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This Day in History - August 20

Monday, August 20, 2012    

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Today is the 233rd day of 2012. There are 133 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight

2008: Usain Bolt wins the men's 200-m finals in Beijing in a new World and Olympic Record time of 19.19 seconds, giving Jamaica a third gold medal, and making him the first man to complete the sprint double since Carl Lewis in 1984, and the first to do so in world record times. He also became the second Jamaican to win two gold medals at a single Olympic Games, after George Rhoden in 1952.

Melaine Walker wins the women's 400 m hurdles event in a new Olympic Record time of 52.64 seconds, breaking the old mark set in 1996 by Deon Hemmings.

Other Events

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.

1914: German forces occupy Brussels during World War I.

1918: Britain opens its offensive on the Western front during World War I.

1955: Hundreds of people are killed in anti-French rioting in Morocco and Algeria.

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 US 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.

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

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

1998: The US launches missile attacks against alleged al-Qaida terrorist camps in Afghanistan and a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan in retaliation for attacks earlier in the year on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

2000: East Timorese freedom fighter Jose Alexandre Gusmao surrenders command of his guerrilla army, strengthening his credentials as a civilian politician.

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

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 degrees Celsius).

2010: Iranian and Russian nuclear technicians make final preparations to start up Iran's first reactor after years of delays, an operation that will mark a milestone in what Tehran considers its right to produce nuclear energy.

Today's Birthdays

Joens Jacob Berzelius, Swedish chemist (1779-1848); Emily Bronte, British author (1818-1848); Benjamin Harrison, U.S. 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-)

— Jamaica Observer and AP

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