Today in History – Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016

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Today is Thursday, Jan. 21, the 21st day of 2016. There are 345 days left in the year.

Highlights in history on this date:

1521 – Pope Leo X excommunicates German reformer Martin Luther.

1606 – England’s Parliament imposes severe penalties against Roman Catholics.

1643 – Dutch mariner Abel Tasman discovers Tonga in the Pacific.

1732 – Russia gives up claims to certain Persian territories under Treaty of Riascha.

1793 – France’s King Louis XVI, condemned for treason, is executed on the guillotine.

1861 – The future president of the U.S. Confederacy, Jefferson Davis of Mississippi, and four other Southerners resign from the U.S. Senate.

1908 – New York City women are prohibited from smoking in public.

1919 – Sinn Fein Congress in Dublin, Ireland, adopts Declaration of Independence.

1924 – First Nationalist Chinese Congress at Canton admits Communists and welcomes Russian advisers.

1942 – German forces launch new offensive in western African desert in World War II.

1945 – The Brazilian Expeditionary Force leads an allied attack on Monte Castelo in Italy, the only participation of South American troops in World War II.

1949 – Chiang Kai-Shek resigns from China presidency following Nationalist Party reversals.

1950 – A federal jury in New York City finds former State Department official Alger Hiss guilty of perjury.

1954 – The first atomic submarine, the USS Nautilus, is launched at Groton, Connecticut.

1968 – Thirty-one North Korean commandos attempt to attack South Korea’s presidential palace. All but one die in gunfights; thirty-four South Koreans are killed.

1974 – United States rejects South Vietnam’s request for naval support in fighting with Chinese for Paracel Islands.

1976 – The supersonic Concorde jet is put into service by Britain and France.

1977 – U.S. President Jimmy Carter pardons almost all Vietnam War draft evaders.

1986 – A car packed with explosives blows up near office of President Amin Gemayel’s Phalange Party in east Beirut, Lebanon, killing 22 people and wounding 102.

1990 – East Germany’s Communist Party expels Egon Krenz, the leader who oversaw opening of Berlin Wall.

1992 – U.N. Security Council urges Libya to surrender two agents indicted by United States in bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.

1996 – Winning 88 percent of the vote, Yasser Arafat emerges from the first Palestinian election with a mandate to lead his people to independence.

1998 – Pope John Paul II arrives on a historic five-day visit to communist Cuba.

2002 – Israeli troops backed by tanks and helicopter gunships seize Palestinian-controlled West Bank city of Tulkarem, occupying the entire city and imposing a 24-hour curfew on its 45,000 residents.

2005 – A European probe to Saturn’s largest moon finds a freezing, primitive but active world that, like Earth, seems to be doused with rains that gouge out rivers, erode rocks and form pools.

2008 – Four bomb blasts hit the ordinarily peaceful Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, wounding one person, days after it announced the date of an election to end a century of absolute royal rule.

2009 – The U.S. Senate confirms Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state.

2010 – A bitterly divided U.S. Supreme Court vastly increases the power of big business and labor unions to influence government decisions by freeing them to spend their millions directly to sway elections for president and Congress, reversing a century-long trend to limit their role.

2012 – Final results show that Islamists win nearly three-quarters of the seats in parliament in Egypt’s first election since the ouster of authoritarian President Hosni Mubarak.

2014 — The Thai government declares a state of emergency in Bangkok in response to anti-government protests that have paralyzed the capital.

2015 — The leader of a German organization against the perceived “Islamization” of Europe provokes a firestorm after a picture surfaces showing him with a Hitler mustache and hair combover.

Today’s Birthdays:

John Fitch, U.S. naval engineer (1743-1798); Leo Delibes, French composer (1836-1891); Telly Savalas, U.S. actor (1924-1994); Benny Hill, English comedian (1925-1992); Placido Domingo, Spanish tenor (1941–); Geena Davis, U.S. actress (1956–); Charlotte Ross, U.S. actress (1968–).

Thought For Today: Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age 18 — Albert Einstein, German-born physicist (1879-1955).

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