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Sunday, December 15
By The Associated Press
Associated Press
2013-12-08 09:22 AM

Today is Sunday, Dec. 15, the 349th day of 2013. There are 16 days left in the year.

Highlights in history on this date:

1640 - The Duke of Braganca is crowned John IV, the first king of Portugal after 60 years of Spanish rule.

1711 - The plague breaks out in Copenhagen.

1791 - Sweden's King Gustavus III offers to head the crusade against France.

1806 - Napoleon Bonaparte enters Warsaw, Poland.

1890 - Chief Sitting Bull of the Sioux is killed during an attempt to arrest him by reservation police in the U.S. state of South Dakota.

1916 - The French defeat Germans in Battle of Verdun during World War I.

1939 - The motion picture 'Gone With the Wind' premieres in Atlanta, in the United States.

1944 - The plane carrying American bandleader Glenn Miller, a U.S. Army Major, disappears over the English Channel, probably the victim of bombs jettisoned from British bombers returning from an unsuccessful raid.

1952 - China rejects India's plan for Korean armistice.

1957 - The United Nations rejects Greece's proposal that Cyprus is entitled to self-determination.

1961 - Former Nazi Adolf Eichmann is sentenced to death in Jerusalem.

1965 - Two U.S. manned spacecraft, Gemini 6 and Gemini 7, maneuver to within 3 meters (10 feet) of each other while in orbit and relay data about Venus as it flies past the planet.

1970 - Soviet spacecraft starts sending messages from planet Venus.

1978 - U.S. President Jimmy Carter announces he would grant diplomatic recognition to Communist China on New Year's Day and sever official relations with Taiwan.

1979 - The deposed Shah of Iran flies from the United States to "temporary" exile in Panama.

1986 - Rival ethnic groups battle in Karachi and set hundreds of homes and shops ablaze in the city's worst rioting since Pakistan's independence 39 years earlier.

1988 - The U.N. General Assembly calls for convening of international Middle East peace conference.

1989 - Manuel Noriega is named head of government and declares Panama in "a state of war" with the United States; a popular uprising begins, resulting in the downfall of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.

1990 - Cattle rancher Darly Alves da Silva and his son Darci Alves Pereira are convicted of murdering Brazilian rain forest defender Chico Mendes.

1991 - A ferry hits a reef and sinks off the Egyptian port of Safaga, killing nearly 500 people.

1992 - Chess genius Bobby Fischer is indicted in the United States on charges of violating economic sanctions against Yugoslavia by playing a highly publicized match with Boris Spassky.

1993 - Offering the Irish Republican Army a chance that "might never come their way again," British and Irish leaders sign a complex framework for negotiating peace in Northern Ireland.

1994 - The Swedish government decides not to salvage the bodies from the ferry Estonia, which sank in the Baltic, killing 800 people. The decision is opposed by the victims' relatives.

1995 - Pioneer 6, a spacecraft launched on a journey through the solar system on Dec. 16, 1965, gets an early happy birthday call from NASA and answers back.

1996 - A Serbian court restores the opposition's election victory in Nis, Serbia's second-largest city.

1997 - The prosecutor for the tribunal on war crimes in Yugoslavia accuses French peacekeepers in Bosnia of "total inertia" when it comes to arresting war crimes suspects. The French reject the criticism as "scandalous."

1998 - Northern Ireland's most ruthless Protestant paramilitary group, the Loyalist Volunteer Force, promises to start disarming by Christmas.

1999 - Venezuelans overwhelmingly approve a new constitution that eliminates the Senate and vastly increases the power of President Hugo Chavez, allowing him to stay in office for up to 13 years.

2003 - A 17-member federal commission on terrorism, created by the U.S. Congress in 1998 in response to attacks on the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, issues its final report, stating the Department of Homeland Security failed to give sufficient instruction to state and local authorities on how to foil terrorism.

2004 - The ex-Iraqi general known as "Chemical Ali," who is accused of using chemical weapons attacks to kill thousands of Kurds, is announced as the first detained former Saddam Hussein regime figure to stand trial.

2005 - The U.N. reluctantly withdraws peacekeeping staff from Eritrea, saying it faced an unprecedented crisis in its monitoring of the cold peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia.

2006 - Japan's conservative government revises the country's central education law to require schools to encourage patriotism in the classroom and upgrades the Defense Agency to a full ministry for the first time since World War II.

2007 - A British suspect in an alleged plot to blow up trans-Atlantic jetliners escapes from police custody in Pakistan. Rashid Rauf fled after appearing before a judge at court.

2008 - Three African armies have launched an offensive against Ugandan rebels based in eastern Congo in an attempt to end one of the continent's longest and most brutal wars.

2009 - Britain pledges to reform a peculiar legal power that lets judges order the arrest of visiting politicians and generals -- a threat currently focused on Israeli visitors that, one day, might be invoked against Barack Obama or Vladimir Putin.

2010 -- Police detain more than 1,000 people in Moscow and several other Russian cities after weekend rioting in the capital between racist hooligans and mostly Muslim ethnic minorities left dozens injured.

2011 --Former President Jacques Chirac is convicted of corruption related to his 18-year term as mayor of Paris, becoming France's first leader to be convicted of crime since Marshal Philippe Petain who headed the Nazi collaborationist regime during World War II, in 1945.

2012 -- Thousands of opposition supporters gather outside the old KGB headquarters in central Moscow to mark a year of protests against Vladimir Putin and his government.

Today's Birthdays:

Nero, Roman emperor (AD 37- AD 68); Henri Becquerel, French chemist (1852-1908); Gustave Eiffel, French engineer (1832-1923); Maxwell Anderson, U.S. playwright (1888-1959); J. Paul Getty, U.S. oil tycoon (1892-1976); Tim Conway, U.S. comedian/actor (1933--); Don Johnson, U.S. actor (1949--); Julie Taymor, U.S. director (1952--).

Thought For Today:

History is the record of an encounter between character and circumstances -- Donald Creighton, Canadian historian (1902-1979).

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