Today is Thursday, Feb. 19, the 50th day of 2009. There are 315 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Feb. 19, 1945, during World War II, some 30,000 U.S. Marines began landing on Iwo Jima, where they commenced a successful monthlong battle to seize control of the island from Japanese forces.

On this date:

In 1473, astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus was born in Torun, Poland.

In 1803, Congress voted to accept Ohio's borders and constitution.

In 1846, the Texas state government was formally installed in Austin, with J. Pinckney Henderson taking the oath of office as governor.

In 1881, Kansas prohibited the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages.

In 1909, the National Committee for Mental Hygiene, a precursor to Mental Health America, was founded by Clifford W. Beers.

In 1934, the U.S. Army Air Corps began delivering mail after President Franklin D. Roosevelt canceled private contracts that had come under suspicion. (The hastily arranged, ill-equipped military flights claimed the lives of a dozen pilots, sparking a public outcry before they were dropped several months later.)

In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the military to relocate and intern U.S. residents, including native-born Americans, of Japanese ancestry. Japanese warplanes raided the Australian city of Darwin; at least 243 people were killed.

In 1959, an agreement was signed by Britain, Turkey and Greece granting Cyprus its independence.

In 1983, 13 people were found shot to death at a gambling club in Seattle's Chinatown in what became known as the "Wah Mee Massacre." (Two Chinese immigrants were convicted of the killings and sentenced to life in prison.)

In 1997, Deng Xiaoping, the last of China's major Communist revolutionaries, died at age 92.

Ten years ago: President Bill Clinton posthumously pardoned Henry O. Flipper, the first black graduate of West Point, whose military career had been tarnished by a racially motivated discharge.

Five years ago: Former Enron Corp. chief executive Jeffrey Skilling was charged in court with fraud, insider trading and other crimes in connection with the energy trader's colossal collapse. (Skilling was later convicted of 19 counts and sentenced to 24 years and four months in prison; a federal appeals court upheld his convictions, but vacated the prison term and ordered that he be resentenced.) The AFL-CIO endorsed Democrat John Kerry for president.

One year ago: An ailing Fidel Castro resigned the Cuban presidency after nearly a half-century in power; his brother Raul was later named to succeed him. President George W. Bush, visiting Rwanda, pleaded with the global community for decisive action to stop grisly ethnic violence plaguing other African nations like Kenya and Sudan. Barack Obama cruised past Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Wisconsin primary and Hawaii caucuses. Toshiba, creator of the HD DVD, conceded to Sony's rival Blu-ray format.

Today's Birthdays: Singer Smokey Robinson is 69. Singer Bobby Rogers (Smokey Robinson & the Miracles) is 69. Actress Carlin Glynn is 69. Singer Lou Christie is 66. Actor Michael Nader is 64. Rock musician Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath, Heaven and Hell) is 61. Author Amy Tan is 57. Actor Jeff Daniels is 54. Rock singer-musician Dave Wakeling is 53. Talk show host Lorianne Crook is 52. Actor Ray Winstone is 52. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is 50. Britain's Prince Andrew is 49. Tennis Hall-of-Famer Hana Mandlikova is 47. Singer Seal is 46. Country musician Ralph McCauley (Wild Horses) is 45. Rock musician Jon Fishman (Phish) is 44. Actress Justine Bateman is 43. Actor Benicio Del Toro is 42. Rock musician Daniel Adair is 34. Pop singer-actress Haylie Duff is 24.

Thought for Today: "In America everybody is, but some are more than others." _ Gertrude Stein, American author (1874-1946).

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