Today is Friday, Oct. 7, the 280th day of 2011. There are 85 days left in the year. The Jewish Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, begins at sunset.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Oct. 7, 2001, the current 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 Sept. 11 attacks. Speaking from the White House, President George W. Bush said, "We will not waver, we will not tire."

On this date:

In 1777, the second Battle of Saratoga began during the American Revolution. (British forces under Gen. John Burgoyne surrendered ten days later.)

In 1858, the fifth debate between Illinois senatorial candidates Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas took place in Galesburg.

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 1949, the Republic of East Germany was formed.

In 1960, Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kennedy and Republican opponent Richard M. Nixon held their second televised debate, in Washington, D.C.

In 1981, Egypt's parliament named Vice President Hosni Mubarak (HAHS'-nee moo-BAH'-rahk) to succeed the assassinated Anwar Sadat.

In 1985, Palestinian gunmen hijacked the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro (ah-KEE'-leh LOW'-roh) in the Mediterranean. (The hijackers, who killed Jewish American tourist Leon Klinghoffer, surrendered two days after taking over the ship.)

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 1996, Fox News Channel made its debut.

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

Ten years ago: The Emmy Awards telecast, delayed three weeks by the Sept. 11 attacks, was again postponed. (The awards finally took place on Nov. 4, 2001.) Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants wrapped up his record-breaking season with his 73rd homer. San Diego's Rickey Henderson became the 25th player with 3,000 hits. Herbert Block, the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist known as "herblock," died in Washington at age 91.

Five years ago: Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist who'd chronicled Russian military abuses against civilians in Chechnya, was found shot to death in Moscow. The Bush family christened the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, named after the 41st president, in Newport News, Va.

One year 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.

Today's Birthdays: Retired South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu is 80. Comedian Joy Behar (TV: "The View") is 69. Former National Security Council aide Oliver North is 68. Rock musician Kevin Godley (10cc) is 66. Actress Jill Larson (TV: "All My Children") is 64. Country singer Kieran Kane is 62. Singer John Mellencamp is 60. Rock musician Ricky Phillips is 60. Actress Mary Badham (Film: "To Kill a Mockingbird") is 59. Actress Christopher Norris is 58. Rock musician Tico Torres (Bon Jovi) is 58. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma is 56. Gospel singer Michael W. Smith is 54. Actor Dylan Baker is 53. Recording executive and TV personality Simon Cowell (TV: "The X Factor") is 52. Rock musician Charlie Marinkovich (Iron Butterfly) is 52. Country singer Dale Watson is 49. Pop singer Ann Curless (Expose) is 48. Rhythm-and-blues singer Toni Braxton is 44. Rock singer-musician Thom Yorke (Radiohead) is 43. Rock musician-dancer Leeroy Thornhill is 42. Actress Nicole Ari Parker is 41. Actress Allison Munn is 37. Rock singer-musician Damian Kulash (KOO'-lahsh) is 36. Singer Taylor Hicks ("American Idol") is 35. Actor Omar Benson Miller is 33. Actress Amber Stevens is 25.

Thought for Today: "Being right half the time beats being half-right all the time." _ Malcolm Forbes, American publisher (1919-1990).

(Above Advance for Use Friday, Oct. 7)

Copyright 2011, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.