Today is Thursday, Sept. 20, the 264th day of 2012. There are 102 days left in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:
On Sept. 20, 1962, James Meredith, a black student, was blocked from enrolling at the University of Mississippi by Democratic Gov. Ross R. Barnett. (Meredith was later admitted.)
On this date:
In 1519, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and his crew set out from Spain on five ships to find a western passage to the Spice Islands. (Magellan was killed enroute, but one of his ships eventually circled the world.)
In 1870, Italian troops took control of the Papal States, leading to the unification of Italy.
In 1873, panic swept the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in the wake of railroad bond defaults and bank failures.
In 1884, the National Equal Rights Party was formed during a convention of suffragists in San Francisco; the convention nominated Belva Ann Bennett Lockwood for president.
In 1911, the British liner RMS Olympic collided with the Royal Navy cruiser HMS Hawke off the Isle of Wight; although seriously damaged, the Olympic was able to return to Southampton under its own power.
In 1947, former New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia died.
In 1958, Martin Luther King Jr. was seriously wounded during a book signing at a New York City department store when Izola Curry stabbed him in the chest. (Curry was later found mentally incompetent.)
In 1967, the Cunard liner RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 was christened by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II in Clydebank, Scotland.
In 1973, in their so-called "battle of the sexes," tennis star Billie Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3, at the Houston Astrodome.
In 1979, Jean-Bedel Bokassa (boh-KAH'-sah), self-styled head of the Central African Empire, was overthrown in a French-supported coup while on a visit to Libya.
In 1980, Spectacular Bid, ridden by Bill Shoemaker, ran as the only entry in the Woodward Stakes at Belmont Park in New York after three potential challengers dropped out in horse racing's first walkover since 1949.
In 1996, President Bill Clinton announced that he was signing the Defense of Marriage Act, a bill outlawing same-sex marriages, but said it should not be used as an excuse for discrimination, violence or intimidation against gays and lesbians.
Ten years ago: President George W. Bush appealed to a reluctant Russian President Vladimir Putin to back a new U.N. resolution that would threaten Iraq with war if it did not disarm; Russian officials indicated there might be room for compromise. William Rosenberg, founder of the Dunkin' Donuts chain, died in Mashpee, Mass., at age 86.
Five years ago: President George W. Bush declined to criticize Blackwater USA, a security company in Iraq accused in a shooting that resulted in civilian deaths, saying investigators needed to determine if the guards violated rules governing their operations. Thousands of chanting demonstrators filled the streets of Jena, La., in support of six black teenagers initially charged with attempted murder in the beating of a white classmate. Floyd Landis lost his expensive and explosive case when two of three arbitrators upheld the results of a test that showed the 2006 Tour de France champion had used synthetic testosterone to fuel his spectacular comeback victory. (Landis forfeited his Tour title and was subject to a two-year ban, retroactive to Jan. 30, 2007.)
One year ago: Repeal of the U.S. military's 18-year-old "don't ask, don't tell" compromise took effect, allowing gay and lesbian service members to serve openly. A suicide bomber posing as a Taliban peace envoy assassinated former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani (boor-HAHN'-uh-deen ruh-BAH'-nee), who had headed a government council seeking a political settlement with the insurgents.
Today's Birthdays: Singer Gogi Grant is 88. Actress-comedian Anne Meara is 83. Actress Sophia Loren is 78. Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Taylor is 77. Rock musician Chuck Panozzo is 65. Acttor Tony Denison is 63. Hockey Hall of Famer Guy LaFleur is 61. Actress Debbi Morgan is 61. Jazz musician Peter White is 58. Actress Betsy Brantley is 57. Actor Gary Cole is 56. TV news correspondent Deborah Roberts is 52. Country-rock musician Joseph Shreve (Flynnville Train) is 51. Rock musician Randy Bradbury (Pennywise) is 48. Actress Kristen Johnston is 45. Rock singers Gunnar Nelson and Matthew Nelson are 45. Rock musician Ben Shepherd is 44. Actress-model Moon Bloodgood is 37. Actor Jon Bernthal is 36. Rock musician Rick Woolstenhulme (WOOL'-sten-hyoolm) (Lifehouse) is 33. Actress Crystle Stewart is 31. Rapper Yung Joc is 30. Actor Aldis Hodge is 26.
Thought for Today: "Politics is very much like taxes -- everybody is against them, or everybody is for them as long as they don't apply to him." -- Fiorello La Guardia, New York City mayor (1882-1947).