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Today in history: February 17

/ Source: The Associated Press

Today is Friday, Feb. 17, the 48th day of 2006. There are 317 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On Feb. 17, 1801, the House of Representatives broke an electoral tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, electing Jefferson president; Burr became vice president.

On this date:
In 1865, Columbia, S.C., burned as the Confederates evacuated and Union forces moved in. (It’s not known which side set the blaze.)

In 1897, the forerunner of the National PTA, the National Congress of Mothers, was founded in Washington.

In 1904, Giacomo Puccini's opera “Madama Butterfly” was poorly received at its world premiere at La Scala in Milan, Italy.

In 1933, Newsweek was first published.

In 1947, the Voice of America began broadcasting to the Soviet Union.

In 1964, the Supreme Court ruled that congressional districts within each state had to be roughly equal in population.

In 1972, President Nixon departed on his historic trip to China.

In 1986, Johnson and Johnson, maker of Tylenol, announced it would no longer sell over-the-counter medications in capsule form, following the death of a woman who had taken a cyanide-laced capsule.

In 1992, serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was sentenced in Milwaukee to life in prison (he was beaten to death in prison in November 1994).

In 1995, Colin Ferguson was convicted of six counts of murder in the December 1993 Long Island Rail Road shootings (he was later sentenced to a minimum of 200 years in prison).

Ten years ago: World chess champion Garry Kasparov beat IBM supercomputer “Deep Blue,” winning a six-game match in Philadelphia (Kasparov had lost the first game, won the second, fifth and sixth games and earned draws in the third and fourth). Tidal waves killed more than 100 people in Indonesia.

Five years ago: Former Nation of Islam official Khalid Abdul Muhammad, known for his harsh rhetoric about Jews and whites, died at a hospital in Marietta, Ga., at age 53.

One year ago: President Bush named John Negroponte, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, as the government’s first national intelligence director. Iraq’s electoral commission certified the results of the Jan. 30 elections and allocated 140 of 275 National Assembly seats to the United Iraqi Alliance, giving the Shiite-dominated party a majority in the new parliament. Actor Dan O'Herlihy died in Malibu, Calif., at age 85.

Today’s Birthdays: Bandleader Orrin Tucker is 95. Author Margaret Truman Daniel is 82. Actor Hal Holbrook is 81. Mystery writer Ruth Rendell is 76. Singer Bobby Lewis is 73. Country singer-songwriter Johnny Bush is 71. Football Hall-of-Famer Jim Brown is 70. Actress Mary Ann Mobley is 67. Singer Gene Pitney is 65. Actress Brenda Fricker is 61. Actress Rene Russo is 52. Actor Richard Karn is 50. Actor Lou Diamond Phillips is 44. Basketball player Michael Jordan is 43. Actor-comedian Larry, the Cable Guy is 43. TV personality Rene Syler is 43. Movie director Michael Bay is 42. Singer Chante Moore is 39. Rock musician Timothy J. Mahoney (311) is 36. Actress Denise Richards is 35. Rock singer-musician Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day) is 34. Actor Jerry O'Connell is 32. Country singer Bryan White is 32. Actor Jason Ritter (“Joan of Arcadia”) is 26. TV personality Paris Hilton is 25. Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt is 25.

Thought for Today: “We are what we pretend to be so we must be careful what we pretend to be.” — Kurt Vonnegut, American author.