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April 19, 2014

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Today in History

Updated Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014 | 9:01 p.m.

Today is Monday, Feb. 17, the 48th day of 2014. There are 317 days left in the year. This is Presidents' Day.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Feb. 17, 1864, during the Civil War, the Union ship USS Housatonic was rammed and sunk in Charleston Harbor, S.C., by the Confederate hand-cranked submarine HL Hunley, which also sank.

On this date:

In 1863, the International Red Cross was founded in Geneva.

In 1865, Columbia, S.C., burned as the Confederates evacuated and Union forces moved in. (It's not clear which side set the blaze.)

In 1897, the forerunner of the National PTA, the National Congress of Mothers, convened its first meeting in Washington.

In 1904, the original two-act version of Giacomo Puccini's opera "Madama Butterfly" received a poor reception at its premiere at La Scala in Milan, Italy.

In 1913, the Armory Show, a landmark modern art exhibit, opened in New York City.

In 1933, Newsweek magazine was first published by Thomas J.C. Martyn under the title "News-Week."

In 1944, during World War II, U.S. forces invaded Eniwetok Atoll, encountering little initial resistance from Imperial Japanese troops. (The Americans secured the atoll less than a week later.)

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

In 1959, the United States launched Vanguard 2, a satellite which carried meteorological equipment.

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

In 1972, President Richard M. Nixon departed the White House with his wife, Pat, on a historic trip to China.

In 1988, Lt. Col. William Higgins, a Marine Corps officer serving with a United Nations truce monitoring group, was kidnapped in southern Lebanon by Iranian-backed terrorists (he was later slain by his captors).

Ten years ago: John Kerry won the Wisconsin Democratic presidential primary, with John Edwards placing second and Howard Dean coming in a distant third. Cingular Wireless agreed to pay nearly $41 billion in cash to buy AT&T Wireless Services. Former Mexican president Jose Lopez Portillo died in Mexico City at age 83.

Five years ago: President Barack Obama signed a mammoth, $787 billion economic stimulus package into law in Denver; he also approved adding some 17,000 U.S. troops for the war in Afghanistan.

One year ago: Danica Patrick won the Daytona 500 pole, becoming the first woman to secure the top spot for any Sprint Cup race. (Patrick covered the 2½-mile Superspeedway in 45.817 seconds, averaging 196.434 mph.) The Western Conference beat the East 143-138 in the NBA All-Star game. Mindy McCready, 37, who'd hit the top of U.S. country music charts before personal problems sidetracked her career, died by her own hand in Heber Springs, Ark.

Today's Birthdays: Actor Hal Holbrook is 89. Mystery writer Ruth Rendell is 84. Singer Bobby Lewis is 81. Actor-comedian Barry Humphries (aka "Dame Edna") is 80. Country singer-songwriter Johnny Bush is 79. Actress Christina Pickles is 79. Football Hall-of-Famer Jim Brown is 78. Actress Mary Ann Mobley is 77. Actress Brenda Fricker is 69. Actress Rene Russo is 60. Actor Richard Karn is 58. Actor Lou Diamond Phillips is 52. Basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan is 51. Actor-comedian Larry, the Cable Guy is 51. TV personality Rene Syler is 51. Movie director Michael Bay is 50. Singer Chante Moore is 47. Rock musician Timothy J. Mahoney (311) is 44. Actor Dominic Purcell is 44. Olympic gold and silver medal skier Tommy Moe is 44. Actress Denise Richards is 43. Rock singer-musician Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day) is 42. Actor Jerry O'Connell is 40. Country singer Bryan White is 40. Actress Kelly Carlson is 38. Actor Ashton Holmes is 36. Actor Jason Ritter is 34. TV personality Paris Hilton is 33. Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt is 33. TV host Daphne Oz (TV: "The Chew") is 28. Actor Chord Overstreet (TV: "Glee") is 25. Singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran is 23. Actress Meaghan Martin is 22.

Thought for Today: "Life resembles a novel more often than novels resemble life." — George Sand, French author (1804-1876).

(Above Advance for Use Monday, Feb. 17)

Copyright 2014, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.