Today in history: February 18

/ Source: The Associated Press

Today is Saturday, Feb. 18, the 49th day of 2006. There are 316 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On Feb. 18, 1885, Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” was published in the United States for the first time.

On this date:
In 1546, Martin Luther, leader of the Protestant Reformation in Germany, died.

In 1564, artist Michelangelo died in Rome.

In 1861, Jefferson Davis was sworn in as president of the Confederate States of America in Montgomery, Ala.

In 1930, the ninth planet of our solar system, Pluto, was discovered.

In 1960, the Eighth Winter Olympic Games were formally opened in Squaw Valley, Calif., by Vice President Nixon.

In 1970, the “Chicago 7” defendants were found innocent of conspiring to incite riots at the 1968 Democratic national convention.

In 1972, the California Supreme Court struck down the state’s death penalty.

In 1977, the space shuttle Enterprise, sitting atop a Boeing 747, went on its maiden “flight” above the Mojave Desert.

In 1988, Anthony M. Kennedy was sworn in as the 104th justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 1995, the NAACP replaced veteran chairman William Gibson with Myrlie Evers-Williams, the widow of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers.

Ten years ago: A member of the Irish Republican Army blew himself up and wounded nine other people when the briefcase bomb he was carrying detonated accidentally on a double-decker bus in London’s West End.

Five years ago: Auto racing star Dale Earnhardt Sr. died from injuries suffered in a crash at the Daytona 500; he was 49. Death also claimed baseball Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews at age 69, broadcaster Roger Caras at age 72, “Cheaper by the Dozen” co-author Frank B. Gilbreth Jr. at age 89 and painter Balthus at age 92. Veteran FBI agent Robert Philip Hanssen was arrested, accused of spying for Russia for more than 15 years.

One year ago: Explosions tore through Baghdad and a nearby city on the eve of Shiite Muslims’ holiest day, killing three dozen people. Uli Derickson, the flight attendant who helped save passengers during the 1985 TWA hijacking, died in Tucson, Ariz., at age 60.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Jack Palance is 85. Former Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown is 84. Actor George Kennedy is 81. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner, R-Va., is 79. Author Toni Morrison is 75. Movie director Milos Forman is 74. Singer Yoko Ono is 73. Singer/songwriter Bobby Hart is 67. Singer Irma Thomas is 65. Singer Herman Santiago (Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers) is 65. Singer Dennis DeYoung is 59. Actress Sinead Cusack is 58. Producer-director-writer John Hughes is 56. Actress Cybill Shepherd is 56. Singer Juice Newton is 54. Singer Randy Crawford is 54. Rock musician Robbie Bachman is 53. Rock musician Larry Rust (Iron Butterfly) is 53. Actor John Travolta is 52. Game show host Vanna White is 49. Actress Greta Scacchi is 46. Actor Matt Dillon is 42. Rapper Dr. Dre is 41. Actress Molly Ringwald is 38. Actress Sarah Brown is 31. Singer-musician Sean Watkins (Nickel Creek) is 29. Actor Tyrone Burton is 27. Actor Shane Lyons is 18.

Thought for Today: “What is man but his passion?” — Robert Penn Warren, American author, poet and critic (1905-1989).