Today in History

Today is Sunday, Oct. 7, the 281st day of 2012. There are 85 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Oct. 7, 1929, former Interior Secretary Albert B. Fall, one of the main figures of the Teapot Dome scandal, went on trial in Washington, D.C., charged with accepting a bribe from oil tycoon Edward L. Doheny. (Fall was found guilty and sentenced to a year in prison and fined $100,000; he ended up serving nine months. Ironically, Doheny was acquitted at trial of offering the bribe that Fall was convicted of taking.)

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 1849, author Edgar Allan Poe died in Baltimore at age 40.

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

In 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.

In 1949, the Republic of East Germany was formed.

In 1960, Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kennedy and Republican opponent Richard M. Nixon held their second televised debate, in Washington, D.C.

In 1982, the Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice musical “Cats” opened on Broadway. (The show closed Sept. 10, 2000, after a record 7,485 performances.)

In 1985, Palestinian gunmen hijacked the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro in the Mediterranean. (The hijackers, who killed Jewish American tourist Leon Klinghoffer, surrendered two days after taking over the ship.)

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 1992, trade representatives of the United States, Canada and Mexico initialed the North American Free Trade Agreement during a ceremony in San Antonio, Texas.

In 2001, the current war in Afghanistan started as the United States and Britain launched air attacks against military targets and Osama bin Laden’s training camps in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Today’s Birthdays

Retired South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu is 81. Comedian Joy Behar (TV: “The View”) is 70. Former National Security Council aide Lt. Col. Oliver North is 69. Singer John Mellencamp is 61. Actress Mary Badham (Film: “To Kill a Mockingbird”) is 60. Actress Christopher Norris is 59. Rock musician Tico Torres (Bon Jovi) is 59. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma is 57. Gospel singer Michael W. Smith is 55. Actor Dylan Baker is 54. Recording executive and TV personality Simon Cowell (TV: “The X Factor”) is 53. Rock musician Charlie Marinkovich (Iron Butterfly) is 53. Country singer Dale Watson is 50. Pop singer Ann Curless (Expose) is 49. Rhythm-and-blues singer Toni Braxton is 45. Rock singer-musician Thom Yorke (Radiohead) is 44. Rock musician-dancer Leeroy Thornhill is 43. Actress Nicole Ari Parker is 42. Actress Allison Munn is 38. Rock singer-musician Damian Kulash is 37. Singer Taylor Hicks (“American Idol”) is 36. Actor Omar Benson Miller is 34. Electronic musician Flying Lotus (AKA Stephen Ellison) is 29. MLB player Evan Longoria is 27. Actress Amber Stevens is 26.

Thought for Today

“If a man happens to find himself, he has a mansion which he can inhabit with dignity all the days of his life.” — James Michener, American author (1907-1997).

Associated Press

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