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End of Iran hostage crisis

On this day in 1981, inutes after Ronald Reagan's inauguration as the 40th President of the United States, the 52 American captives held at the U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran, were released, ending the 444-day Iran hostage crisis. On 4 November 1979, the crisis began when militant Iranian students, outraged that the U.S. government had allowed the ousted Shah of Iran to travel to New York City fo... Read more >

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Terry Waite disappears

On this day, British negotiator Terry Waite disappears while attempting to win freedom for Western hostages held in Lebanon. In 1981, Waite, special envoy of the archbishop of Canterbury, secured the release of missionaries detained in Iran after the 1979 Islamic revolution. He also extracted British hostages from Libya in 1985 and even succeeded in releasing American hostages from Lebanon in 1... Read more >

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Hong Kong ceded to the British

During the First Opium War, China cedes the island of Hong Kong to the British with the signing of the Chuenpi Convention, an agreement seeking an end to the first Anglo-Chinese conflict. In 1839, Britain invaded China to crush opposition to its interference in the country’s economic and political affairs. One of Britain’s first acts of the war was to occupy Hong Kong, a sparsely inhabited ... Read more >

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Arafat elected president of the Palestinian National Council

Yasser Arafat is elected president of the Palestinian National Council with 88.1 percent of the popular vote, becoming the first democratically elected leader of the Palestinian people in history. Arafat, the founder of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), originally employed guerilla warfare and terrorism against Israel in his struggle for an independent Palestinian state. However, in ... Read more >