Today is Thursday, Feb. 26, the 57th day of 2009. There are 308 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Feb. 26, 1870, an experimental air-driven subway, the Beach Pneumatic Transit, opened in New York City for public demonstrations. (The tunnel was only a block long, and the line had only one car.)

On this date:

In 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte escaped from exile on the Island of Elba in Italy.

In 1907, Congress created the Dillingham Commission to examine the impact of immigrants on America. (The panel later recommended curtailing immigration from southern and eastern Europe.)

In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure establishing Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.

In 1929, President Calvin Coolidge signed a measure establishing Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

In 1940, the U.S. Air Defense Command was created.

In 1945, a midnight curfew on night clubs, bars and other places of entertainment was set to go into effect across the nation.

In 1952, Prime Minister Winston Churchill announced that Britain had developed its own atomic bomb.

In 1979, a total solar eclipse cast a moving shadow 175 miles wide from Oregon to North Dakota before moving into Canada.

In 1987, the Tower Commission, which probed the Iran-Contra affair, issued its report, which rebuked President Ronald Reagan for failing to control his national security staff.

In 1993, a bomb built by Islamic extremists exploded in the parking garage of New York's World Trade Center, killing six people and injuring more than 1,000 others.

Ten years ago: President Bill Clinton, outlining foreign policy goals for the final two years of his administration, urged continued American engagement in the quest for peace and freedom abroad during a news conference in San Francisco.

Five years ago: Two church-sanctioned studies documenting sex abuse by U.S. Roman Catholic clergy said that about 4 percent of clerics had been accused of molesting minors since 1950 and blamed bishops' "moral laxity" in disciplining offenders for letting the problem worsen. Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski was killed in a plane crash in southern Bosnia.

One year ago: A power failure later blamed primarily on human error plunged large parts of Florida into darkness. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, visiting Beijing, won a verbal assurance from Chinese officials to use their influence to jump-start the stalled process of dismantling North Korea's nuclear programs. The New York Philharmonic performed a historic concert in North Korea before the communist nation's elite. Former Israeli military chief Dan Shomron, the paratrooper who commanded the famed 1976 hostage rescue at Entebbe airport in Uganda, died in Tel Aviv at age 70.

Today's Birthdays: Singer Fats Domino is 81. Political columnist Robert Novak is 78. Country-rock musician Paul Cotton (Poco) is 66. Actor-director Bill Duke is 66. Singer Mitch Ryder is 64. Rock musician Jonathan Cain (Journey) is 59. Singer Michael Bolton is 56. Actor Greg Germann is 51. Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine is 51. Bandleader John McDaniel is 48. Actress Jennifer Grant is 43. Rock musician Tim Commerford (Audioslave) is 41. Singer Erykah Badu is 38. Rhythm-and-blues singer Rico Wade (Society of Soul) is 37. Rhythm-and-blues singer Kyle Norman (Jagged Edge) is 34. Rock musician Chris Culos (O.A.R.) is 30. Rhythm-and-blues singer Corinne Bailey Rae is 30. Country singer Rodney Hayden is 29. Actress Taylor Dooley is 16.

Thought for Today: "Nothing is more frightful than laughter when it comes to jealousy." _ Francoise Sagan, French author (1935-2004).

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