Today is Wednesday, October 16, the 289th day of 2013. There are 76 days left in the year.
Highlights in history on this date:
1793 – Queen Marie Antoinette is beheaded during the French Revolution.
1846 – American dentist William Morton demonstrates the effectiveness of ether as an anesthetic by administering it to a patient undergoing jaw surgery.
1859 – Anti-slavery activist John Brown leads a group of about 20 men in a raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia. The rebels are soon killed, but the incident brings the American Civil War closer.
1916 – Margaret Sanger opens the first birth-control clinic in the U.S., in New York City.
1946 – Ten Nazi war criminals condemned during the Nuremberg trials are hung.
1949 – The new German Democratic Republic, or East Germany, establishes formal diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union.
1952 – An estimated 10,000 Communist-led Viet Minh troops launch an offensive in northwestern Indochina, overrunning French Union forces in the Nghialo basin.
1957 – U.S. State Secretary John Foster Dulles warns the Soviet Union it would face armed American retaliation in the event of a Russian attack on Turkey.
1962 – The Cuban missile crisis begins when U.S. President John F. Kennedy is informed by his aides that reconnaissance photographs reveal the presence of Soviet missile bases in Cuba.
1964 – China detonates its first atomic bomb.
1970 – Anwar Sadat is elected president of Egypt, succeeding the late Gamel Abdel Nasser.
1973 – Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho are named winners of the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating a cease-fire in the Vietnam war; the Vietnamese official declines the award saying the Vietnamese do not have peace, so he cannot accept a peace award. The war continues for a few more years.
1978 – The College of Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church choose Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Poland to be the new pope; he takes the name John Paul II. He is the first non-Italian pope in 456 years.
1983 – A U.S. Marine is killed and three are wounded in a sniper and grenade attack at Beirut International Airport.
1987 – Rescuers free Jessica McClure, an 18-month-old girl trapped in an abandoned well for 58 hours in Midland, Texas.
1990 – U.S. President George H.W. Bush signs the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act, prohibiting employers from discriminating against older workers in providing pensions and disability payments.
1991 – A man crashes a pickup truck into a restaurant in Killeen, Texas, and shoots patrons, killing 23 people before taking his own life.
1992 – Indigenous rights activist Rigoberta Menchu of Guatemala is named winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
1994 – Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s government wins a thin majority in Germany’s elections.
1995 – A vast throng of black men gather in Washington for the “Million Man March” led by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
1996 – Fans try to squeeze into a World Cup qualifying soccer match in Guatemala City, killing 78 people and injuring more than 100 in the crush.
1998 – British police arrest former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in London for questioning about allegations that he had murdered Spanish citizens during his years in power.
2000 – Tens of thousands of Italians seek shelter on high ground as torrential rains continue to fall in northern Italy and southern Switzerland. The deluge blocks transport links and hampers power supplies.
2002 – The North Korean government admits it had been conducting a major covert nuclear-weapons development program for several years, in violation of international agreements.
2003 – Pope John Paul II celebrates the 25th anniversary of his election as pope, making him the fourth-longest serving pope in Roman Catholic Church history.
2005 – Authorities force some 1,000 Guambiano Indians off of a private ranch in southern Colombia that the group had been occupying illegally in an effort to reclaim ancestral lands.
2006 – Tamil rebels in Sri Lanka ram a truck packed with explosives into a convoy of military buses, killing at least 93 sailors in one of the deadliest insurgent attacks since a 2002 cease-fire.
2007 – Libya wins a seat on the powerful U.N. Security Council as a non-permanent two-year term member.
2008 – The longtime private secretary of the late Pope John Paul II reveals in a film that the pope was lightly wounded in a 1982 knife attack by a priest in Portugal.
2009 – Cod is slipping closer to disappearing from key European fishing grounds, officials warn, saying that only steep catch cuts will prevent the disappearance of a species prized for centuries for its flaky white flesh.
2010 – Officials have taken the extraordinary step of warning some flights landing at France’s main airport to come with enough fuel to get back home, bracing for a possible fuel shortage after a new round of protests against plans to raise the retirement age to 62.
2011 – The resurgent French left, riding on popular anger at conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy and global financial markets, endorses former Socialist Party chief Francois Hollande as its candidate for next year’s presidential elections.
2012 – With national polls showing a dead heat three weeks before Election Day, President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney met for their second debate. During the town-hall-style encounter in suburban New York, Obama accused Romney of favoring a “one-point plan” to help the rich at the expense of the middle class, while Romney countered by saying “the middle class has been crushed over the last four years.”
Oscar Wilde, British writer (1854-1900); David Ben-Gurion, first prime minister of Israel (1886-1973); Eugene O’Neill, U.S. playwright and Nobel laureate (1888-1953); Michael Collins, Irish leader (1890-1922); Enver Hoxha, Albanian Communist leader (1908-1985); Angela Lansbury, actress (1925–); Guenther Grass, German writer (1927–), Tim Robbins, actor/director (1958–); John Mayer, pop/rock singer (1977–).
Thought for Today:
To walk into history is to be free at once, to be at large among people — Elizabeth Bowen, Irish-born author (1899-1973).