Today is Saturday, Feb. 28, the 59th day of 2009. There are 306 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Feb. 28, 1849, the California gold rush began in earnest as regular steamship service started bringing gold-seekers to San Francisco.

On this date:

In 1827, the first U.S. railroad chartered to carry passengers and freight, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Co., was incorporated by the state of Maryland.

In 1844, a 12-inch gun aboard the USS Princeton exploded, killing Secretary of State Abel P. Upshur, Navy Secretary Thomas W. Gilmer and several others.

In 1861, the Territory of Colorado was organized.

In 1953, scientists James D. Watson and Francis H.C. Crick announced they had discovered the double-helix structure of DNA, the molecule that contains the human genes.

In 1959, American author and playwright Maxwell Anderson died in Stamford, Conn., at age 70.

In 1972, President Richard M. Nixon and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai issued the Shanghai Communique at the conclusion of Nixon's historic visit to China.

In 1975, more than 40 people were killed in London's Underground when a subway train smashed into the end of a tunnel.

In 1986, Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme was shot to death in central Stockholm.

In 1993, a gun battle erupted at a compound near Waco, Texas, when Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents tried to serve warrants on the Branch Davidians; four agents and six Davidians were killed as a 51-day standoff began.

In 1997, in North Hollywood, Calif., two heavily armed and armored robbers bungled a bank heist and came out firing, unleashing their arsenal on police, bystanders, cars and TV choppers before they were killed.

Ten years ago: Guerrillas detonated two bombs beside a military convoy in southern Lebanon, killing a Israeli brigadier general and three other Israelis; Israel retaliated with air raids on suspected guerrilla hideouts.

Five years ago: Iraq's U.S.-picked leaders failed to meet a deadline for adopting an interim constitution. Six-nation talks on ending North Korea's nuclear weapons program ended in Beijing with an agreement to hold more negotiations. The Bow Mariner, a tanker carrying ethanol, exploded and sank off the Virginia coast; three crew members died and 18 were left missing and presumed dead, while six men survived. Former Librarian of Congress Daniel J. Boorstin died in Washington, D.C., at age 89.

One year ago: President George W. Bush told a White House news conference the country was not recession-bound; Democratic candidate Barack Obama said the economy was "on the brink of a recession" and blamed economic policies espoused by Bush and Republican presidential contender John McCain. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told his Turkish counterpart that Turkey should end its offensive against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq as soon as possible. Deposed Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra returned to Thailand from 17 months in exile to face corruption charges. Mike Smith, lead singer for the British band Dave Clark Five, died outside London at age 64.

Today's Birthdays: Actor Charles Durning is 86. Svetlana Alliluyeva, daughter of Josef Stalin, is 83. Actor Gavin MacLeod is 78. Actor Don Francks is 77. Actor-director-dancer Tommy Tune is 70. Auto racer Mario Andretti is 69. Singer Joe South is 69. Actor Frank Bonner is 67. Actress Kelly Bishop is 65. Football player Bubba Smith is 64. Actress Stephanie Beacham is 62. Actress Mercedes Ruehl is 61. Actress Bernadette Peters is 61. Energy Secretary Steven Chu is 61. Comedian Gilbert Gottfried is 54. Basketball Hall-of-Famer Adrian Dantley is 53. Actor John Turturro is 52. Rock singer Cindy Wilson is 52. Actress Rae Dawn Chong is 48. Actor Robert Sean Leonard is 40. Rock singer Pat Monahan is 40. Actress Maxine Bahns is 38. Country singer Jason Aldean is 32. Actor Bobb'e J. Thompson is 13.

Thought for Today: "Education is learning what you didn't even know you didn't know." _ Daniel J. Boorstin, American historian, educator and Librarian of Congress (1914-2004).

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