Today is the 239th day of 2012. There are 127 days left in the year.
1997: Former South African President FW de Klerk resigns as the head of the National Party, which created the practice of apartheid, and leaves politics.
1847: Liberia is proclaimed an independent republic.
1883: Volcano Krakatoa erupts on the island Krakatau, near Indonesia, creating tsunami waves that killed more than 36,000 people.
1920: The 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, guaranteeing American women the right to vote, is declared in effect.
1934: Adolf Hitler demands that France turn over the Saar region to Germany.
1936: Treaty ends British occupation of Egypt, except Suez Canal zone, and Britain and Egypt form alliance for 20 years.
1937: Japan blockades Chinese shipping.
1942: German army reaches Stalingrad in Soviet Union during World War II.
1947: The UN Security Council passes a resolution for both the Dutch and Indonesians to adhere to a cease-fire order.
1957: The Soviet Union announces it successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile.
1959: Chinese troops cross into India's northeastern territory after a border dispute. They withdraw two years later.
1964: Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, bans two black nationalist movements; Student and Buddhist riots force resignation of government of Premier Nguyen Khanh in South Vietnam.
1973: The Cambodian military reports that Khmer Rouge rebel troops had severed Phnom Penh's two vital supply roads — one leading to the seaport and the other to rice fields.
1978: Cardinal Albino Luciani of Venice is elected the 264th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church following the death of Paul VI. The new pontiff takes the name John Paul I.
1991: Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev promises new national elections after the signing of the Union Treaty, but there appears to be little support for the treaty in the wake of a failed coup attempt.
1993: Egyptian-born Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman and 14 others are charged in an attack on New York's World Trade Centre earlier in the year.
1994: US officials acknowledge that the current session of Congress won't pass legislation for universal health insurance coverage, which US President Bill Clinton made the centerpiece of his legislative agenda.
1995: The Communist Party in Russia starts a campaign that calls for resurrection of the Soviet state that collapsed in 1991.
1996: Former military strongman Chun Doo-hwan is sentenced to death after being convicted of mutiny and treason in South Korea. His successor, Roh Tae-woo, is also found guilty and sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison. They are pardoned a year later.
1998: A three-week-old rebellion reaches the outskirts of Congo's capital, Kinshasa, and hundreds of soldiers are killed or wounded.
2000: Somalis celebrate the election of Abdiqasim Salad Hassan, their first president in nearly a decade.
2002: A Spanish judge suspends the Batasuna political party for three years for its alleged ties to Euzkadi ta Askatasuna, known as ETA, an armed group of Basque separatists considered a terrorist group by the Spanish government.
2003: Rwandan President Paul Kagame is the overwhelming winner of presidential elections. The election was the first since the 1994 genocide.
2004: Iraq's top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, makes a dramatic return to Najaf and swiftly wins agreement from a rebel cleric and the government to end three weeks of fighting between his militia and US-Iraqi forces.
2005: A fire races through a crowded, rundown Paris apartment building housing African immigrants killing 17 people, mainly children trapped while they slept, and triggers angry calls for decent housing for the needy in the French capital.
2006: The government of East Timor hails a UN Security Council decision to authorise 1,600 international police to help restore stability after clashes between rival security forces in the capital spill into gang warfare, looting and arson.
2007: Massive fires consume large areas of southern Greece for a third day and race toward the site of the ancient Olympics. At least 57 people have been killed in the country's worst wildfires in decades.
2008: Russia recognises the independence claims of two Georgian breakaway regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
2009: The last of the Kennedys who fascinated the US with their ambition, style, idealism, tragedies — and sometimes sheer recklessness — Edward Moore Kennedy dies at 77. He was the Senate's dominant liberal and most skillful dealmaker.
Sir Robert Walpole, first prime minister of Britain (1676-1745); Antoine Laurent Lavoisier, French scientist (1743-1794); Guillame Apollinaire, French poet (1880-1918); Peggy Guggenheim, US art collector (1898-1979); Albert Sabin, Polish microbiologist, developed oral polio vaccine (1906-1993); Julio Cortazar, Argentinian writer (1914-1984); Branford Marsalis, US jazz musician (1960-); Macaulay Culkin, US actor (1980-).