This Day in History — April 12

Friday, April 12, 2019

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Today is the 102nd day of 2019. There are 263 days left in the year.

TODAY'S HIGHLIGHT

1961: Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man to fly in space, orbit the Earth and make a safe landing.

OTHER EVENTS

1606: Great Britain adopts the Union Jack.

1861: US Civil War starts as Confederates take Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina.

1945: US President Franklin D Roosevelt dies at age 63 of a cerebral haemorrhage and Harry S Truman is sworn in as his successor.

1955: The Salk vaccine for polio is declared safe and effective.

1981: The space shuttle Columbia blasts off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on its first test flight.

1983: Harold Washington is elected Chicago's first black mayor.

1988: Harvard University is granted the first animal life-form patent, allowing researchers to build a genetically-engineered mouse.

1989: Relentless artillery battles rage between Christians and Muslims as Lebanon's civil war enters its 15th year.

1990: East German Parliament names Lothar de Maiziere as prime minister, supports swift reunification, apologises for Holocaust and recognises Polish border.

1991: Iraqi forces attack Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees suffer from starvation and exposure.

1992: Euro Disneyland, a US$4-billion theme park, opens in Marne-La-Vallee, France.

1993: North Atlantic Treaty Organisation planes begin patrolling no-fly zone over Bosnia.

1995: Palestinian Liberation Organisation chief Yasser Arafat widens his crackdown on Islamic militants in the Gaza Strip by ordering them to register guns or face confiscation of the firearms.

1996: Israeli helicopters fire missiles on Beirut's slums in an effort to wreck the nerve centre of Lebanese guerrillas, hitting a Syrian army position and wounding at least 12 Syrian soldiers.

1997: Pope John Paul II visits Sarajevo on a long-delayed mission of peace to Bosnia. Freshly planted mines are found along his motorcade route.

1999: Colombian rebels hijack a domestic flight and force the plane to land at a remote airstrip where they kidnap the 46 passengers and crew.

2000: An overloaded wooden Philippine ferry boat headed for Malaysia capsizes off the southern Philippines, killing more than 130 people.

2002: An alliance of Venezuelan military, business and labour leaders oust President Hugo Chavez and instal Pedro Carmona Estanga, the head of Venezuela's largest business association, as interim president. Chavez returns to power in 48 hours.

2003: Philippine troops free the last four Indonesian hostages held on the southern island of Jolo since June 2002 by Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim separatist group.

2005: Officials recruit tribal elders and musicians to help educate villagers in an area of northern Angola where the Marburg virus, a haemorrhagic virus, has killed scores of people.

2006: Police arrest three people suspected of aiding Italy's No 1 fugitive and reputed Mafia boss Bernardo Provenzano, who is captured a day earlier after more than four decades on the run.

2007: A suicide attacker blows himself up in the lunchroom at Iraq's Parliament, killing eight people, including at least three lawmakers, in a stunning breach of security in the heart of the US-protected Green Zone.

2008: Prachanda, the former leader of Nepal's decade-long Maoist insurgency, wins a seat in the country's constitution-writing assembly. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama concedes that comments he'd made privately during a fund-raiser about bitter working class voters who “cling to guns or religion” were ill chosen. Actors, relatives and politicians gather at a church in Los Angeles to mourn Charlton Heston, one of the last lions of Old Hollywood who died April 5 after battling Alzheimer's disease.

2010: The Vatican makes clear for the first time that bishops and other church officials should report clerical sex abuse to police if required by law. But the policy fails to satisfy victims who charge that the church deliberately hid abuse for decades.

2011: Japan ranks it nuclear crisis at the highest possible severity on an international scale — the same level as the 1986 Chernobyl disaster — even as it insists that radiation leaks are declining at its tsunami-crippled nuclear plant.

2012: With less than six months left until election day, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has hardly hit the campaign trail. He has been consumed with his fight against cancer, repeatedly travelling to Cuba for treatment and publicly vowing to defeat his illness.

2013: US Secretary of State John Kerry, visiting South Korea, delivers a stark warning to North Korea not to test-fire a mid-range missile while tamping down anxiety caused by a new US intelligence report suggesting significant progress in the communist regime's nuclear weapons programme.

2017: The United States and China strike what appeared to be an unusual bargain as President Donald Trump said he wouldn't label China a currency manipulator and voiced confidence Chinese President Xi Jinping would help him deal with North Korea's mounting threat. Embattled Fox News Channel host Bill O'Reilly begins a vacation after reports emerged of settlements reached with five women to keep quiet about harassment accusations.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAY'S

Christopher Smart, English poet (1722-1771); Vajirananavarorasa, prince-patriarch of Buddhism in Siam, institutionalised Thai Buddhism (1860-1912); Montserrat Caballe, Spanish operatic soprano (1933-2018); Alan Ayckbourn, English playwright (1939-); Herbie Hancock, US jazz musician (1940- ); David Letterman, US television personality (1947- ); Andy Garcia, US actor (1956- ); Claire Danes, US actress (1979- ); Shannen Doherty, US actress (1971- ).

— AP


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