On this day - October 31

2011-10-31 07:15
Today is Monday, October 31, the 304th day of 2011. There are 61 days left in the year.

Highlights in history on this date:

1517 - Martin Luther nails 95 theses at Wittenberg Palace church, marking the beginning of the Protestant Reformation in Germany.

1731 - Expulsion of Protestants from Salzburg, Austria, begins.

1922 - Fascist leader Benito Mussolini becomes prime minister of Italy.

1925 - Reza Khan usurps Persian throne; Greek army invades Bulgaria.

1926 - Magician Harry Houdini dies in Detroit of gangrene and peritonitis resulting from a ruptured appendix.

1938 - The day after his "War of the Worlds" broadcast panicked US radio listeners, Orson Welles expresses "deep regret" but also bewilderment that anyone had thought the simulated Martian invasion was real.

1953 - Floods in Bihar state of India leave two million people homeless.

1956 - British and French troops bomb Egyptian airfields in Suez War.

1961 - Cloud of radioactive debris moves across central Siberia after Soviets explode what is called biggest man-made nuclear bomb.

1967 - Lieutenant General Nguyen Van Thieu takes oath of office as first president of South Vietnam's second republic.

1968 - US President Lyndon B Johnson orders a halt to all US bombing of North Vietnam, saying he hopes for fruitful peace negotiations.

1979 - A concrete and earthen reservoir dam collapses near Indiantown, Florida, sending four-meter-high floodwaters over 32km stranding 1 700 persons.

1984 - India's Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards in reprisal for the Indian army attack on a Sikh shrine four months earlier. Two-thousand people are killed in anti-Sikh riots after the murder.

1990 - In an unprecedented action, the Canadian government instructs Canadian subsidiaries of US companies not to comply with a new US law designed to prohibit them from trading with Cuba.

1991 - Zambia holds its first multi-party elections, with Frederick Chiluba winning over independence leader and first president Kenneth Kaunda.

1992 - Five American nuns in Liberia are shot to death near the capital Monrovia; the killings are blamed on rebels loyal to Charles Taylor.

1993 - Pledging not to resort to force, the Russian government instead blasts high-decibel rock and rap music at defiant hard-liners barricaded inside parliament during a constitutional crisis.

1994 - Bosnian government forces hand Serbs their worst defeat in 2 ½ years of war, pushing ahead to threaten a supply route south of Sarajevo.

1995 - A bomb attack on offices of the main anti-government group in northern Iraq kills at least 22 people.

1996 - A Brazilian jetliner crashes into a residential neighbourhood in Sao Paulo shortly after takeoff, killing all 96 people on board and five on the ground.

1997 - The parliament in Russia approves an international treaty banning chemical weapons. Russia has the world's largest arsenal of poison gas.

1998 - Iraq announces that it will no longer allow UN weapons inspectors to work in the country.

1999 - EgyptAir Flight 990 bound for Cairo from New York's Kennedy Airport plunges 10 000 metres into the Atlantic Ocean, killing all 217 people on board.

2000 - A Russian rocket carrying the first residents of the international space station blasts off from Kazakhstan.

2001 - A New York hospital worker with a mysterious case of inhalation anthrax dies, the United States' fourth fatality in a month of bioterrorism.

2002 - An earthquake strikes the village of San Giuliano di Puglia in the Apennine mountains 225km southeast of Rome, killing 26 children and one teacher in an elementary school that collapsed.

2003 - Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad resigns after 22 years as Malaysia's leader. His hand-picked successor, Abdullah Badawi, is sworn in that day in a ceremony at the royal palace in Kuala Lumpur.

2004 - Caravans carrying activists travelling from as far as Canada arrive in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, to demand authorities find the culprits behind a string of unsolved killings committed against women since 1993 in this rough border city.

2005 - President Vladimir Putin says that he will not seek a third term in 2008, but vows not to allow "destabilisation" in Russia following the vote, leaving the door open for drastic action in the event of a crisis.

2006 - British lawmakers narrowly reject a proposal for an immediate inquiry into the role of Prime Minister Tony Blair's government in the Iraq conflict.

2007 - Three lead defendants in the 2004 Madrid train bombings are found guilty of mass murder and other charges in a Spanish court, but four other top suspects are convicted on lesser charges and an accused ringleader is completely acquitted.

2008 - US President George W Bush signs an executive order restoring the Libyan government's immunity from terror-related lawsuits and dismissing pending compensation cases.

2009 - President Hamid Karzai's challenger plans to call for a boycott of next weekend's run-off election in an attempt to force the vote's postponement until spring, his campaign manager said - a move that would dim US hopes for a stable Afghan government for months.

2010 - A former teenage al-Qaeda fighter is sentenced to eight more years in custody under the terms of a plea agreement unsealed after a military sentencing jury said Canadian-born Omar Khadr should serve 40 years for war crimes in Afghanistan.

Today's Birthdays:
Jan Vermeer, Dutch artist (1632-1675); John Keats, British poet (1795-1821); Chiang Kai-shek, President of Nationalist China (1887-1975); Eddie Charlton, Australian world snooker champion (1929-2004); Norodom Sihanouk, former Cambodian king (1922--); Vanilla Ice, US rapper (1968--).

Thought for Today:
An old error is always more popular than a new truth - German proverb.

- Sapa-AP

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