Today is Monday, Feb. 28, the 59th day of 2011. There are 306 days left in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:
On Feb. 28, 1911, President William Howard Taft nominated William H. Lewis to be the first black Assistant Attorney General of the United States. (Lewis took office in March 1911 and served until April 1913.)
On this date:
In 1844, a 12-inch gun aboard the USS Princeton exploded as the ship was sailing on the Potomac River, killing Secretary of State Abel P. Upshur, Navy Secretary Thomas W. Gilmer and several others.
In 1849, the California gold rush began in earnest as regular steamship service started bringing gold-seekers to San Francisco.
In 1861, the Territory of Colorado was organized.
In 1951, the Senate committee headed by Estes Kefauver (ES'-teez KEE'-faw-vuhr), D-Tenn., issued an interim report saying at least two major crime syndicates were operating in the U.S.
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 1960, a day after defeating the Soviets at the Winter Games in Squaw Valley, Calif., the United States won its first Olympic hockey gold medal by defeating Czechoslovakia's team, 9-4.
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 (PAHL'-meh) was shot to death in central Stockholm. (The killing remains unsolved.)
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.
Ten years ago: A powerful magnitude 6.8 earthquake rocked the Northwest, shattering windows, showering bricks onto sidewalks and sending frightened people running into the streets in places like Seattle and Portland, Ore. A train collision in northeast England killed ten people and injured more than 80.
Five years ago: A 20-year-old legal fight over protests outside abortion clinics ended with the Supreme Court ruling 8-0 that federal extortion and racketeering laws could not be used against demonstrators. The first Mardi Gras since Hurricane Katrina drew a smaller-than-usual turnout.
One year ago: Sidney Crosby scored the winning goal in overtime to give Canada a 3-2 victory over the United States in the final event of the Vancouver Olympics. Canada earned its 14th gold medal, the most by any country at any Winter Olympics. The American silver was the 37th medal won by the United States at these games, also the most by any country at any Winter Olympics. (The U.S. won the medals race for the first time since 1932.)
(Stations: "Bobb'e J. Thompson" is correct)
Today's Birthdays: Producer Saul Zaentz is 90. Actor Charles Durning is 88. Svetlana Alliluyeva (ah-lee-loo-YAY'-vah), daughter of Josef Stalin, is 85. Architect Frank Gehry is 82. Actor Gavin MacLeod is 80. Actor Don Francks is 79. Actor-director-dancer Tommy Tune is 72. Hall of Fame auto racer Mario Andretti is 71. Singer Joe South is 71. Actor Frank Bonner is 69. Actress Kelly Bishop is 67. College Football Hall of Famer and retired NFL player Bubba Smith is 66. Actress Stephanie Beacham is 64. Writer-director Mike Figgis is 63. Actress Mercedes Ruehl is 63. Actress Bernadette Peters is 63. Energy Secretary Steven Chu is 63. Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman is 58. Comedian Gilbert Gottfried is 56. Basketball Hall-of-Famer Adrian Dantley is 55. Actor John Turturro is 54. Rock singer Cindy Wilson is 54. Actress Rae Dawn Chong is 50. Actor Robert Sean Leonard is 42. Rock singer Pat Monahan is 42. Author Daniel Handler (AKA "Lemony Snicket") is 41. Actress Maxine Bahns is 40. Actress Ali Larter is 35. Country singer Jason Aldean is 34. Actor Geoffrey Arend is 33. Actor Bobb'e J. Thompson is 15.
Thought for Today: "Who will give me back those days when life had wings and flew just like a skylark in the sky." _ Marceline Desbordes-Valmore, French actress and poet (1786-1859).
(Above Advance for Use Monday, Feb. 28)
Copyright 2011, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.