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Today in History

Associated Press Updated: October 29, 2014 at 12:01 am

Today is Wednesday, Oct. 29, the 302nd day of 2014. There are 63 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Oct. 29, 1964, thieves made off with the Star of India and other gems from the American Museum of Natural History in New York. (The Star and most of the other gems were recovered; three men were convicted of stealing them.)

On this date:

In 1618, Sir Walter Raleigh, the English courtier, military adventurer and poet, was executed in London.

In 1787, the opera "Don Giovanni" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had its world premiere in Prague.

In 1901, President William McKinley's assassin, Leon Czolgosz (CHAWL'-gahsh), was electrocuted.

In 1929, Wall Street crashed on "Black Tuesday," heralding the start of America's Great Depression.

In 1940, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson drew the first number — 158 — in America's first peacetime military draft.

In 1956, during the Suez Canal crisis, Israel invaded Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. "The Huntley-Brinkley Report" premiered as NBC's nightly television newscast.

In 1966, the National Organization for Women was formally organized during a conference in Washington, D.C.

In 1979, on the 50th anniversary of the great stock market crash, anti-nuclear protesters tried but failed to shut down the New York Stock Exchange.

In 1987, following the confirmation defeat of Robert H. Bork to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, President Ronald Reagan announced his choice of Douglas H. Ginsburg, a nomination that fell apart over revelations of Ginsburg's previous marijuana use. Jazz great Woody Herman died in Los Angeles at age 74.

In 1994, Francisco Martin Duran fired more than two dozen shots from a semiautomatic rifle at the White House. (Duran was later convicted of trying to assassinate President Bill Clinton and was sentenced to 40 years in prison.)

In 1998, Sen. John Glenn, at age 77, roared back into space aboard the shuttle Discovery, retracing the trail he'd blazed for America's astronauts 36 years earlier.

In 2012, Superstorm Sandy came ashore in New Jersey and slowly marched inland, devastating coastal communities and causing widespread power outages; the storm and its aftermath are blamed for at least 182 deaths in the U.S.

Ten years ago: Four days before Election Day in the U.S., Osama bin Laden, in a videotaped statement, directly admitted for the first time that he'd ordered the September 11 attacks and told Americans "the best way to avoid another Manhattan" was to stop threatening Muslims' security. A seriously ill Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was flown from the West Bank to Paris for medical treatment (he died less than two weeks later). European Union leaders signed the EU's first constitution. Comedian Vaughn Meader, who'd gained fame doing satirical impressions of President John F. Kennedy, died in Auburn, Maine, at age 68.

Five years ago: President Barack Obama paid a post-midnight visit to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to honor the return of 18 soldiers killed in Afghanistan. A Coast Guard C-130 plane and a Marine Cobra helicopter collided off the Southern California coast, killing seven Coast Guard members and two Marines. Deposed President Manuel Zelaya and his opponents agreed to a U.S.-brokered deal to end the power crisis that had paralyzed Honduras following a coup.

One year ago: Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner, whose agency oversaw the "Obamacare" enrollment website, apologized to Congress for the severe technical problems that marred the online rollout of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. The U.N. confirmed an outbreak of polio in Syria for the first time in over a decade, warning the disease threatened to spread among an estimated half a million children who had never been immunized because of the civil war.

Today's Birthdays: Bluegrass singer-musician Sonny Osborne (The Osborne Brothers) is 77. Country singer Lee Clayton is 72. Rock musician Denny Laine is 70. Singer Melba Moore is 69. Musician Peter Green is 68. Actor Richard Dreyfuss is 67. Actress Kate Jackson is 66. The former president of Turkey, Abdullah Gul, is 64. Actor Dan Castellaneta (TV: "The Simpsons") is 57. Country musician Steve Kellough (Wild Horses) is 57. Comic strip artist Tom Wilson ("Ziggy") is 57. Actress Finola Hughes is 55. Singer Randy Jackson is 53. Rock musician Peter Timmins (Cowboy Junkies) is 49. Actress Joely Fisher is 47. Rapper Paris is 47. Actor Rufus Sewell is 47. Actor Grayson McCouch (mih-COOCH') is 46. Rock singer SA Martinez (311) is 45. Musician Toby Smith is 44. Actress Winona Ryder is 43. Actress Tracee Ellis Ross is 42. Actor Trevor Lissauer is 41. Actress Gabrielle Union is 41. Olympic gold medal bobsledder Vonetta Flowers is 41. Actress Milena Govich is 38. Actor Jon Abrahams is 37. Actor Brendan Fehr is 37. Actor Ben Foster is 34. Rock musician Chris Baio (Vampire Weekend) is 30. Actress India Eisley is 21.

Thought for Today: "Numerous politicians have seized absolute power and muzzled the press. Never in history has the press seized absolute power and muzzled the politicians." — David Brinkley, American broadcast journalist (1920-2003).

(Above Advance for Use Wednesday, Oct. 29)

Copyright 2014, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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