Today In History

Today is Monday, Jan. 21, the 21st day of 2013. There are 344 days left in the year.
Highlights in history on this date:
1521 - Pope Leo X excommunicates German reformer Martin Luther.
1606 - England's Parliament imposes severe penalties against Roman Catholics.
1643 - Dutch mariner Abel Tasman discovers Tonga in the Pacific.
1732 - Russia gives up claims to certain Persian territories under Treaty of Riascha.
1793 - France's King Louis XVI, condemned for treason, is executed on the guillotine.
1861 - The future president of the U.S. Confederacy, Jefferson Davis of Mississippi, and four other Southerners resign from the U.S. Senate.
1908 - New York City women are prohibited from smoking in public.
1919 - Sinn Fein Congress in Dublin, Ireland, adopts Declaration of Independence.
1924 - First Nationalist Chinese Congress at Canton admits Communists and welcomes Russian advisers.
1942 - German forces launch new offensive in western African desert in World War II.
1945 - The Brazilian Expeditionary Force leads an allied attack on Monte Castelo in Italy, the only participation of South American troops in World War II.
1949 - Chiang Kai-Shek resigns from China presidency following Nationalist Party reversals.
1950 - A federal jury in New York City finds former State Department official Alger Hiss guilty of perjury.
1954 - The first atomic submarine, the USS Nautilus, is launched at Groton, Connecticut.
1968 - Thirty-one North Korean commandos attempt to attack South Korea's presidential palace. All but one die in gunfights; thirty-four South Koreans are killed.
1970 - France's sale of Mirage jets to Libya is announced; Iraq's government foils coup and promptly executes 12 men.
1974 - United States rejects South Vietnam's request for naval support in fighting with Chinese for Paracel Islands.
1976 - The supersonic Concorde jet is put into service by Britain and France.
1977 - U.S. President Jimmy Carter pardons almost all Vietnam War draft evaders.
1986 - A car packed with explosives blows up near office of President Amin Gemayel's Phalange Party in east Beirut, Lebanon, killing 22 people and wounding 102.
1990 - East Germany's Communist Party expels Egon Krenz, the leader who oversaw opening of Berlin Wall.
1991 - Latvia's parliament forms volunteer home guard and authorities bolster defenses at public buildings hours after Soviet commandos stage pre-dawn assault on republic's police headquarters.
1992 - U.N. Security Council urges Libya to surrender two agents indicted by United States in bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.
1993 - A supertanker carrying 296 million liters (78 million gallons) of crude oil burns and leaks oil after slamming into another ship off Indonesia's northern tip.
1995 - Pope John Paul II ends his 11-day Asia tour in Sri Lanka on a note of controversy, when Buddhist leaders boycott a meeting with him to protest his views of their religion.
1996 - Winning 88 percent of the vote, Yasser Arafat emerges from the first Palestinian election with a mandate to lead his people to independence.
1998 - Pope John Paul II arrives on a historic five-day visit to communist Cuba.
1999 - Raul Salinas de Gortari, the brother of the ex-president of Mexico, is sentenced to 50 years in prison for having a political opponent murdered.
2000 - Hundreds of Ecuadorean-Indian protesters, outraged by the president's plan to make the U.S. dollar Ecuador's currency, declare a new government. The vice president later replaces the president.
2002 - Israeli troops backed by tanks and helicopter gunships seize Palestinian-controlled West Bank city of Tulkarem, occupying the entire city and imposing a 24-hour curfew on its 45,000 residents; international donors at a conference in Tokyo, Japan, pledge more than $4.5 billion in aid to Afghanistan over the next five years.
2005 - A European probe to Saturn's largest moon finds a freezing, primitive but active world that, like Earth, seems to be doused with rains that gouge out rivers, erode rocks and form pools.
2006 - A whale stranded in the River Thames is hauled onto a barge and moved toward the sea while thousands of Londoners flock to the shore to see the rescue operation.
2007 - Sudanese government planes breach a cease-fire by bombing villages in northern Darfur, days after President Omar al-Bashir vows to adhere to a truce brokered by New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and others during a visit.
2008 - Four bomb blasts hit the ordinarily peaceful Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, wounding one person, days after it announced the date of an election to end a century of absolute royal rule.
2009 - The U.S. Senate confirms Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state.
2010 - A bitterly divided U.S. Supreme Court vastly increases the power of big business and labor unions to influence government decisions by freeing them to spend their millions directly to sway elections for president and Congress, reversing a century-long trend to limit their role.
2010 - Dozens of Palestinians enraged by France's sympathy for an Israeli soldier held by Gaza militants ambush the French foreign minister's motorcade in the Gaza Strip, pelting it with eggs and hurling a shoe that narrowly misses hitting her.
2011 _ Afghan President Hamid Karzai says that he personally held peace talks recently with the insurgent faction Hizb-i-Islami, appearing to assert his own role in a U.S.-led bid for negotiations to end the country's decade-long war.
Today's Birthdays:
John Fitch, U.S. naval engineer (1743-1798); Leo Delibes, French composer (1836-1891); Telly Savalas, U.S. actor (1924-1994); Benny Hill, English comedian (1925-1992); Placido Domingo, Spanish tenor (1941--); Geena Davis, U.S. actress (1956--); Charlotte Ross, U.S. actress (1968--).
Thought For Today: Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age 18 _ Albert Einstein, German-born physicist (1879-1955).