► Today is Friday, Oct. 7, the 280th day of 2011. There are 85 days left in the year. The Jewish Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, begins at sunset.
► Today’s birthdays: Retired South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu is 80. Comedian Joy Behar is 69. Former National Security Council aide Oliver North is 68. Rock musician Kevin Godley (10cc) is 66. Actress Jill Larson (“All My Children’’) is 64. Country singer Kieran Kane is 62. Singer John Mellencamp is 60. Rock musician Ricky Phillips is 60. Actress Mary Badham (“To Kill a Mockingbird’’) is 59. Actress Christopher Norris is 58. Rock musician Tico Torres (Bon Jovi) is 58. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma is 56. Gospel singer Michael W. Smith is 54. Actor Dylan Baker is 53. TV personality Simon Cowell is 52. Rock musician Charlie Marinkovich (Iron Butterfly) is 52. Country singer Dale Watson is 49. Pop singer Ann Curless (Expose) is 48. Rhythm-and-blues singer Toni Braxton is 44. Rock singer-musician Thom Yorke (Radiohead) is 43. Rock musician-dancer Leeroy Thornhill is 42. Actress Nicole Ari Parker is 41. Actress Allison Munn is 37. Rock singer-musician Damian Kulash is 36. Singer Taylor Hicks (“American Idol’’) is 35. Actor Omar Benson Miller is 33. Actress Amber Stevens is 25.
► In 1777, the second Battle of Saratoga began during the American Revolution. (British forces under General John Burgoyne surrendered 10 days later.)
► In 1858, the fifth debate between Illinois senatorial candidates Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas took place in Galesburg.
► In 1910, a major wildfire devastated the northern Minnesota towns of Spooner and Baudette, charring at least 300,000 acres. Some 40 people are believed to have died.
► In 1949, the Republic of East Germany was formed.
► In 1981, Egypt’s parliament named Vice President Hosni Mubarak to succeed the assassinated Anwar Sadat.
► In 1985, Palestinian gunmen hijacked the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro in the Mediterranean. (The hijackers, who killed Jewish American tourist Leon Klinghoffer, surrendered two days after taking over the ship.)
► In 1991, University of Oklahoma law professor Anita Hill publicly accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of making sexually inappropriate comments when she worked for him; Thomas denied Hill’s allegations.
► In 1998, Matthew Shepard, a gay college student at the University of Wyoming, was beaten, robbed, and left tied to a wooden fencepost outside of Laramie; he died five days later. (Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney are serving life sentences for Shepard’s murder.)
► In 2001, the current war in Afghanistan started as the United States and Britain launched air attacks against military targets and Osama bin Laden’s training camps.