Today is Ash Wednesday, Feb. 22, the 53rd day of 2012. There are 313 days left in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:
On Feb. 22, 1732 (New Style date), the first president of the United States, George Washington, was born in Westmoreland County in the Virginia Colony.
On this date:
In 1784, a U.S. merchant ship, the Empress of China, left New York for the Far East to trade goods with China.
In 1862, Jefferson Davis, already the provisional president of the Confederacy, was inaugurated for a six-year term following his election in November 1861.
In 1865, Tennessee adopted a new constitution which included the abolition of slavery.
In 1909, the Great White Fleet, a naval task force sent on a round-the-world voyage by President Theodore Roosevelt, returned after more than a year at sea.
In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge delivered the first radio broadcast from the White House as he addressed the country over 42 stations.
In 1935, it became illegal for airplanes to fly over the White House.
In 1940, the 14th Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso) was enthroned at age 4 in Lhasa, Tibet.
In 1959, the inaugural Daytona 500 race was held; although Johnny Beauchamp was initially declared the winner, the victory was later awarded to Lee Petty.
In 1967, more than 25,000 U.S. and South Vietnamese troops launched Operation Junction City, aimed at smashing a Vietcong stronghold near the Cambodian border. (Although the communists were driven out, they later returned.)
In 1973, the United States and China agreed to establish liaison offices.
In 1980, the "Miracle on Ice" took place in Lake Placid, N.Y., as the United States Olympic hockey team upset the Soviets, 4-3. (The U.S. team went on to win the gold medal.)
In 1987, pop artist Andy Warhol died at a New York City hospital at age 58; talk-show host David Susskind was found dead in his Manhattan hotel suite; he was 66.
Ten years ago: Police in San Diego arrested David Westerfield in connection with the disappearance of seven-year-old Danielle van Dam. (Westerfield was later sentenced to death for Danielle's murder.) The Angolan army and government announced the killing of UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi. Cartoon animator Chuck Jones died in Newport Beach, Calif., at age 89.
Five years ago: Britain's Ministry of Defense announced that Prince Harry, a second lieutenant in the British army, would be deployed to Iraq (officials later reversed the decision because of insurgent threats). The U.N. nuclear watchdog agency said Iran had ignored a Security Council ultimatum to freeze uranium enrichment, and instead had expanded its program by setting up hundreds of centrifuges.
One year ago: A defiant Moammar Gadhafi vowed to fight to his "last drop of blood" and roared at supporters to strike back against Libyan protesters to defend his embattled regime. A magnitude-6.1 earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, killed 184 people. Somali pirates shot to death four Americans taken hostage on their yacht several hundred miles south of Oman. Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel was elected mayor of Chicago.
Today's Birthdays: Announcer Don Pardo is 94. Actor Paul Dooley is 84. Hollywood "ghost singer" Marni Nixon is 82. Movie director Jonathan Demme (DEH'-mee) is 68. Actor John Ashton is 64. Actress Miou-Miou is 62. Actress Julie Walters is 62. Basketball Hall of Famer Julius Erving is 62. Actress Ellen Greene is 61. Former Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., is 60. White House adviser David Axelrod is 57. Actor Kyle MacLachlan is 53. World Golf Hall of Famer Vijay Singh is 49. Actress-comedian Rachel Dratch is 46. Actor Paul Lieberstein (TV: "The Office") is 45. Actress Jeri Ryan is 44. Actor Thomas Jane is 43. Actress Tamara Mello is 42. Actress-singer Lea Salonga (LAY'-uh suh-LONG'-guh) is 41. Actor Jose Solano is 41. International Tennis Hall-of-Famer Michael Chang is 40. Rock musician Scott Phillips is 39. Actress Drew Barrymore is 37. Actress Liza Huber is 37. Singer James Blunt is 35. Rock singer Tom Higgenson (Plain White T's) is 33. Actor Zach Roerig (TV: "The Vampire Diaries") is 27. Actor Daniel E. Smith is 22.
Thought for Today: "It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one." _ President George Washington (1732-1799).
(Above Advance for Use Wednesday, Feb. 22)
Copyright 2012, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.