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16th February

1659 The first British cheque was written by Nicholas Vanacker.

1804 US frigate Philadelphia, captured and held by Barbary pirates at Tripoli during the Tripolitan War, was set fire to and destroyed by a small group of men led by Stephen Decatur.

1918 Lithuania proclaimed its independence from Russia.

1923 The tomb of King Tutankhamen, discovered in 1922, was opened.

1926 * John Schlessinger, award-winning English film director of Midnight Cowboy (1969).

1935 * Sonny (Salvatore) Bono, one-time singing partner and husband of Cher.

1937 The new wonder fabric "Nylon" was patented by an American scientist.

1957 * Levar Burton, US actor who starred in Star Trek - The Next Generation.

1959 Cuba's revolutionary leader Fidel Castro became the country's youngest ever premier, having ousted the right-wing dictator Fulgencio Batista.

1959 * John McEnroe, US tennis champion and winner of numerous Grand Slam events.

1960 The nuclear powered submarine 'Triton' set off on its round the world underwater voyage.

1983 Bush fires in Australia made 8,500 people homeless.

1991 Two Scud missiles from Iraq landed in Israel during the Gulf War.

1994 Russian troops joined the UN troops in former Yugoslavia.

1999 Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan was arrested by Turkish commandos in Kenya.

2001 At least seven Serbs were killed in a bomb attack on a bus making its way to a religious ceremony in Kosovo.

2005 The Kyoto Protocol that aims to slow down global warming takes effect but the US refused to support it.

xxxx * = Date of birth

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