updated 2/21/2005 12:10:35 AM ET 2005-02-21T05:10:35

Today is Monday, Feb. 21, the 52nd day of 2005. There are 313 days left in the year.

Today’s highlight in history:
Forty years ago, 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 1878, the first telephone directory was issued, by the District Telephone Company of New Haven, Conn.

In 1885, the Washington Monument was dedicated.

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 a Libyan Airlines jet 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 8 years in prison for their roles in the Watergate cover-up.

In 1986, Larry Wu-tai Chin, the first American found guilty of spying for China, killed himself in his Virginia jail cell.

In 1988, TV evangelist Jimmy Swaggart tearfully confessed to his congregation in Baton Rouge, La., that he was guilty of an unspecified sin, and said he was leaving the pulpit temporarily. (Reports linked Swaggart to an admitted prostitute, Debra Murphree.)

Ten years ago: The United States and Mexico signed an agreement to unlock $20 billion in U.S. support to stabilize the peso, but under tough conditions. Chicago stockbroker Steve Fossett became the first person to fly solo across the Pacific Ocean in a balloon, landing in Leader, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Five years ago: Consumer advocate Ralph Nader announced his entry into the presidential race, bidding for the nomination of the Green Party.

One year ago: The International Red Cross visited former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who was in U.S. custody.

Today’s birthdays: Fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy is 78. Movie director Bob Rafelson is 72. Actress Rue McClanahan is 70. Actor Gary Lockwood is 68. Actor-director Richard Beymer is 66. Actor Peter McEnery is 65. Recording executive David Geffen is 62. Actor Alan Rickman is 59. Actress Tyne Daly is 59. Tricia Nixon Cox is 59. Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine, is 58. Rock musician Jerry Harrison (The Heads) is 56. Actor William Petersen is 52. Actor Kelsey Grammer is 50. Country singer Mary-Chapin Carpenter is 47. Actor Jack Coleman is 47. Actor Christopher Atkins is 44. Rock singer Ranking Roger is 44. Actor William Baldwin is 42. Rock musician Michael Ward is 38. Blues musician Corey Harris is 36. Country singer Eric Heatherly is 35. Rock musician Eric Wilson (Sublime) is 35. Rock musician Tad Kinchla (Blues Traveler) is 32. Actress Jennifer Love Hewitt is 26. Singer Charlotte Church is 19.

Thought for today: “Just as a tree without roots is dead, a people without history or culture also becomes a dead people.” — Malcolm X (1925-1965).

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