Today is the 289th day of 2012 and the 24th day of autumn.
TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1917, infamous spy Mata Hari was executed by a firing squad outside Paris.
In 1951, "I Love Lucy," starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, premiered on CBS.
In 2003, China became the third nation (after the United States and Russia) to launch a manned space mission.
In 2005, Iraqi citizens voted to approve a new constitution.
TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), philosopher; P.G. Wodehouse (1881-1975), author/humorist; Arthur Schlesinger Jr. (1917-2007), historian; Lee Iacocca (1924- ), business leader; Penny Marshall (1942- ), film director/actress; Jim Palmer (1945- ), baseball player; Sarah Ferguson (1959- ), Duchess of York; Emeril Lagasse (1959- ), chef/TV personality; Carlo Janka (1986- ), Olympic skier.
TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1989, Wayne Gretzky, playing for the National Hockey League's Los Angeles Kings, tied and broke Gordie Howe's career scoring record of 1,850 points with an assist and a goal scored against the Edmonton Oilers. He then went on to score the game-winning goal in overtime.
TODAY'S FACT: When "I Love Lucy" star Lucille Ball became pregnant in 1952, the show's producers made the almost unprecedented decision to write the pregnancy into the series, but they were prohibited from using the word "pregnant."
TODAY'S QUOTE: "Sometimes we remain true to a cause simply because its opponents are unfailingly tasteless." -- Friedrich Nietzsche
TODAY'S NUMBER: 1,933 -- length (in miles) of the United States' border with Mexico, which is less than half as long as the United States-Canada border (3,987 miles, excluding Alaska).
TODAY'S MOON: New moon (Oct. 15).