Spanish Influenza breaks out, Janet Reno is confirmed as the first female attorney general, and a massive earthquake and tsunami cripple Japan, all on this day.
1985: Mikhail Gorbachev becomes General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union three hours after the death of his predecessor, Konstantin Chernenko. Gorbachev was the party's first leader to have been born under Communist rule. As de facto ruler of the USSR, he tried to reform the stagnating Party and the state economy by introducing glasnost ("openness"), perestroika ("restructuring"), demokratizatsiya ("democratization") and uskoreniye ("acceleration" of economic development).
Jessica Rinaldi / Reuters
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