This Day in History — October 20


This Day in History — October 20

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

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Today is the 294th day of 2020. There are 72 days left in the year.


2011: Moammar Gadhafi, Libya's dictator for 42 years until he was ousted in an uprising-turned-civil war, is killed as revolutionary fighters overwhelm his hometown of Sirte and capture the last major bastion of resistance two months after his regime fell.


1714: The coronation of Britain's King George I takes place in Westminster Abbey.

1728: A huge fire ravages Copenhagen, Denmark, destroying most of the city.

1792: US President George Washington writes about religious differences as the cause of the world's troubles: “Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind those which are caused by a difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing and ought to be deprecated.”

1803: The US Senate ratifies the Louisiana Purchase.

1805: Austrians are defeated by French at Battle of Ulm.

1827: The last great naval battle of the age of sail: British, French and Russian ships obliterate the Turkish fleet at Navarino, leading to the Turks withdrawing from Greece.

1867: British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli writes about change in a time that many people were afraid of them, “change is inevitable in a progressive country, change is constant”.

1883: Peru cedes territory to Chile by Peace of Ancor.

1892: The city of Chicago dedicates the World's Colombian Exposition.

1897: King of Korea proclaims himself emperor, and Russia and Japan intervene.

1903: A joint commission rules in favour of the US in a boundary dispute between the District of Alaska and Canada.

1921: Franco-Turkish agreement is signed at Ankara.

1944: The Yugoslav cities of Belgrade and Dubrovnik are liberated during World War II; General Douglas MacArthur, promising the Philippine people he would return to rescue them from Japanese occupation, steps ashore at Leyte.

1945: Egypt, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon warn the US that creation of a Jewish State could lead to war in Middle East; Arab League is formed.

1947: The House Un-American Activities Committee opens hearings into alleged Communist influence and infiltration within the motion picture industry.

1968: Jacqueline Kennedy and Aristotle Onassis are wed on his privately owned island of Skorpios in Ionian Sea.

1969: Jamaica first recognises National Heroes' Day.

1977: Three members of the rock group Lynyrd Skynyrd, including lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, are killed along with three others in the crash of a chartered plane near McComb, Mississippi.

1980: Greece rejoins the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) military wing.

1986: Mozambique's President Samora Machel dies in plane crash in eastern South Africa.

1988: Sri Lanka Government suspends military operations against Sinhalese militants, trying to topple the government, for one week.

1989: Hungarian Parliament disbands the Communist Party's armed guard, known as the Worker's Militia.

1990: Kim Dae Jung, leader of a South Korean political Opposition, ends a 12-day hunger strike when Government leaders say they are willing to compromise on some of his demands, end military surveillance, improve the economy, and end plans to replace the presidential system of government.

1991: Earthquake strikes Himalayan foothills in India, killing at least 341 people and destroying tens of thousands of homes.

1993: NATO defence ministers agree to offer former Warsaw Pact states and neutral European countries “partnerships for peace” as a first step toward qualifying for full membership in the alliance.

1995: NATO Secretary General Willy Claes resigns to face corruption charges in his native Belgium.

2000: Local and international health workers tackle an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Gulu, Uganda. Officials report a slowing in the spread of the epidemic that has killed 47 people and infected as many as 75 more.

2003: Italian officials find the bodies of 13 African immigrants who died at sea in a small boat en route from Libya to Italy. Survivors of the passage said a total of at least 63 people had died of hunger and cold, and dozens of the dead were thrown overboard.

2004: Two Muslim girls who refuse to remove their head scarves in class are expelled from their schools, and two more risk the same fate as officials begin taking action against those who defy a new French law banning conspicuous religious symbols from public schools.

2005: A UN investigation concludes that high-ranking Syrian and Lebanese security officials were involved in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

2006: Colombian President Alvaro Uribe withdraws his offer to negotiate a humanitarian prisoner exchange with leftist rebels after blaming the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia for a car bomb that wounded 23 people.

2007: Radio Shabelle's Bashir Nor Gedi, who is critical of both the Somali Government and the Islamic militants who have been trying to topple it, is killed outside his home in the Somali capital, the eighth journalist slain in the country this year.

2008: Taliban gunmen kill Christian aid worker Gayle Williams, a British-South African national, in Kabul, Afghanistan.

2009: The Vatican announces that it is making it easier for Anglicans to convert to Roman Catholicism — a surprise move designed to entice traditionalists opposed to women priests, openly gay clergy, and the blessing of same-sex unions.

2010: The United States says Pakistan should support Afghanistan's peace talks with the Taliban and is pressing Pakistan to take stronger military action against militant groups sheltering within its borders.

2012: Nigeria's military arrest a member of the radical Islamist sect Boko Haram at the home of a prominent senator, as violence blamed on the sect in a nearby city in the north of the African nation has killed at least 23 people in recent days.

2013: Israel's prime minister calls on the US to step up pressure on Iran just days after the first round of global nuclear talks with Tehran get off to a promising start.

2016: US President Barack Obama defends his health care programme, long a target of Republicans and recently criticised by some Democrats, saying millions of Americans “now know the financial security of health insurance” because of the Affordable Care Act.


Sir Christopher Wren, English architect (1632-1723); Arthur Rimbaud, French author (1854-1891); John Dewey, US philosopher (1859-1952); Don Stephen Senanayake, first prime minister of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) (1884-1952); Snoop Dogg, US rapper (1971- ); Viggo Mortensen, US actor (1958- ); John Krasinski, US actor (1979-)

— AP

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