This Day in History
Today is the 264th day of 2012. There are 102 days left in the year.
1990: The East German and West German parliaments each ratify the treaty governing the legal aspects of a German reunification.
1519: Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan sets sail from Spain on a voyage to find the western passage to Indonesia's Spice Islands. He is killed on the way, but his ship completes the first trip around the world.
1870: Italian troops enter Rome, completing the unification of Italy. Pope Pius IX refuses to accept the occupation of the city and declares himself a prisoner in the Vatican, a position maintained by his successors until 1929.
1881: Chester A Arthur is sworn in as the 21st president of the United States, succeeding James A Garfield, who was assassinated.
1945: All-India Congress Committee under Mohandas K Gandhi and Pandit Nehru rejects British proposals for self-government, calling for full independence.
1955: The USSR grants sovereignty to East Germany.
1960: Thirteen newly independent African nations and former British colony of Cyprus are admitted to United Nations.
1962: Southern Rhodesia declares the Zimbabwe African People's Union illegal.
1963: In a speech to the UN General Assembly, US President John F Kennedy proposes a joint US-Soviet expedition to the moon.
1967: Israeli tank shelling sinks three Egyptian troop-carrying boats in the Suez Canal. Israel claims the ships violated the Egyptian-Israeli agreement, banning small craft navigation in the waterway.
1974: Death toll is put at thousands as hurricane lashes Central American nation of Honduras.
1977: Vietnam is admitted as 149th member of United Nations; the first wave of Southeast Asian "boat people" arrives in San Francisco under a new US resettlement programme.
1991: Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, admits the central government has lost most of its political control over the Soviet republics.
1992: French voters barely approve the Maastricht Treaty on European Union, by 51 per cent.
1993: Fearing the economy is sliding back toward recession, Japan's central bank cuts its key interest rate to a record low
1996: Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's brother, Murtaza Bhutto, is killed, as are seven supporters, in a gunbattle with police outside his Karachi home.
1997: Polish Solidarity gains against the governing ex-communist Democratic Leftist Alliance party in parliamentary elections.
1999: Kosovo Liberation Army leaders and the NATO-led peacekeeping force sign an agreement to demilitarize the former rebel army and transform it into a 5,000-member civilian corps.
2001: Minority Albanian rebels begin turning over the last of the arms they are willing to surrender to NATO in Macedonia and parliament starts to discuss constitutional amendments to give the Albanian minority greater rights.
2002: A Chinese court sentences 15 followers of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement to prison for broadcasting protests of the government's crackdown on the movement.
2003: Former US President Bill Clinton attends a ceremony in Bosnia to officially open a museum and cemetery dedicated to the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, in which Serb forces executed as many as 8,000 Muslim men and boys.
2004: The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency warns that more than 40 countries have the know-how to produce nuclear arms, while the United States and European Union urge Iran to heed international demands meant to curb its access to nuclear weapons technology.
2005: President Hamid Karzai challenges the need for foreign military operations in Afghanistan such as airstrikes and house searches, saying they are no longer effective.
2006: Coal mining accidents in Kazakhstan and Ukraine kill at least 45 workers, raising concerns about mine safety in the former Soviet republics.
2007: Peruvian astronomers say that a meteorite crashed near Lake Titicaca over the weekend, a rare occurence that left an elliptical crater and magnetic rock fragments in an impact powerful enough to register on seismic charts.
2009: President Barack Obama says the leader of reclusive North Korea is "pretty healthy and in control" of the impoverished communist country, an assessment Obama received from former President Bill Clinton who visited Pyongyang.
2010: Genetically engineered salmon that grows twice as fast as the conventional fish appears to be safe, an advisory committee tells the US Food and Drug Administration. But they argue that more testing may be needed before it is served on dinner tables.
2011: A suicide attacker with a bomb in his turban poses as a Taliban peace envoy and assassinates a former Afghan president who for the past year headed a government council seeking a political settlement with the insurgents.
Chulalongkorn, reformist king of Siam (1853-1910); Richard Griffith, Irish geologist/engineer (1784-1878); Upton Sinclair, US novelist/activist (1878- 1968); Leo Strauss, German philosopher (1899-1973); Anne Meara, US actress/comedian (1929-); Sophia Loren, Italian film actress (1934-).