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Thursday Morning: Today in History

Today is Thursday, Oct. 18, the 292nd day of 2012. There are 74 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Oct. 18, 1962, James D. Watson, Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins were honored with the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology for determining the double-helix molecular structure of DNA.

On this date:

In 1685, King Louis XIV signed the Edict of Fontainebleau, revoking the Edict of Nantes that had established legal toleration of France's Protestant population, the Huguenots.

In 1812, during the War of 1812, the British ship HMS Frolic was captured off the Virginia coast by the crew of the USS Wasp, which was in turn captured by the HMS Poictiers.

In 1867, the United States took formal possession of Alaska from Russia.

In 1892, the first long-distance telephone line between New York and Chicago was officially opened (it could only handle one call at a time).

In 1912, black boxer Jack Johnson was arrested in Chicago, accused of violating the Mann Act because of his relationship with his white girlfriend, Lucille Cameron. (The case collapsed when Cameron refused to cooperate, but Johnson was later re-arrested and convicted on the testimony of a former mistress, Belle Schreiber.)

In 1922, the British Broadcasting Co., Ltd. (later the British Broadcasting Corp.) was founded.

In 1931, inventor Thomas Alva Edison died in West Orange, N.J., at age 84.

In 1944, Soviet troops invaded Czechoslovakia during World War II.

In 1961, the movie musical "West Side Story," starring Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer, premiered in New York, the film's setting.

In 1969, the federal government banned artificial sweeteners known as cyclamates because of evidence they caused cancer in laboratory rats.

In 1971, the Knapp Commission began public hearings into allegations of corruption in the New York City police department (the witnesses included Frank Serpico).

In 1972, Congress passed the Clean Water Act, overriding President Richard M. Nixon's veto.

In 1977, West German commandos stormed a hijacked Lufthansa jetliner on the ground in Mogadishu, Somalia, freeing all 86 hostages and killing three of the four hijackers.

In 1982, former first lady Bess Truman died at her home in Independence, Mo., at age 97.

In 2001, CBS News announced that an employee in anchorman Dan Rather's office had tested positive for skin anthrax. Four disciples of Osama bin Laden were sentenced in New York to life without parole for their roles in the deadly 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa.

Ten years ago: The Vatican demanded that America's Roman Catholic bishops revise their hard-line crackdown policy on sexually abusive priests, saying that elements conflicted with universal church law. (In 2005, the U.S. bishops voted overwhelmingly to stick with the main points of the discipline plan.)

Five years ago: Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan, ending eight years of self-imposed exile; a suicide bombing in a crowd welcoming her killed more than 140 people, but Bhutto escaped unhurt. (However, she was slain in December 2007.) Former Joint Chiefs chairman William Crowe died in Bethesda, Md., at age 82. Manager Joe Torre, rejecting a pay cut, left the New York Yankees.

One year ago: Fifty wild animals were released by the owner of an eastern Ohio farm, Terry Thompson, who then committed suicide; authorities killed 48 of the creatures, while the remaining two were presumed eaten by other animals. The Republican presidential candidates laced into each other in their latest debate, held in Las Vegas; Mitt Romney emerged as still the person to beat, even as he was called out on the issues of illegal immigration, health care and jobs. Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit emerged from five years in captivity as Hamas militants hand him over to Egyptian mediators in an exchange for 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.

Today's Birthdays: Rock-and-roll performer Chuck Berry is 86. Sportscaster Keith Jackson is 84. Actress Dawn Wells is 74. College and Pro Football Hall-of-Famer Mike Ditka is 73. Singer-musician Russ Giguere is 69. Actor Joe Morton is 65. Actress Pam Dawber is 62. Author Terry McMillan is 61. Writer-producer Chuck Lorre is 60. Gospel singer Vickie Winans is 59. International Tennis Hall of Famer Martina Navratilova is 56. Boxer Thomas Hearns is 54. Actor Jean-Claude Van Damme is 52. Actress Erin Moran is 52. Jazz musician Wynton Marsalis is 51. Actor Vincent Spano is 50. Rock musician Tim Cross is 46. Tennis player Michael Stich (shteek) is 44. Singer Nonchalant is 39. Actress Joy Bryant is 38. Rock musician Peter Svenson (The Cardigans) is 38. Actor Wesley Jonathan is 34. Rhythm-and-blues singer-actor Ne-Yo is 33. Country singer Josh Gracin is 32. Country musician Jesse Littleton (Marshall Dyllon) is 31. Jazz singer-musician Esperanza Spalding is 28. Actress-model Freida Pinto is 28. Actor Zac Efron is 25. Actress Joy Lauren is 23. Actor Tyler Posey is 21.

Thought for Today: "Slow down and enjoy life. It's not only the scenery you miss by going too fast -- you also miss the sense of where you are going and why." -- Eddie Cantor, American comedian-singer (1892-1964).

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.


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