Today is the 253rd day of 2019. There are 112 days left in the year. TODAY’S HIGHLIGHT
2004: The Jamaican Government urges 500,000 people to evacuate as Hurricane Ivan approaches, one of the strongest storms on record.
1654: Russia’s Czar Alexis takes Smolensk, occupied since 1611 by Poland.
1898: Empress Elizabeth of Austria-Hungary is assassinated by an Italian anarchist in Geneva.
1907: British colony of New Zealand becomes a dominion.
1939: German Army gains complete control of western Poland; Canada declares war on Germany.
1953: An earthquake destroys villages on Cyprus killing at least 40 people, seriously injuring about 100, and leaving thousands homeless.
1972: United States vetoes UN Security Council resolution that calls for immediate cessation of military operations in Middle East.
1977: Convicted murderer Hamida Djandoubi, a Tunisian immigrant, is the last person executed by the guillotine in France.
1979: The Marines decide to reduce their active duty strength by 10,000 men to save money; bringing the US Marine Corps to its lowest peacetime level in 18 years.
1989: Hungary decides to allow about 7,000 East German refugees to leave for West Germany.
1990: Iraq offers free oil to Third World countries.
1996: Hurricane Hortense lashes Puerto Rico with punishing winds and torrents of rain, killing seven people.
1999: Three bombs explode in apartment buildings in Moscow and Volgodonsk, in southern Russia, killing at least 229 people and sparking speculation of a terrorist campaign in Russia.
2000: Ecuador becomes the first Latin American country to adopt the US dollar officially, as part of a controversial economic stabilisation plan.
2001: Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko is elected to another five-year term on promises to merge with Russia and stand up to the West.
2002: Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a senior operative of the al-Qaeda terrorist network who was suspected of coordinating the September 11, 2001 attacks, is arrested in one of a series of raids on apartments in Karachi, Pakistan.
2006: Montenegrins vote in the first parliamentary elections since their tiny Balkan state split from Serbia, while police announce a crackdown on an alleged ethnic Albanian terrorist group authorities said had threatened the ballot.
2007: Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif returns to Pakistan from a seven-year exile, hoping to campaign against the country’s US-allied military ruler, but is immediately charged with corruption and deported to Saudi Arabia hours later.
2008: The world’s largest particle collider passes its first major tests by firing two beams of protons in opposite directions around a 17-mile (27-kilometre) ring under the Franco-Swiss border.
2009: Premier Silvio Berlusconi brushes off questions about any possible resignation over his sex scandal, saying he has been Italy’s best premier ever.
2011: An overcrowded ship carrying at least 600 people sinks in deep sea near one of Tanzania’s top tourist destinations, leaving at least 45 people dead and some 370 more believed missing or dead. Many of the missing are children.
2012: An air strike kills al-Qaeda’s No 2 leader in Yemen along with six others travelling in one car, a major breakthrough for US-backed efforts to cripple the group in the impoverished Arab nation.
2013: President Barack Obama in a nationally televised speech from the White House says diplomacy suddenly holds “the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons” in Syria without the use of force.
Franz Werfel, Austrian writer (1890-1945); Sir Ranjitsinhji Vibhaji, Indian cricket player and maharaja of Nawanagar (1872-1933); Georges Bataille, French writer (1897-1962); Fay Wray, Canadian actress (1907-2004); Stephen Jay Gould, US biologist and writer (1941-2002); Colin Firth, British actor (1960- ); Guy Ritchie, British director (1968- )
— AP/Jamaica Observer
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