This Day in History — May 20
Today is the 140th day of 2021. There are 225 days left in the year.
1506: Christopher Columbus dies in poverty in Spain.
1521: Ignatius of Loyola is hit by a cannonball while defending Pamplona against the French. During his convalescence he turns to religion, finally becoming a leader of the Counter-Reformation and the founder of the Jesuits.
1799: France’s Napoleon Bonaparte abandons siege of Acre — now Akko, Israel, defended by the Turks.
1873: Levi Strauss and tailor Jacob Davis receive the US patent for the invention of men’s work pants made with copper rivets.
1882: Italy joins Austro-German Alliance, which becomes Triple Alliance.
1902: The United States ends its occupation of Cuba.
1908: The Boedi Oetomo, meaning “noble conduct”, is founded by Indonesian intellectuals to launch the first organised struggle against Dutch colonialism.
1920: The first president of post-revolutionary Mexico, Venustiano Carranza is murdered by political opponents after fleeing the capital.
1927: US aviator Charles Lindbergh takes off from Roosevelt Field in Long Island, New York, aboard the Spirit of St Louis on his historic solo flight to France.
1932: Amelia Earhart takes off from Newfoundland for Ireland to become the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.
1940: Ten days after the start of an offensive, German troops reach the coast of France, cutting the allied approach in two.
1941: The first airborne invasion takes place as Nazi Germany captures the island of Crete.
1943: United States and Britain, by treaty, lose the right to judge their own nationals in China, bringing an end to European extra-territorial rights.
1960: A massive earthquake, followed by tidal wave, kills hundreds in southern Chile.
1961: A white mob attacks a busload of black “freedom riders” in Montgomery, Alabama, prompting the federal government to send in US marshals to restore order.
1969: US and South Vietnamese forces capture Ap Bia Mountain, referred to as Hamburger Hill by the Americans, following one of the bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War.
1970: Some 100,000 people demonstrate in New York’s Wall Street district in support of US policy in Vietnam and Cambodia.
1974: Libya and Soviet Union conclude agreement for increased trade and Soviet-weapons aid to Tripoli.
1980: Quebec holds its first referendum on independence from Canada, with 60 per cent voting against separation.
1983: US President Ronald Reagan’s administration lifts nearly year-long embargo on sale of advanced F-16 fighter planes to Israel, imposed after Israel invaded Lebanon.
1985: Three Israeli soldiers are exchanged for 1,150 Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners in a simultaneous swap.
1988: About 9,000 security personnel begin raiding hideouts of Sikh radicals in India’s troubled Punjab state.
1990: Romania holds free, democratic elections for the first time in 45 years.
1991: Soviet legislature approves a law on foreign travel and emigration, opening doors for millions of citizens.
1993: Britain’s lower house of Parliament approves the European Unity treaty, starting the country on the road to joining the rest of the European community in ratifying the accord.
1994: The vice-president of Yemen, Ali Salem al-Beidh, declares the southern part of the country independent, leading to civil war.
1995: The Government in Kinshasa lifts the quarantine on the region in Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo) affected by the killer Ebola virus, allowing free travel for the first time in 10 days.
1996: Iraq and the United Nations sign an agreement to let the country sell oil to buy food and medicine for its suffering people.
1997: The Turkish military announces that they have killed 1,300 Kurds in a week long offensive into northern Iraq.
1998: Ethiopia and Eritrea amass thousands of troops along their border, ready to fight over a 640-square kilometre (250-square mile) triangle of disputed land.
1999: A North Atlantic Treaty Organization air attack on Belgrade leaves a hospital in ruins, kills three patients, and damages several ambassadors’ residences.
2000: Taiwan inaugurates President Chen Shui-bian, marking the first time in China’s 5,000 years of history that a democratically elected Opposition leader is sworn in as the leader of a Chinese state.
2007: Nobel Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos-Horta is sworn in as East Timor’s second president, and he vows to unite the desperately poor nation more than a year after violence brought down its first Government.
2010: A masked intruder clips a padlock, smashes a window and steals a Picasso, a Matisse, and three other masterpieces from a Paris museum — a US$123-million haul that is one of the world’s biggest art heists.
2011: The US says Osama bin Laden’s personal files reveal a brazen idea to hijack oil tankers and blow them up at sea last summer, creating explosions he hoped would rattle the world’s economy and send oil prices skyrocketing.
Moshe Dayan, Israeli general-statesman (1915-1981); James Stewart, US actor (1908-1997); Joe Cocker, English rock singer (1944-2014); Cher, US actress-singer (1946- ); Busta Rhymes, US rapper (1972- )
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