Today is the 257th day of 2012. There are 109 days left in the year.
2010: Cuba announces it will cast off at least half a million state workers by early next year and reduce restrictions on private enterprise to help them find new jobs -- the most dramatic step yet in President Raul Castro's push to radically remake employment on the communist-run island.
1788: Denmark invades Sweden; the first US national election is authorised.
1943: Chiang Kai-shek becomes president of China.
1948: Republican Margaret Chase Smith of Maine is elected to the US Senate, becoming the first woman to serve in both houses of Congress.
1964: Egypt and Saudi Arabia announce agreement of peaceful settlement of two-year-old Yemeni civil war.
1970: Israel arrests 450 Arabs in occupied Jordan and says it will exchange them for hostages held by guerrillas.
1982: At least 700 persons are killed and 17 million left homeless by floods across the north and east of India during the monsoon season since June.
1986: Iraqi warplanes bomb five airfields in Iran as demonstrators seek revenge for Iran's missile attack on Baghdad.
1991: The US and the Soviet Union agree to discontinue their military aid to government and rebel forces in Afghanistan after more than a year of US-Soviet negotiations aimed at bringing a settlement in the 12-year-old Afghan civil war.
1993: Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organisation leader Yasser Arafat shake hands on the lawn of the White House at the signing of a peace accord providing for mutual recognition and Palestinian control over Gaza and the West Bank.
1994: At UN International Conference on Population and Development, 180 nations adopt a 20-year blueprint to slow world population growth.
1998: The Yugoslav republic of Montenegro deports thousands of Kosovo refugees to Albania.
2001: An international arrest warrant is issued for Peru's exiled former President Alberto Fujimori for his alleged role in massacres by the Grupo Colina paramilitary death squad in the early 1990s.
2007: Three powerful earthquakes jolt Indonesia in less than 24 hours, sending a 10-foot tsunami crashing to shore, damaging hundreds of houses and terrifying residents. At least 10 people are killed.
2008: Russian soldiers and armoured vehicles pull back from positions deep in western Georgia, meeting a closely watched withdrawal deadline a month after the war between the former Soviet republics.
2009: President Hugo Chavez says Russia has opened a $2.2 billion line of credit for Venezuela to purchase weapons including armoured vehicles and surface-to-air missiles.
2011: German Chancellor Angela Merkel seeks to calm market fears that Greece is heading for a chaotic default as Europe struggles to contain a crippling financial crisis.
Walter Reed, US bacteriologist (1851-1901); Arnold Schoenberg, Austrian-born composer (1874-1951); Claudette Colbert, US actress (1903-1996); Roald Dahl, British writer (1916-1990); Oscar Arias Sanchez, president of Costa Rica and Nobel Peace Prize laureate (1941-); Jacqueline Bisset, British actress (1944-); Michael Johnson, US athlete (1967-).