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Today is the 23rd day of 2012. There are 343 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight

1977: The TV miniseries Roots, based on the Alex Haley novel about an African-American family's heritage, begins airing on ABC television. It becomes one of the most-watched shows in US history.

Other Events

1542: King Henry VIII takes the title of King of Ireland.

1579: The Union of Utrecht is signed by the provinces of the Netherlands committed to carrying on resistance to Spain. It becomes the foundation of the state of the Netherlands.

1631: France, under Treaty of Barwalde, undertakes to subsidise Sweden in Thirty Years' War.

1799: French troops capture Italian city of Naples.

1845: US Congress decides all national elections would be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

1849: Prussia suggests German union without Austria; Dr Elizabeth Blackwell receives the first doctor of medicine degree awarded to an American woman.

1918: The Soviet government officially severs relations with the church.

1920: Netherlands refuses to surrender Germany's former Kaiser Wilhelm II to Allies for punishment as World War I criminal.

1945: Soviet forces reach Oder River in World War II.

1950: The Knesset proclaims Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

1964: Indonesia and Malaysia agree to ceasefire in their undeclared border war.

1968: North Korea seizes the US Navy ship Pueblo, charging it had intruded into the communist nation's territorial waters on a spying mission. The crew is released 11 months later.

1973: US President Richard M Nixon announces that an accord has been reached in the Vietnam War.

1985: Debate in Britain's House of Lords is carried live on television for the first time.

1989: Civilian commandos and army troops backed by tanks battle at infantry base on outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

1991: The Angolan government accepts a peace plan that ends 15-year-old civil war with UNITA rebels.

1993: Iraq denies its anti-aircraft batteries fired at US warplanes and again reaffirms a ceasefire it declared.

1994: Gunmen believed to be leftist guerrillas fire at a gathering of political rivals in northwest Colombia, killing at least 35 people.

1997: France's highest court rejects a final appeal and orders Maurice Papon, a former Vichy official, to stand trial for deporting Jews to death camps during World War II.

1998: Pakistani Mir Aimal Kasi is sentenced to death in Fairfax, Virginia, for a politically motivated ambush outside the headquarters of the CIA that left two men dead. He is executed in November 2002.

2000: Over a million people march through downtown Madrid to call for peace after a car-bomb attack is seen as a resurgence of Basque separatists' 32-year-old campaign of violence. Nearly 800 people have been killed during this period.

2001: A new administration in the Philippines moves to freeze the bank accounts of ousted President Joseph Estrada and begins a criminal investigation against him.

2002: A previously unknown militant group kidnaps Daniel Pearl, a reporter for the US Wall Street Journal newspaper, in Karachi, Pakistan. Pearl, who had been working on a story about Islamist militant groups in that country, is later killed.

2006: Ugandan rebels ambush UN peacekeepers in Congo, killing eight of them in a gunbattle that also leaves 15 attackers dead near the Sudanese border.

2008: Tens of thousands of Gazans flood into Egypt through a border fence blown up by militants — puncturing a gaping hole in Israel's air-tight closure of the Gaza Strip and giving a boost to Hamas militants.

2009: French President Nicolas Sarkozy orders a frigate deployed immediately to the waters off Gaza in an effort to fight arms smuggling and consolidate a fragile ceasefire.

Today's Birthdays

Marie Henri Beyle Stendahl, French author (1783-1842); Edouard Manet, French artist (1832-1883); Jeanne Moreau, French actress (1928- ); Derek Walcott, Caribbean poet and Nobel laureate (1930- ); Rutger Hauer, Dutch-born actor (1944- ); Mariska Hargitay, US actress (1964- ).

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