Today is the 249th day of 2012. There are 117 days left in the year.
1998: North Korea's parliament elects Kim Jong Il to the presidency, completing the communist world's first hereditary succession.
1590: The Duke of Parma, advancing from the Netherlands, forces France's King Henry IV to lift the siege of Paris in the Catholic League War.
1698: Peter the Great executes the Streltzy rebels in Russia and imposes tax on beards.
1793: The revolutionary government in France starts the 10-month Reign of Terror, during which 17,000 people are executed.
1860: Britain, Austria, France, Prussia, Russia and Turkey sign treaty to restore order in Syria after massacre of Christians by Druse.
1958: The novel Doctor Zhivago by Russian author Boris Pasternak is published in the United States for the first time.
1966: Chinese news agency claims US planes sunk a Communist Chinese merchant ship and damaged another in the Gulf of Tonkin, killing nine Chinese seamen and wounding seven.
1972: Eleven Israeli Olympic athletes, four Palestinian guerrillas and a West German policeman are killed in a gun battle at Munich airport.
1975: US President Gerald Ford escapes an attempt on his life by Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, a disciple of Charles Manson, in Sacramento, California.
1986: Four gunmen holding hijacked Pan Am jet in Pakistan open fire on passengers, killing 20 and wounding more than 100.
1991: Soviet lawmakers approve creation of interim government to usher in new confederation of sovereign states.
1995: American neo-Nazi Gary Lauck is extradited to Germany from Denmark to stand trial on charges of inciting racial hatred and other counts.
1999: Tens of thousands of people flee East Timor, terrified as pro-Indonesian militias besiege a UN compound and set fire to homes.
2000: Fierce fighting devastates areas of Jaffna Peninsula, Sri Lanka for a second day, leaving at least 344 people dead, as the government orders a major military offensive ahead of key elections.
2001: Peru's attorney general files homicide charges against ex-President Alberto Fujimori, linking him to two massacres by paramilitary death squads in the early 1990s.
2006: Felipe Calderon becomes president-elect of Mexico when the nation's top electoral court votes unanimously to reject allegations of fraud and certify his narrow victory.
2007: Hundreds of Buddhist monks hold an anti-government protest march in a central Myanmar town, halting their demonstration only after soldiers fire warning shots and arresting several of them.
2009: Top finance officials from rich and developing countries agree to curb hefty bankers' bonuses, but the proposed crackdown on excessive payouts so far falls short of European demands after the US and Britain shy away from imposing a cap.
2011: A battered al-Qaeda suffers another significant blow when Pakistani agents working with the CIA arrest a senior leader believed to have been tasked by Osama bin Laden with targeting American economic interests around the globe.
Louis XIV, the “Sun King” of France (1638-1715); Caspar David Friedrich, German painter (1774-1840); Giacomo Meyerbeer, German composer (1791- 1864); Paul Bourget, French author (1852-1935); Arthur Koestler, Hungarianborn British writer (1905-1983); John Cage, US composer (1912-1992); Raquel Welch, US actress (1940-); Bob Newhart, actor/comedian (1929-); Werner Herzog, German director (1942-).