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Saturday, December 21
By The Associated Press
Associated Press
2013-12-14 09:42 AM

Today is Saturday, Dec. 21, the 355th day of 2013. There are 10 days left in the year.

Highlights in history on this date:

1620 - Pilgrims go ashore from ship Mayflower at what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts, in United States.

1817 - Governor Lachlan Macquarie formally adopts name "Australia" for British colony.

1832 - Egyptian forces rout Turkish army at Battle of Konieh.

1851 - French plebiscite supports new constitution drawn up by Louis Napoleon.

1898 - Radium is discovered by scientists Pierre and Marie Curie.

1934 - Bolivia's President Daniel Salamanca is overthrown in military coup.

1942 - British 8th Army reoccupies Benghazi in Africa in World War II.

1953 - Iran's former Premier Mohammed Mosadegh is sentenced to three years in prison for trying to lead revolt against shah.

1960 - Saudi Arabia's Premier Emir Faisal resigns, and King Saud takes over government.

1967 - Louis Washkansky, first man to undergo heart transplant, dies in Cape Town, South Africa, 18 days after surgery.

1971 - Austrian diplomat Kurt Waldheim is chosen secretary-general of United Nations.

1972 - East and West Germany formally sign treaty ending more than two decades of official enmity.

1975 - Terrorists raid meeting of OPEC in Vienna, Austria. Eleven delegates and others are taken hostage, and two guards are killed.

1979 - Peace agreement signed, ending seven-year Rhodesian guerrilla war and 15-year rebellion against the British crown.

1988 - A Pan Am jet explodes over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people in the air and on the ground. Libyan agents are tried for the bombing.

1989 - Nicolae Ceausescu declares state of emergency in Timosoara, Romania, after tens of thousands of protesters fill the streets in mass demonstrations.

1990 - Albanian government orders removal of all statues and symbols bearing Josef Stalin's name.

1992 - A chartered Dutch jumbo jet with 340 people aboard breaks apart and bursts into flames while trying to land in Faro, Portugal, in a storm. Fifty-two travelers and two crew members are killed.

1993 - Russian President Boris Yeltsin dissolves the powerful Security Ministry, saying the successor to the KGB secret police failed to warn him of dangerous political currents in Russia.

1995 - At least 75 people are killed and 76 injured in Badrshein, Egypt, when a train slams into the Cairo-to-Luxor express.

1997 - Nigeria's deputy head of state, Lieut. Gen. Oladipo Diya, and 11 others are arrested and accused of plotting to overthrow Gen. Sani Abacha.

1998 - After a quick trial, Chinese dissidents Xu Wenli and Wang Youcai are sentenced to more than a decade behind bars for trying to register the China Democracy Party.

2000 - Security forces and hundreds of leftist prisoners wielding makeshift flame-throwers face off for a third day in Turkish jails in a conflict that has left at least 19 people dead.

2001 - Six Palestinians are killed in the Gaza Strip and dozens injured in clashes with Palestinian security forces that erupted at the funeral of a youth killed by Palestinian police the previous day. The violence marks the deadliest fighting among Palestinians since 1994.

2002 - A U.S. soldier is killed in a battle with unidentified gunmen in the eastern province of Paktika, near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border; making him the first American killed in Afghanistan since May.

2003 - The Sudanese government and rebel group Sudan People's Liberation Army reach a tentative deal to evenly divide the country's oil wealth as part of negotiations to end its 20-year-old civil war.

2004 - Tens of thousands of Filipinos fill Manila's streets for the funeral of Fernando Poe Jr., the actor-turned-presidential candidate who came to symbolize the aspirations of the country's poor.

2005 - Britain's most famous gay couple -- Sir Elton John and Canadian filmmaker David Furnish -- tie the knot in a much-anticipated ceremony, capping the first week of legalized civil unions for same-sex couples in the United Kingdom.

2006 - In the biggest U.S. criminal case involving civilian deaths to come out of the Iraq war, eight Marines are charged in the killings of 24 Iraqi civilians during a bloody, door-to-door sweep in the town of Haditha that came after their comrade was killed by a roadside bomb.

2007 - Ignoring works by Matisse, Renoir and Van Gogh, thieves steal two paintings -- one by Pablo Picasso and another by Candido Portinari -- in the first successful heist in the 60-year history of Brazil's premier modern art museum.

2008 - Poland's president celebrates the start of Hanukkah by visiting Warsaw's main synagogue, a gesture the city's Jewish community greets as a historic step in its revival.

2009 - A huge funeral procession for Iran's most senior dissident cleric, Grand Ayatolloh Hossein Ali Montazeri, becomes a show of defiance against the country's rulers as mourners flashed green protest colors and chanted against the Islamic leadership in Iran's holy city of Qom.

2010 - Iraq seats a freely elected government after nine months of haggling, bringing together the main ethnic and religious groups in a fragile balance that could make it difficult to rebuild a nation devastated by war as American troops prepare for their final withdrawal.

2011 - The Obama administration ramps up its criticism of the Syrian government, accusing it of continuing to "mow down" its citizens despite promises to halt a brutal crackdown on reformers and calling on President Bashar Assad to leave power.

2012 - Pope Benedict XVI presses his opposition to day marriage, denouncing what he described as people eschewing their God-given gender identities to suit their sexual choices in the face of gains by same-sex marriage proponents in the U.S. and Europe.

Today's Birthdays:

Benjamin Disraeli, English statesman-author (1804-1881); Mohammed Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan (1876-1948); Joseph Stalin, Soviet leader (1879-1953); Kurt Waldheim, former Austrian president and U.N. secretary-general (1918-2007); Kel Nagle, Australian champion golfer (1920--); Alicia Alonso, Cuban-born ballerina (1921--); Jane Fonda, U.S. actress (1937--); Samuel L. Jackson, U.S. actor (1948--); Julie Delpy, French actress/director (1969--).

Thought For Today:

It is not necessary to understand things in order to argue about them -- Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, French author and dramatist (1732-1799).

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