Today is Sunday, October 21, the 295th day of 2012. There are 71 days left in the year.
Highlights in history on this date:
1797 - The U.S. Navy frigate Constitution, also known as Old Ironsides, is launched in Boston's harbor.
1805 - A British fleet commanded by Adm. Horatio Nelson defeats the French and Spanish in the Battle of Trafalgar; Nelson, however, is killed.
1847 - The Sonderbund War between Catholics and Protestants begins in Switzerland.
1861 - The first South American railroad line is inaugurated in Paraguay.
1879 - American inventor Thomas A. Edison demonstrates the first electric lamp.
1913 - Royalist uprising in Portugal fails.
1916 - Austria's premier, Count Carl Stuergkh, is assassinated by a socialist.
1923 - Start of a 160-day heat wave in Marble Bar, Western Australia, during which the temperature did not fall below 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit).
1938 - Japanese troops take Canton in China.
1944 - U.S. troops capture the German city of Aachen during World War II.
1945 - Women vote for first time in France.
1961 - President Gamal Abdel Nasser confiscates property of wealthy Egyptians.
1966 - More than 140 people, mostly children, are killed when a coal waste landslide engulfs a school and several houses in south Wales.
1967 - Tens of thousands of Vietnam War protesters march in Washington, D.C.
1969 - An army coup in Somalia follows assassination of President Abdi Rashid Ali Shermarke; Willy Brandt becomes first Social Democratic chancellor in West Germany's 20-year history.
1971 - North Vietnam's Premier Phan Van Dong says his government is ready to accept cease-fire as first step toward settlement of Vietnam War.
1973 - Four Gulf states cut off oil supplies to United States to protest U.S. arms shipments to Israel in Middle East conflict.
1988 - A federal grand jury in New York indicts former Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos and his wife, Imelda, on charges of fraud and racketeering. Marcos dies before he could be brought to trial; his widow, Imelda, is acquitted in 1990.
1989 - A Honduran jet breaks apart in flight and crashes outside Tegucigalpa, killing at least 120 people.
1991 - Jesse Turner, a U.S. university professor who was taken hostage in Beirut in January 1987, is released by his captors.
1992 - A British vacationer is killed and two others are wounded when Egyptian Muslim extremists open fire on their tour bus near Asyut, 380 kilometers (240 miles) south of Cairo.
1993 - Burundi's National Palace is stormed in a coup and President Melchior Ndadaye is killed.
1994 - The United States and North Korea sign a pact to end tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear program.
1996 - A U.N. envoy arrives in Kabul, Afghanistan, to try to avert an all-out war for the shattered city.
1997 - Aid begins pouring into Brazzaville, the wartorn capital of the Republic of Congo, with planes flying in supplies to help the recovery from four months of battles.
1999 - A powerful 7.6 earthquake strikes Taiwan in the pre-dawn hours, killing more than 2,300 people and damaging 82,000 housing units. The quake causes some $9 billion in damage and noticeably alters the island's topography.
2000 - About 23,000 Afghan refugees of Tajik descent flee to Pakistan as fighting rages in the northeastern provinces between the ruling Taliban militia and opposition forces.
2001 - The Solidarity Electoral Action Social Movement that Lech Walesa led to victory over Polish communists in 1989, concedes defeat one month after being trounced by ex-communists — the Democratic Left Alliance.
2002 - A vehicle packed with explosives slams into a bus near Hadera, in northern Israel, killing 14 Israelis and wounding 50 others.
2003 - A series of massive wildfires in southern California rages across wooded and suburban regions surrounding Los Angeles and San Diego, killing at least 22 people and scorching about 743,000 acres (301,000 hectares). Some 3,500 homes are destroyed.
2004 - Japan starts the clean up from its deadliest typhoon in over a decade, a day after the storm ripped across the country, killing 55 people and leaving 24 missing.
2005 - The body of a defense lawyer in Saddam Hussein's mass murder trial is found dumped in the street with two bullet wounds in his head hours after gunmen dressed as security forces take him from his office.
2006 - Donations of clothing set off stampedes in impoverished Bangladesh leaving at least eight people dead. All are women except for one child.
2007 - A Soyuz craft with two Russian cosmonauts and a Malaysian aboard undocks from the international space station for the return to Earth.
2008 - Former Prime Minister of Thailand Thaksin Shinawatra is convicted of corruption in absentia and sentenced to two years in prison.
2009 - U.S. Vice President Joe Biden seeks reconciliation with America's staunch allies in eastern Europe, starting with Poland, which eagerly signs on to a revamped U.S. missile shield.
2010 — American influence so dwindles in Iraq over the last several months that Iraqi lawmakers and political leaders say they no longer follow Washington's advice for forming a government.
2011 — NATO says it plans to end its seven-month bombing campaign in Libya at the end of the month, leaving the battle-scarred country's new authorities on their own to ensure security after the death of Moammar Gadhafi and the ouster of his regime.
Hokusai, Japanese artist (1760-1849); Samuel T. Coleridge, English poet-philosopher (1772-1834); Alfred Nobel, Swedish inventor and founder of prize (1833-1896); Georg Solti, Hungarian-born conductor (1912-1997); Timothy Leary, U.S. psychologist, author and popularizer of LSD (1920-1996); Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli politician and former prime minister (1949--); Carrie Fisher, U.S. actress-writer (1956--); Ken Watanabe, Japanese actor (1959--).
Thought for Today:
You will never 'find' time for anything. If you want time you must make it — Charles Buxton, English author (1823-1871).