This Day in History — April 20

Friday, April 20, 2018

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Today is the 110th day of 2018. There are 255 days left in the year.


2004: A Panamanian court sentences five Cuban exiles who had been accused of plotting to kill Fidel Castro to between seven and eight years in prison. The men were arrested after Castro announced a plot to kill him during an Ibero-American summit to Panama in November 2000.


1534: Elizabeth Barton, the Maid of Kent, is executed in England with five of her associates for criticising the matrimonial practices of Henry VIII.

1792: France declares war on Austria, marking the start of the French Revolutionary wars.

1854: Austria and Prussia conclude defensive alliance against Russia.

1859: The Dutch conclude a treaty granting Portugal the right to govern the northern part of Timor, Atauro Island and Oecussi.

1902: Scientists Marie and Pierre Curie isolate the radioactive element radium.

1908: Some 44 people die when trains collide at Sunshine, Victoria, Australia.

1919: King Nicholas is dethroned in Montenegro, which votes for union with Serbo-Slovene-Croat State — now Yugoslavia.

1923: Egyptian constitution is adopted.

1945: Soviet forces penetrate Berlin defences in World War II.

1957: United States resumes aid to Israel; Japan protests to Soviet Union over nuclear tests.

1959: United Federal Party wins Northern Rhodesia elections.

1968: Pierre Elliott Trudeau is sworn in as Canada's prime minister.

1970: US President Richard Nixon announces withdrawal of 150,000 American military personnel from South Vietnam.

1971: US Supreme Court upholds the use of busing students to achieve racial desegregation in schools.

1972: US Apollo 16 astronauts make safe landing on Moon.

1976: The US Supreme Court rules that federal courts could order low-cost housing for minorities in white urban suburbs.

1978: Soviet fighter planes force off-course South Korean airliner down in Soviet Union near Arctic Circle.

1980: The first Cubans sailing to the United States as part of the massive Mariel boatlift reach Florida.

1986: Giant irrigation reservoir bursts and floods Sri Lanka town, leaving at least 100 people dead and up to 20,000 families homeless.

1987: Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat calls for sovereign Palestinian state “with Jerusalem as its capital”.

1990: Lech Walesa is re-elected as chairman of Poland's Solidarity by a large margin.

1993: Heavy fighting between Croat and Muslim troops spreads from central to south-western Bosnia on the fifth day of a battle that has killed more than 200 people.

1994: Israeli and Palestine Liberation Organization negotiators wrap up an agreement transferring civilian government powers to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and Jericho.

1995: Egyptian aircraft begin a United Nations-approved shuttle of Muslim pilgrims from Libya to Saudi Arabia.

1997: In Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu escapes political disaster when prosecutors decide not to indict him in an influence-peddling scandal.

1998: An Ecuadorean jet slams into a mountainside in Colombia, killing all 53 people aboard.

1999: The worst in a rash of school shootings in the United States kills 15 people, including the two student gunmen, at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.

2001: An American missionary and her infant daughter are killed when their single-engine plane is shot down by the Peruvian air force. The plane was operating without a flight plan in airspace frequented by drug runners.

2005: Ecuador's congress removes embattled President Lucio Gutierrez from office after a week of escalating street protests against him and swears in Vice-President Alfredo Palacio as the country's new leader.

2006: Lawmakers approve President Hamid Karzai's choices for key ministries in a Cabinet vote that gave the US-backed leader a boost as he tries to curb an intensified insurgency more than four years since the Taliban's ouster.

2007: South Africa's veterinary association announces that 30 dogs in the country have been killed in the last two weeks because of pet food laced with melamine, an industrial chemical traced to China. US recalled pet foods with laced ingredients in March after the deaths of 16 pets.

2008: Pope Benedict XVI begins the final day of his US journey by blessing the site of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and praying for peace.

2009: Dozens of Western diplomats walk out of a UN conference in Geneva when Iran's hard-line president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calls Israel a cruel and racist state and the US denounces his remarks as hateful.

2012: European nations and Russia propose rival UN resolutions, both calling for expanding the number of UN ceasefire monitors in Syria from 30 to 300 but disagreeing on possible sanctions and on how quickly the larger observer force should get on the ground.

2013: A powerful earthquake strikes the steep hills of China's south-western Sichuan province, leaving at least 160 people dead.

2014: A non-profit research group says political and military elites are seizing protected areas in one of Africa's last bastions for elephants, putting broad swaths of Zimbabwe at risk of becoming fronts for ivory poaching.


Charles Louis Napoleon Bonaparte (Napoleon III), French statesman (1808-1873); Adolf Hitler, German Nazi dictator (1889-1945); Joan Miro, Spanish artist (1893-1983); Luther Vandross, US singer (1951-2005); Betty Cuthbert, Australian Olympic champion athlete (1938-2017); Jessica Lange, US actress (1949- ); Carmen Electra, US actress (1972- )

— AP




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