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Today in History - Feb. 11

Celebrity birthdays, highlights in history, plus more facts about this day
/ Source: The Associated Press

Today is Sunday, Feb. 11, the 42nd day of 2007. There are 323 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On Feb. 11, 1945, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Josef Stalin signed the Yalta Agreement during World War II.

On this date:
In 1812, Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry signed a redistricting law favoring his party — giving rise to the term “gerrymandering.”

In 1847, American inventor Thomas Alva Edison was born in Milan, Ohio.

In 1858, a French girl, Bernadette Soubirous, claimed for the first time to have seen a vision of the Virgin Mary near Lourdes.

In 1861, President-elect Abraham Lincoln departed Springfield, Ill., for Washington.

In 1929, the Lateran Treaty was signed, with Italy recognizing the independence and sovereignty of Vatican City.

In 1937, a six-week-old sit-down strike against General Motors ended, with the company agreeing to recognize the United Automobile Workers Union.

In 1972, McGraw-Hill Publishing Co. and Life magazine canceled plans to publish what had turned out to be a fake autobiography of reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes.

In 1979, followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini seized power in Iran.

In 1986, Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky was released by the Soviet Union after nine years of captivity as part of an East-West prisoner exchange.

In 1990, South African black activist Nelson Mandela was freed after 27 years in captivity.

Ten years ago: In a display of bipartisan unity, President Clinton and congressional leaders agreed to focus the new Congress on balancing the budget and other issues ranging from cutting taxes to solving the capital city’s myriad problems. Space shuttle Discovery was launched on a mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope.

Five years ago: Israel attacked Palestinian security headquarters in Gaza City in response to unprecedented Palestinian rocket fire and a shooting attack on Israeli civilians. Argentina fully uncoupled the peso from the U.S. dollar for the first time in more than a decade. Americans Ross Powers, Danny Kass and J.J. Thomas took gold, silver and bronze in the men’s halfpipe at the Salt Lake City Olympics. Controversy erupted at the games as Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze were crowned the champions of pairs figure skating, although many observers felt the best duo was Jamie Sale and David Pelletier of Canada.

One year ago: Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and wounded Harry Whittington, a companion during a weekend quail-hunting trip in Texas. Dubai Ports World, a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates, won approval from a secretive U.S. panel for a $6.8 billion deal to take over operations at six American ports. American Chad Hedrick won the 5,000 meters in speedskating at the Olympics in Turin, Italy. “Jaws” author Peter Benchley died in Princeton, N.J., at age 65.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Leslie Nielsen is 81. Actor Conrad Janis is 79. Actress Tina Louise is 73. Actor Burt Reynolds is 71. Songwriter Gerry Goffin is 68. Singer Bobby “Boris” Pickett is 67. Bandleader Sergio Mendes is 66. Rhythm-and-blues singer Otis Clay is 65. Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt is 56. Actor Philip Anglim is 54. Actress Catherine Hickland is 51. Actress Carey Lowell is 46. Singer Sheryl Crow is 45. Actress Jennifer Aniston is 38. Actor Damian Lewis is 36. Singer D’Angelo is 33. Actor Brice Beckham is 31. Rock MC/vocalist Mike Shinoda (Linkin Park) is 30. Singer-actress Brandy is 28. Actor Matthew Lawrence is 27. Rhythm-and-blues singer Kelly Rowland is 26. Actress Q’orianka Kilcher is 17. Actor Taylor Lautner is 15.

Thought for Today: “Life does not count by years. Some suffer a lifetime in a day, and so grow old between the rising and the setting of the sun.” — Augusta Jane Evans, American novelist (1835-1909).