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What Happened on November 20?

  • The Nuremberg Trials began. (1945) An international military tribunal, the first of its kind, consisting of members from France, the US, Great Britain and the Soviet Union began the trials of 24 leaders of the German Nazi party. They were tried for war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes against peace. The trial took nearly a year; sentencing resulted in three acquittals, 12 death sentences and nine prison sentences of varying periods.

  • Graphic photos of the Vietnam War "My Lai Massacre" were published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper. (1969) The massacre, which took place on March 16, 1968, was committed by the US Army against as many as 500 Vietnamese civilians of all ages and genders. The photos stunned the American public and exposed brutal atrocities that the US military initially tried to cover up. As many as 30 soldiers were involved in some fashion; 14 were charged and one, Officer William Calley, was convicted. Calley was sentenced to life in prison, but his sentence was later reduced, and he was paroled in November 1974 after spending three years under house arrest.

  • Microsoft Windows® 1.0 was released. (1985) The first edition used 16-bit graphics and offered a graphical user interface (GUI) with multi-tasking capabilities. The operating system was sold on floppy disks.

  • New Jersey ratified the Bill of Rights, becoming the first US state to do so. (1789) The Bill of Rights, which outlines the initial 10 US Constitution amendments, wouldn't be completely ratified until December 15, 1791.

  • The US and Russia launched Zarya, the first piece of the International Space Station. (1998) This module was funded by NASA and built in Moscow at the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center. The construction of the International Space Station continued for more than 10 years.

  • A court in Afghanistan cleared Osama bin Laden of charges related to the bombings of the US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. (1998) The court ruled he was "a man without sin." Three years later, bin Laden would be responsible for the September 11 attacks on the US.

  • The Mexican Revolution began. (1910) The Plan de San Luis Potosi was issued by revolutionary Francisco I. Madero, who would later become the president of Mexico from 1911 to 1913. The plan called for the overthrow of the Mexican government and denounced sitting President Porfirio Diaz. The revolution, which later turned into more of a civil war, would last about 10 years.

  • The three-position traffic signal was patented. (1923) American inventor Garrett Morgan was awarded the patent for the stoplight that included a third option in addition to "stop" and "go." His invention was a major step forward in traffic safety.

  • The ship sinking that inspired Moby Dick took place. (1820) The Essex whaling ship had left Massachusetts on an expedition to hunt sperm whales to collect bone and oil, precious commodities at that time. One angry sperm whale attacked and sank the 238-ton (about 216,000-kg) ship. All the crew members escaped the attack, but after an 83-day voyage in lifeboats, only five survived.

  • The first birth-control patch in the world was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. (2001) It was the first form of hormonal contraception that could be administered through the skin. The first patch was produced by Ortho-Evra.

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