Today is Wednesday, May 9, the 130th day of 2012. There are 236 days left in the year.
On May 9, 1712, the Carolina Colony was officially divided into two entities: North Carolina and South Carolina.
On this date:
In 1754, a cartoon in Benjamin Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette showed a snake cut in pieces, with each part representing an American colony; the caption read, “JOIN, or DIE.”
In 1883, Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset was born in Madrid.
In 1936, Italy annexed Ethiopia.
In 1945, U.S. officials announced that a midnight entertainment curfew was being lifted immediately.
In 1951, the U.S. conducted its first thermonuclear experiment as part of Operation Greenhouse by detonating a 225-kiloton device on Enewetak Atoll in the Pacific nicknamed “George.”
In 1961, in a speech to the National Association of Broadcasters, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Newton N. Minow decried the majority of television programming as a “vast wasteland.”
In 1962, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology succeeded in reflecting a laser beam off the surface of the moon. Italian movie director Federico Fellini began filming “8½,” his art house classic about a movie director struggling to make a movie.
In 1974, the House Judiciary Committee opened public hearings on whether to recommend the impeachment of President Richard Nixon.
In 1978, the bullet-riddled body of former Italian prime minister Aldo Moro, who’d been abducted by the Red Brigades, was found in an automobile in the center of Rome.
In 1980, 35 people were killed when a freighter rammed the Sunshine Skyway Bridge over Tampa Bay in Florida, causing a 1,400-foot section of the southbound span to collapse.
In 1982, the musical “Nine,” inspired by the Fellini film “8½,” opened on Broadway.
In 1987, 183 people were killed when a New York-bound Polish jetliner crashed while attempting an emergency return to Warsaw.
Ten years ago: Following the example set by Illinois, Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening suspended all executions in his state while a study was done on whether the death penalty was being meted out in a racially discriminatory way. (The state-funded study was released days before Glendening, a Democrat, left office in January 2003; it found that statistically, black defendants who killed whites were the most likely to be charged with capital murder and sentenced to death. Glendening’s Republican successor, Robert Ehrlich, lifted the death penalty moratorium.) A remote-controlled mine exploded during a military parade in a Russian town near Chechnya, killing 43 people. Veteran Mexican musician Juan Gabriel won four awards, including top songwriter, at the Billboard Latin Music Awards in Miami Beach.
Five years ago: Vice President Dick Cheney pressed Iraq’s leaders to do more to reduce violence and achieve political reconciliation in a visit to Baghdad that was punctuated by an explosion that shook windows at the U.S. Embassy where Cheney was visiting. Pope Benedict XVI began his first trip to Latin America as he arrived in Brazil.
One year ago: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich announced on social networking websites that he was running for the Republican presidential nomination. Dallas Wiens, the nation’s first full-face transplant recipient, joined surgeons at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston in his first public appearance since the 15-hour procedure in March 2011. Belgian cyclist Wouter Weylandt lost control of his bike and tumbled down a mountain pass to his death during the third stage of the Giro d’Italia. Lidia Gueiler, the only woman to date to have been Bolivia’s president, died at age 89.