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