On this day - February 15
Today is Wednesday, February 15, the 46th day of 2012. There are 320 days left in the year.
Highlights in history on this date:
1677 - England's King Charles II announces he has made an alliance with the Dutch against France.
1798 - The Roman Republic is proclaimed after the French capture Rome, but Pope Pius VI refuses to surrender temporal power and leaves for Valence, France. He later dies in French captivity.
1806 - Franco-Prussian treaty against Britain, whereby Prussia closes her ports to British ships goes into effect.
1879 - US President Rutherford Hayes signs a bill allowing female attorneys to argue cases before the Supreme Court.
1894 - France and Germany reach agreement on boundaries between French Congo and Cameroon.
1898 - The US battleship Maine blows up in harbour of Havana, Cuba, killing 260 seamen. The cause of the explosion is never determined, but US newspapers use the incident to whip up support for military intervention against the Spanish rule on Cuba.
1933 - US President-elect Franklin Roosevelt escapes an assassination attempt in Miami that claims the life of Chicago Mayor Anton J Cermak.
1942 - The British surrender the colony of Singapore to Japanese forces in World War II.
1944 - US troops complete reconquest of Solomon Islands in Pacific Ocean in World War II; Nearly 1 000 British bombers pound Berlin, Germany.
1964 - Cassius Clay - who changed his name to Muhammad Ali - becomes the world's heavyweight boxing champion.
1965 - China's Foreign Minister Chen Yi says in Beijing that peaceful coexistence with United States is out of the question.
1970 - An Israeli oil pipeline is opened linking Eilat to Ashkelon.
1973 - The United States and Cuba sign agreement calling for prosecution or extradition of hijackers of airplanes and ships.
1978 - Agreement is announced in Rhodesia, now known as Zimbabwe, to bring blacks into key roles in government of Prime Minister Ian Smith.
1988 - Austria's President Kurt Waldheim, accused of having a Nazi past, flatly rejects widespread calls for his resignation.
1989 - The last Soviet soldier leaves Afghanistan after a 10-year occupation.
1990 - Britain and Argentina restore diplomatic relations, broken off during the 1982 Falkland Islands War.
1991 - The South African government announces it will free all political prisoners and African National Congress agrees to end armed struggle against apartheid.
1993 - Two car bombs shatter a downtown district in Bogota, Colombia, killing four and injuring more than 120.
1994 - North Korea agrees to open part of its nuclear programme to international inspection.
1995 - A fire roars through a three-story nightclub in Taichung, Taiwan, killing at least 67 people and injuring 11 in Taiwan's deadliest fire on record.
1996 - Police deactivate a bomb in central London hours after the Irish Republican Army refused to rule out further attacks.
1997 - In Kigali, Rwanda, three uniformed gunmen kill a Supreme Court justice, his driver and a neighbour in an attack on his home.
1998 - Nineteen explosions blamed on radical Muslim groups rock Coimbatore, India, over two days, killing at least 56 people.
1999 - Abdullah Ocalan, a Kurdish rebel leader, is captured by Turkish commandos in Kenya, where he had sought refuge at the Greek Embassy. He is brought to Turkey to stand trial.
2000 - Stung by Britain's decision to suspend Northern Ireland's power-sharing government, the Irish Republican Army deepens the province's political crisis by breaking off negotiations on disarmament.
2003 - The Vatican opens sealed archives concerning its relations with Germany between 1922 and 1939, when Eugenio Pacelli - later Pope Pius XII - was the Vatican secretary of state. The archives were unsealed to address criticism that Pope Pius XII had not tried hard enough to stop Nazi Germany from killing millions of Jews during the Holocaust.
2004 - The US administrator for Iraq, L Paul Bremer, opens the nation's first human rights ministry, saying it will investigate atrocities committed during Saddam Hussein's rule and will draft a human rights declaration and promote private groups that defend civil liberties in the country.
2005 - Three years after a promised overhaul of China's workplace safety system, the government says a gas explosion killed 203 miners and let 12 more missing - the worst reported mining disaster in the country since Communist rule began in 1949.
2007 - An armed man hijacks a Mauritanian plane to Spain's Canary Islands but is overpowered by passengers and crew and arrested shortly after landing. None of the 71 passengers are seriously injured.
2008 - Czech President Vaclav Klaus, 66, wins a second five-year term when lawmakers chose him over a University of Michigan economics professor.
2009 - President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela wins a referendum to eliminate term limits, paving the way for him to run again in 2012.
Galileo Galilei, Italian astronomer (1564-1642); Babur, founder of Mughal dynasty in India (1483-1530); AN Whitehead, English philosopher (1861-1947); Hank Locklin, US country singer (1918-2009); Jane Seymour, English born actress (1951--); Melissa Manchester, US singer (1951--); Matt Groening, creator of "The Simpsons" (1954--).
Thought For Today:
Like all dreamers I confuse disenchantment with truth - Jean-Paul Sartre, French philosopher (1905-1980).