Today in History

Today is Wednesday, Oct. 7, the 281st day of 2020. There are 85 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Oct. 7, 1996, Fox News Channel made its debut.

On this date:

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 1916, in the most lopsided victory in college football history, Georgia Tech defeated Cumberland University 222-0 in Atlanta.

In 1954, Marian Anderson became the first Black singer hired by the Metropolitan Opera Company in New York.

In 1960, Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kennedy and Republican opponent Richard Nixon held their second televised debate, this one 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 (ah-KEE'-leh LOW'-roh) in the Mediterranean. (The hijackers shot and killed Leon Klinghoffer, a Jewish-American tourist in a wheelchair, and pushed him overboard, before surrendering on Oct. 9.)

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 the presence of President George H.W. Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney (muhl-ROO'-nee) and Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari.

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

In 2001, the 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 September 11 attacks.

In 2003, California voters recalled Gov. Gray Davis and elected Arnold Schwarzenegger their new governor.

In 2004, President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney conceded that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction as they tried to shift the Iraq war debate to a new issue, arguing that Saddam was abusing a U.N. oil-for-food program.

Ten years ago: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie canceled construction of a decades-in-the-making train tunnel between New Jersey and Manhattan, citing cost overruns that had ballooned the price tag from $5 billion to $10 billion or more. A toxic red sludge that had burst out of a Hungarian factory's reservoir reached the mighty Danube after wreaking havoc on smaller rivers and creeks.

Five years ago: President Barack Obama apologized to Doctors Without Borders for the American air attack that killed 42 people at its hospital in Afghanistan, and said the U.S. would examine military procedures to look for better ways to prevent such incidents. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the federal government ran a budget deficit of $435 billion in the just-completed budget year, the smallest shortfall since 2007. Tomas Lindahl of Sweden, American Paul Modrich and Turkish-American scientist Aziz Sanca won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for showing how cells repaired damaged DNA — work that inspired the development of new cancer treatments.

One year ago: House Democrats issued subpoenas to Defense Secretary Mark Esper and acting White House budget director Russell Vought as part of the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. First lady Melania Trump called on the makers of e-cigarettes to stop marketing them to children, saying that they are addictive and dangerous. The New York Yankees completed a sweep over the Minnesota Twins in the American League Division Series and advanced to meet the Houston Astros for the league championship; it was the Twins' 16th straight loss in postseason games, tying the North American major sports record held by the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks.

Today's Birthdays: Retired South African Archbishop and Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu is 89. Author Thomas Keneally is 85. Comedian Joy Behar is 78. Former National Security Council aide Lt. Col. Oliver North (ret.) is 77. Rock musician Kevin Godley (10cc) is 75. Actor Jill Larson is 73. Country singer Kieran Kane is 71. Singer John Mellencamp is 69. Rock musician Ricky Phillips is 69. Russian President Vladimir Putin is 68. Actor Mary Badham (Film: "To Kill a Mockingbird") is 68. Rock musician Tico Torres (Bon Jovi) is 67. Actor Christopher Norris is 65. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma is 65. Gospel singer Michael W. Smith is 63. Olympic gold medal ice dancer Jayne Torvill is 63. Actor Dylan Baker is 62. Actor Judy Landers is 62. Recording executive and TV personality Simon Cowell is 61. Rock musician Charlie Marinkovich (formerly with Iron Butterfly) is 61. Actor Paula Newsome is 59. Country singer Dale Watson is 58. Pop singer Ann Curless (Expose) is 57. Rhythm-and-blues singer Toni Braxton is 53. Rock singer-musician Thom Yorke (Radiohead) is 52. Rock musician-dancer Leeroy Thornhill is 51. Actor Nicole Ari Parker is 50. Actor Allison Munn is 46. Rock singer-musician Damian Kulash (KOO'-lahsh) is 45. Singer Taylor Hicks is 44. Actor Omar Miller is 42. Neo-soul singer Nathaniel Rateliff (Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats) is 42. Actor Shawn Ashmore is 41. Actor Jake McLaughlin is 38. Electronic musician Flying Lotus (AKA Steve Ellison) is 37. MLB player Evan Longoria is 35. Actor Holland Roden is 34. Actor Amber Stevens is 34. MLB outfielder Mookie Betts is 28. Actor Lulu Wilson is 15.