Today is Saturday, Feb. 21, the 52nd day of 2009. There are 313 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 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 Richard M. Nixon began his historic visit to China as he and his wife, Pat, arrived in Beijing.

In 1973, Israeli fighter planes shot down Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 114 over the Sinai Desert, killing all but five of the 113 people on board.

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 eight years in prison for their roles in the Watergate cover-up.

In 1989, the future president of Czechoslovakia, playwright Vaclav Havel, was convicted for his role in a banned rally and sentenced to nine months in jail. (He was released in May 1989.)

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: Secretary of State Madeleine Albright reported little progress toward a Kosovo peace settlement during talks in Rambouillet, France.

Five years ago: The International Red Cross visited former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who was in U.S. custody.

One year ago: Serb rioters broke into the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade and set fire during protests against Western support for an independent Kosovo. President George W. Bush concluded his six-day African tour in Liberia, where he offered help to lift the country from years of ruinous fighting. A Venezuelan plane crashed in the Andes, killing all 46 on board. Author Robin Moore, who wrote "The French Connection" and "The Green Berets," died in Hopkinsville, Ky., at age 82. Former Arizona Gov. Evan Mecham, who was removed in a 1988 impeachment trial, died in Phoenix at age 83.

Today's Birthdays: Fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy is 82. Movie director Bob Rafelson is 76. Actress Rue McClanahan is 74. Actor Gary Lockwood is 72. Actor-director Richard Beymer is 70. Actor Peter McEnery is 69. Film/music company executive David Geffen is 66. Actor Alan Rickman is 63. Actress Tyne Daly is 63. Actor Anthony Daniels is 63. Tricia Nixon Cox is 63. Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine, is 62. Rock musician Jerry Harrison (The Heads) is 60. Actress Christine Ebersole is 56. Actor William Petersen is 56. Actor Kelsey Grammer is 54. Country singer Mary Chapin Carpenter is 51. Actor Jack Coleman is 51. Actor Christopher Atkins is 48. Rock singer Ranking Roger is 48. Actor William Baldwin is 46. Rock musician Michael Ward is 42. Actress Aunjanue Ellis is 40. Blues musician Corey Harris is 40. Country singer Eric Heatherly is 39. Rock musician Eric Wilson is 39. Rock musician Tad Kinchla (Blues Traveler) is 36. Actress Jennifer Love Hewitt is 30. Football player Braylon Edwards is 26. Singer Charlotte Church is 23. Actress Ellen Page (Film: "Juno") is 22. Actor Corbin Bleu is 20.

Thought for Today: "Just as a tree without roots is dead, a people without history or culture also becomes a dead people." _ Malcolm X (1925-1965).

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