Today is the 166th day of 2021. There are 199 days left in the year.
1998: Nigeria's new military leadership releases nine of the country's most prominent political prisoners, including General Olusegun Obasanjo who becomes president less than a year later.
1167: The city of Copenhagen's official birthday. A document from this day mentions the city for the first time.
1215: England's King John puts his seal to Magna Carta (“the Great Charter”) at Runnymede.
1520: Pope Leo excommunicates Martin Luther by the Bull Exsurge.
1567: The troops of Mary, Queen of Scots, refuse to fight rebels at Carberry Hill and she surrenders on the condition that her husband is allowed to escape.
1672: Dutch flood parts of Holland to save Amsterdam from the French.
1752: Benjamin Franklin demonstrates that lightning is an electrical discharge when he launches a kite during a storm at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
1775: The Second Continental Congress votes unanimously to appoint George Washington head of the Continental Army.
1836: Arkansas becomes the 25th state.
1849: James Polk, the 11th president of the United States, dies in Nashville, Tennessee.
1862: Turkish forces bombard Belgrade after Serb uprising there.
1864: Secretary of War Edwin M Stanton signs an order establishing a military burial ground which becomes Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
1904: More than 1,000 people die in fire aboard steamboat General Slocum off New York City.
1919: British pilots John William Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown complete the first non-stop flight across the Atlantic, flying from Newfoundland to Ireland.
1934: President Franklin D Roosevelt signs an Act making the National Guard part of the US Army in the event of war or national emergency.
1940: Germans outflank Maginot Line in France during World War II.
1944: US forces begin invasion of Japanese-held Saipan Island in the Marianas in Pacific. It becomes a base for bombing raids against Japan.
1955: The United States and Britain sign a cooperation agreement concerning atomic information for “mutual defence purposes”.
1967: The war film The Dirty Dozen was released by MGM.
1977: Spain holds its first free elections in four decades; the Union of the Democratic Center wins the highest number of seats in the Congress of Deputies.
1978: King Hussein of Jordan marries 26-year-old American Lisa Halaby, who becomes Queen Noor.
1985: The Shiite Muslim hijackers of a TWA Boeing 727 beat and shoot one of their hostages, US Navy diver Robert Stethem (STEE'-them), 23, throwing him out of the plane to die on the tarmac at Beirut airport.
1991: Kuwait's martial law court sentences six newspaper workers to death for working on an Iraqi publication during the occupation of Kuwait. Mount Pinatubo in the northern Philippines explodes in one of the biggest volcanic eruptions of the 20th century, killing about 800 people.
1992: Japan's Parliament approves the use of troops overseas for the first time since World War II, enabling Japan to join international peacekeeping operations. During a visit to an elementary school in Trenton, New Jersey, Vice-President Dan Quayle, relying on a faulty flashcard, erroneously instructs sixth-grader William Figueroa to write “potato” as “potatoe” on a blackboard during a spelling quiz.
1996: Ella Fitzgerald, the “first lady of song”, dies in Beverly Hills, California, at age 79.
1997: In Cartagena, Colombian rebels release 70 soldiers captive for nearly a year. In return, the Government evacuates its military from a swath of land.
1999: After a final spree of burning, shooting and alleged rapes, Yugoslav forces withdraw from Kosovo's border region with Albania.
2000: Roman Catholic Bishop Augustin Misago, accused of helping orchestrate the 1994 slaughter of more than a half-million Rwandans, is cleared of genocide charges and set free.
2004: Iraq's neighbours endorse the US-backed Administration and the transfer of power, giving a boost to Iraq's quest for international legitimacy.
2005: Spanish police arrest 16 Islamic terror suspects in raids in several cities, including 11 suspected members of a group thought to have ties to Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi's al-Qaeda in Iraq.
2006: Clean-up crews in northern China scramble to absorb 60 tons of toxic coal tar accidentally dumped into the Dasha River before it reaches a reservoir serving 10 million people. The death toll of US servicemen and women in the Iraq war reaches 2,500.
2009: In a massive outpouring reminiscent of the Iranian Revolution three decades ago, hundreds of thousands of Iranian protesters stream through the capital and denounce President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's claim to victory in a disputed election.
2010: The United Nations finds evidence of bloody intent behind the chaos in Kyrgyzstan that killed hundreds, left the nation's second-biggest city a smouldering ruin and sent more than 100,000 ethnic Uzbeks fleeing.
2011: The Pakistani army denies that one of its majors is among a group of Pakistanis who Western officials say were arrested for feeding the CIA information before the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
2012: Olympian George Ezekiel Kerr dies. He had competed for the British West Indies at the 1960 Summer Olympics. Daredevil Nik Wallenda becomes the first person to walk a tightrope across Niagara Falls. (The feat is broadcast live by ABC-TV, which required Wallenda to wear a safety tether.)
2013: Wild celebrations break out on Tehran streets that were battlefields four years ago as reformist-backed Hassan Rouhani caps a stunning surge to claim Iran's presidency, throwing open the political order after relentless crackdowns by hardliners.
2014: Israel's prime minister accuses Hamas of kidnapping three Israeli teenagers who are later found dead.
2015: Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush enters the 2016 presidential campaign with a rally and speech at Miami Dade College, joining 10 other Republicans already in the race for the party's nomination. Rachel Dolezal resigns as president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's (NAACP) Spokane Chapter just days after her parents said she was a white woman posing as black woman — a dizzyingly swift fall for an activist credited with injecting remarkable new energy into the civil rights organisation.
Issa, Japanese poet (1763-1828); Thomas Mitchell, British explorer of Australia, (1792-1855); Edvard Grieg, Norwegian composer (1843-1907); Jim Belushi, US actor (1954- ); Julie Hagerty, US actress (1955- ); Helen Hunt, US actress (1963- ); Courteney Cox, US actress (1964- ); Ice Cube, US rapper/actor (1969- ); Leah Remini, actress (1970- ); Johnny Hallyday, French rock singer/actor (1943-2017); Neil Patrick Harris, US actor (1973- )