Today in History

By The Associated Press

Today is Thursday, Feb. 21, the 52nd day of 2008. There are 314 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Feb. 21, 1965, black Muslim leader and civil rights activist Malcolm X, 39, was shot to death inside the Audubon Ballroom in New York by assassins identified as members of the Nation of Islam.

On this date:

In 1885, the Washington Monument was dedicated.

In 1907, Anglo-American poet W.H. Auden was born in York, England.

In 1916, the World War I Battle of Verdun began in France as German forces attacked; the French were able to prevail after 10 months of fighting.

In 1925, The New Yorker magazine made its debut.

In 1947, Edwin H. Land publicly demonstrated his Polaroid Land camera, which could produce a black-and-white photograph in 60 seconds.

In 1972, President Nixon began his historic visit to China as he and his wife, Pat, arrived in Shanghai.

In 1973, Israeli fighter planes shot down Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 114 over the Sinai Desert, killing more than 100 people.

In 1975, former Attorney General John N. Mitchell and former White House aides H.R. Haldeman and John D. Ehrlichman were sentenced to 2 1/2 to 8 years in prison for their roles in the Watergate cover-up.

In 1995, Chicago adventurer Steve Fossett became the first person to fly solo across the Pacific Ocean in a balloon, landing in Leader, Saskatchewan, Canada.

In 2000, consumer advocate Ralph Nader announced his entry into the presidential race, bidding for the nomination of the Green Party.

Ten years ago: U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan began formal talks with Iraqi officials in the standoff over weapons inspections.

Five years ago: The owners of The Station nightclub in West Warwick, R.I., where 100 people perished in a fast-moving fire the night before, denied giving the rock band Great White permission to use fireworks blamed for setting off the blaze, although the band's singer insisted the use of pyrotechnics had been approved. Chief U.N. inspector Hans Blix ordered the destruction of dozens of Iraqi missiles with ranges that violated U.N. limits. Michael Jordan became the first 40-year-old in NBA history to score 40 or more points, getting 43 in the Washington Wizards' 89-86 win over the New Jersey Nets.

One year ago: British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced his country would withdraw around 1,600 troops from Iraq in the coming months; Denmark, meanwhile, said it would withdraw its 460 troops.

Today's Birthdays: Fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy is 81. Movie director Bob Rafelson is 75. Actress Rue McClanahan is 73. Actor Gary Lockwood is 71. Actor Peter McEnery is 68. Film/music company executive David Geffen is 65. Actor Alan Rickman is 62. Actress Tyne Daly is 62. Actor Anthony Daniels is 62. Tricia Nixon Cox is 62. Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine, is 61. Rock musician Jerry Harrison (The Heads) is 59. Actress Christine Ebersole is 55. Actor William Petersen is 55. Actor Kelsey Grammer is 53. Country singer Mary Chapin Carpenter is 50. Actor Jack Coleman is 50. Actor Christopher Atkins is 47. Rock singer Ranking Roger is 47. Actor William Baldwin is 45. Rock musician Michael Ward is 41. Actress Aunjanue Ellis is 39. Blues musician Corey Harris is 39. Country singer Eric Heatherly is 38. Rock musician Eric Wilson is 38. Rock musician Tad Kinchla (Blues Traveler) is 35. Actress Jennifer Love Hewitt is 29. Singer Charlotte Church is 22. Actress Ellen Page (Film: "Juno") is 21. Actor Corbin Bleu is 19.

Thought for Today: "There is nothing more horrifying than stupidity in action." -- Adlai E. Stevenson, American politician and diplomat (1900-1965).