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ONLINE DOCUMENT: TODAY IN HISTORY

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Today is Thursday, Oct. 31, the 305th day of 1996. There are 61 days left in the year. This is Halloween.

Today's Highlight in History:On Oct. 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted the 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenberg Palace church, marking the start of the Protestant Reformation in Germany.

On this date:

In 1795, English poet John Keats was born in London.

In 1864, Nevada became the 36th state.

In 1926, magician Harry Houdini died in Detroit of gangrene and peritonitis resulting from a ruptured appendix.

In 1941, the Navy destroyer Reuben James was torpedoed by a German U-boat off Iceland with the loss of 115 lives, even though the United States had not yet entered World War II.

In 1955, Britain's Princess Margaret ended weeks of speculation by announcing she would not marry Royal Air Force Capt. Peter Townsend.

In 1956, Rear Adm. G.J. Dufek became the first person to land an airplane at the South Pole.

In 1967, Nguyen Van Thieu took the oath of office as the first president of South Vietnam's second republic.

In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson ordered a halt to all bombing of North Vietnam, saying he hoped for fruitful peace negotiations.

In 1984, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated near her residence by two Sikh security guards.

In 1994, 68 people were killed when an American Eagle ATR-72, en route from Indianapolis to Chicago, crashed in northern Indiana.

Ten years ago: American mercenary Eugene Hasenfus, captured by Nicaraguan forces, refused to make a statement before a revolutionary tribunal trying him on charges he'd supplied arms to U.S.-backed Contra rebels.

Five years ago: On the second day of the Middle East peace conference in Madrid, Spain, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Arab delegates clashed bitterly over land issues. Theatrical producer Joseph Papp died in New York at age 70.

One year ago: Stung by defeat in the secession referendum, Quebec Premier Jacques Parizeau said he would resign as head of the bitterly divided province at year's end.

Today's Birthdays: Actress-singer Dale Evans is 84. Former Attorney General Griffin Bell is 78. Actress Barbara Bel Geddes is 74. Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk is 74. Movie critic Andrew Sarris is 68. Colorado Gov. Roy Romer is 68. Former astronaut Michael Collins is 66. CBS anchorman Dan Rather is 65. Actor David Ogden Stiers is 54. Rhythm-and-blues singer Otis Williams (The Temptations) is 54. Actress Sally Kirkland is 52. Singer Kinky Friedman is 52. Actress Deidre Hall is 48. NBC anchorwoman Jane Pauley is 46. Rock musician Larry Mullen is 35. Rap musician Adrock is 30. Rap performer Vanilla Ice is 28.

Thought for Today: "An old error is always more popular than a new truth." - German proverb.