Today in History, Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017

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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 1529, the Siege of Vienna ends as the Austrians rout the invading Turks, turning the tide against almost a century of unchecked conquest throughout eastern and central Europe by the Ottoman Empire.

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.

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In 1793, Queen Marie Antoinette of France is tried and convicted in a swift, pre-determined trial in the Palais de Justice, Paris, and condemned to death the following day.

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 1928, the airship Graf Zeppelin completes its first trans-Atlantic flight, landing at Lakehurst, New Jersey, United States.

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

In 1946, Nazi war criminal Hermann Goering fatally poisoned himself hours before he was to have been executed.

In 1966, the revolutionary Black Panther Party was founded by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale in Oakland, California.

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

In 1990, Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to lessen Cold War tensions and open up his nation.

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.

Today’s Birthdays:

Singer-musician Richard Carpenter is 71. Former tennis player Roscoe Tanner is 66. Singer Tito Jackson is 64. Actor-comedian Larry Miller is 64. Britain’s Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, is 58. Chef Emeril Lagasse is 58. Rock musician Mark Reznicek is 55. Singer Eric Benet is 51. Actress Vanessa Marcil is 49. Actor Dominic West is 48. Rhythm-and-blues singer Ginuwine is 47. Actor Devon Gummersall is 39. Actor Chris Olivero 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.