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Today is Wednesday, Oct. 12, the 285th day of 2011. There are 80 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Oct. 12, 1492 (according to the Old Style calendar), Christopher Columbus arrived with his expedition in the present-day Bahamas.

On this date:

In 1810, the German festival Oktoberfest was first held in Munich to celebrate the wedding of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen.

In 1861, the Confederate ironclad Manassas attacked the northern ship Richmond on the Mississippi River. (Both ships were badly damaged, but survived the battle.)

In 1870, General Robert E. Lee died in Lexington, Va., at age 63.

In 1915, English nurse Edith Cavell was executed by the Germans in occupied Belgium during World War I.

In 1933, bank robber John Dillinger escaped from a jail in Allen County, Ohio, with the help of his gang, who killed the sheriff, Jess Sarber.

In 1942, during World War II, American naval forces defeated the Japanese in the Battle of Cape Esperance.

In 1971, the rock opera "Jesus Christ Superstar" opened at the Mark Hellinger Theatre on Broadway.

In 1986, the superpower meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland, ended in stalemate, with President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev unable to agree on arms control or a date for a full-fledged summit in the United States.

In 2000, 17 sailors were killed in a suicide bomb attack on the destroyer USS Cole in Yemen.

In 2002, a bomb blamed on Islamic militants destroyed a nightclub on the Indonesian island of Bali, killing 202 people, many of them foreign tourists.

Ten years ago: NBC announced that an assistant to anchorman Tom Brokaw had contracted the skin form of anthrax after opening a "threatening" letter to her boss containing powder. The United Nations and its secretary-general, Kofi Annan (KOH'-fee AN'-nan), won the Nobel Peace Prize. Polaroid Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection.

Five years ago: The United States introduced a draft resolution in the U.N. Security Council to punish North Korea for its nuclear test. Suspected Shiite militiamen broke into an Iraqi television station and gunned down 11 executives, producers and other staffers. Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk won the Nobel prize in literature. Madonna and Guy Ritchie took custody of David Banda, a 1-year-old boy from Malawi, and received preliminary approval from a judge to adopt him. Italian filmmaker Gillo Pontecorvo ("The Battle of Algiers") died in Rome at age 86.

One year ago: The Obama administration announced it was lifting the six-month moratorium on deep water oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico imposed after the BP oil spill. General Motors CEO Dan Akerson and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner met for the first time in New York to discuss GM's initial public offering as the automaker waited for approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission to sell the shares. At least 44 people were killed when a train hit a bus at a crossing in eastern Ukraine.

Today's Birthdays: Actress Antonia Rey is 84. Comedian-activist Dick Gregory is 79. Former Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, is 79. Singer Sam Moore (formerly of Sam and Dave) is 76. Broadcast journalist Chris Wallace is 64. Actress-singer Susan Anton is 61. Rock singer-musician Pat DiNizio is 56. Actor Carlos Bernard is 49. Jazz musician Chris Botti (BOH'-tee) is 49. Rhythm-and-blues singer Claude McKnight (Take 6) is 49. Rock singer Bob Schneider is 46. Actor Hugh Jackman is 43. Actor Adam Rich is 43. Rhythm-and-blues singer Garfield Bright (Shai) is 42. Country musician Martie Maguire (The Dixie Chicks) is 42. Actor Kirk Cameron is 41. Olympic gold medal skier Bode Miller is 34. Actor Marcus T. Paulk ("Moesha") is 25. Actor Josh Hutcherson is 19.

Thought for Today: "The want of logic annoys. Too much logic bores. Life eludes logic, and everything that logic alone constructs remains artificial and forced." _ Andre Gide, French author and critic (1869-1951).

(Above Advance for Use Wednesday, Oct. 12)

Copyright 2011, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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