birthdays: Actor-author James McEachin is 90. Actor Anthony Zerbe is 84. Singer-actress Cher is 74. Actor-comedian Dave Thomas is 72. Republican Senator Mike Crapo of Idaho is 69. Former New York governor David Paterson is 66. TV-radio personality Ron Reagan is 62. Actor Bronson Pinchot is 61. Singer Susan Cowsill is 61. Singer Nick Heyward is 59. Actress Mindy Cohn is 54. Belly guitarist Tom Gorman is 54. Actor Timothy Olyphant is 52. Former race car driver Tony Stewart is 49.Rapper Busta Rhymes is 48.


In 1506, explorer Christopher Columbus died in Spain.

In 1873, Levi Strauss and tailor Jacob Davis received a US patent for men’s work pants made with copper rivets.

In 1899, taxi driver Jacob German was pulled over and arrested by a police officer riding a bicycle for speeding down Manhattan’s Lexington Avenue in his electric car at 12 miles an hour at a time when the speed limit was 8 miles per hour; it was the first recorded speeding arrest in US history.

In 1927, Charles Lindbergh took off from Roosevelt Field on Long Island, N.Y., aboard the Spirit of St. Louis on his historic solo flight to France.

In 1932, Amelia Earhart took off from Newfoundland to become the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. (Because of weather and equipment problems, Earhart set down in Northern Ireland instead of her intended destination, France.)

In 1956, the United States exploded the first airborne hydrogen bomb over Bikini Atoll in the Pacific.

In 1961, a white mob attacked a busload of Freedom Riders in Montgomery, Ala., prompting the federal government to send in US marshals to restore order.

In 1985, Radio Marti, operated by the US government, began broadcasting; Cuba responded by attempting to jam its signal.


In 1993, “Cheers” aired its 275th and final episode. To celebrate one of the most popular shows in television history, the cast came to Boston.

In 2015, four of the world’s biggest banks — JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup’s banking unit Citicorp, Barclays, and the Royal Bank of Scotland — agreed to pay more than $5 billion in penalties and plead guilty to rigging the currency markets. Islamic State extremists captured the ancient desert city of Palmyra in central Syria, a stunning triumph for the group only days after it had captured the strategic city of Ramadi in Iraq.

Last year, nuclear officials in Iran said the country had quadrupled its uranium-enrichment production capacity amid tensions with the United States over Tehran’s atomic program. Ukraine’s new president, former comedian Volodymyr Zelensky, was inaugurated and then immediately disbanded Parliament, which was controlled by allies of the man he defeated. President Trump directed former White House counsel Donald McGahn to defy a congressional subpoena, citing a Justice Department legal opinion maintaining that McGahn would have immunity from testifying about his work as a close Trump adviser.