[Belo Horizonte - known as Beagá or BH by the locals - is the third largest urban area in Brazil, after São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro; since as many as 30% of residents have some Italian heritage, the city is renowned by tourists for its Italianate feel. It's no coincidence I've selected a Brazilian city for special recognition today, as it's currently colder than Karl Rove's heart in Vancouver.]
627 CE - At the Battle of Nineveh a Byzantine army under Emperor Heraclius defeated Persian Emperor Khosrau II's forces, commanded by General Rhahzadh.
1408 - The Order of the Dragon was created by future Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund - then King of Hungary - and his wife Queen Barbara of Celje following their battle for the possession of Bosnia; among the more famous members of the order are Poland's King Ladislaus II, and England's Henry V.
1812 - The abortive invasion of Russia by Napoleon Bonaparte came to a humiliating end.
1897 - Belo Horizonte, once a small village founded by bandeirante João Leite da Silva Ortiz, became Brazil's first planned city when ambitious plans by Aarão Reis and Francisco Bicalho to rebuild it along the lines of Washington, DC, came to fruition. Currently capital of the state of Minas Gerais - replacing the old colonial capital of Ouro Preto - this lively centre of commerce and the arts is home to some 5.5 million people.
1901 - Guglielmo Marconi received the first transatlantic radio signal at Signal Hill in St John's, Newfoundland.
1915 - Chinese president Yuan Shikai declared himself Emperor; within weeks his support crumbled, and he abandoned his claim in March 1916, dying less than three months later.
1925 - The Majlis of Iran declared Reza Khan as Shah of Persia.
1936 - Chiang Kai-shek was kidnapped by Zhang Xueliang during the Xi'an Incident.
1941 - Adolf Hitler announced his intention to exterminate Germany's Jews at a meeting in the Reich Chancellery attended by every prominent National Socialist in the country; a meeting - not unlike January 1942's Wannsee Conference (at which a similar intent was even more blatantly stated) - which neo-Nazis are fond of conveniently forgetting.
1942 - 100 people were killed during a suspicious fire at a Knights of Columbus hostel on Harvey Road in St. John's, Newfoundland.
1948 - In the midst of the Malayan Emergency 14 members of the UK's Scots Guards allegedly massacred 24 unarmed civilians and set fire to their village during the Batang Kali Massacre.
1963 - Kenya gained its independence from the United Kingdom.
1964 - Prime Minister Jomo Kenyatta became the first President of the Republic of Kenya.
1969 - Milan's Piazza Fontana was bombed by right-wing terrorists hoping to blame the panic and fear they'd caused on Communists; this time in Italian history is known as strategia della tensione.
1979 - South Korean Army Major General Chun Doo-hwan staged a coup d'état when he ordered the arrest of Army Chief of Staff General Jeong Seung-hwa without authorization from President Choi Kyu-ha, alleging his involvement in the assassination of ex-President Park Chung Hee.
1984 - Maaouiya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya became the third president of Mauritania after a coup d'etat against Mohamed Khouna Ould Haidalla while the latter was attending a summit outside the country; Taya was himself ousted in a coup by Ely Ould Mohamed Vall in March 2005.
1991 - The Russian Federation gained its independence from the USSR.
2005 - Gebran Tueni, Lebanese journalist and politician and son of acclaimed Druze poet Nadia Hamadeh Tueni, was assassinated for his anti-Syrian views.
2007 - Francois Hajj, the Lebanese army's chief of operations, was assassinated along with three others in a bomb attack on the outskirts of Baabda.
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