This Day in History
Today is the 246th day of 2012. There are 120 days left in the year.
1945: The Independent Vietnam Republic is proclaimed by Ho Chi Minh, who becomes president.
1666: The Great Fire of London burns for five days, nearly destroying the city, including St Paul's Cathedral, but claims few lives.
1866: Crete, after long discontent with Turkish authority, revolts and merges with Greece.
1976: Riot police battle 3,000 mixed-race and black student demonstrators in Cape Town, in the first unrest to reach the white area of a South African city.
1987: "Tanker war" in the Gulf escalates, with Iraq claiming its jet planes hit three ships while Iran raids five others. During a two-week cease-fire the following year, Iran accuses Iraq of more than 70 violations.
1989: Riot police arrest more than 400 anti-apartheid protesters in downtown Cape Town, South Africa.
1996: Muslim rebels and the Philippine government sign a pact formally ending a 26-year insurgency that killed more than 120,000 people.
2002: The Sudanese government suspends peace talks with the country's main rebel group, the Sudanese People's Liberation Army, or SPLA, after rebels seize the strategic town of Torit.
2005: A Belfast judge orders a suspected Irish Republican Army dissident to stand trial for the murders of 29 people in a 1998 car bombing in Omagh, Northern Ireland's deadliest terrorist attack.
2006: Thousands of unpaid teachers across the Palestinian territories go on strike, shutting down schools on the first day of classes -- a backlash that tests the Hamas-led government's ability to survive.
2008: Thailand's prime minister declares a state of emergency in Bangkok to restore order after overnight clashes between government opponents and supporters left one person dead and 43 injured.
2009: A Taliban suicide bomber attacks officials leaving a mosque east of Kabul, killing the country's deputy intelligence chief and 23 other people in a major blow to Afghanistan's security forces.
2010: British physicist and mathematician Stephen Hawking argues in his new book that there need not be a God behind the creation of the universe.
2011: Turkey expels Israel's ambassador and cuts military ties over Israel's refusal to apologise for last year's deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, further straining a relationship that had been a cornerstone of regional stability.
Ewald von Hertzberg, Prussian statesman (1725-1795); John Howard, English prison reformer (1726-1798); Hirobumi Ito, premier of Japan (1841-1909); Jimmy Connors, US tennis player (1952-); Keanu Reeves, US actor (1964-); Salma Hayek, US actress (1966-).