Today in history: May 22

A look at the events which helped shape history on this day.

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1693 French again destroy Heidelberg, Germany, and ravage the Rhineland.

Today in History: Birthdays

Last Updated: May 22, 2010

Richard Wagner German composer (1813-1883)

Mary Cassatt US Impressionist painter (1844-1926)

King Faisal I first king of independent Iraq (1883-1933)

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle English author (1859-1930)

Daniel F. Malan South African statesman, instituted apartheid (1874-1959)

Sir Laurence Olivier English actor (1907-1989)

Bernard Shaw US journalist (1940--)

Naomi Campbell British model (1970--)

Bernie Taupin songwriter (1950--)

1761 The first life insurance policy in the United States is issued, in Philadelphia.

1819 The American steamboat Savannah makes its first trans-Atlantic crossing.

1833 A new constitution in Chile gives greater power to the president and establishes Roman Catholicism as state religion.

1822 United States and Korea sign treaty of peace and friendship.

1840 Transportation of British convicts to New South Wales, Australia, officially ends.

1867 Canada becomes the first dominion of the British Empire, gaining a parliament, cabinet and large measure of independence.

1868 The Great Train Robbery takes place near Marshfield, Indiana, as seven members of the Reno gang make off with $96,000 in cash, gold and bonds.

1914 Britain acquires control of oil properties in Gulf from Anglo-Persian Oil Company.

1939 Germany's Adolf Hitler and Italy's Benito Mussolini sign "Pact of Steel," a 10-year political and military alliance.

1967 Communist-led riots take place in Hong Kong against British.

1969 The lunar module of Apollo 10 separates from the command module and flies to within 14 kilometers (nine miles) of the moon's surface in a dress rehearsal for the first lunar landing.

1972 Richard Nixon becomes the first U.S. president to visit Russia, where he signs a pact with Leonid Brezhnev to reduce the risk of military confrontation; the island nation of Ceylon becomes the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka with the adoption of a new constitution.

1975 White-ruled African nation of Rhodesia, now known as Zimbabwe, is expelled from Olympics because of its racial policies.

1984 Soviet forces continue to bomb the access route to the Panjshir Valley in northern Afghanistan while pursuing a diplomatic solution to the 4-year-old struggle against guerrillas.

1985 A car bomb explodes in a Beirut suburb, killing 60 people and wounding 190 others.

1989 India successfully test fires its first medium-range surface-to-surface missile.

1990 After years of conflict, pro-Western North Yemen and pro-Soviet South Yemen merge to form the Republic of Yemen.

1991 India's Congress Party offers party leadership to Sonia Gandhi, widow of assassinated leader Rajiv Gandhi, but she refuses, only to take it up in 1998.

1992 - The United States slaps political and diplomatic sanctions against Serbia for perpetuating a "humanitarian nightmare" in the Balkans.

1993 - Cambodians vote in first multiparty elections in 21 years.

1994 - Tutsi rebels capture international airport in Rwanda's capital and overrun military base nearby.

1995 - Half a million Poles turn out to catch a glimpse of their native son Pope John Paul II during his 10-hour visit in southern Poland.

1996 - American and French planes carry foreigners out of Bangui, Central African Republic, as President Ange-Felix Patasse rejects army mutineers' demands that he resign.

1997 - Russian President Boris Yeltsin fires his defense minister and several top generals for their resistance to budget cuts and military restructuring.

1998 - Voters in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland vote overwhelmingly for a peace agreement to end 20 years of sectarian strife.

2001 - In Afghanistan, the ruling Taliban militia announce a law requiring Hindus to wear identity labels to distinguish them from Muslims. The measure also requires Hindu women to be veiled for the first time.

2003 - U.N. Security Council votes, 14-0, to approve a resolution that would lift U.N. sanctions imposed on Iraq since the 1991 Persian Gulf war, and grant broad authority to the United States and Britain to administer Iraq as occupying powers.

2005 - The candidate of Mongolia's former communist ruling party, Nambariin Enkhbayar, wins the country's presidential election, retaining the party's hold on power after a campaign dominated by promises to end chronic poverty in the former Soviet satellite.

2006 - U.S. warplanes hunting Taliban fighters bomb a religious school and mud-brick homes in southern Afghanistan, killing dozens of suspected militants and 17 civilians in one of the deadliest strikes since the American-led invasion in 2001.

2007 - People flood out of a besieged Palestinian refugee camp, waving white flags and telling of bodies lying in the streets and inside wrecked houses after three days of fighting between Lebanese troops and Islamic militants.

2008 - President Mikhail Saakashvili's pro-Western ruling party emerges from the May 21 parliamentary election with a majority of seats — but election observers gave the vote a mixed report, and the opposition refuses to concede.

2009 — Germany marks the 60th birthday of the post-World War II federal republic under which the country has become a stable and respected democracy with global political and economic clout.

2010 - Presiedent Barack Obama says the U.S. must shape a world order as reliant on the force of diplomacy as on the might of its military to lead, outlining a foreign policy vision that repudiated the approach forged by his predecessor, George W. Bush.

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