Today in History: Tuesday, Dec. 12

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627 – Battle of Nineveh: A Byzantine army under Emperor Heraclius defeats Emperor Khosrau II's Persian forces, commanded by General Rhahzadh. 884 – King Carloman II dies after a hunting accident. He is succeeded by his cousin, emperor Charles the Fat, who for the last time reunites the Frankish Empire. 1098 – First Crusade: Siege of Ma'arrat al-Numan: Crusaders breach the town's walls and massacre about 20,000 inhabitants. After finding themselves with insufficient food, they reportedly resort to cannibalism. 1388 – Mary of Enghien sells the lordship of Argos and Nauplia to the Republic of Venice. 1408 – The Order of the Dragon, a monarchical chivalric order, is created by Sigismund of Luxembourg, then king of Hungary. 1781 – American Revolutionary War: Second Battle of Ushant: A British fleet led by HMS Victory defeats a French fleet. 1787 – Pennsylvania becomes the second state to ratify the United States Constitution, five days after Delaware became the first. 1862 – American Civil War: USS Cairo sinks on the Yazoo River, becoming the first armored ship to be sunk by a controlled mine. 1866 – Oaks explosion: The worst mining disaster in England kills 361 miners and rescuers. 1870 – Joseph H. Rainey of South Carolina becomes the second black U.S. congressman, the first being Hiram Revels. 1897 – Belo Horizonte, the first planned city in Brazil, is founded. 1901 – Guglielmo Marconi receives the first transatlantic radio signal (the letter "S" in Morse Code), at Signal Hill in St John's, Newfoundland. 1911 – Delhi replaces Calcutta as the capital of India. 1911 – King George V of the United Kingdom and Mary of Teck are enthroned as Emperor and Empress of India. 1915 – President of the Republic of China, Yuan Shikai, announces his intention to reinstate the monarchy and proclaim himself Emperor of China. 1917 – In Nebraska, Father Edward J. Flanagan founds Boys Town as a farm village for wayward boys. 1918 – The Flag of Estonia is raised atop the Pikk Hermann for the first time. 1925 – The Majlis of Iran votes to crown Reza Khan as the new Shah of Iran, starting the Pahlavi dynasty. 1935 – Lebensborn Project, a Nazi reproduction program, is founded by Heinrich Himmler. 1936 – Xi'an Incident: The Generalissimo of the Republic of China, Chiang Kai-shek, is kidnapped by Zhang Xueliang. 1937 – Second Sino-Japanese War: USS Panay incident: Japanese aircraft bomb and sink U.S. gunboat USS Panay on the Yangtze river in China. 1939 – Winter War: Battle of Tolvajärvi: Finnish forces defeat those of the Soviet Union in their first major victory of the conflict. 1939 – HMS Duchess sinks after a collision with HMS Barham off the coast of Scotland with the loss of 124 men. 1940 – World War II: Approximately 70 people are killed in the Marples Hotel, Fitzalan Square, Sheffield, as a result of a German air raid. 1941 – World War II: Fifty-four Japanese A6M Zero fighters raid Batangas Field, Philippines. Jesús Villamor and four Filipino fighter pilots fend them off; César Basa is killed. 1941 – World War II: The United Kingdom declares war on Bulgaria. Hungary and Romania declare war on the United States. India declares war on Japan. 1941 – Adolf Hitler declares the imminent extermination of the Jews at a meeting in the Reich Chancellery 1942 – World War II: German troops begin Operation Winter Storm, an attempt to relieve encircled Axis forces during the Battle of Stalingrad. 1946 – A fire at an ice plant in Hudson Heights, Manhattan spreads to an adjacent tenement, killing 37 people. 1948 – Malayan Emergency: Batang Kali massacre: Fourteen members of the Scots Guards stationed in Malaya allegedly massacre 24 unarmed civilians and set fire to the village. 1950 – Paula Ackerman, the first woman appointed to perform rabbinical functions in the United States, leads the congregation in her first services. 1956 – Beginning of the Irish Republican Army's "Border Campaign". 1963 – Kenya gains its independence from the United Kingdom. 1964 – Prime Minister Jomo Kenyatta becomes the first President of the Republic of Kenya. 1969 – Years of Lead: Piazza Fontana bombing: The offices of Banca Nazionale dell'Agricoltura in Piazza Fontana, Milan, are bombed. 1979 – Coup d'état of December Twelfth: South Korean Army Major General Chun Doo-hwan orders the arrest of Army Chief of Staff General Jeong Seung-hwa without authorization from President Choi Kyu-ha, alleging involvement in the assassination of ex-President Park Chung-hee. 1979 – President of Pakistan Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq confers Nishan-e-Imtiaz on Nobel laureate Dr Abdus Salam. 1979 – The unrecognised state of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia returns to British control and resumes using the name Southern Rhodesia. 1979 – The 8.2 Mw Tumaco earthquake shakes Colombia and Ecuador with a maximum Mercalli intensity of IX (Violent), killing 300–600, and generating a large tsunami. 1983 – The Australian Labor government led by Prime Minister Bob Hawke and Treasurer Paul Keating floats the Australian dollar. 1984 – Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya becomes the third president of Mauritania after a coup d'état against Mohamed Khouna Ould Haidalla while the latter is attending a summit. 1985 – Arrow Air Flight 1285, a McDonnell Douglas DC-8, crashes after takeoff in Gander, Newfoundland, killing all 256 people on board, including 236 members of the United States Army's 101st Airborne Division. 1988 – The Clapham Junction rail crash kills thirty-five and injures hundreds after two collisions of three commuter trains—one of the worst train crashes in the United Kingdom. 1991 – The Russian Federation gains independence from the USSR. 2000 – The United States Supreme Court releases its decision in Bush v. Gore. 2001 – Prime Minister of Vietnam Phan Văn Khải announces the decision on upgrading the Phong Nha–Kẻ Bàng nature reserve to a national park, providing information on projects for the conservation and development of the park and revised maps. 2012 – North Korea successfully launches its first satellite, Kwangmyŏngsŏng-3 Unit 2, using an Unha-3 carrier rocket.

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