Today is Wednesday, Oct. 26, the 299th day of 2011. There are 66 days left in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:
On Oct. 26, 1861, the legendary Pony Express officially ceased operations, giving way to the transcontinental telegraph. (The last run of the Pony Express was completed the following month.)
On this date:
In 1825, the Erie Canal opened in upstate New York, connecting Lake Erie and the Hudson River.
In 1881, the "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" took place in Tombstone, Ariz.
In 1911, "The Queen of Gospel," singer and civil rights activist Mahalia Jackson, was born in New Orleans.
In 1942, Japanese planes badly damaged the aircraft carrier USS Hornet in the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands during World War II. (The Hornet sank early the next morning.)
In 1958, Pan American Airways flew its first Boeing 707 jetliner from New York to Paris in 8 hours and 41 minutes.
In 1972, national security adviser Henry Kissinger declared, "Peace is at hand" in Vietnam.
In 1979, South Korean President Park Chung-hee was shot to death during a dinner party along with his chief bodyguard by the head of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency, Kim Jae-kyu, who was later executed.
In 1980, Israeli President Yitzhak Navon became the first Israeli head of state to visit Egypt.
In 1994, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin of Israel and Prime Minister Abdel Salam Majali of Jordan signed a peace treaty during a ceremony at the Israeli-Jordanian border attended by President Bill Clinton.
Ten years ago: President George W. Bush signed the USA PATRIOT Act, giving authorities unprecedented ability to search, seize, detain or eavesdrop in their pursuit of possible terrorists. Former nurse's aide Chante Mallard struck a homeless man, Gregory Biggs, with her car on a Fort Worth, Texas, highway; Biggs, who became lodged in the windshield, died after Mallard refused to seek assistance for him and instead enlisted the help of a friend and his cousin to dispose of his body after he died. (Mallard was later convicted of murder and sentenced to 50 years in prison.)
Five years ago: A wildfire in Southern California killed five firefighters (investigators later determined the cause of the blaze was arson). President George W. Bush signed a measure authorizing 700 miles of new fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Detroit Tigers 5-4 to take a 3-1 lead in the World Series.
One year ago: Saddam Hussein's foreign minister, Tariq Aziz, was sentenced to death for persecuting members of Shiite religious parties under the former regime. (The sentence has yet to be carried out.) Iran began loading fuel into the core of its first nuclear power plant. A day after an earthquake sparked a deadly tsunami, Indonesia saw another natural disaster as Mount Merapi began erupting, resulting in hundreds of deaths in the weeks that followed.
Today's Birthdays: Former Sen. Edward Brooke III, R-Mass., is 92. Actress Shelley Morrison is 75. Actor Bob Hoskins is 69. Author Pat Conroy is 66. Actress Jaclyn Smith is 66. TV host Pat Sajak is 65. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is 64. Singer Maggie Roche (The Roches) is 60. Musician Bootsy Collins is 60. Actor James Pickens Jr. ("Grey's Anatomy") is 59. Rock musician Keith Strickland (The B-52's) is 58. Actor D.W. Moffett is 57. Actress Rita Wilson is 55. The president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, is 52. Actor Dylan McDermott is 50. Actor Cary Elwes is 49. Singer Natalie Merchant is 48. Country singer Keith Urban is 44. Actor Tom Cavanagh is 43. Actress Rosemarie DeWitt is 40. Actor Anthony Rapp is 40. Writer-producer Seth MacFarlane (TV: "Family Guy") is 38. Actress Lennon Parham is 36. Actor Hal Ozsan is 35. Actor Jon Heder is 34. Singer Mark Barry (BBMak) is 33. Olympic silver medal figure skater Sasha Cohen is 27.
Thought for Today: "Without a song, each day would be a century." -- Mahalia Jackson (1911-1972).