updated 2/28/2007 12:05:48 AM ET 2007-02-28T05:05:48

Today is Wednesday, Feb. 28, the 59th day of 2007. There are 306 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On Feb. 28, 1849, the ship California arrived at San Francisco, carrying the first of the gold-seekers.

On this date:
In 1827, the first U.S. railroad chartered to carry passengers and freight, the Baltimore & 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 1951, the Senate committee headed by Estes Kefauver, D-Tenn., issued a preliminary 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 1967, American publisher Henry Luce died in Phoenix at age 68.

In 1972, President Nixon and Chinese Premier Chou En-lai 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.

Ten years ago: Brushing aside congressional calls for a tougher stance against Mexico, President Clinton recertified the country as a fully cooperating ally in the struggle against drug smuggling. In North Hollywood, Calif., two heavily armed masked robbers bungled a bank heist and came out firing, unleashing their arsenal on police, bystanders, cars and TV choppers before they were killed.

Five years ago: The body of a young girl found outside San Diego was positively identified as that of 7-year-old Danielle van Dam, who’d disappeared from her bedroom about a month earlier; a neighbor, David Westerfield, was later convicted of her murder and sentenced to death. Hindus in western India retaliated for a train attack that claimed some 60 lives by setting fire to Muslims’ homes, then keeping firefighters away for hours. Soap opera actress Mary Stuart, who had starred in “Search for Tomorrow” for some 35 years, died in New York at age 75.

One year ago: A 20-year-old legal fight over protests outside abortion clinics ended with the Supreme Court ruling that federal extortion and racketeering laws cannot be used against demonstrators. The first Mardi Gras since Hurricane Katrina drew a smaller-than-usual turnout.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Charles Durning is 84. Svetlana Alliluyeva, daughter of Josef Stalin, is 81. Actor Gavin MacLeod is 76. Actor Don Francks is 75. Actor-director-dancer Tommy Tune is 68. Auto racer Mario Andretti is 67. Singer Joe South is 67. Actor Frank Bonner is 65. Actress Kelly Bishop is 63. Football player Bubba Smith is 62. Actress Stephanie Beacham is 60. Actress Mercedes Ruehl is 59. Actress Bernadette Peters is 59. Comedian Gilbert Gottfried is 52. Basketball player Adrian Dantley is 51. Actor John Turturro is 50. Rock singer Cindy Wilson is 50. Actress Rae Dawn Chong is 46. Actor Robert Sean Leonard is 38. Rock singer Pat Monahan (Train) is 38. Actress Maxine Bahns is 36. Country singer Jason Aldean is 30. Actor Bobb’e J. Thompson is 11.

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).

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