Today’s Highlight in History:
On Oct. 18, 1944, Soviet troops invaded Czechoslovakia during World War II.
On this date:
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 1898, the American flag was raised in Puerto Rico shortly before Spain formally relinquished control of the island to the U-S.
In 1954, Texas Instruments unveiled the Regency TR-1, the first commercially produced transistor radio.
In 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.
In 1968, the U.S. Olympic Committee suspended Tommie Smith and John Carlos for giving a “Black power” salute as a protest during a victory ceremony in Mexico City.
In 1969, the federal government banned artificial sweeteners known as cyclamates (SY’-kluh-maytz) because of evidence they caused cancer in laboratory rats.
In 1972, Congress passed the Clean Water Act, overriding President Richard 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 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.
In 2009, Jessica Watson, a 16-year-old Australian, steered her bright pink yacht out of Sydney Harbor to start her bid to become the youngest person to sail solo and unassisted around the world. (She succeeded, returning to Sydney Harbor in May 2010.)
In 2014, the Supreme Court said Texas could use its controversial new voter identification law for the November election, rejecting an emergency request from the Justice Department and civil rights groups to prohibit the state from requiring voters to produce certain forms of photo ID. (Three justices dissented.)
Ten years ago: Four men snared in an FBI sting were convicted of plotting to blow up New York City synagogues and shoot down military planes with the help of a paid informant who’d convinced them he was a terror operative. (Defendants James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen were each sentenced to 25 years in prison.)
Five years ago: Habtom Zerhom, an Eritrean migrant, died after he was shot by an Israeli security guard and then attacked by bystanders who’d mistaken him for a Palestinian assailant in a deadly bus station attack in the southern city of Beersheba. The Mets breezed past the Chicago Cubs 4-1 for a 2-0 lead in the NL Championship Series. Actor-comedian Eddie Murphy was honored with the Mark Twain Prize, the nation’s top prize for humor, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
One year ago: The world’s first all-female spacewalking team, NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir, replaced a broken part of the International Space Station’s power grid. A bomb killed more than 60 people during prayers at a mosque in the Afghan village of Jodari.
Today’s Birthdays: Actor Dawn Wells is 82. College and Pro Football Hall of Famer Mike Ditka is 81. Singer-musician Russ Giguere is 77. Actor Joe Morton is 73. Actor Pam Dawber is 70. Author Terry McMillan is 69. Writer-producer Chuck Lorre is 68. Gospel singer Vickie Winans is 67. Director-screenwriter David Twohy (TOO’-ee) is 65. International Tennis Hall of Famer Martina Navratilova is 64. Actor Jon Lindstrom is 63. International Hall of Fame boxer Thomas Hearns is 62. Actor Jean-Claude Van Damme is 60. Jazz musician Wynton Marsalis is 59. Actor Vincent Spano is 58. Rock musician Tim Cross is 54. Singer Nonchalant is 53. Former tennis player Michael Stich (shteek) is 52. Actor Joy Bryant is 46. Rock musician Peter Svensson (The Cardigans) is 46. Actor Wesley Jonathan is 42. Rhythm-and-blues singer-actor Ne-Yo is 41. Country singer Josh Gracin is 40. Country musician Jesse Littleton (Marshall Dyllon) is 39. Olympic gold medal skier Lindsey Vonn is 36.
Jazz singer-musician Esperanza Spalding is 36. Actor-model Freida Pinto is 36. Actor Zac Efron is 33. Actor Joy Lauren is 31. TV personality Bristol Palin is 30. Actor Tyler Posey is 29. Actor Toby Regbo is 29.