This Day in History — November 21

This Day in History — November 21

Thursday, November 21, 2019

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Today is the 325th day of 2019. There are 40 days left in the year.


1991: The UN Security Council chooses Boutros Boutros-Ghali of Egypt to be the new secretary general.


1620: The Mayflower ship, carrying the first permanent European settlers to New England, lands in what is now Provincetown, Massachusetts.

1783: The first manned balloon flight sails over Paris for 25 minutes.

1789: North Carolina becomes the 12th state to ratify the US Constitution.

1806: Napoleon Bonaparte of France issues Berlin Decrees, declaring blockade of Britain.

1864: A letter is signed by President Abraham Lincoln expressing condolence to Lydia Bixby, a widow in Boston whose five sons supposedly died while fighting in the Civil War. (As it turned out, only two of Mrs Bixby's sons had been killed in battle.)

1877: American Thomas A Edison announces invention of the phonograph.

1922: Rebecca L Felton of Georgia is sworn in as the first woman to serve in the US Senate; her term, the result of an interim appointment, ends the following day as Walter F George, the winner of a special election, took office.

1934: The Cole Porter musical Anything Goes, starring Ethel Merman as Reno Sweeney, opens on Broadway.

1942: The Alaska Highway, also known as the Alcan Highway, is formally opened at Soldier's Summit in the Yukon Territory.

1945: American humorist Robert Benchley dies in New York at age 56.

1958: A Soviet-East German commission meets in East Berlin to discuss the transfer to East German control of Soviet functions and an end to the occupation status in Berlin.

1962: China agrees to a ceasefire on India-China border.

1963: Roman Catholic Vatican Council authorises use of vernacular instead of Latin in the Sacraments.

1969: The Senate votes down the Supreme Court nomination of Clement F Haynsworth, 55-45, the first such rejection since 1930.

1973: President Richard Nixon's attorney, J Fred Buzhardt, reveal the existence of an 18 1/2-minute gap in one of the White House tape recordings related to Watergate.

1974: Bombs explode at a pair of pubs in Birmingham, England, killing 21 people. (Six suspects were convicted of the attack, but the convictions of the so-called “Birmingham Six” were overturned in 1991.)

1976: Syrian army completes its final phase of occupation of Lebanon.

1977: An estimated 3,000 people are believed to have perished in cyclone that strikes south-eastern India, submerging entire villages in tidal waves.

1980: A fire at the MGM Grand Hotel-Casino in Las Vegas kills 87 people. An estimated 83 million TV viewers tune in to the CBS prime-time soap opera Dallas to find out “who shot J R” (The shooter turned out to be J R Ewing's sister-in-law, Kristin Shepard.)

1985: Former US Navy intelligence analyst Jonathan Jay Pollard is arrested and accused of spying for Israel. He pleads guilty and is sentenced to life in prison.

1987: Riot police stand guard to prevent violence by rival supporters as presidential candidates in South Korea trade charges of corruption and cruelty.

1990: Michael R Milken, Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc's former “junk-bond” chief, is sentenced to 10 years in prison. It is the most severe sentence handed down in a series of Wall Street securities fraud cases dating from 1986.

1994: NATO retaliates for repeated Serb attacks on a UN safe haven by bombing an airfield in a Serb-controlled section of Croatia.

1995: Former Nazi Captain Erich Priebke is extradited from Argentina to Italy to face charges in the massacre of 335 Italian civilians in Nazi-occupied Rome.

1996: Thirty-three people are killed, more than 100 injured, when an explosion blamed on leaking gas ripped through a six-storey building in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

1998: Italian officials release Kurdish separatist leader Abdullah Ocalan, the head of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, the main Kurdish rebel group.

1999: China successfully completes an unmanned spacecraft test, a breakthrough leading toward China eventually becoming the third country to put humans in space, after the United States and the former Soviet Union.

2000: Research published in a British medical journal shows children who use mobile phones risk suffering memory loss, sleeping disorders and headaches. The study says that those younger than 18 are more vulnerable to cellphone radiation because their immune systems are less robust.

2001: Maoist rebel leaders in Nepal withdraw from their four-month-old ceasefire with the Government, and launch their worst-ever attacks, killing more than 200 people.

2003: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says an outbreak of hepatitis A that killed three people and left 605 sick in Monaca, Pennsylvania, was caused by tainted scallions imported from Mexico.

2004: A strong earthquake rocks the Caribbean islands of Dominica and Guadeloupe, killing at least one person and destroying numerous homes.

2005: UN Secretary General Kofi Annan warns that Sudan's volatile Darfur region faces an increasing threat of complete lawlessness and anarchy, and says it is crucial that the Government and rebels conclude a peace agreement by the end of the year.

2006: Pierre Gemayel, an anti-Syrian politician and scion of Lebanon's most prominent Christian family, is gunned down in a carefully orchestrated assassination that heightens tensions between the US-backed Government and the militant Hezbollah.

2007: Costa Rican President Oscar Arias signs into law a free trade agreement with the country's Central American neighbours, the United States and the Dominican Republic.

2008: Somali pirates release a hijacked, Greek-owned tanker MV Genius with all 19 crew members safe and the oil cargo intact, after payment of a ransom.

2009: After offering a home in his church to disaffected Anglicans, Pope Benedict XVI assures the archbishop of Canterbury that he is still committed to seeking closer relations between Roman Catholics and Anglicans.

2011: Thwarted internationally, the Barack Obama Administration cobbles together a new set of best-available sanctions against Iran that underline its limited capacity to force Tehran to halt its suspected nuclear weapons programme. The US action was coordinated with Britain and Canada.


Carlo Fragoni, Italian poet (1692-1768); Voltaire, French poet-philosopher (1694-1778); Bjork, Icelandic singer/actress (1965- ); Goldie Hawn, US actress (1945- )

— AP

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