HIGHLIGHTS IN HISTORY ON THIS DATE

1494 - Columbus discovers Jamaica.

1660 - Peace of Olivia is signed, ending war between Brandenburg, Poland, Austria and Sweden.

1791 - Polish Parliament approves Europe's first modern constitution.

1814 - France's King Louis XVIII returns to Paris after allied forces defeat Napoleon Bonaparte.

1841 - New Zealand is formally proclaimed a British colony.

1859 - France declares war on Austria.

1898 - Bread riots erupt in Milan, Italy and are crushed with heavy loss of life.

1916 - Irish nationalist Padraic Pearse and two others are executed by the British for their roles in the Easter Rising.

1927 - Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) formed.

1933 - Nellie Taylor is sworn in as the first female director of the US Mint.

1937 - Margaret Mitchell wins a Pulitzer Prize for her novel Gone with the Wind.

1945 - Allied troops enter Hamburg, Germany, in World War II; Indian forces capture Rangoon, Burma, from the Japanese.

1947 - Japan's new postwar Constitution, reflecting the policies of Allied occupiers, takes effect.

1948 - The US Supreme Court rules that covenants prohibiting the sale of real estate to blacks and other minorities are legally unenforceable.

1963 - Government crisis in Syria threatens recently agreed-upon union of Syria, Iraq and United Arab Republic.

1970 - Queen officially opens the new international terminal at Sydney's Kingsford Smith Airport.

1971 - Anti-war protesters calling themselves the Mayday Tribe begin four days of demonstrations in Washington, DC, aimed at shutting down the nation's capital.

1972 - Turkish guerillas hijack Turkish plane and land in Sofia, Bulgaria.

1979 - Conservative Party leader Margaret Thatcher becomes Britain's first female prime minister.

1983 - Farmer Cliff Young, 61, wins 875km Sydney-Melbourne foot race in five days, 14 hours.

1985 - Lebanese Christians protesting against sectarian fighting in their country occupy their diplomatic missions in Australia, Argentina and Sweden.

1988 - The White House acknowledges that first lady Nancy Reagan used astrological advice to help schedule her husband's activities.

1994 - Civil war erupts in Yemen.

1995 - Large cache of ammunition and weapons is found in Canberra belonging to a group of right-wing extremists within the Australian Defence Force.

1996 - Warlord Roosevelt Johnson is secretly carried out of Monrovia, Liberia, and to neighbouring Freetown, Sierra Leone, aboard a US helicopter.

1997 - The rebels of the Guatemalan Revolutionary Unit surrender the last of their weapons to the government, marking the end of one of Latin America's most drawn-out wars.

2000 - Four hostages held by Muslim rebels in the southern Philippines are killed when government troops stumble upon the group.

2001 - Ronnie Biggs, fugitive robber of Britain's 1963 "Great Train Robbery" says he is ready to return home to face justice after three decades of exile in Brazil.

2003 - James Miller, British freelance journalist and producer of International award winning documentaries, Beneath the Veil, and Innocents Lost, is shot and killed by Israeli military tank in the Gaza Strip.

2004 - The US military reprimands seven officers in the alleged abuse of inmates at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison, the first known punishments in the case.

2006 - An Armenian airliner carrying 113 people tumbles into the Black Sea harbour of the Russian resort of Sochi.

2007 - At least 21 workers - most of them foreigners - are kidnapped in separate attacks in Nigeria's oil-rice delta region, leaving a Nigerian soldier dead.

2008 - Cyclone Nargis strikes myanmar adventure tour, killing at least 78,000 and leaving 56,000 others missing.

2011 - An international assessment says the ice of Greenland and the rest of the Arctic is melting faster than expected and could help raise global sea levels by as much as 1.5 metres this century, dramatically higher than earlier projections.

2014 - US Secretary of State John Kerry presses Russia to stop backing separatists in eastern Ukraine after the pro-Russian insurgents release seven European military observers.

2015 - Two gunmen launch an attempted attack on an anti-Islam event in Garland, Texas, which was held in response to the Charlie Hebdo shooting.

2017 - An explosion at a coalmine in northeastern Iran kills 35, and injures 70.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS

Nicolo Machiavelli, Italian political philosopher (1469-1527); William Broome, English scholar-poet (1689-1745); Fergus McMaster, Australian businessman, one of the founders of Qantas (1879-1950); Golda Meir, Israeli statesman (1898-1978); William Inge, US playwright (1913-1973); Betty Comden, US songwriter-entertainer (1919-2006); Pete Seeger, US folk singer (1919-2014); Sugar Ray Robinson, US boxer (1920-1989); James Brown, US soul musician (1933-2006); Frankie Valli, American singer (The Four Seasons) (1934-); Tim Fischer, former Australian deputy prime minister (1946-); Christopher Cross, US singer (1951-); David Hookes, Australian cricketer (1955-2004); Ben Elton, British comedian and author (1959-); Christina Hendricks, American actress (1975-)

THOUGHT FOR TODAY

If you want anything said, ask a man; if you want anything done, ask a woman - Margaret Thatcher, former British prime minister.

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