Today is Ash Wednesday, Feb. 25, the 56th day of 2009. There are 309 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Feb. 25, 1913, the 16th Amendment to the Constitution, giving Congress the power to levy and collect income taxes, was declared in effect by Secretary of State Philander Chase Knox.

On this date:

In 1779, a militia led by George Rogers Clark routed the British from Fort Sackville in the Revolutionary War Battle of Vincennes in present-day Indiana.

In 1836, inventor Samuel Colt patented his revolver.

In 1901, United States Steel Corp. was incorporated by J.P. Morgan.

In 1919, Oregon became the first state to tax gasoline, at one cent per gallon.

In 1948, Communists seized power in Czechoslovakia.

In 1964, Cassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali) became world heavyweight boxing champion by defeating Sonny Liston in Miami Beach, Fla.

In 1969, NASA launched the Mariner 6 probe on a mission to study Mars.

In 1986, President Ferdinand Marcos fled the Philippines after 20 years of rule in the wake of a tainted election; Corazon Aquino assumed the presidency.

In 1991, during the Persian Gulf War, 28 Americans were killed when an Iraqi Scud missile hit a U.S. barracks in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

In 1994, American-born Jewish settler Baruch Goldstein opened fire with an automatic rifle inside the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the West Bank, killing 29 Muslims before he was beaten to death by worshippers.

Ten years ago: A jury in Jasper, Texas, sentenced white supremacist John William King to death for chaining James Byrd Jr., a black man, to a pickup truck and dragging him to his death. Israel's Supreme Court blocked the extradition of American teenager Samuel Sheinbein to the U.S. to face charges stemming from a grisly slaying in Maryland.

Five years ago: The Supreme Court ruled states didn't have to underwrite the religious training of students planning careers in the ministry. The Mel Gibson film "The Passion of the Christ" opened in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand on Ash Wednesday.

One year ago: An Associated Press photograph of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama wearing traditional local garb during a visit to Kenya in 2006 began circulating on the Internet. The New York Philharmonic arrived in North Korea to perform a concert, the same day Lee Myung-bak was sworn in as South Korea's first conservative president in a decade.

Today's Birthdays: Country singer Ralph Stanley is 82. TV writer-producer Larry Gelbart is 81. Actor Tom Courtenay is 72. CBS newsman Bob Schieffer is 72. Actress Diane Baker is 71. Actress Karen Grassle is 65. Humorist Jack Handey is 60. Movie director Neil Jordan is 59. Rock musician Dennis Diken (The Smithereens) is 52. Rock singer-musician Mike Peters (The Alarm) is 50. Actress Veronica Webb is 44. Actor Alexis Denisof is 43. Actress Tea Leoni is 43. Comedian Carrot Top is 42. Actress Lesley Boone is 41. Actor Sean Astin is 38. Singer Daniel Powter is 38. Latin singer Julio Iglesias Jr. is 36. Rhythm-and-blues singer Justin Jeffre is 36. Rock musician Richard Liles is 36. Actor Anson Mount is 36. Comedian Chelsea Handler is 34. Actress Rashida Jones is 33. Actor Justin Berfield is 23. Actors James and Oliver Phelps ("Harry Potter" movies) are 23. Rock musician Erik Haager (Carolina Liar) is 22.

Thought for Today: "If people behaved in the way nations do they would all be put in straitjackets." _ Tennessee Williams, American playwright (born 1911, died on this date in 1983).

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