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ONLINE DOCUMENT: TODAY IN HISTORY

Today is Tuesday, May 7, the 128th day of 1996. There are 238 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:On May 7, 1945, Germany signed an unconditional surrender at Allied headquarters in Rheims, France, to take effect the following day, ending the European conflict of World War II.

On this date:

In 1789, the first inaugural ball was held in New York in honor of President and Mrs. George Washington.

In 1812, poet Robert Browning was born in London.

In 1825, Italian composer Antonio Salieri died in Vienna, Austria.

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

In 1840, composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky was born in the Ural region of Russia.

In 1847, the American Medical Association was founded in Philadelphia.

In 1915, nearly 1,200 people died when a German torpedo sank the British liner Lusitania off the coast of Ireland.

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

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 Ford formally declared an end to the "Vietnam era." In Ho Chi Minh City - formerly Saigon - the Viet Cong staged a rally to celebrate their takeover.

In 1984, a $180 million out-of-court settlement was announced in the Agent Orange class-action suit brought by Vietnam veterans who charged they had suffered injury from exposure to the defoliant.

In 1994, Norway's most famous painting, "The Scream" by Edvard Munch, was recovered almost three months after it was stolen from an Oslo museum.

Ten years ago: The Senate Finance Committee approved a plan to make the most sweeping changes in the U.S. income tax laws in more than 40 years. (A compromise version was signed by President Reagan the following October.)

Five years ago: Doctors said that President Bush's recent bout with an irregular heartbeat was caused by a mildly overactive thyroid gland, a condition they said was easily treatable.

One year ago: Jacques Chirac, the conservative mayor of Paris, won France's presidency in his third attempt, defeating Lionel Jospin in a runoff to end 14 years of Socialist rule. Leaders of 54 nations that fought on both sides in World War II signed olive leaves in London in a ceremony of reconciliation.

Today's Birthdays: Singer Teresa Brewer is 65. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., is 64. Football Hall-of-Famer Johnny Unitas is 63. Singer Jimmy Ruffin is 57. Actress Robin Strasser is 51. Actress Traci Lords is 28.

Thought for Today: "Men tire themselves in pursuit of rest." - Laurence Sterne, English author (1713-1768).