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Sep 20, 2010 10:55 AM

Today in History-September 20, 2010

Today is Monday, Sept. 20, the 263rd day of 2010. There are 102 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Sept. 20, 1519, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and his crew set out from Spain on five ships on a voyage to find a western passage to the Spice Islands in Indonesia. (Magellan was killed enroute, but one of his ships eventually circled the world.)

On this date:

In 1870, Italian troops took control of the Papal States, leading to the unification of Italy.

In 1873, panic swept the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in the wake of railroad bond defaults and bank failures.

In 1884, the National Equal Rights Party was formed during a convention of suffragists in San Francisco; the convention nominated Belva Ann Bennett Lockwood for president.

In 1947, former New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia died.

In 1958, Martin Luther King Jr. was seriously wounded during a book signing at a New York City department store when Izola Curry stabbed him in the chest. (Curry was later found mentally incompetent.)

In 1962, black student James Meredith was blocked from enrolling at the University of Mississippi by Gov. Ross R. Barnett. (Meredith was later admitted.)

In 1973, in their so-called "battle of the sexes," tennis star Billie Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3, at the Houston Astrodome.

In 1979, Jean-Bedel Bokassa (boh-KAH'-sah), self-styled head of the Central African Empire, was overthrown in a French-supported coup while on a visit to Libya.

In 1980, Spectacular Bid, ridden by Bill Shoemaker, ran as the only entry in the Woodward Stakes at Belmont Park in New York after three potential challengers dropped out in horse racing's first walkover since 1949.

In 1984, a suicide car bomber attacked the U.S. Embassy annex in north Beirut, killing at least 14 people, including two Americans and 12 Lebanese.

Ten years ago: Independent Counsel Robert Ray announced the end of the Whitewater investigation, saying there was insufficient evidence to warrant charges against President and Mrs. Clinton. Former Soviet cosmonaut Gherman Titov died at age 65.

Five years ago: The number of U.S. service members killed in Iraq topped 1,900. Rapidly strengthening Hurricane Rita lashed the Florida Keys and headed into the Gulf of Mexico. Holocaust survivor and Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal died in Vienna, Austria, at age 96. The Sacramento Monarchs won their first championship with a 62-59 victory over the Connecticut Sun in Game 4 of the WNBA Finals.

One year ago: Blanketing most of the Sunday TV news shows, President Barack Obama said requiring people to get health insurance and fining them if they didn't would not amount to a backhanded tax increase. At the Emmy Awards, best drama and comedy series trophies went to repeat winners "Mad Men" and "30 Rock." The first game at the Cowboys Stadium set an NFL regular-season attendance record with a crowd of 105,121, and most of them went home disappointed after the New York Giants won, 33-31.

Today's Birthdays: Singer Gogi Grant is 86. Actress-comedian Anne Meara is 81. Actress Sophia Loren is 76. Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Taylor is 75. Rock musician Chuck Panozzo is 63. Hockey Hall of Famer Guy LaFleur is 59. Actress Debbi Morgan is 59. Jazz musician Peter White is 56. Actress Betsy Brantley is 55. Actor Gary Cole is 54. TV news correspondent Deborah Roberts is 50. Rock musician Randy Bradbury (Pennywise) is 46. Actress Kristen Johnston is 43. Rock singers Gunnar Nelson and Matthew Nelson are 43. Rock musician Ben Shepherd is 42. Actress-model Moon Bloodgood is 35. Actor Jon Bernthal is 34. Rock musician Rick Woolstenhulme (Lifehouse) is 31. Rapper Yung Joc is 28. Actor Aldis Hodge is 24.

Thought for Today: "Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses." - George Washington Carver, American botanist (1864-1943).

Copyright 2010, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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