Today In History

Today is Tuesday, Dec. 18, the 353rd day of 2012. There are 13 days left in the year.
Highlights in history on this date:
1559 - Queen Elizabeth I sends aid to Scottish.
1792 - Thomas Paine is tried in England in his absence for publishing "The Rights Of Man."
1865 - Slavery is officially abolished in the United States.
1890 - Frederick Lugard occupies Uganda for the British East Africa Company.
1903 - The U.S.-Panama treaty places Canal Zone in United States' hands in perpetuity for annual rent.
1927 - Chiang Kai-Shek overthrows the Hankow government in China.
1940 - Adolf Hitler signs a secret directive ordering preparations for a Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. Operation Barbarossa is launched in June 1941.
1948 - Dutch renew offensive in Indonesia and capture the Sukarno government.
1956 - Japan is admitted to United Nations.
1957 - The Shippingport Atomic Power Station in Pennsylvania, the first civilian nuclear facility to generate electricity in the United States, goes into operation.
1958 - The first communications satellite broadcast is made in the United States.
1969 - Britain's Parliament abolishes the death penalty for murder.
1970 - Divorce law goes into effect in Italy despite opposition by Roman Catholic Church.
1972 - The United States begins the heaviest bombing of North Vietnam during the Vietnam War. The bombardment ends 12 days later.
1973 - Syria refuses to attend Middle East peace talks in Geneva.
1979 - Hundreds of Salvadoran troops storm two ranches and a slaughterhouse in El Salvador, killing 35 persons occupying the sites.
1985 - Syria rejects a plea by United States to remove newly deployed anti-aircraft missiles along its border with Lebanon.
1987 - Ivan F. Boesky is sentenced to three years in prison for plotting Wall Street's biggest insider-trading scandal.
1990 - The Taj Mahal reopens after being closed to tourists due to sectarian violence that took 11 lives in three days of fighting in the Indian city of Agra.
1991 - Inkatha leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi withdraws from negotiations on ending apartheid in South Africa.
1992 - Ruling party leader Kim Young-sam accepts victory as South Korea's first civilian president after 32 years of military rule.
1994 - Former Communists win Bulgarian elections.
1995 - Risking the wrath of animal rights activists worldwide, Canada says it will increase its seal harvest quota by 34 percent, allowing 250,000 harp seals to be killed.
1996 - Tupac Amaru guerrillas vow to start killing hostages in the Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima, Peru, but let their deadline for bloodshed pass. Four hostages, including the Canadian ambassador, are released to serve as negotiators.
1997 - Some 700 Japanese children require hospitalization after seizures induced by flashing lights in an animated TV show.
1999 - Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga is blinded in her right eye in one of two separatist Tamil Tiger rebel suicide bombings. The bombs kill 33 people and injure 137.
2000 - Faced with ongoing violence and looming deadlines, Israeli and Palestinian delegations fly to Washington to restart peace talks that had broken down during nearly three months of fighting.
2001 - A U.S. District Judge vacates the death sentence of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the former journalist and Black Panther convicted in the 1981 shooting of a Philadelphia police officer. Abu Jamal's case is a cause-celebre for leftists and death penalty opponents worldwide.
2002 - An anti-terrorism court in New Delhi pronounces death sentence on three men convicted two days earlier of planning a December 2001 terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament complex.
2003 - A U.S. appeals court rules in Padilla v. Rumsfeld that President George W. Bush has no inherent constitutional power to declare a U.S. citizen captured on U.S. soil an enemy combatant and hold him indefinitely.
2004 - More than 500 right-wing paramilitary fighters accused of massacres and numerous rights abuses in southwest Colombia turn in their weapons, bringing to more than 3,000 the number of militiamen who have demobilized under a peace process with the government.
2005 - A German aid worker and archaeologist kidnapped in Iraq with her driver is freed after three weeks in captivity.
2006 - Chief prosecutor in ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's trial presents memos from Hussein's office approving chemical attacks against Kurdish villages, the most serious evidence against him in his genocide trial.
2007 - Ukraine's parliament elects the fiery Yulia Tymoshenko prime minister by the narrowest possible margin, in a striking political comeback likely to strengthen Ukraine's ties to the West and aggravate tensions with Russia.
2008 - A former Rwandan army colonel is convicted by a U.N. tribunal in Tanzania of genocide and crimes against humanity for masterminding the killings of more than half a million people in 1994.
2009 - President Barack Obama says the United States, China and several other countries reached an "unprecedented breakthrough" to curb greenhouse gas emissions _ including a mechanism to verify compliance _ after a frenzied day of diplomacy at the U.N. climate talks in Copenhagen.
2010 _ Iran's president announces the start of a plan to slash energy and food subsidies, part of government efforts to boost the country's ailing economy.
2011 _ Pope Benedict XVI makes an emotional visit to Rome's main prison, meeting with detainees, denouncing prison overcrowding and calling for greater dignity for inmates everywhere.
Today's Birthdays:
Elizabeth Petrovina, Empress of Russia (1709-1762); Carl Maria von Weber, German composer (1786-1826); Robert Moses, U.S. public works planner (1888-1981); Ossie Davis, U.S. actor (1917-2005); Stephen Biko, South African anti-apartheid activist (1946-1977); Keith Richards, English rock musician (1943--); Steven Spielberg, U.S. film director (1946--); Brad Pitt, U.S. actor (1963--); Katie Holmes, U.S. actress (1978--); Christina Aguilera, U.S. pop singer (1980--).
Thought For Today:
The only thing we have to fear on this planet is man _ Carl Jung, Swiss psychologist (1875-1961).