Today is Saturday, Feb. 18, the 49th day of 2012. There are 317 days left in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:
On Feb. 18, 1861, Jefferson Davis was sworn in as provisional president of the Confederate States of America in Montgomery, Ala.
On this date:
In 1546, Martin Luther, leader of the Protestant Reformation in Germany, died in Eisleben.
In 1564, artist Michelangelo died in Rome.
In 1735, the first opera presented in America, "Flora, or Hob in the Well," was performed in present-day Charleston, S.C.
In 1885, Mark Twain's "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" was published in the U.S. for the first time.
In 1930, photographic evidence of Pluto (now designated a "dwarf planet") was discovered by Clyde W. Tombaugh at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz.
In 1953, "Bwana Devil," the movie that heralded the 3D fad of the 1950s, had its New York opening.
In 1960, the 8th Winter Olympic Games were formally opened in Squaw Valley, Calif., by Vice President Richard M. Nixon.
In 1970, the "Chicago Seven" defendants were found not guilty of conspiring to incite riots at the 1968 Democratic national convention; five were convicted of violating the Anti-Riot Act of 1968 (those convictions were later reversed).
In 1972, the California Supreme Court struck down the state's death penalty.
In 1977, the space shuttle Enterprise, sitting atop a Boeing 747, went on its maiden "flight" above the Mojave (moh-HAH'-vee) Desert.
In 1984, Italy and the Vatican signed an accord under which Roman Catholicism ceased to be the state religion of Italy.
In 2001, auto racing star Dale Earnhardt Sr. died in a crash at the Daytona 500; he was 49.
Ten years ago: Andrea Yates went on trial in Houston, charged with two counts of capital murder for the drownings of three of her five children, ages 6 months to 7 years. (Yates was found guilty, but her convictions were overturned; she was acquitted in a retrial by reason of insanity.) France's Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat (PEH'-zeh-rah) narrowly won the Olympic ice dancing gold medal.
Five years ago: A military helicopter crashed in southeastern Afghanistan, killing eight U.S. service members; 14 survived with injuries. Twin car bombs blew up in a mostly Shiite area of Baghdad, killed at least 62 people. A pair of bombs on a train headed from India to Pakistan killed 68 people. Kevin Harvick nosed out Mark Martin in a frantic wreck-filled finish to win the Daytona 500. The West routed the East, 153-132, in the NBA All-Star game.
One year ago: The United States vetoed a U.N. resolution that would have condemned Israeli settlements as illegal and called for a halt in all settlement building; the 14 other Security Council members voted in favor of the measure.
Today's Birthdays: Former Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown is 90. Actor George Kennedy is 87. Former Sen. John Warner, R-Va., is 85. Author Toni Morrison is 81. Movie director Milos (MEE'-lohsh) Forman is 80. Singer Yoko Ono is 79. Singer-songwriter Bobby Hart is 73. Singer Irma Thomas is 71. Singer Herman Santiago (Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers) is 71. Singer Dennis DeYoung is 65. Actress Sinead Cusack is 64. Actress Cybill Shepherd is 62. Singer Juice Newton is 60. Singer Randy Crawford is 60. Rock musician Robbie Bachman is 59. Rock musician Larry Rust (Iron Butterfly) is 59. Actor John Travolta is 58. Game show host Vanna White is 55. Actress Jayne Atkinson is 53. Actress Greta Scacchi (SKAH'-kee) is 52. Actor Matt Dillon is 48. Rapper Dr. Dre is 47. Actress Molly Ringwald is 44. Actress Sarah Brown is 37. Actor Kristoffer Polaha is 35. Singer-musician Sean Watkins (Nickel Creek) is 35. Actor Tyrone Burton is 33. Rock-singer musician Regina Spektor is 32. Actor Shane Lyons is 24. Actress Maiara Walsh is 24.
Thought for Today: "Opinion is that exercise of the human will which helps us to make a decision without information." _ John Erskine, American author and educator (1879-1951).
(Above Advance for Use Saturday, Feb. 18)
Copyright 2012, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.