Today in History – Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015

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Today is Saturday, Dec. 19, the 353rd day of 2015. There are 12 days left in the year.

Highlights in history on this date:

1547 – Great Britain passes a vagabond law.

1793 – A young Napoleon Bonaparte takes Toulon, France, from the British and Spanish in his first major military victory.

1795 – Austria signs armistice with France.

1842 – The United States recognizes independence of Hawaii.

1843 – Charles Dickens’ classic Yuletide tale, “A Christmas Carol,” is first published in England.

1885 – Germany’s dispute with Spain over Caroline Islands in Pacific is settled in favor of Spain.

1907 – A coal mine explosion in Jacobs Creek, Pennsylvania, kills 239 workers.

1909 – A civil war starts in Honduras.

1915 – British troops begin withdrawal from Suvla and Anzac troops from Gallipoli during Turkish campaign in World War I.

1932 – The British Broadcasting Corp. begins transmitting overseas with its “Empire Service” to Australia.

1941 – German dictator Adolf Hitler dismisses his chief of staff and takes personal command of the German army after military setbacks.

1946 – War breaks out in Indochina as troops under Ho Chi Minh launch widespread attacks against the French.

1951 – The New Treaty of Friendship is signed between Oman and Britain, recognizing full independence of the sultanate.

1955 – Sudan’s Parliament declares independence.

1961 – Goa and two other Portuguese-controlled enclaves on India’s west coast fall to forces of the Indian government.

1962 – Senegal’s President Leopold Senghor takes charge of government in Dakar after ouster of the West African nation’s premier.

1966 – U.N. General Assembly endorses a draft treaty banning the use of weapons of mass destruction in space.

1972 – Apollo 17 spacecraft splashes down on target in Pacific Ocean, ending U.S. Apollo program of landing men on Moon.

1978 – Indian Parliament ousts former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi from her newly elected seat and orders her jailed for contempt and breach of privilege.

1984 – Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher of Britain and Zhao Ziyang of China sign a joint declaration spelling out the terms for Hong Kong’s return to Chinese sovereignty on July 1, 1997.

1985 – Muslim gunmen kidnap 10 Christians in Beirut, Lebanon, stepping up the campaign of terror.

1994 – Russian helicopters and airplanes bomb Grozny, capital of the breakaway Chechnya region.

1996 – Former Indian Prime Minister Narasimha Rao steps down from his last government post after corruption charges.

1998 – The U.S. House of Representatives impeaches President Bill Clinton for obstructing justice and lying under oath about his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

2002 – U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says Iraq is in “material breach” of U.N. Security Council resolutions for alleged omissions in a declaration of its weapons programs.

2003 – Libya agrees to abandon its programs pursuing internationally banned weapons, including chemical, biological and nuclear weapons as well as long-range missiles.

2006 – A Libyan court convicts five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor and condemns them to death for infecting 400 children with HIV. Nearly seven months later, they are allowed to return to Bulgaria.

2008 – The Pentagon formally approves war crimes charges against Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Guantanamo detainee accused of masterminding the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole off Yemen.

2011 – North Koreans march by the thousands to mourn Kim Jong Il, many crying in grief over the death of their “Dear Leader.”

2013 – Egypt’s military-backed authorities step up their crackdown on liberal icons of the 2011 uprising against President Hosni Mubarak, with security forces storming the headquarters of a rights group and arresting six activists.

2014 – President Barack Obama says Sony erred in shelving a satirical film about North Korea’s leader, and he pledges the U.S. will respond to the hacking attack on Sony that led to the withdrawal.

Today’s Birthdays:

Su Tung-p’o, Chinese poet (1036-1101); Sir Ralph Richardson, British actor (1902-1983); Leonid I. Brezhnev, Soviet Communist Party chief (1906-1982); Jean Genet, French writer (1910-1986); Edith Piaf, French singer (1915-1963); Robert Urich, U.S. actor (1946-2002); Richard E. Leakey, Kenyan paleontologist (1944–); Jennifer Beals, U.S. actress (1963–); Jake Gyllenhaal, U.S. actor (1980–); Lady Sovereign, British rapper (1985–).

Thought For Today:

And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One! — the closing line of “A Christmas Carol,” by Charles Dickens (1812-1870).

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