Today is the 254th day of 2012. There are 112 days left in the year.
2004: The Jamaican Government urges 500,000 people to evacuate as Hurricane Ivan, a category 5 system, approaches.
1907: British colony of New Zealand becomes a dominion.
1939: German Army gains complete control of western Poland; Canada declares war on Germany.
1951: Britain blocks Iran's sterling balances in the UK and bans export of essential raw materials to Iran in an effort to create economic trouble for Premier Mohammed Mossadegh so he will resign.
1953: An earthquake destroys villages on Cyprus, killing at least 40 people, 100 were seriously injured and thousands left homeless.
1963: Twenty black students enter public schools in Birmingham, Tuskegee, and Mobile, Alabama, following a stand-off between federal authorities and Governor George C Wallace, who resisted integration.
1967: Gibraltar electorate votes to retain link with Britain rather than to return to Spanish sovereignty.
1977: Convicted murderer Hamida Djandoubi, a Tunisian immigrant, is the last person executed by the guillotine in France.
1989: Hungary decides to allow about 7,000 East German refugees to leave for West Germany.
1990: Iraq offers free oil to Third World countries.
1991: In Moscow, Mikhail Gorbachev convenes first human rights conference to be held in Soviet Union.
1996: Hurricane Hortense lashes Puerto Rico with punishing winds and torrents of rain killing seven people.
1998: Afghanistan's Taliban rulers say nine of 11 Iranian diplomats missing since a battle in August are dead, but deny responsibility for the killings.
2000: Ecuador becomes the first Latin American country to adopt the US dollar officially, as part of a controversial economic stabilisation plan.
2001: Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko sweeps the election to another five-year term on promises to merge with Russia and stand up to the West.
2002: Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a senior operative of the al-Qaeda terrorist network who was suspected of coordinating September 11 attacks, is arrested in one of a series of raids on apartments in Karachi, Pakistan.
2006: Montenegrins vote in the first parliamentary elections since their tiny Balkan state split from Serbia, while police announce a crackdown on an alleged ethnic Albanian terrorist group authorities said had threatened the ballot.
2007: Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif returns to Pakistan from a seven-year exile, hoping to campaign against the country's
US-allied military ruler, but is immediately charged with corruption and deported to Saudi Arabia hours later.
2008: The world's largest particle collider passes its first major tests by firing two beams of protons in opposite directions around a
17-mile (27-kilometre) ring under the Franco-Swiss border.
2009: Premier Silvio Berlusconi brushes off questions about any possible resignation over his sex scandal, saying he has been Italy's best premier ever.
2010: A special commission says hundreds of sex abuse victims have come forward in Belgium with harrowing accounts of molestation by Roman Catholic clergy that reportedly led to at least 13 suicides and affected children as young as two.
2011: An overcrowded ship carrying at least 600 people sinks in deep sea near one of Tanzania's top tourist destinations, leaving at least 45 people dead and some 370 more believed missing or dead. Many of the missing are children.
Franz Werfel, Austrian writer (1890-1945); Sir Ranjitsinhji Vibhaji, Indian cricket player and maharaja ofNawanagar (1872-1933); Georges Bataille, French writer (1897-1962); Fay Wray, Canadian actress (1907- 2004); Stephen Jay Gould, US biologist and writer (1941-2002); Colin Firth, British actor (1960-); Guy Ritchie, director (1968-).
— Jamaica Observer and AP