By The Associated Press

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Oct. 18, 1867, the United States took formal possession of Alaska from Russia.

On this date:

In 1648, Boston shoemakers were authorized to form a guild to protect their interests; it’s the first American labor organization on record.

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 1952, Date of the first Mad Magazine issue.

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 1984, actor Jon-Erik Hexum, 26, was taken off life support six days after shooting himself in the head with a pistol loaded with a blank cartridge on the set of his TV show “Cover Up.”

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 2010, 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. (James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen were each sentenced to 25 years in prison.)

Ten years ago: The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ruled that a federal law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman was unconstitutional. (The following June, the Supreme Court would use that case to strike down provisions keeping legally-married same-sex couples from receiving federal benefits that were otherwise available to married couples.)

Five years ago: President Donald Trump rejected claims that he had been disrespectful to the grieving family of a slain U.S. soldier in a phone call to the family. Instead of accepting awards at the CMT Artists of the Year show in Nashville, singer Jason Aldean and other stars honored the victims of the mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas.

One year ago: Colin Powell, a trailblazing soldier and diplomat who was the first Black person to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and also the first to serve as secretary of state, died at 84 of COVID-19 complications. Jury selection got underway in the trial of three white men charged with fatally shooting a Black man, Ahmaud Arbery, as he was running in their Georgia neighborhood. (All three would be convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.) Attorneys said the families of those killed, wounded and scarred in the 2018 Florida high school massacre had reached a $25 million settlement with the Broward County school district.

Today’s Birthdays: College and Pro Football Hall of Famer Mike Ditka is 83. Singer-musician Russ Giguere is 79. Actor Joe Morton is 75. Actor Pam Dawber is 72. Author Terry McMillan is 71. Writer-producer Chuck Lorre is 70. Gospel singer Vickie Winans is 69. Director-screenwriter David Twohy (TOO’-ee) is 67. International Tennis Hall of Famer Martina Navratilova is 66. Actor Jon Lindstrom is 65. International Hall of Fame boxer Thomas Hearns is 64. Actor Jean-Claude Van Damme is 62. Jazz musician Wynton Marsalis is 61. Actor Vincent Spano is 60. Rock musician Tim Cross is 56. Singer Nonchalant is 55. Former tennis player Michael Stich (shteek) is 54. Actor Joy Bryant is 48.

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Rock musician Peter Svensson (The Cardigans) is 48. Actor Wesley Jonathan is 44. R&B singer-actor Ne-Yo is 43. Country singer Josh Gracin is 42. Olympic gold medal skier Lindsey Vonn is 38. Jazz singer-musician Esperanza Spalding is 38. Actor-model Freida Pinto is 38. Actor Zac Efron is 35. Actor Joy Lauren is 33. U.S. Olympic and WNBA basketball star Brittney Griner is 32. TV personality Bristol Palin is 32. Actor Tyler Posey is 31. Actor Toby Regbo is 31.