Today is Tuesday, Feb. 28, the 59th day of 2012 with 307 to follow.
The moon is waxing. The morning stars are Neptune, Mars and Saturn. The evening stars are Mercury, Jupiter, Uranus and Venus.
Those born on this day are under the sign of Pisces. They include French essayist Michel de Montaigne in 1533; American journalist and screenwriter Ben Hecht in 1894; chemist and physicist Linus Pauling, twice winner of the Nobel Prize, in 1901; movie director Vincente Minnelli in 1903; cartoonist Milton Caniff ("Terry and the Pirates," "Steve Canyon") in 1907; Svetlana Alliluyeva, daughter of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, in 1926; actors Billie Bird in 1908, Zero Mostel in 1915, Charles Durning in 1923 (age 89) and Gavin MacLeod in 1931 (age 81); architect Frank Gehry in 1929 (age 83); dancer Tommy Tune in 1939 (age 73); college basketball coach Dean Smith in 1931 (age 81); former race car driver Mario Andretti in 1940 (age 72); Rolling Stones member Brian Jones in 1942; former U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu in 1948 (age 64); actors Bernadette Peters and Mercedes Ruehl both in 1948 (age 64), John Turturro in 1957 (age 55), Rae Dawn Chong in 1961 (age 51) and Robert Sean Leonard in 1969 (age 43); newspaper columnist and Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman in 1953 (age 59); comedian Gilbert Gottfried in 1955 (age 57); and hockey player Eric Lindros in 1973 (age 39).
On this date in history:
In 1784, the Methodist Church was chartered by John Wesley.
In 1844, an explosion rocked the "war steamer" USS Princeton after it test-fired one of its guns. The blast killed or wounded a number of top U.S. government officials who were aboard.
In 1849, the first shipload of gold seekers arrived in San Francisco after a five-month journey from New York.
In 1854, the Republican Party was founded in a meeting at Ripon, Wis.
In 1885, the American Telephone and Telegraph Company was incorporated in New York as a subsidiary of American Bell Telephone.
In 1935, nylon was invented by DuPont researcher Wallace Carothers.
In 1942, Japanese forces landed in Java, the last Allied bastion in the Dutch East Indies.
In 1982, the J. Paul Getty Museum became the most richly endowed museum on Earth when it received a $1.2 billion bequest left by Getty.
In 1983, the concluding episode of the long-running television series "M*A*S*H" drew what was then the largest TV audience in U.S. history.
In 1986, Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme was assassinated on a street in Stockholm.
In 1990, the Soviet Parliament passed a law permitting the leasing of land to individuals for housing and farming. It was another radical change in the Stalinist scheme of a state-run economy.
In 1992, a bomb blamed on the IRA ripped through a London railway station, injuring at least 30 people and shutting down the British capital's rail and subway system.
In 1993, federal agents attempting to serve warrants on the Branch Davidian religious cult's compound near Waco, Texas, were met with a hail of bullets that left at least five dead and 15 wounded and marked the start of a month-and-a-half-long standoff.
Also in 1993, film actress Lillian Gish, a major star in the silent-era and active far into the sound era in a career spanning more than 80 years, died at age 96; and actress/dancer Ruby Keeler, star of '30s musicals, died at age 82.
In 1994, NATO was involved in actual combat for the first time in its 45-year history when four U.S. fighter planes operating under NATO auspices shot down four Serb planes that had violated the U.N. no-fly zone in central Bosnia.
In 1997, former FBI agent Earl Pitts pleaded guilty to spying and became only the second FBI agent convicted of espionage.
In 2001, a 6.8-magnitude earthquake rocked the U.S. Pacific Northwest, injuring 250 people and causing more than $1 billion in damage.
In 2003, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a ban on all forms of human cloning, setting up a Senate debate on what would be appropriate research.
In 2005, at least 125 Iraqi police recruits and others were killed when a suicide bomber drove into a crowd outside a government office south of Baghdad.
In 2006, at least 25 people died in an explosion outside a Shiite mosque in Baghdad and 33 more were killed in three other bombings.
In 2007, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Diego declared bankruptcy, halting trials on about 150 lawsuits alleging sexual abuse of children by priests.
In 2008, rivals in the disputed Kenyan presidential election signed a power-sharing agreement in an effort to end a violent two-month aftermath in which an estimated 1,500 people died and as many as 600,000 were displaced.
Also in 2008, Prince Harry, third in line for the British throne, was pulled from the front lines in Afghanistan immediately after word got out that the prince was on army duty. He had spent 10 weeks in the war zone. The British media knew of the deployment but kept quiet until the story broke on a U.S. Web site.
In 2009, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius accepted U.S. President Barack Obama's nomination as secretary of health and human services after former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., withdrew over a tax problem.
Also in 2009, radio broadcasting icon Paul Harvey, who entertained generations of listeners with his news and comments, died. He was 90.
In 2010, the Winter Olympics came to a close in Vancouver with host Canada winning the most gold medals (14) and the United States first in overall medals (37) including nine gold.
Also in 2010, a powerful winter storm with high winds and heavy rain killed more than 50 people in four European countries.
In 2011, the U.S., Labor Department announced the national unemployment rate dropped to 8.9 percent in February with 192,000 jobs added, the sharpest jobs increase since June.
A thought for the day: it was Ben Hecht who wrote, "Do it first, do it yourself and keep on doin' it."