updated 10/18/2006 12:15:35 AM ET 2006-10-18T04:15:35

Today is Wednesday, Oct. 18, the 291st day of 2006. There are 74 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On Oct. 18, 1962, Dr. James D. Watson of the U.S., and Dr. Francis Crick and Dr. Maurice Wilkins of Britain, were named winners of the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology for their work in determining the double-helix molecular structure of DNA.

On this date:
In 1648, Boston shoemakers were authorized to form a guild to protect their interests; it’s the first American labor organization on record.

In 1867, the United States took formal possession of Alaska from Russia.

In 1892, the first long-distance telephone line between New York and Chicago was officially opened (it could only handle one call at a time).

In 1898, the American flag was raised in Puerto Rico shortly before Spain formally relinquished control of the island to the U.S.

In 1931, inventor Thomas Alva Edison died in West Orange, N.J., at age 84.

In 1940, Britain reopened the Burma Road linking Myanmar with China, three months after closing it.

In 1944, Soviet troops invaded Czechoslovakia during World War II.

In 1968, the U.S. Olympic Committee suspended Tommie Smith and John Carlos for giving a “black power” salute as a protest during a victory ceremony in Mexico City.

In 1969, the federal government banned artificial sweeteners known as cyclamates because of evidence they caused cancer in laboratory rats.

In 1982, former first lady Bess Truman died at her home in Independence, Mo., at age 97.

Ten years ago: Democratic Party fundraiser John Huang was relieved of his duties following days of attacks by the Republicans over what they called improper and possibly illegal contributions.

Five years ago: CBS News announced that an employee in anchorman Dan Rather’s office had tested positive for skin anthrax. Four disciples of Osama bin Laden were sentenced in New York to life without parole for their roles in the deadly 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa.

One year ago: Tropical Storm Wilma strengthened into a hurricane as it continued on a path toward Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, then south Florida.

Today’s Birthdays: Singer Anita O’Day is 87. Former Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., is 85. Rock-and-roll performer Chuck Berry is 80. Sportscaster Keith Jackson is 78. Actor Peter Boyle is 71. Football coach Mike Ditka is 67. Actor Joe Morton is 59. Actress Pam Dawber is 55. Author Terry McMillan is 55. Gospel singer Vickie Winans is 53. Tennis player Martina Navratilova is 50. Actor Jean-Claude Van Damme is 46. Jazz musician Wynton Marsalis is 45. Actress Erin Moran is 45. Actor Vincent Spano is 44. Rock musician Tim Cross (Sponge) is 40. Tennis player Michael Stich is 38. Singer Nonchalant is 33. Rock musician Peter Svenson (The Cardigans) is 32. Actor Wesley Jonathan is 28. Country singer Josh Gracin is 26. Country musician Jesse Littleton (Marshall Dyllon) is 25. Actress Joy Lauren is 17. Actor Tyler Posey is 15.

Thought for Today: “The strongest are those who renounce their own times and become a living part of those yet to come. The strongest, and the rarest.” — Milovan Djilas (1911-1995), Yugoslav author and politician.

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