Today in History: October 23
Highlights in history on this date:
1861: First US transcontinental telegraph message sent from San Francisco to President Abraham Lincoln in Washington.
1942: British and Commonwealth forces led by General Bernard Montgomery launch a huge offensive against German and Italian forces under Rommel at El Alamein, Egypt.
1946: The United Nations General Assembly convenes in New York for the first time, at an auditorium in Flushing Meadow.
1962: Soviet Union warns that a US blockade of arms shipments to Cuba risks a thermonuclear war.
1968: Egyptian and Israeli jet planes battle over Suez Canal in first such reported clash since 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
1973: Israeli military command announces that Israel and Egypt have agreed to new ceasefire in Middle East war.
1978: China and Japan exchange treaty ratification documents in Tokyo, formally ending four decades of hostility.
1983: At least 241 US Marines and 58 Frenchmen are killed when suicide attackers blow up a US Marine headquarters building at Beirut Airport.
1988: Long-awaited Soviet election reform calls for choice of candidates but limits sharply what they can advocate.
1989: Tens of thousands of Hungarians demand an end to communism on the anniversary of 1956 uprising.
1990: Israel bars Palestinians living in occupied territories from travelling to Israel following series of attacks on Jews and Arabs in that country.
1991: Israel's Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir announces he will head Israel's delegation to the Middle East peace conference in Madrid.
1992: West African peacekeepers launch a ground offensive and air raid into territory held by rebel leader Charles Taylor.
1993: IRA bomb kills 10 in Belfast.
1994: A bomb blast at an election rally in Colombo, Sri Lanka, kills at least 50 people, including the opposition candidate for president.
1995: Russian President Boris Yeltsin announces accord with US President Bill Clinton that Russian troops would help enforce peace in Bosnia.
1999: Illinois Governor George Ryan pays the first visit to communist Cuba by a US governor since Fidel Castro's 1959 revolution, declaring he has "come here to build bridges between people."
2000: Vladimiro Montesinos, the former spy chief who set off Peru's worst political crisis in a decade, heads home to Lima from exile in Panama.
2001: Indonesian parliament passes a bill granting the rebellious province of Iran Jaya sweeping autonomy, a greater share of resource revenues and a new name - Papua; Apple releases the iPod.
2002: British police detain Abu Qatada, a fugitive Muslim cleric who allegedly was an influential supporter of the al-Qaeda terrorist network.
2003: Madame Chiang Kai-shek, once the most powerful woman in China, dies in her sleep in New York aged 106.
2005: The citizens of Brazil, the country with the world's highest death toll from firearms, vote decisively to keep gun sales legal.
2006: Former Enron Corp chief executive Jeff Skilling is sentenced to more than 24 years in prison for leading a financial fraud that destroyed the company.
2007: NASA's space shuttle Discovery and a crew of seven rocket into orbit in pursuit of the international space station, where a formidable construction job awaits them.
2009: Top NATO and United Nations officials signal they may request more international troops to join American forces in Afghanistan as the top US defence official says President Barack Obama is still weeks away from deciding on a shift in war strategy.
2010: A US-born spokesman for al-Qaeda urges Muslims living in the United States and Europe to carry out attacks there, calling it a duty and an obligation.
2011: At least 138 people are killed when a 7.2-magnitude earthquake strikes eastern Turkey.
2012: BBC director-general George Entwistle tells a British House of Commons committee the broadcaster did not try to cover up sexual abuse allegations involving the late presenter Jimmy Savile.
2013: Former NSW premier Bob Carr announces he's quitting the Senate after 18 months in federal parliament.
2014: Canberra reviews parliamentary security after a second lone-wolf fatal terrorist attack on soldiers in Canada.
2015: Former Australian treasurer Joe Hockey resigns from parliament.
2016: Donald Trump steers his campaign for the White House towards controversy yet again after vowing to sue every woman who has accused him of sexual assault or other inappropriate behaviour.
2017: The nuclear threat from North Korea is described as "unprecedented, critical and imminent" by Japan's defence minister.
2018: China opens the world's longest sea bridge, a $20 billion, 55km structure connecting the city of Zhuhai to the semi-autonomous regions of Hong Kong and Macau. It took almost a decade to build, during which time at least 18 construction workers died, according to the BBC.
Sarah Hale, US author (Mary Had A Little Lamb) (1788-1879); Pele, Brazilian soccer star (1940); Michael Crichton, US author (1942-2008); Helen Coonan, Australian politician (1947); Weird Al Yankovic, US parodist (1959); Ryan Reynolds, US actor (1976); Archie Thompson, Australian soccer player (1978); Stan Walker, Australian-NZ entertainer (1990); Japanese Princess Mako of Akishino (1991).
THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
"It is the characteristic of the most stringent censorships that they give credibility to the opinions they attack." - Voltaire, French author and philosopher (1694-1778).