Today is the 290th day of 2012. There are 76 days left in the year.
2008: The long-time private secretary of the late Pope John Paul II reveals in a film that the pope was lightly wounded in a 1982 knife attack by a priest in Portugal.
1793: Queen Marie Antoinette is beheaded during the French Revolution.
1846: American dentist William Morton demonstrates the effectiveness of ether as an anaesthetic by administering it to a patient undergoing jaw surgery.
1916: Margaret Sanger opens the first birth-control clinic in the US, in New York City.
1949: The new German Democratic Republic, or East Germany, establishes formal diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union.
1962: The Cuban missile crisis begins when US President John F Kennedy is informed by his aides that reconnaissance photographs reveal the presence of Soviet missile bases in Cuba.
1964: China detonates its first atomic bomb.
1978: The College of Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church choose Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Poland to be the new pope; he takes the name John Paul II. He is the first non-Italian pope in 456 years.
1987: Rescuers free Jessica McClure, an 18-month-old girl trapped in an abandoned well for 58 hours in Midland, Texas.
1990: US President George HW Bush signs the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act, prohibiting employers from discriminating against older workers in providing pensions and disability payments.
1991: A man crashes a pickup truck into a restaurant in Killeen, Texas, and shoots patrons, killing 23 people before taking his own life.
1992: Indigenous rights activist Rigoberta Menchu of Guatemala is named winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
1995: A vast throng of black men gather in Washington for the "Million Man March" led by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
1998: British police arrest former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in London for questioning about allegations that he had murdered Spanish citizens during his years in power.
2000: Tens of thousands of Italians seek shelter on high ground as torrential rains continue to fall in northern Italy and southern Switzerland. The deluge blocks transport links and hampers power supplies.
2002: The North Korean government admits it had been conducting a major covert nuclear-weapons development programme for several years, in violation of international agreements.
2003: Pope John Paul II celebrates the 25th anniversary of his election as pope, making him the fourth-longest serving pope in Roman Catholic Church history.
2005: Authorities force some 1,000 Guambiano Indians off of a private ranch in southern Colombia that the group had been occupying illegally in an effort to reclaim ancestral lands.
2006: Tamil rebels in Sri Lanka ram a truck packed with explosives into a convoy of military buses, killing at least 93 sailors in one of the deadliest insurgent attacks since a 2002 ceasefire.
2007: Libya wins a seat on the powerful UN Security Council as a non-permanent two-year term member.
2011: The resurgent French left, riding on popular anger at conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy and global financial markets, endorses former Socialist Party chief Francois Hollande as its candidate for next year's presidential elections.
Oscar Wilde, British writer (1854-1900); David Ben-Gurion, first prime minister of Israel (1886-1973); Eugene O'Neill, US playwright and Nobel laureate (1888-1953); Michael Collins, Irish leader (1890-1922); Enver Hoxha, Albanian Communist leader (1908-1985); Angela Lansbury, actress (1925--); Guenther Grass, German writer (1927-), Tim Robbins, actor/director (1958-); John Mayer, pop/rock singer (1977-).