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Today in History

Today is Monday, Feb. 11, the 42nd day of 2013. There are 323 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Feb. 11, 1963, American author and poet Sylvia Plath was found dead in her London flat, a suicide; she was 30.

On this date:

In 1812, Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry signed a re-districting law favoring his Democratic-Republican Party — giving rise to the term "gerrymandering."

In 1858, a French girl, Bernadette Soubirous (soo-bee-ROO'), reported the first of 18 visions of a lady dressed in white in a grotto near Lourdes. (The Catholic Church later accepted that the visions were of the Virgin Mary.)

In 1862, the Civil War Battle of Fort Donelson began in Tennessee. (Union forces led by Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant captured the fort five days later.)

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 1945, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Josef Stalin signed the Yalta Agreement during World War II.

In 1960, "Tonight Show" host Jack Paar walked off the program in a censorship dispute with NBC. (Despite his very public resignation, Paar returned to the Tonight Show less than a month later.)

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 1975, Margaret Thatcher was elected leader of Britain's opposition Conservative Party.

In 1979, followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (hoh-MAY'-nee) seized power in Iran.

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

In 1993, President Bill Clinton announced his choice of Miami prosecutor Janet Reno to be the nation's first female attorney general, after two earlier candidates stumbled because they'd hired illegal aliens.

Ten years ago: Addressing a historic rift within NATO, Secretary of State Colin Powell told a congressional hearing that the future of the military alliance was at risk if it failed to confront the crisis with Iraq. The al-Jazeera Arab satellite station broadcast what was believed to be a new audio statement from Osama bin Laden urging Iraqis to carry out suicide attacks on Americans.

Five years ago: The Defense Department charged Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (HAH'-leed shayk moh-HAH'-med) and five other detainees at Guantanamo Bay with murder and war crimes in connection with the Sept. 11 attacks. (Charges against one were later dropped; the trial of the other five has yet to take place.) Yahoo Inc. rejected Microsoft Corp.'s unsolicited takeover bid. Tom Lantos, a 14-term California congressman who was a forceful voice for human rights, died in Bethesda, Md., at age 80.

One year ago: Whitney Houston, 48, who'd ruled as pop music's queen until her majestic voice was ravaged by drug use and her regal image was tarnished by erratic behavior and a tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown, was found dead in a hotel room in Beverly Hills, Calif. Mitt Romney eked out a narrow win in Maine's Republican caucuses.

Today's Birthdays: Actor Conrad Janis is 85. Actress Tina Louise is 79. Actor Burt Reynolds is 77. Songwriter Gerry Goffin is 74. Actor Sonny Landham is 72. Bandleader Sergio Mendes is 72. Rhythm-and-blues singer Otis Clay is 71. Actor Philip Anglim is 61. Actress Catherine Hickland is 57. Rock musician David Uosikkinen (aw-SIHK'-keh-nihn) (The Hooters) is 57. Actress Carey Lowell is 52. Singer Sheryl Crow is 51. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is 49. Actress Jennifer Aniston is 44. Actor Damian Lewis is 42. Actress Marisa Petroro is 41. Singer D'Angelo is 39. Actor Brice Beckham is 37. Rock M-C/vocalist Mike Shinoda (Linkin Park) is 36. Singer-actress Brandy is 34. Actor Matthew Lawrence is 33. Rhythm-and-blues singer Kelly Rowland is 32. Singer Aubrey O'Day is 29. Actress Q'orianka (kohr-ee-AHN'-kuh) Kilcher is 23. Actor Taylor Lautner is 21.

Thought for Today: "Perhaps when we find ourselves wanting everything, it is because we are dangerously close to wanting nothing." — Sylvia Plath (1932-1963).

(Above Advance for Use Monday, Feb. 11)

Copyright 2013, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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