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Today is Thursday, Oct. 20, the 293rd day of 2011. There are 72 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Oct. 20, 1944, during World War II, Gen. Douglas MacArthur stepped ashore at Leyte (LAY'-tee) in the Philippines, 2 1/2 years after saying, "I shall return."

On this date:

In 1740, Maria Theresa became ruler of Austria, Hungary and Bohemia upon the death of her father, Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI.

In 1803, the U.S. Senate ratified the Louisiana Purchase.

In 1936, Helen Keller's teacher, Anne Sullivan Macy, died in Forest Hills, N.Y., at age 70.

In 1947, the House Un-American Activities Committee opened hearings into alleged Communist influence and infiltration in the U.S. motion picture industry.

In 1964, the 31st president of the United States, Herbert Hoover, died in New York at age 90.

In 1967, seven men were convicted in Meridian, Miss., of violating the civil rights of three slain civil rights workers.

In 1968, former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy married Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis.

In 1973, in the so-called "Saturday Night Massacre," special Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox was dismissed and Attorney General Elliot L. Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William B. Ruckelshaus resigned.

In 1981, a bungled armored truck robbery carried out by members of radical groups in Nanuet, N.Y., left a guard and two police officers dead.

In 1986, the government of Nicaragua formally charged captured American mercenary Eugene Hasenfus with several crimes, including terrorism. (Although convicted and sentenced to prison, Hasenfus was pardoned and released by Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.)

Ten years ago: During a visit to Shanghai, China, President George W. Bush challenged Asian leaders to help "save the civilized world" by joining his war against terrorism. Officials announced that anthrax had been discovered in a House postal facility on Capitol Hill.

Five years ago: President George W. Bush conceded in an Associated Press interview that "right now, it's tough" for American forces in Iraq, but the White House said he would not change U.S. strategy in the face of pre-election polls indicating voters were upset. Actress Jane Wyatt, perhaps best remembered as Margaret Anderson on "Father Knows Best," died in Los Angeles at age 96.

One year ago: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (ah-muh-DEE'-neh-zhahd) and visiting Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez hailed what they called their strong strategic relationship, saying they were united in efforts to establish a "new world order" that would eliminate Western dominance over global affairs. NPR fired news analyst Juan Williams after he talked about feeling nervous on airline flights with people in Muslim attire during an interview on Fox News Channel. Bob Guccione, 79, founder of Penthouse magazine, died in Plano, Texas.

Today's Birthdays: Actor William Christopher is 79. Japan's Empress Michiko is 77. Rockabilly singer Wanda Jackson is 74. Singer Tom Petty is 61. Actor William "Rusty" Russ is 61. Actress Melanie Mayron is 59. Retired MLB All-Star Keith Hernandez is 58. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., is 56. Movie director Danny Boyle ("Slumdog Millionaire") is 55. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis is 54. Actor Viggo Mortensen is 53. Rock musician Jim Sonefeld (Hootie & The Blowfish) is 47. Rock musician David Ryan is 47. Rock musician Doug Eldridge (Oleander) is 44. Political commentator and blogger Michelle Malkin is 41. Rapper Snoop Dogg is 40. Singer Dannii Minogue is 40. Country musician Jeff Loberg is 35. Actor Sam Witwer is 34. Actor John Krasinski is 32. Actress Katie Featherston is 29. Actress Jennifer Nicole Freeman ("My Wife and Kids") is 26.

Thought for Today: "The happiness of most people is not ruined by great catastrophes or fatal errors, but by the repetition of slowly destructive little things." _ Ernest Dimnet (deem-NAY'), French priest, lecturer and author (1866-1954).

(Above Advance for Use Thursday, Oct. 20)

Copyright 2011, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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