This Day in History — August 20


This Day in History — August 20

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

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Today is the 232nd day of 2019. There are 133 days left in the year.


2008: In Beijing, Usain Bolt of Jamaica breaks the world record by winning the 200 metres in 19.30 seconds.


1741: Danish explorer Vitus Bering, on a mission sponsored by Russia, discovers Alaska.

1866: US President Andrew Johnson formally declares the American Civil War over, even though fighting had stopped months earlier.

1908: Belgium's King Leopold II hands over the Congo — until then his personal possession, to the Belgian Government.

1910: A series of forest fires sweep through parts of Idaho, Montana and Washington, killing at least 85 people and burning some 3 million acres.

1914: German forces occupiy Brussels, Belgium, during World War I.

1940: During World War II, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill pays tribute to the Royal Air Force before the House of Commons, saying, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” Exiled Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky is attacked near Mexico City by a Spanish Communist with an ice pick. He dies the next day.

1946: Allied Control Commission dissolves Wehrmacht — the army — in Germany.

1953: France deposes Sultan of Morocco; the Soviet Union publicly acknowledges it tested a hydrogen bomb.

1964: US President Lyndon B Johnson signs a US$1 billion anti-poverty measure.

1968: Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact nations invade Czechoslovakia to crush Alexander Dubcek's liberal regime.

1971: Leaders of Libya, Egypt and Syria sign constitution binding their countries in Federation of Arab Republics.

1975: US spaceship bound for planet Mars is launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

1976: South Africa announces new concession, giving urban blacks full title to the land on which they live.

1977: NASA launches the Voyager Two space probe.

1980: The UN Security Council approves a resolution urging all nations not to recognise Israel's recent declaration that all Jerusalem was its undivided and eternal capital. The United States abstains in the vote.

1987: Treasure hunters salvaging objects from doomed luxury liner Titanic scoop up satchel containing a fortune in jewels.

1988: After battlefield setbacks, Iran accepts a UN resolution on the Iran-Iraq war, ending the fighting after eight years.

1989: Entertainment executive Jose Menendez and his wife, Kitty, are shot to death in their Beverly Hills mansion by their sons, Lyle and Erik. Fifty-one people die when a pleasure boat sinks in the River Thames in London after colliding with a dredger.

1990: Convicts from Siberian labour camp overpower guards aboard Aeroflot passenger flight, hijack plane to Pakistan and seek political asylum.

1992: Dozens of people are killed and more than 7,000 buildings wrecked by a strong earthquake in Kyrgyzstan.

1993: Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe threatens to expel white landowners who object to government efforts to expropriate their property.

2000: East Timorese freedom fighter Jose Alexandre Gusmao surrenders command of his guerrilla army, strengthening his credentials as a civilian politician. Tiger Woods wins the PGA Championship in a playoff over Bob May, becoming the first player since Ben Hogan in 1953 to win three majors in one year.

2003: One protester is shot dead and five others injured in violent clashes with the police in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The protesters were demonstrating against endemic power outages around the country.

2004: Suspected communist guerrillas shoot a policeman and set off two bombs in Katmandu while keeping up a blockade that has isolated the capital to press demands for the release of rebels held by Nepal's government.

2006: Nepal's Government reverses decision to raise gasolene, diesel and cooking fuel prices after thousands of protesters clash with police, block traffic and vandalize government vehicles.

2007: Afghan police rescue Christina Meier, a pregnant German aid worker who was snatched while dining with her husband at a restaurant in the capital, and arrest four members of a criminal gang that was demanding $1 million ransom.

2008: A Spanish jetliner crashes during takeoff at Madrid's Barajas International Airport, killing 154 people.

2009: The US Government branch that keeps world weather records says July is the hottest the world's oceans have been in almost 130 years of record-keeping. The average water temperature worldwide was 62.6 degrees, (17 Celsius).

2011: A freak thunderstorm forces Pope Benedict XVI to cut short his speech to an estimated million young pilgrims gathered for the church's world youth festival, giving the outdoor prayer vigil at a Madrid airfield a dramatic climax.

2013: A Pakistani court indicts former president and army chief Pervez Musharraf on murder charges stemming from the assassination of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Qatar-based Al-Jazeera Media Network launches its US cable news outlet, Al-Jazeera America.


Joens Jacob Berzelius, Swedish chemist (1779-1848); Emily Bronte, British author (1818-1848); Benjamin Harrison, US president (1883-1901); Raymond Poincare, French president (1860-1934); Isaac Hayes, US singer (1942-2008); Rajiv Gandhi, Indian prime minister (1944-1991); Andrew Garfield, US actor (1983- )

— AP

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