Today in history

By The Associated Press

Today is Sunday, Oct. 15, the 288th day of 2017. There are 77 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Oct. 15, 1917, Dutch exotic dancer Mata Hari (Margaretha ZelleGeertruida MacLeod), 41, convicted by a French military court of spying for the Germans, was executed by a firing squad outside Paris. (Maintaining her innocence to the end, Mata Hari refused a blindfold and blew a kiss to her executioners.)

On this date:

In 1783, the first manned balloon flight took place in Paris as Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier ascended in a basket attached to a tethered Montgolfier hot-air balloon, rising to about 75 feet.

In 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte, the deposed Emperor of the French, arrived on the British-ruled South Atlantic island of St. Helena, where he spent the last 5 1/2 years of his life in exile.

In 1905, Claude Debussy’s “La Mer” (The Sea), a trio of symphonic sketches, premiered in Paris.

In 1914, the Clayton Antitrust Act, which expanded on the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson.

In 1937, the Ernest Hemingway novel “To Have and Have Not” was first published by Charles Scribner’s Sons.

In 1945, the former premier of Vichy France, Pierre Laval, was executed for treason.

In 1946, Nazi war criminal Hermann Goering (GEH’-reeng) fatally poisoned himself hours before he was to have been executed.

In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a bill creating the U.S. Department of Transportation. The revolutionary Black Panther Party was founded by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale in Oakland, California.

In 1976, in the first debate of its kind between vice-presidential nominees, Democrat Walter F. Mondale and Republican Bob Dole faced off in Houston.

In 1989, South African officials released eight prominent political prisoners, including Walter Sisulu.

In 1991, despite sexual harassment allegations by Anita Hill, the Senate narrowly confirmed the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court, 52-48.

In 1997, British Royal Air Force pilot Andy Green twice drove a jet-powered car in the Nevada desert faster than the speed of sound, officially shattering the world’s land-speed record. NASA’s plutonium-powered Cassini spacecraft rocketed flawlessly toward Saturn.

Ten years ago: Americans Leonid Hurwicz, Eric S. Maskin and Roger B. Myerson won the Nobel economics prize for their work on “mechanism design theory.” The Colorado Rockies beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-4 in Game 4 to sweep the NL championship series and advance to the World Series for the first time in franchise history.

Five years ago: Former pro wrestler Hulk Hogan sued the news and gossip website Gawker for posting a sex tape of him online. (Hogan won a $140 million verdict against Gawker, which ended up settling for $31 million in a legal fight that led to the media company’s bankruptcy.) The San Francisco Giants evened the National League Championship series 1-1 with a 7-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.

One year ago: Republican Donald Trump sought to undermine the legitimacy of the U.S. presidential election, pressing unsubstantiated claims that the contest was “rigged” against him. Secretary of State John Kerry announced that Yemen’s Houthi (HOO’-thee) rebels had released two U.S. citizens as part of a complicated diplomatic arrangement. The Cleveland Indians edged the Toronto Blue Jays 2-1 in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series. The Chicago Cubs beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-4 in Game 1 of the NLCS.

Today’s Birthdays: Former auto executive Lee Iacocca is 93. Jazz musician Freddy Cole is 86. Singer Barry McGuire is 82. Actress Linda Lavin is 80. Rock musician Don Stevenson (Moby Grape) is 75. Actress-director Penny Marshall is 74. Baseball Hall of Famer Jim Palmer is 72. Singer-musician Richard Carpenter is 71. Actor Victor Banerjee is 71. Former tennis player Roscoe Tanner is 66. Singer Tito Jackson is 64. Actor-comedian Larry Miller is 64. Actor Jere Burns is 63. Actress Tanya Roberts is 62. Movie director Mira Nair is 60. Britain’s Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, is 58. Chef Emeril Lagasse is 58. Rock musician Mark Reznicek (REHZ’-nih-chehk) is 55. Singer Eric Benet is 51. Actress Vanessa Marcil is 49. Singer-actress-TV host Paige Davis is 48. Country singer Kimberly Schlapman (Little Big Town) is 48. Actor Dominic West is 48. Rhythm-and-blues singer Ginuwine is 47. Actor Devon Gummersall is 39. Actor Chris Olivero is 38. Christian singer-actress Jaci (JAK’-ee) Velasquez is 38. Actor Brandon Jay McLaren is 37. Rhythm-and-blues singer Keyshia Cole is 36. Tennis player Elena Dementieva is 36. Actor Vincent Martella is 25. Actress Bailee Madison is 18.

Thought for Today: “We used to do things for posterity, now we do things for ourselves and leave the bill to posterity.” — Author unknown.

By The Associated Press