Today In History

Today is Friday, Feb. 18, the 49th day of 2011. There are 316 days left in the year.
Highlights in history on this date:
1685 - La Salle, French explorer, establishes first settlement on American soil in Texas.
1861 - Jefferson Davis is sworn in as president of the secessionist Confederate States of America in Montgomery, Alabama.
1884 - British forces under Gen. Charles Gordon reach Khartoum in Sudan, but the rebel Mahdi rejects his offer to negotiate.
1885 - Mark Twain's "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" is published in the United States.
1930 - American astronomer Clyde W. Tombaugh discovers the planet Pluto.
1945 - Battle for Iwo Jima begins in Pacific in World War II.
1953 - "Bwana Devil," the movie that heralded the 3D fad of the 1950s, opens in New York City.
1964 - Earthquakes rock Azores in eastern Atlantic, and ships battle high waves to evacuate people from San Jorge Island.
1965 - African nation of Gambia becomes independent within British Commonwealth.
1970 - Young Filipinos storm U.S. Embassy compound in Manila, protesting U.S. military bases in Philippines and U.S. economic policy.
1977 - The space shuttle Enterprise, sitting atop a Boeing 747, goes on its maiden flight above the Mojave Desert.
1988 - Boris Yeltsin is ousted from ruling Communist Party Politburo in Moscow.
1989 - Afghan government declares state of emergency "to ensure peace and security" in war-ravaged country.
1991 - Irish Republican Army claims responsibility for bomb that explodes in London's Victoria Station during rush hour, killing one person and injuring at least 40.
1992 - Libya produces two men accused of blowing up an American jetliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, but insists they'll never go to trial in the West.
1993 - U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali rebukes a top official for suspending relief shipments to eastern Bosnia and Sarajevo, and orders the aid deliveries resumed.
1994 - Bosnian Serbs struggle with chest-high snow to try to beat a NATO deadline for pulling heavy guns from around Sarajevo.
1995 - Fighting ebbs in Chechnya as a fragile truce goes into its final hours with no word about resumption of peace talks.
1996 - Two car bombs explode near Algiers, Algeria, killing 12 and wounding 35 during the final hours of Ramadan celebrations.
1997 - Mexico's top anti-drug official, Gen. Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo, is dismissed and later sentenced for taking money from a drug kingpin.
1998 - Kenneth Kaunda, the former president of Zambia, is charged with concealing information about a failed coup. In June, the charges are dropped and Kaunda freed from house arrest.
1999 - Three Greek Cabinet ministers are fired after the government fails to protect Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, who was arrested by Turkey three days earlier while hiding in the Kenyan Embassy in Greece.
2000 - The Alabama Supreme Court rules that a waitress who received a lottery ticket worth $10 million as a tip does not have to share the jackpot with her co-workers.
2001 - Veteran FBI agent Robert Philip Hanssen is arrested on charges of spying for Russia for more than 15 years.
2002 - Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov, the Russian navy's commander in chief, discloses that the Kursk, a nuclear-powered submarine that sank in the Barents Sea in August 2000, had been loaded with obsolete torpedoes that contained unstable fuel.
2003 - A 56-year-old man ignites a container of flammable liquid inside a subway train in Taegu, South Korea, starting a blaze that engulfs two trains, killing at least 133 people.
2004 - Runaway train cars carrying a lethal mix of fuel and chemicals derail, catch fire and then explode hours later in northeast Iran, killing more than 200 people, injuring at least 400 and leaving dozens trapped beneath crumbled mud homes.
2005 - Togo's new military-installed leader promises to hold presidential elections within two months, bowing to intense pressure at home and abroad to end his summary succession to power following the death of his 38-year dictator father.
2006 - Muslim protesters attack Christians and burn churches when a march against cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammad turns violent in northeastern Nigeria, killing at least 15 people in the first major protest to erupt over the issue in Africa's most populous nation.
2007 - British Prime Minister Tony Blair announces plans to overhaul gun laws after three teenage boys were shot dead in south London this month, prompting a national debate about guns and gangs among youths.
2008 - Pakistan's opposition parties win a parliamentary majority, threatening the rule of President Pervez Musharraf, a key American ally in the war on terror.
2009 - French President Nicolas Sarkozy pledges to spend (EURO)2.6 billion ($3.3 billion) on measures to soften the blow of the global financial crisis on France's most vulnerable citizens.
2010 - President Barack Obama personally welcomes the Dalai Lama to the White House Thursday and lauds his goals for the Tibetan people, but he keeps their get-together off-camera and low-key in an attempt to avoid inflaming tensions with China.
Today's Birthdays:
Alessandro Volta, Italian physicist (1745-1827); Nicolo Paganini, Italian composer-violinist (1784-1840); Milos Forman, Czech film director (1932--); George Kennedy, U.S. actor (1925--); Toni Morrison, U.S. author (1931--); Yoko Ono, U.S. singer/John Lennon's widow (1933--); John Hughes, U.S. screenwriter/director (1950--2009); Cybill Shepherd, U.S. actress (1950--); Randy Crawford, U.S. singer (1952--); John Travolta, U.S. actor (1954--); Greta Scacchi, British-Italian actress (1960--); Matt Dillon, U.S. actor (1964--); Dr. Dre, U.S. rapper (1965--).
Thought For Today:
Temperament is temper that is too old to spank _ Charlotte Greenwood, American actress-comedian (1893-1978).