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Today in History, December 20

AAP logoAAP 19/12/2016

Highlights in history on this date:

1046 - By the Synod at Sutri in Italy, King Henry III dismisses Pope Gregory VI.

1192 - Richard I, the Lion-heart, king of England, is captured in Vienna.

1560 - First General Assembly of the Church of Scotland takes place.

1582 - Gregorian calendar is adopted in France.

1694 - Frederick of Brandenburg restores Schweibus to Holy Roman Empire.

1699 - Peter the Great announces a reorganisation of the Russian calendar decreeing that the New Year will begin on January 1 and not September 1.

1712 - Swedes defeat Danes at Gadebusch, Poland.

1803 - The Louisiana Purchase is completed as France formally transfers ownership of the territory to the United States during ceremonies in New Orleans.

1820 - State of Missouri imposes a bachelor tax of $US1 a year on unmarried men between the ages of 21 and 50.

1830 - London conference of Britain, France, Austria, Prussia and Russia agrees with Belgium on separation from Holland.

1852 - British forces annex Pegu, lower Burma, in war with Burmese.

1879 - Thomas Edison privately demonstrates his incandescent light at Menlo Park, New Jersey.

1914 - In World War One, the first Battle of Champagne begins with the French attacking German machinegun positions.

1915 - The last Australian soldiers are evacuated off Gallipoli.

1917 - With the AIF further weakened by the losses of 1917, Prime Minister William Hughes asks Australians for the second time to vote for conscription for overseas service. The proposal is defeated.

1922 - Fourteen republics of Russia form Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

1928 - Britain recognises Nanking government (Kuomintang) of China.

1929 - Former French president Emile-Francois Loubet dies.

1948 - Death of C Aubrey Smith, a British character actor of stage and screen who once played cricket for England.

1954 - France sends 20,000 troops to Algeria; James Hilton, British novelist, dies.

1957 - European Nuclear Energy Agency is founded; Elvis Presley receives army draft notice.

1960 - The Viet Cong, the armed wing of the National Liberation Front, is founded in South Vietnam.

1963 - Berlin Wall is opened for the first time to West Berliners, who are allowed one-day visits to relatives in the Eastern sector for the holidays.

1968 - Death of US author John Steinbeck, aged 66.

1970 - Polish communist leader Wladyslaw Gomulka resigns after riots and is replaced by Edward Gierek.

1972 - Gunmen kill eight men and wound five in a bloody day of Northern Ireland conflict.

1973 - Spain's Premier Luis Carrero Blanco is killed when assassins bomb his car in Madrid; death of US singer Bobby Darin.

1979 - Kim Jae-kyu, head of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency, is sentenced to death for the assassination of President Park Chung-hee in Seoul.

1982 - One of the century's great pianists, Artur Rubenstein, a Polish-born American, dies aged 95.

1983 - Bill Brandt, English photographer famed for his documentation of 20th-century British life, dies.

1985 - Three gunmen end one-day siege of courtroom in Nantes, France, and release all but two of their original 30 hostages as they head for airport getaway.

1986 - Up to 30,000 students march for democracy through streets of Shanghai in China's largest demonstration since era of Cultural Revolution.

1987 - More than 3000 people are killed when the Dona Paz, a Philippine passenger ship, collides with the tanker Vector off Mindoro island, setting off a double explosion.

1989 - 12,000 US troops join 12,000 already in Panama to overthrow government of General Manuel Antonio Noriega.

1990 - Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze resigns suddenly, warning parliament that hardliners are pushing country toward dictatorship.

1991 - Government, ANC and other parties begin talks on rewriting the South African constitution.

1992 - Welcomed by thousands of cheering Somalis, US Marines and Belgian paratroopers pour ashore in broad daylight and quickly take control of Kismayu's port and airport.

1993 - Fire sweeps through a Buenos Aires discotheque packed with hundreds of teenagers celebrating the end of the high school year, killing at least 17 people and injuring 30.

1995 - An American Airlines jetliner carrying 164 people from Miami to Cali, Colombia, crashes into a mountain in the Andes. Four people and a dog survive; NATO takes over peacekeeping from the UN in Yugoslavia and moves quickly to sweep away key roadblocks in Sarajevo.

1996 - Tajik gunmen demanding freedom for a comrade take 23 people hostage on a highway in Tajikistan, including seven UN military observers and two other UN employees.

1997 - Two days after winning the presidential election in South Korea, Kim Dae Jung pardons Chun Doo Hwan and Roh Tae Woo, two former military dictators who tried to kill him when he was a dissident.

1998 - Nkem Chukwu of Houston, Texas, becomes the first woman to give birth to eight live babies.

1999 - The Vermont Supreme Court rules that gay couples must be granted the same benefits and protections given married couples of the opposite sex. The ruling was described as the first of its kind in the nation.

2000 - The UN Security Council slaps an arms embargo and travel restrictions on Afghanistan's Taliban rulers until they surrender militant Osama bin Laden.

2001 - Argentine President Fernando de la Rua resigns amid riots sparked by the country's collapsing economy; The UN Security Council authorises a multinational force for Afghanistan.

2002 - The US, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations meet to discuss a plan to move toward an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement.

2003 - The Vatican recognises a miracle performed by Charles, the last emperor of Austria, officially setting him on the path to beatification.

2004 - A tribunal upholds President Olusegun Obasanjo's victory in Nigeria's first-ever civilian-run vote, held more than a year earlier, saying some balloting fraud had occurred but that the graft wouldn't have changed the results.

2005 - The first full session of Afghanistan's new parliament almost breaks down in uproar after a woman member of parliament demands that all warlords - some of whom are MPs - be brought to justice.

2006 - Victorian court orders a retrial for Melbourne man Jack Thomas, who was jailed on terrorism charges then released by an appeal court.

2007 - Russia signs an agreement with Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to build a huge natural gas pipeline along the Caspian Sea.

2009 - A snowstorm in the US brings record-breaking dumps to Washington DC, Baltimore and Philadelphia. Seven people die.

2010 - North Korea backs off threats to retaliate against South Korea for military drills and reportedly offers concessions on its nuclear program - signs it is looking to lower the temperature on the Korean peninsula after weeks of soaring tensions.

2011 - Iraq's Sunni vice president denies Shi'ite accusations that he organised death squads, describing the charges as a trumped-up case brought only after the departure of US troops about assassinations allegedly committed five years ago.

2012 - Australia's federal government concedes it's unlikely to deliver on its promised budget surplus this financial year, in the wake of a big drop in tax revenues.

2013 - Russian President Vladimir Putin pardons the country's most famous prisoner, Kremlin critic and former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Imprisoned Pussy Riot rockers Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova are also later freed and cases against the Arctic 30 are also closed.

2014 - Two New York police officers are shot dead at point blank range by a lone gunman while sitting in their patrol car in Brooklyn.

2015 - Hopes fade for 78 people still missing from a ferry that sank off Indonesia's eastern island of Sulawesi.

Today's Birthdays:

Sir Robert Gordon Menzies, Australian statesman (1894-1978); Irene Dunne, US actress (1898-1990); Bill O'Reilly, Australian cricketer (1905-1992); W Eugene Smith, US photojournalist (1918-1978); Mahathir Mohamad, former Malaysian prime minister (1925-); Ray Martin, Australian TV personality (1944-); Peter Criss, US rock musician (Kiss) (1945-); Uri Geller, Israeli psychic (1946-); Jenny Agutter, English actress (1952-); Billy Bragg, British rock singer (1957-); Chris Robinson, US rock singer (The Black Crowes) (1966-); Michael Rogers, Australian cyclist (1979-); Jonah Hill, US actor and comedian (1983-); JoJo, American singer (1990-).

Thought For Today:

"You can keep the things of bronze and stone and give me one man to remember me just once a year." - Damon Runyan, American writer (1884-1946).

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