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Today is Friday, Oct. 21, the 294th day of 2011. There are 71 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Oct. 21, 1879, Thomas Edison perfected a workable electric light at his laboratory in Menlo Park, N.J.

On this date:

In 1797, the U.S. Navy frigate Constitution, also known as "Old Ironsides," was christened in Boston's harbor.

In 1805, a British fleet commanded by Adm. Horatio Nelson defeated a French-Spanish fleet in the Battle of Trafalgar; Nelson, however, was killed.

In 1917, members of the 1st Division of the U.S. Army training in Luneville (luhn-nay-VEEL'), France, became the first Americans to see action on the front lines of World War I.

In 1944, during World War II, U.S. troops captured the German city of Aachen (AH'-kuhn).

In 1959, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, opened to the public in New York.

In 1960, Democrat John F. Kennedy and Republican Richard M. Nixon clashed in their fourth and final presidential debate in New York.

In 1967, the Israeli destroyer INS Eilat was sunk by Egyptian missile boats near Port Said; 47 Israeli crew members were lost.

In 1971, President Richard Nixon nominated Lewis F. Powell and William H. Rehnquist to the U.S. Supreme Court. (Both nominees were confirmed.)

In 1986, pro-Iranian kidnappers in Lebanon abducted American Edward Tracy (he was released in August 1991).

In 1991, American hostage Jesse Turner was freed by his kidnappers in Lebanon after nearly five years in captivity.

Ten years ago: Washington, D.C., postal worker Thomas L. Morris Jr. died of inhalation anthrax as officials began testing thousands of postal employees. The Arizona Diamondbacks won the National League championship, defeating the Atlanta Braves 3-2 in Game 5.

Five years ago: Al-Jazeera television aired an interview with State Department official Alberto Fernandez, who offered an unusual assessment of the Iraq war, saying in Arabic that the United States had shown "arrogance" and "stupidity" in Iraq. (Fernandez issued an apology the next day.) Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, visiting Moscow, delivered a symbolic rebuke to Russia over shrinking press freedoms, even as she courted President Vladimir Putin for help punishing Iran over its nuclear program. The St. Louis Cardinals cruised past the Detroit Tigers 7-2 win in Game 1 of the World Series.

One year ago: Eight current and former officials pleaded not guilty to looting millions of dollars from California's modest blue-collar city of Bell. French police used tear gas and water cannon against rampaging youth in Lyon while the French government showed its muscle in parliament, short-circuiting tense Senate debate on a bill raising the retirement age to 62. James F. Neal, the attorney who prosecuted Jimmy Hoffa and key Watergate figures, and defended Elvis Presley's doctor and the Exxon Corp. after the Alaska oil spill, died in Nashville at age 81.

Today's Birthdays: Actress Joyce Randolph is 87. Author Ursula K. Le Guin is 82. Rock singer Manfred Mann is 71. Musician Steve Cropper (Booker T. & the MG's) is 70. Singer Elvin Bishop is 69. TV's Judge Judy Sheindlin is 69. Actor Everett McGill is 66. Musician Lee Loughnane (LOK'-nayn) (Chicago) is 65. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is 62. Musician Charlotte Caffey (The Go-Go's) is 58. Movie director Catherine Hardwicke is 56. Actress-author Carrie Fisher is 55. Singer Julian Cope is 54. Rock musician Steve Lukather (Toto) is 54. Actor Ken Watanabe (wah-tah-NAH'-bee) is 52. Actress Melora Walters is 51. Rock musician Che (chay) Colovita Lemon is 41. Rock singer-musician Nick Oliveri (Mondo Generator) is 40. Christian rock musician Charlie Lowell (Jars of Clay) is 38. Actor Jeremy Miller is 35. Actor Will Estes is 33. Actor Michael McMillian is 33. Reality TV star Kim Kardashian (kar-DASH'-ee-uhn) is 31. Actor Matt Dallas is 29.

Thought for Today: "Silence is sometimes the severest criticism." _ Charles Buxton, English writer (1823-1871).

(Above Advance for Use Friday, Oct. 21)

Copyright 2011, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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