Today is Thursday, Feb. 21, the 52nd day of 2013. There are 313 days left in the year.
On Feb. 21, 1613, Mikhail Romanov, 16, was unanimously chosen by Russia’s national assembly to be czar, beginning a dynasty that would last three centuries.
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 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 1912, the Great Fifth Ward Fire broke out in Houston, Texas; although property losses topped $3 million, no one was killed in the blaze.
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 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.
In 1972, President Richard M. Nixon began his historic visit to China as he and his wife, Pat, arrived in Beijing.
In 1973, Israeli fighter planes shot down Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 114 over the Sinai Desert, killing all but five of the 113 people on board.
In 1986, Larry Wu-tai Chin, the first American found guilty of spying for China, killed himself in his Virginia jail cell.
Ten years ago: The owners of The Station nightclub in West Warwick, R.I., where 100 people perished in a fast-moving fire the night before, denied giving the rock band Great White permission to use fireworks blamed for setting off the blaze, although the band’s singer insisted the use of pyrotechnics had been approved. Chief U.N. inspector Hans Blix ordered the destruction of dozens of Iraqi missiles with ranges that violated U.N. limits. Michael Jordan became the first 40-year-old in NBA history to score 40 or more points, getting 43 in the Washington Wizards’ 89-86 win over the New Jersey Nets.
Five years ago: Serb rioters broke into the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade and set fire during protests against Western support for an independent Kosovo. President George W. Bush concluded his six-day African tour in Liberia, where he offered help to lift the country from years of ruinous fighting. A Venezuelan plane crashed in the Andes, killing all 46 on board. Author Robin Moore, who wrote “The French Connection” and “The Green Berets,” died in Hopkinsville, Ky., at age 82. Former Arizona Gov. Evan Mecham, who was removed in a 1988 impeachment trial, died in Phoenix at age 83.
One year ago: Greeks were torn between relief and foreboding on the news that their country had received a new massive bailout – a $170 billion rescue package created by the 17-nation eurozone, with conditions. Publisher Barney Rosset, 89, who introduced the U.S. to such underground classics as “Tropic of Cancer” and “Lady Chatterley’s Lover,” died in New York.
Today’s birthdays: Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe is 89. Movie director Bob Rafelson is 80. Actor Gary Lockwood is 76. Actor-director Richard Beymer is 74. Actor Peter McEnery is 73. U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., is 73. Film/music company executive David Geffen is 70. Actor Alan Rickman is 67. Actress Tyne Daly is 67. Actor Anthony Daniels is 67. Tricia Nixon Cox is 67. Former Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine, is 66. Rock musician Jerry Harrison (The Heads) is 64. Actress Christine Ebersole is 60. Actor William Petersen is 60. Actor Kelsey Grammer is 58. Country singer Mary Chapin Carpenter is 55. Actor Jack Coleman is 55. Actor Christopher Atkins is 52. Rock singer Ranking Roger is 52. Actor William Baldwin is 50. Rock musician Michael Ward is 46. Actress Aunjanue Ellis is 44. Blues musician Corey Harris is 44. Country singer Eric Heatherly is 43. Rock musician Eric Wilson is 43. Rock musician Tad Kinchla (Blues Traveler) is 40. Actress Jennifer Love Hewitt is 34. Singer Charlotte Church is 27. Actress Ashley Greene is 26. Actress Ellen Page is 26. Actor Corbin Bleu is 24.
Thought for today: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” — Henry Ford, American industrialist (1863-1947).