Today In History

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Associated Press

Posted on March 19, 2010 at 9:05 PM

Today is Saturday, March 27, the 86th day of 2010. There are 279 days left in the year.

Highlights in history on this date:

1512 - Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon sights Florida.

1703 - Russia's Czar Peter the Great founds city of St. Petersburg.

1713 - Spain agrees in Utrecht, Netherlands, to cede Gibraltar and Menorca to Britain.

1794 - U.S. President George Washington and Congress authorize creation of the U.S. Navy.

1802 - Peace of Amiens between Britain and France, creates a short pause in the Napoleonic Wars.

1836 - The first Mormon temple is dedicated, in Kirtland, Ohio.

1865 - Independent British colony of Kaffaria is incorporated with Cape Colony in South Africa.

1899 - Italian Guglielmo Marconi sends the first radio signals across the English Channel.

1933 - Japan announces plans to pull out of League of Nations.

1941 - Yugoslavia's Prince Paul is deposed in coup following pact with Germany's Adolf Hitler.

1958 - Nikita Khrushchev becomes the Soviet premier in addition to First Secretary of the Communist Party

1960 - Iraqi Premier General Kassem founds Palestine army.

1964 - U.N. peace force under Indian General Gyani takes over in Cyprus; Earthquake in Alaska kills 114 people.

1968 - Yuri Gagarin, Soviet cosmonaut who flew world's first manned space mission, is killed in crash of training plane; Suharto, an army general, is elected as Indonesia's second president, replacing Sukarno, who lost power in March 1966.

1970 - Severe earthquake strikes western Turkey, killing at least 1,087 and leaving 90,000 homeless.

1976 - South Africa withdraws its military forces from Angola.

1989 - Ethnic unrest shakes Yugoslav province of Kosovo, killing two police officers and injuring at least eight other people.

1991 - Commandos storm a jetliner in Singapore with 120 passengers aboard, killing four Pakistani hijackers after a nine-hour standoff.

1992 - As fighting rages for a third day in the town of Bosanski Brod, Bosnian leaders appeal to the United Nations for a peacekeeping force.

1993 - Multiparty elections are held to end military rule in Lesotho.

1993 - Muslim extremists kill a Cairo police officer with a time bomb, the second policeman slain in 24 hours.

1995 - President Nelson Mandela fires his estranged wife, Winnie, from the government.

1996 - A group of Egyptians hijack an Egypt Air jetliner from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to Libya when it is about to land in Cairo.

1997 - Seventeen people die in a gun battle in Albania, the most violent incident in two months of unrest in the former Communist country; Dexter King, son of Martin Luther King Jr., meets with James Earl Ray, the man in prison for having assassinated the civil rights leader. Ray denies having anything to do with the shooting, to which King replies, "I believe you."

1998 - Leading European aircraft makers agree on a merger that will create a single European aerospace and defense company; U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves the drug Viagra, made by Pfizer, saying it helped about two-thirds of impotent men improve their sexual function.

1999 - Yugoslav forces burn Kosovo Albanian villages and force the inhabitants to flee, while a U.S. stealth fighter, part of the NATO air armada attacking Yugoslavia, crashes near Belgrade.

2000 - Fighting off a last-minute Communist surge, Vladimir Putin scores a convincing victory in presidential elections after promising to end years of political chaos and restore Russia as a global power.

2001 - An empty train riding on the wrong side of the tracks crashes into a crowded commuter train in central Belgium, killing eight.

2003 - Serbian police shoot and kill two reputed leaders of the Zemun clan, an organized crime group that the government implicated in the assassination of Serbian Premier Zoran Djindjic.

2004 - Nearly 500,000 people surround Taiwan's presidential office and block major streets to protest the recent disputed presidential election as President Chen Shui-bian promises again to back a recount of the election that he narrowly won.

2006 - The discredited U.N. Human Rights Commission holds its last meeting before being replaced by a new body, ending a 60-year history in which some of the world's worst offenders often used their membership to protect one another from condemnation.

2007 - A massive sewage reservoir in the northern Gaza Strip collapses, killing five people as a cascade of waste and mud swamp a village yards from the border with Israel.

2008 - A government-managed visit by foreign reporters to Tibet's capital backfires when Buddhist monks disrupt the tour, screaming that there is no religious freedom and that the Dalai Lama is not to blame for Lhasa's recent violence.

2009 - President Barack Obama launches fresh effort to defeat al-Qaida terrorists in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, sending in more troops and civilian advisers.

Today's Birthdays:

William von Roentgen, German physicist (1845-1923); Frederick Henry Royce, English auto engineer (1863-1933); Gloria Swanson, U.S. film actress (1898-1983); Michael York, English actor (1942--); Quentin Tarantino, U.S. film director (1963--); Mariah Carey, U.S. pop singer (1970--).

Thought For Today:

Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us — Bill Watterson, American cartoonist (1958 --).

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