This Day in Hstory — December 5


This Day in Hstory — December 5

Thursday, December 05, 2019

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Today is the 339th day of 2019. There are 26 days left in the year.


2013: The death of Nelson Mandela deprives the world of one of the great figures in modern history and sets the stage for days of mourning in South Africa and elsewhere, and reflection about a colossus of the 20th century who projected astonishing grace, resolve and good humour.


1776: The first scholastic fraternity in America, Phi Beta Kappa, is organised at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.

1782: The first American-born US president, Martin Van Buren, is born in Kinderhook, New York.

1792: George Washington is re-elected US president and John Adams as vice-president. Trial of France's King Louis XVI begins; revolutionary coup takes place in Geneva.

1797: Napoleon Bonaparte arrives in Paris to command forces for an invasion of England.

1812: Napoleon Bonaparte leaves his troops retreating from Russia and sets out for Paris.

1848: US President James Polk triggers the Gold Rush of '49 by confirming gold was discovered in California.

1936: Soviet Union adopts new constitution under a Supreme Council.

1955: The American Federation of Labour and the Congress of Industrial Organisations merge to form the AFL-CIO under its first president, George Meany.

1971: Soviet Union, at UN Security Council, vetoes resolution calling for ceasefire in hostilities between India and Pakistan over Kashmir.

1989: Israeli soldiers kill five heavily armed Arab guerrillas, who the military says crossed the border from Egypt to launch a terrorist attack commemorating anniversary of Palestinian uprising.

1994: Russia seals the border of the breakaway republic of Chechnya and both the Chechen Government and Opposition leaders express fears of imminent Russian intervention.

1995: Tel Aviv District Court indicts Yigal Amir, the confessed assassin of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, along with two of his suspected accomplices.

1996: US President Bill Clinton names UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright as the country's first female secretary of state.

1998: Nigeria's transition to democracy overcomes its first major hurdle, with a high turnout and few disturbances marking local government elections.

2004: Egypt frees an Israeli Arab businessman convicted of spying in exchange for Israel's release of six Egyptian students, a deal that signals a warming of relations between the two countries.

2005: The first witness to take the stand in the trial of ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein recalls mass arrests, tortures and killings.

2006: Fiji military commander Commodore Frank Bainimarama says he had seized control of the country and dismissed the elected prime minister, after a stand-off between the two leaders rooted in tension between the South Pacific nation's indigenous people and its ethnic Indian minority.

2007: A man opens fire with a rifle at a busy Omaha department store, killing eight people before taking his own life. Five more people are wounded, two critically.

2008: The Netherlands' highest court rules that a peep show owner is eligible to pay sales tax at a lower rate because his establishments are a form of theatre. The Government has argued that they are simply strip shows — and thus taxed at a higher rate.

2009: US Marines and Afghan troops kill at least seven Taliban fighters during the first US-led offensive since President Barack Obama announced a new American war plan.

2010: Mexico's foreign secretary tells the global climate conference there will be “no hidden text and no secret negotiations” in the meeting's final days, assuring delegates Cancun will not see a repeat of the last hours of 2009's Copenhagen climate summit.

2012: Gunmen loyal to opposite sides in neighbouring Syria's civil war, battle in the streets of the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, where two days of clashes have killed at least six people and wounded more than 50.


Walt Disney, US cartoonist-film producer (1901-1966); Werner Heisenberg, German physicist (1901-1976); Anastasio “Tachito” Somoza Debayle, Nicaraguan dictator (1925-1980); Rama IX, Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej (1927-2016); Little Richard, US singer/pianist (1932- ); Joan Didion, US author (1934- )

— AP

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