Today in History – Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015

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Today is Tuesday, Dec. 22, the 356th day of 2015. There are nine days left in the year.

Highlights in history on this date:

1636 – Archduke Ferdinand, son of Emperor Ferdinand II of Habsburg, is elected King of the Romans.

1790 – Russian troops capture Ismail, now part of Ukraine, from the Turks.

1793 – Napoleon Bonaparte, age 24, is promoted to brigadier general in recognition of his decisive part in the capture of Toulon from British forces.

1807 – U.S. Congress passes the Embargo Act, designed to force peace between Britain and France by cutting off all trade with Europe.

1905 – Insurrection of Moscow workers; Revolution in Persia begins.

1929 – Round table conference opens between British Viceroy and Indian party leaders on dominion status for India.

1941 – British Prime Minister Winston Churchill arrives in Washington for a wartime conference with U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt.

1942 – U.S. heavy bombers raid Japanese-occupied Rangoon, Burma — now Myanmar — in World War II.

1944 – During the Battle of the Bulge, the Germans demand the surrender of American troops at Bastogne, Belgium, and Brigadier Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe reportedly replies, “Nuts!”

1956 – The last Anglo-French forces leave Port Said, Egypt, following the Suez War.

1963 – Greek liner Laconia catches fire and sinks in North Atlantic; 150 people die.

1975 – Pro-Palestinian terrorists end 20-hour siege of Vienna headquarters of OPEC, taking hostages and an airliner provided by Austria on a flight to several Middle Eastern capitals.

1988 – South Africa signs accord at United Nations granting independence to the black-ruled nation of Namibia, the former German South-West Africa that had been Africa’s last colony.

1989 – Romanian communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu is toppled in an uprising. He and his wife Elena flee Bucharest, but are captured and executed on Christmas Day.

1990 – Lech Walesa is sworn in as Poland’s first popularly elected president.

1993 – Alina Fernandez Revuelta, daughter of Cuban President Fidel Castro, leaves Cuba and is granted political asylum in the United States.

1994 – Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi resigns over a bribery scandal after seven months at head of conservative coalition.

1995 – As thousands cheer, Yasser Arafat’s wife lights the Christmas tree in Manger Square, ushering in Bethlehem’s first Christmas under Palestinian rule.

1996 – In a “Christmas gesture,” Tupac Amaru rebels free 225 hostages from the Japanese ambassador’s residence in Lima, Peru, but keep 140.

1998 – Israel’s Parliament votes overwhelmingly for early elections, signaling the demise of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ailing hard-line government and effectively freezing the already-troubled peace process with the Palestinians.

2001 -Passengers and crew aboard an American Airlines jet en route to Miami subdue Briton Richard Reid as he tries to detonate explosives hidden in his shoes.

2003 – The Roman Catholic archdiocese of Boston pays the 542 plaintiffs who agreed to a sexual abuse settlement with the archdiocese. The archdiocese will sell church property to fund the part of the $85 million settlement not covered by insurers.

2008 – Thailand’s revered monarch urges the new government to make peace its priority, breaking months of silence about the political turmoil that shut down Bangkok’s airports and sparked deadly violence in the streets.

2010 – Iraq’s Christian leaders call off Christmas celebrations amid new al-Qaida threats on the tiny community still terrified from a bloody siege on a Baghdad church.

2013 – Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Russian oligarch who crossed President Vladimir Putin and ended up in jail for a decade, says he plans to devote his life to securing the freedom of the country’s political prisoners.

2014 — Pope Francis issues a blistering indictment of the Vatican bureaucracy, accusing the cardinals, bishops and priests who serve him of using their Vatican careers to grab power and wealth and living ‘hypocritical ” double lives.

Today’s Birthdays:

Jean Racine, French dramatist (1639-1699); Thomas Higginson, U.S. abolitionist (1823-1911); Giacomo Puccini, Italian composer (1858-1924); Dame Peggy Ashcroft, English actress (1907-1991); Barbara Billingsley, U.S. actress (1915-2010); Robin Gibb (1949–2012) and twin Maurice Gibb (1949-2003), Anglo-Australian founding members of the Bee Gees; Vanessa Paradis, French singer and model (1972–); Ralph Fiennes, British actor (1962–).

Thought For Today:

Anger makes dull men witty, but it keeps them poor — attributed to Queen Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603).

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