Today is the 242nd day of 2012. There are 124 days left in the year.
2005: Hurricane Katrina plows into the below-sea-level US city of New Orleans with 145-mph winds and rain that submerges neighbourhoods up to the rooflines.
1756: Frederick II of Prussia invades Saxony, marking start of Seven Years' War.
1793: The French commissioner Leger-Felicite Sonthonax, facing a slave army and a British invasion, declares all slaves free in Haiti.
1935: Queen Astrid of Belgium is killed in car accident in Switzerland.
1970: The Soviet Union delivers arms to Egypt to replace the heavy losses suffered during three months of intensive Israeli air strikes.
1972: North and South Korean Red Cross officials meet in North Korea openly for first time to discuss reuniting divided families.
1978: China's Communist Party Chairman Hua Guofeng completes visit to Eastern Europe, symbolising historic break with China's traditional isolation.
1991: Soviet lawmakers suspend Communist Party activities nationwide and freeze its bank accounts because of party's role in failed coup attempt.
1992: The last Russian diplomats pull out of Kabul, ending a decade of involvement in Afghanistan.
1994: Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation sign an early empowerment accord under which Israel agrees to transfer administrative powers throughout the West Bank to the Palestinian National Authority.
1996 - A Russian plane carrying coal miners to work at a remote arctic island smashes into a mountain top, killing all 41 people aboard in the worst air disaster on Norwegian soil.
1999: East Timorese vote in a historic referendum on independence from Indonesia.
2000: Six former hostages released after months in captivity in the Philippines arrive in Libya, which had taken the lead in negotiations to win their freedom from their Muslim rebel captors.
2004: Chechens battered by five years of war and misery vote for a regional president in an election that the Kremlin portrays as a step toward stability and critics denounce as a fraud. Violence shadows the balloting when a man blows himself up near a polling station.
2006: A cease-fire aimed at ending Uganda's brutal war — between its government and the rebel Lord's Resistance Army that has terrorised the east African nation for nearly two decades — goes into effect.
2008: Georgia says it will sever diplomatic ties with Moscow to protest the presence of Russian troops on its territory.
2009: President Hamid Karzai widens his lead over his main challenger in election returns, creeping toward the 50 per cent mark that would enable him to avoid a run-off in the divisive presidential contest.
2010: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warns that he will not back down from his threat to pull out of new peace talks with Israel if it resumes construction in West Bank settlements.
2011: Moammar Gadhafi's wife and three of his children flee Libya to neighbouring Algeria, firm evidence that the longtime leader has lost his grip on the country.
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, French painter (1780-1867); John Locke, English philosopher (1632-1704); Maurice Maeterlinck, Belgian author (1862-1949); Ingrid Bergman, Swedish actress (1917-1982); Charlie Parker, US jazz musician (1920-1955); Slobodan Milosevic, former Yugoslav president and war crimes suspect (1941-2006); Michael Jackson, American pop star (1958-2009); Richard Attenborough, British actor, director (1923 -);Rebecca DeMornay, US actress (1962-).