Today In History - Sunday, December 21st


Mayans believe the world will end three years from this day.

The Schengen Agreement area increases to include 9 European Union member states; Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia on land and sea borders.

The Spanish Civil Guard intercepts a van loaded with 950 kg of explosives that ETA intended to use to blow up Torre Picasso in Madrid.

The city of Bethlehem passes from Israeli to Palestinian control.

A Dutch DC-10, flight Martinair MP 495, crashes at Faro Airport (Portugal), killing 56 people.

The Romanian Revolution of 1989 moves from Timişoara to Bucharest.

A bomb explodes on board Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, killing 270.

Lancaster House Agreement: An independence agreement for Rhodesia is signed in London by Lord Carrington, Sir Ian Gilmour, Robert Mugabe, Joshua Nkomo, Bishop Abel Muzorewa and S.C. Mundawarara.

The Geneva Conference on the Arab-Israeli conflict opens.

The United Nations Security Council chooses Kurt Waldheim to succeed U Thant as Secretary-General.

Apollo program: ''Apollo 8'', the first manned mission to the moon, is launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. At 2h:50m:37s Mission elapsed time (MES), the crew performs the first ever manned Trans Lunar Injection and become the first humans to leave Earth's gravity.

Louis Washkansky, the first man to undergo a heart transplant, dies in Cape Town, South Africa, after living for 18 days.

Rondane National Park is established as Norway's first national park.

French presidential election: Charles de Gaulle is elected President of France as his Union des Démocrates pour la République party gain 78.5% of the vote.

Arthur Wynne's "word-cross", the first crossword puzzle, is published in the ''New York World''.

The first Permanent Force cavalry and infantry regiments of the Canadian Army are formed: The Royal Canadian Dragoons and The Royal Canadian Regiment.

Challenger expedition: ''HMS Challenger'', commanded by Captain George Nares, sails from Portsmouth.

Medal of Honor: Public Resolution 82, containing a provision for a Navy Medal of Valor, is signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln.

The Rochdale Pioneers commence business at their cooperative in Rochdale, England, starting the Cooperative movement.

Plymouth Colony: William Bradford and the ''Mayflower'' Pilgrims land on what is now known as Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Battle of Curalaba: The revolting Mapuche, led by cacique Pelentaru, inflict a major defeat on Spanish troops in southern Chile; all Spanish cities south of the Biobio river are eventually taken by the Mapuches, and all conquest of Mapuche territories by Europeans practically ceases, until the 1870s "Pacification of Araucania".

Conrad III of Germany besieged Weinsberg.

The end of the Year of the four emperors: Following Galba, Otho and Vitellius, Vespasian becomes the fourth Emperor of Rome within a year.