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Mao Tse-Tung, second from left, Chinese communist party leader, talks with U.S. President Richard Nixon in Beijing, Feb. 21, 1972, hours after the president's arrival to China. At left is Premier Chou En Lai and between the Chinese leaders is interpreter Tang Wen Shen.

Today in History - Friday, Feb. 21

Today is Friday, Feb. 21, the 52nd day of 2014. There are 313 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Feb. 21, 1965, black Muslim leader and civil rights activist Malcolm X, 39, was shot to death inside the Audubon Ballroom in New York by assassins identified as members of the Nation of Islam.

On this date:

In 1513, Pope Julius II, who had commissioned Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, died nearly four months after the project was completed.

In 1613, Mikhail Romanov, 16, was unanimously chosen by Russia's national assembly to be czar, beginning a dynasty that would last three centuries.

In 1862, Nathaniel Gordon became the first and only American slave-trader to be executed under the U.S. Piracy Law of 1820 as he was hanged in New York.

In 1885, the Washington Monument was dedicated.

In 1916, the World War I Battle of Verdun began in France as German forces attacked; the French were able to prevail after 10 months of fighting.

In 1925, The New Yorker magazine made its debut.

In 1945, during the World War II Battle of Iwo Jima, the escort carrier USS Bismarck Sea was sunk by kamikazes with the loss of 318 men.

In 1947, Edwin H. Land publicly demonstrated his Polaroid Land camera, which could produce a black-and-white photograph in 60 seconds.

In 1964, the first shipment of U.S. wheat purchased by the Soviet Union arrived in the port of Odessa.

In 1972, President Richard M. Nixon began his historic visit to China as he and his wife, Pat, arrived in Beijing.

In 1989, the future president of Czechoslovakia, playwright Vaclav Havel (VATS'-lahv HAH'-vel), was convicted for his role in a banned rally and sentenced to nine months in jail (he was released in May 1989).

In 1994, Aldrich Ames, a former head of Soviet counterintelligence for the CIA, and his wife, Maria del Rosario Casas Ames, were arrested on charges of spying for the former Soviet Union and later Russia. (Ames is serving a life prison term; his wife was released after serving four years of a five-year conspiracy sentence.)

Ten years ago: International Red Cross workers visited Saddam Hussein, who was in U.S. custody in Iraq, checking his health and allowing him to write a note to his family.

Five years ago: In a last full day of talks in Asia, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton stressed American and Chinese cooperation on the economy and climate change. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul to discuss the ongoing American strategic review of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.

One year ago: Drew Peterson, the Chicago-area police officer who'd gained notoriety after his much-younger fourth wife vanished in 2007, was sentenced to 38 years in prison for murdering his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

Today's Birthdays: Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe is 90. Movie director Bob Rafelson is 81. Actor Gary Lockwood is 77. Actor-director Richard Beymer is 75. Actor Peter McEnery is 74. U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., is 74. Film/music company executive David Geffen is 71. Actor Alan Rickman is 68. Actress Tyne Daly is 68. Actor Anthony Daniels is 68. Tricia Nixon Cox is 68. Former Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine, is 67. Rock musician Jerry Harrison (The Heads) is 65. Actress Christine Ebersole is 61. Actor William Petersen is 61. Actor Kelsey Grammer is 59. Country singer Mary Chapin Carpenter is 56. Actor Jack Coleman is 56. Actor Christopher Atkins is 53. Rock singer Ranking Roger is 53. Actor William Baldwin is 51. Rock musician Michael Ward is 47. Actress Aunjanue Ellis is 45. Blues musician Corey Harris is 45. Country singer Eric Heatherly is 44. Rock musician Eric Wilson is 44. Rock musician Tad Kinchla (Blues Traveler) is 41. Actress Jennifer Love Hewitt is 35. Singer Charlotte Church is 28. Actress Ashley Greene is 27. Actress Ellen Page is 27. Actor Corbin Bleu is 25. Actress Hayley Orrantia (TV: "The Goldbergs") is 20.

Thought for Today: "In scandal, as in robbery, the receiver is always as bad as the thief." — Lord Chesterfield, English author and statesman (1694-1773).

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