updated 2/21/2007 12:19:43 AM ET 2007-02-21T05:19:43

Today is Ash Wednesday, Feb. 21, the 52nd day of 2007. There are 313 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On Feb. 21, 1965, former Black Muslim leader Malcolm X, 39, was shot to death in New York by assassins identified as Black Muslims.

On this date:
In 1885, the Washington Monument was dedicated.

In 1907, Anglo-American poet W.H. Auden was born in York, England.

In 1916, the World War I Battle of Verdun began in France.

In 1925, The New Yorker magazine made its debut.

In 1947, Edwin H. Land publicly demonstrated his Polaroid Land camera, which could produce a black-and-white photograph in 60 seconds.

In 1972, President Nixon began his historic visit to China as he and his wife, Pat, arrived in Shanghai.

In 1973, Israeli fighter planes shot down Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 114 over the Sinai Desert, killing more than 100 people.

In 1975, former Attorney General John N. Mitchell and former White House aides H.R. Haldeman and John D. Ehrlichman were sentenced to 2½ to eight years in prison for their roles in the Watergate cover-up.

In 1995, Chicago adventurer Steve Fossett became the first person to fly solo across the Pacific Ocean in a balloon, landing in Leader, Saskatchewan, Canada.

In 2000, consumer advocate Ralph Nader announced his entry into the presidential race, bidding for the nomination of the Green Party.

Ten years ago: Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr reversed his decision to resign. The space shuttle Discovery returned to earth after a mission to upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope. A bomb exploded at a gay and lesbian nightclub in Atlanta, injuring five people. (Eric Rudolph later admitted targeting the club.)

Five years ago: The State Department declared that Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was dead, a month after he’d been abducted by Islamic extremists in Pakistan. President Bush failed to persuade China to halt sales of missile technology as he neared the end of his six-day Asia tour. In Salt Lake City, U.S. figure skater Sarah Hughes jumped from fourth to first to win the gold after a near-flawless performance, leaving teammate Michelle Kwan to settle for a bronze.

One year ago: President Bush endorsed the takeover of shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports by a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates, and pledged to veto any bill Congress might approve to block the agreement. Donald Herbert, a brain-injured Buffalo, N.Y., firefighter who suddenly spoke after nearly a decade in a near-vegetative state, died at age 44. Harvard University president Lawrence H. Summers announced his resignation, effective June 30, 2006.

Today’s Birthdays: Fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy is 80. Movie director Bob Rafelson is 74. Actress Rue McClanahan is 72. Actor Gary Lockwood is 70. Actor Peter McEnery is 67. Film/music company executive David Geffen is 64. Actor Alan Rickman is 61. Actress Tyne Daly is 61. Tricia Nixon Cox is 61. Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine, is 60. Rock musician Jerry Harrison (The Heads) is 58. Actress Christine Ebersole is 54. Actor William Petersen is 54. Actor Kelsey Grammer is 52. Country singer Mary Chapin Carpenter is 49. Actor Jack Coleman is 49. Actor Christopher Atkins is 46. Rock singer Ranking Roger is 46. Actor William Baldwin is 44. Rock musician Michael Ward is 40. Blues musician Corey Harris is 38. Country singer Eric Heatherly is 37. Rock musician Eric Wilson (Sublime) is 37. Rock musician Tad Kinchla (Blues Traveler) is 34. Actress Jennifer Love Hewitt is 28. Singer Charlotte Church is 21. Actor Corbin Bleu is 18.

Thought for Today: “You owe it to us all to get on with what you’re good at.” — W.H. Auden (1907-1973).

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