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Oct 7, 2010 10:58 AM

Today in History-October 7, 2010

Today is Thursday, Oct. 7, the 280th day of 2010. There are 85 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Oct. 7, 1910, a major wildfire devastated the northern Minnesota towns of Spooner and Baudette, charring at least 300,000 acres. Some 40 people are believed to have died.

On this date:

In 1777, the second Battle of Saratoga began during the American Revolution. (British forces under Gen. John Burgoyne surrendered ten days later.)

In 1858, the fifth debate between Illinois senatorial candidates Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas took place in Galesburg.

In 1940, Artie Shaw and his Orchestra recorded Hoagy Carmichael's "Stardust" for RCA Victor.

In 1949, the Republic of East Germany was formed.

In 1959, singer-actor Mario Lanza died in Rome at age 38.

In 1960, Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kennedy and Republican opponent Richard M. Nixon held their second televised debate, in Washington D.C. The TV series "Route 66" premiered on CBS.

In 1985, Palestinian gunmen hijacked the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro (ah-KEE'-leh LOW'-roh) in the Mediterranean. (The hijackers, who killed an elderly Jewish American tourist, Leon Klinghoffer, surrendered two days after taking over the ship.)

In 1989, Hungary's Communist Party renounced Marxism in favor of democratic socialism during a party congress in Budapest.

In 1991, University of Oklahoma law professor Anita Hill publicly accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of making sexually inappropriate comments when she worked for him; Thomas denied Hill's allegations.

In 1998, Matthew Shepard, a gay college student at the University of Wyoming, was beaten, robbed and left tied to a wooden fencepost outside of Laramie; he died five days later. (Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney are serving life sentences for Shepard's murder.)

Ten years ago: Vojislav Kostunica (VAW'-yee-slahv kohsh-TOO'-nee-tzuh) took the oath of office as Yugoslavia's first popularly elected president, closing the turbulent era of Slobodan Milosevic (sloh-BOH'-dahn mee-LOH'-shuh-vich).

Five years ago: The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the International Atomic Energy Agency and its chief, Mohamed ElBaradei (ehl-BEHR'-uh-day).

One year ago: A top Italian court overturned a law granting Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi immunity from prosecution, allowing trials for corruption and tax fraud to resume. (Berlusconi denies wrongdoing.) Americans Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Thomas Steitz and Israeli Ada Yonath won the Nobel Prize in chemistry. Fashion and celebrity photographer Irving Penn died in New York at 92.

Today's Birthdays: Retired South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu is 79. Comedian Joy Behar (TV: "The View") is 68. Former National Security Council aide Oliver North is 67. Rock musician Kevin Godley (10cc) is 65. Actress Jill Larson (TV: "All My Children") is 63. Country singer Kieran Kane is 61. Singer John Mellencamp is 59. Rock musician Ricky Phillips is 59. Actress Mary Badham (Film: "To Kill a Mockingbird") is 58. Actress Christopher Norris is 57. Rock musician Tico Torres (Bon Jovi) is 57. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma is 55. Gospel singer Michael W. Smith is 53. Actor Dylan Baker is 52. Recording executive and TV personality Simon Cowell is 51. Rock musician Charlie Marinkovich (Iron Butterfly) is 51. Country singer Dale Watson is 48. Pop singer Ann Curless (Expose) is 47. Rhythm-and-blues singer Toni Braxton is 43. Rock singer-musician Thom Yorke (Radiohead) is 42. Rock musician-dancer Leeroy Thornhill is 41. Actress Nicole Ari Parker is 40. Rock singer-musician Damian Kulash (KOO'-lahsh) is 35. Singer Taylor Hicks ("American Idol") is 34. Actor Omar Benson Miller is 32.

Thought for Today: "If your contribution has been vital there will always be somebody to pick up where you left off, and that will be your claim to immortality." - Walter Gropius, German-American architect (1883-1969).

(Above Advance for Use Thursday, Oct. 7)

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