#January31: Today In History

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314 – Pope Sylvester I succeeds Pope Miltiades. 1504 – France cedes Naples to Aragon. 1578 – The Battle of Gembloux takes place. 1606 – Gunpowder Plot: Guy Fawkes is executed for plotting against Parliament and King James. 1747 – The first venereal diseases clinic opens at London Lock Hospital. 1801 – John Marshall is appointed the Chief Justice of the United States. 1814 – Gervasio Antonio de Posadas becomes Supreme Director of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata (present-day Argentina). 1846 – After the Milwaukee Bridge War, Juneautown and Kilbourntown unify as the City of Milwaukee. 1848 – John C. Frémont is court-martialed for mutiny and disobeying orders. 1849 – Corn Laws are abolished in the United Kingdom pursuant to legislation in 1846. 1862 – Alvan Graham Clark discovers the white dwarf star Sirius B, a companion of Sirius, through an 18.5-inch (47 cm) telescope now located at Northwestern University. 1865 – American Civil War: The United States Congress passes the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, abolishing slavery and submits it to the states for ratification. 1865 – American Civil War: Confederate General Robert E. Lee becomes general-in-chief. 1867 – Maronite nationalist leader Youssef Bey Karam leaves Lebanon on board a French ship bound for Algeria. 1897 – Czechoslav Trade Union Association is founded in Prague. 1891 – History of Portugal: The first attempt at a Portuguese republican revolution breaks out in the northern city of Porto. 1900 – Datu Muhammad Salleh is assassinated in Kampung Teboh, Tambunan, ending the Mat Salleh Rebellion. 1915 – World War I: Germany is the first to make large-scale use of poison gas in warfare in the Battle of Bolimów against Russia. 1917 – World War I: Germany announces that its U-boats will resume unrestricted submarine warfare after a two-year hiatus. 1918 – A series of accidental collisions on a misty Scottish night leads to the loss of two Royal Navy submarines with over a hundred lives, and damage to another five British warships. 1919 – The Battle of George Square takes place in Glasgow, Scotland. 1929 – The Soviet Union exiles Leon Trotsky. 1930 – 3M begins marketing Scotch Tape. 1942 – World War II: Allied forces are defeated by the Japanese at the Battle of Malaya and retreat to the island of Singapore. 1943 – World War II: German Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus surrenders to the Soviets at Stalingrad, followed 2 days later by the remainder of his Sixth Army, ending one of the war's fiercest battles. 1944 – World War II: American forces land on Kwajalein Atoll and other islands in the Japanese-held Marshall Islands. 1944 – World War II: During the Anzio campaign the 1st Ranger Battalion (Darby's Rangers) is destroyed behind enemy lines in a heavily outnumbered encounter at Battle of Cisterna, Italy. 1945 – US Army private Eddie Slovik is executed for desertion, the first such execution of an American soldier since the Civil War. 1945 – World War II: About 3,000 inmates from the Stutthof concentration camp are forcibly marched into the Baltic Sea at Palmnicken (now Yantarny, Russia) and executed. 1945 – World War II: The end of fighting in the Battle of Hill 170 during the Burma Campaign, in which the British 3 Commando Brigade repulsed a Japanese counterattack on their positions and precipitated a general retirement from the Arakan Peninsula. 1946 – Yugoslavia's new constitution, modeling that of the Soviet Union, establishes six constituent republics (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia). 1946 – The Democratic Republic of Vietnam introduces the đồng to replace the French Indochinese piastre at par. 1949 – These Are My Children, the first television daytime soap opera is broadcast by the NBC station in Chicago. 1950 – United States President Harry S. Truman announces a program to develop the hydrogen bomb. 1953 – A North Sea flood causes over 1,800 deaths in the Netherlands and over 300 in the United Kingdom 1957 – Eight people on the ground in Pacoima, California are killed following the mid-air collision between a Douglas DC-7 airliner and a Northrop F-89 Scorpion fighter jet. 1958 – The first successful American satellite detects the Van Allen radiation belt. 1961 – Project Mercury: Mercury-Redstone 2: Ham the Chimp travels into outer space. 1966 – The Soviet Union launches the unmanned Luna 9 spacecraft as part of the Luna program. 1968 – Vietnam War: Viet Cong attack the United States embassy in Saigon, and other attacks, in the early morning hours, later grouped together as the Tet Offensive. 1968 – Nauru gains independence from Australia. 1971 – Apollo program: Apollo 14: Astronauts Alan Shepard, Stuart Roosa, and Edgar Mitchell, aboard a Saturn V, lift off for a mission to the Fra Mauro Highlands on the Moon. 1971 – The Winter Soldier Investigation, organized by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War to publicize war crimes and atrocities by Americans and allies in Vietnam, begins in Detroit. 1990 – The first McDonald's in the Soviet Union opens in Moscow. 1995 – President Bill Clinton authorizes a $20 billion loan to Mexico to stabilize its economy. 1996 – An explosives-filled truck rams into the gates of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka in Colombo, Sri Lanka killing at least 86 and injuring 1,400. 1996 – Comet Hyakutake is discovered by Japanese amateur astronomer Yuji Hyakutake. 2000 – Alaska Airlines Flight 261 crash: An MD-83, experiencing horizontal stabilizer problems, crashes in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Point Mugu, California, killing all 88 aboard. 2001 – In the Netherlands, a Scottish court convicts Libyan Abdelbaset al-Megrahi and acquits another Libyan citizen for their part in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988. 2003 – The Waterfall rail accident occurs near Waterfall, New South Wales, Australia. 2007 – Suspects are arrested in Birmingham in the UK, accused of plotting the kidnap, holding and eventual beheading of a serving Muslim British soldier in Iraq. 2009 – In Kenya, at least 113 people are killed and over 200 injured following an oil spillage ignition in Molo, days after a massive fire at a Nakumatt supermarket in Nairobi killed at least 25 people. 2010 – Avatar becomes the first film to gross over $2 billion worldwide. 2011 – A winter storm hits North America for the second time in the same month, causing $1.8 billion in damage across the United States and Canada and killing 24 people. 2013 – An explosion at the Pemex Executive Tower in Mexico City kills at least 33 people and injures more than 100.

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