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Today in history: October 20

Celebrity birthdays, highlights in history, plus more facts about this day
/ Source: The Associated Press

Today is Thursday, Oct. 20, the 293rd day of 2005. 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 in the Philippines, 2½ years after he’d said, “I shall return.”

On this date:
In 1803, the U.S. Senate ratified the Louisiana Purchase.

In 1892, the city of Chicago dedicated the World’s Columbian Exposition.

In 1903, a joint commission ruled in favor of the United States in a boundary dispute between the District of Alaska and Canada.

In 1944, the Yugoslav cities of Belgrade and Dubrovnik were liberated during World War II.

In 1947, the House Un-American Activities Committee opened hearings into alleged Communist influence and infiltration within the American 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 murdered 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 1979, the John F. Kennedy Library was dedicated in Boston.

Ten years ago: France, the United States and Britain announced a treaty banning atomic blasts in the South Pacific — but only after France finished testing there the following year. NATO Secretary General Willy Claes resigned to face corruption charges in his native Belgium (he later received a three-year suspended jail sentence). Space shuttle Columbia was launched on a research flight that had been delayed six times.

Five years ago: An Israeli-Palestinian truce brokered by President Clinton collapsed in a hail of gunfire, with Israeli troops killing nine Palestinians and wounding 67. Egyptian-born Ali Mohamed, a U.S. citizen who’d served in the Army, pleaded guilty in New York to helping plan the deadly U.S. Embassy bombings in Africa in 1998 that killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.

One year ago: A U.S. Army staff sergeant, Ivan “Chip” Frederick, pleaded guilty to abusing Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison. (Frederick was sentenced to eight years in prison.) Just three outs from getting swept in the AL championship series three nights earlier, the Boston Red Sox finally beat the New York Yankees, winning Game 7 in a 10-3 shocker to become the first major league team to overcome a 3-0 postseason series deficit. ABC announced it was dropping the Miss America beauty pageant (it was later picked up by cable country musical network CMT).

Today’s Birthdays: Dancer Fayard Nicholas is 91. Columnist Art Buchwald is 80. Actor William Christopher is 73. Country singer Wanda Jackson is 68. Singer Tom Petty is 55. Actress Melanie Mayron is 53. Baseball All-Star Keith Hernandez is 52. Actor Viggo Mortensen is 47. Rock musician Jim Sonefeld (Hootie & The Blowfish) is 41. Rock musician David Ryan (The Lemonheads) is 41. Rock musician Doug Eldridge (Oleander) is 38. Rapper Snoop Dogg is 34. Singer Dannii Minogue is 34. Country musician Jeff Loberg is 29. Actress Jennifer Nicole Freeman (“My Wife and Kids”) is 20.

Thought for Today: “Everybody’s private motto: It’s better to be popular than right.” — Mark Twain (1835-1910).