Today in History, July 21

By AAP and agencies

HIGHLIGHTS IN HISTORY ON THIS DATE

1542 - Pope Paul III establishes the Roman Inquisition to fight Protestantism.

1683 - Lord William Russell is beheaded in England for plotting to kill the king.

1798 - France's Napoleon Bonaparte defeats the Egyptians at Battle of the Pyramids and becomes master of Egypt.

1820 - Danish physicist Hans Christian Oersted announces his discovery that an electrical current creates a magnetic field.

1861 - The Confederate army defeats Union troops at the Battle of Bull Run in the US state of Virginia at the start of the American Civil War.

1873 - Jesse James and his gang pull off the first train robbery in the US, taking $US3000 from the Rock Island Express in Adair, Iowa.

1920 - Sinn Fein and unions riot in Belfast, Ireland; King Faisal recognises French mandate in Syria.

1925 - In Dayton, Tennessee, John T Scopes is convicted of violating state law for teaching Darwin's theory of evolution. The conviction is later overturned.

1944 - American forces land on Guam during World War II.

1959 - US District Court judge in New York City rules that DH Lawrence's famous book Lady Chatterley's Lover is not pornographic.

1960 - Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Ceylon - now Sri Lanka - becomes the world's first woman prime minister.

1969 - US Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin Jr. blast off from the moon and head back to Earth after man's first lunar landing.

1973 - France explodes a nuclear device over Mururoa Atoll in the South Pacific, despite worldwide protests.

1991 - South African government admits it secretly gave $US600,000 in recent years to African National Congress rival Inkatha Party.

1994 - Former dissident author Alexander Solzhenitsyn returns to Moscow 20 years after he was expelled.

1998 - Concerned that violence in Kosovo could spill over, the UN Security Council decides to add about 300 troops to the 750-strong UN peacekeeping force in Macedonia.

2000 - Bolivian drug trafficker, Roberto Suarez Gomez, the self-proclaimed "King of Cocaine", dies at age 68. He is believed to be the model for the acclaimed US movie Scarface.

2004 - Saudi security forces discover the head of American hostage Paul M Johnson Jr in a freezer during a raid on a suspected al-Qaeda hideout.

2006 - Israel moves tanks and troops to its border, calling up reserves and warning civilians to flee Hezbollah-controlled southern Lebanon as it prepares for a likely ground invasion.

2007 - India elects 72-year-old Pratibha Patil as the country's first female president.

2008 - Radovan Karadzic, a former Bosnian Serb leader and one of the world's top war crimes fugitives, is arrested in a Belgrade suburb by Serbian security forces.

2012 - Syrian rebels make a run on Aleppo in some of the fiercest fighting seen in the country's largest city, which has been a bastion of support for President Bashar Assad over the course of the 17-month uprising.

2014 - Bowing to international pressure, pro-Moscow separatists release a train packed with bodies and hand over the black boxes from a downed Malaysia Airlines plane, four days after it was shot down over rebel-held eastern Ukraine.

2016 - Former Australian soldier Adam Whittington walks from a Lebanese jail on bail after being charged over a botched 60 Minutes child abduction attempt in Beirut, later slamming the Nine Network for its role in the incident.

2017 - A man who chased down, ran over and killed 14-year-old Elijah Doughty while he rode a stolen motorcycle in WA's Goldfield's region is acquitted of manslaughter but convicted of the lesser charge of dangerous driving causing death sparking protests across the country.

Today's Birthdays:

Saint Philip Neri, Italian churchman (1515-1595); Baron Paul Julius von Reuter, German-born news service pioneer (1816-1899); Ernest Hemingway, US author and Nobel laureate (1899-1961); Marshall McLuhan, Canadian media theorist (1911-1980); Isaac Stern, Russian-born violinist (1920-2001); Don Knotts, US actor (1924-2006); Norman Jewison, Canadian director (1926-); Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens), British pop singer (1948-); Jeff Fatt, Chinese-Australian musician, purple shirt member of the children's band The Wiggles (1953-); Robin Williams, US actor (1951-2014); Josh Hartnett, US actor (1978-).

Thought For today:

A good scare is worth more to a man than good advice - Edgar Watson Howe, American editor and author (1853-1937).