This Day in History - March 31
On March 31, 2009 Benjamin Netanyahu takes office as Israel's new leader, promising to seek "full peace" with the Arab and Muslim world.(Photo: AFP)

Today is the 90th day of 2023. There are 275 days left in the year.


1995: Tejano singing star Selena, 23, is shot to death in Corpus Christi, Texas, by the founder of her fan club. Yolanda Saldivar is later convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.


1492: King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain issue an edict expelling Jews unwilling to convert to Christianity.

1496: Pope Alexander VI forms Holy League with Holy Roman Empire, Spain, Venice and Milan, ostensibly to fight Turks, but aimed at expelling Charles VIII of France from Italy.

1854: US Commodore Perry signs the treaty of Kanagawa with Japan, opening two Japanese ports to trade with outside world.

1889: French engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel unfurls the French tricolour from atop the Eiffel Tower, officially marking its completion.

1917: United States takes possession of the Virgin Islands from Denmark.

1923: First US dance marathon, held in New York City, ends with Alma Cummings setting a world record of 27 hours on her feet.

1936: Britain and France pledge to support Poland if it is invaded.

1943: The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Oklahoma! opens on Broadway in New York City.

1966: Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd's Nationalist Party wins election in South Africa.

1968: US President Lyndon Johnson stuns Americans by announcing he would not seek re-election.

1976: New Jersey Supreme Court rules that coma patient Karen Anne Quinlan could be disconnected from her respirator. Quinlan remained comatose and died in 1985.

1987: About 800 leftist guerrillas kill 43 soldiers and a US military adviser in an attack on a major army base in El Salvador.

1990: Thousands riot against new "poll tax" in central London, leaving 75 civilians and 58 police injured.

1991: Communists win in Albania's first multi-party elections, but the democratic Opposition scores victories in all major cities.

1992: UN Security Council votes to ban flights and arms sales to Libya, branding it a terrorist state for shielding six men accused of blowing up Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, and a French airliner over Niger.

1993: UN Security Council increases international pressure on Bosnian Serbs by authorising North Atlantic Treaty Organization warplanes to shoot down aircraft that violate a ban on flights over Bosnia.

1994: South African President F W de Klerk declares a state of emergency and orders army into the Zulu stronghold of Natal.

1995: A Romanian passenger jet crashes near Bucharest shortly after departing for Brussels, killing all 58 people on board

1997: Zairian rebels order 20,000 Rwandan refugees camped on the outskirts of Kisangani to move south, and relief workers begin the arduous transfer.

1998: UN Security Council imposes an arms embargo on Yugoslavia to press the Government to grant concessions to ethnic Albanians in troubled Kosovo province.

2000: Japan's Mount Usu volcano erupts forcing 16,000 people to evacuate the country's northernmost island.

2001: Four gay couples exchange rings and vows, the first of hundreds planning to wed under a new Dutch law allowing same-sex marriages.

2007: A US military tribunal sentences Australian David Hicks to nine months in prison after he pleaded guilty to supporting terrorism — in the first conviction at a US war-crimes trial since World War II.

2008: Chinese President Hu Jintao presides over the re-lighting of the Olympic torch in the host city, Beijing, signalling the start of an around-the-world torch relay that already has become a magnet for protesters.

2009: Benjamin Netanyahu, taking office as Israel's new leader, promises to seek "full peace" with the Arab and Muslim world, but refuses to utter the words the world was waiting to hear — "Palestinian state".

2011: Italy ships more than 2,000 migrants to detention camps on its mainland, relieving pressure on a tiny island off Sicily which has been overwhelmed by a relentless stream of boats full of illegal arrivals from North African shores.


Rene Descartes, French philosopher (1596-1650); Franz Joseph Haydn, Austrian composer (1732-1809); Nicolai Gogol, Russian author (1809-1852); R W von Bunsen, German chemist (1811-1899); Shirley Jones, US actress (1934- ); Christopher Walken, US actor (1943- ); Ewan McGregor, British actor (1971- )

— AP

On March 31, 1994 South African President F W de Klerk declares a state of emergency and orders the army into the Zulu stronghold of Natal.

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