Today is Wednesday, Feb. 29, the 60th day of 2012. There are 306 days left in the year. This is Leap Day.
Today's Highlights in History:
On Feb. 29, 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson's National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (also known as the Kerner Commission) warned that racism was causing America to move "toward two societies, one black, one white -- separate and unequal." The discovery of a "pulsar," a star which emits regular radio waves, was announced by Dr. Jocelyn Bell Burnell in Cambridge, England. At the Grammy Awards, the 5th Dimension's "Up, Up and Away" won record of the year for 1967, while album of the year honors went to The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."
On this date:
In 1504, Christopher Columbus, stranded in Jamaica during his fourth voyage to the West, used a correctly predicted lunar eclipse to frighten hostile natives into providing food for his crew.
In 1792, composer Gioachino Antonio Rossini was born in Pesaro, Italy.
In 1796, President George Washington proclaimed Jay's Treaty, which settled some outstanding differences with Britain, in effect.
In 1892, the United States and Britain agreed to submit to arbitration their dispute over seal-hunting rights in the Bering Sea. (A commission later ruled in favor of Britain.)
In 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed a seven-member commission to facilitate completion of the Panama Canal.
In 1908, the artist Balthus was born in Paris.
In 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a second Neutrality Act as he appealed to American businesses not to increase exports to belligerents.
In 1940, "Gone with the Wind" won eight Academy Awards, including best picture of 1939; Hattie McDaniel won for best supporting actress, the first black performer so honored.
In 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced he would seek a second term of office.
In 1960, the first Playboy Club, featuring waitresses clad in "bunny" outfits, opened in Chicago.
In 1984, Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau announced he was stepping down after more than 15 combined years in power.
In 1996, Daniel Green was convicted in Lumberton, N.C., of murdering James R. Jordan, the father of basketball star Michael Jordan, during a 1993 roadside holdup. (Green and an accomplice, Larry Martin Demery, were sentenced to life in prison.) A Peruvian Boeing 737 crashed on approach to Arequipa, killing all 123 people on board.
Twelve years ago (2000): George W. Bush won Republican presidential primaries in Virginia, Washington state and North Dakota, defeating John McCain; Vice President Al Gore crushed fellow Democrat Bill Bradley in Washington state. Six-year-old Kayla Rolland was fatally shot by a fellow first-grader at Buell Elementary School in Mount Morris Township, Mich. Sparky Anderson was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame along with Turkey Stearnes of the Negro leagues and 19th-century second baseman Bid McPhee. Kathie Lee Gifford announced her intention to leave the syndicated morning show "Live with Regis & Kathie Lee."
Eight years ago (2004): Facing rebellion, Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide resigned and left for exile in the Central African Republic. (Aristide returned to Haiti in March 2011.) "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" won a record-tying 11 Academy Awards, including best picture; Sean Penn took the best-actor prize for "Mystic River" and Charlize Theron won best actress for "Monster." Playwright Jerome Lawrence died in Malibu, Calif., at age 88.
Four years ago (2008): Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama accused rival Hillary Rodham Clinton of trying to "play on people's fears to scare up votes" with a TV ad showing sleeping children and asking who would be more qualified to answer a national security emergency call at 3 a.m.
Today's Birthdays: Actress Michele Morgan is 92. Former All-Star baseball player Al Rosen is 88. Actor Joss Ackland is 84. Actor Alex Rocco is 76. Former space shuttle astronaut Jack Lousma is 76. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople is 72. Actor Dennis Farina is 68. Actress Phyllis Frelich is 68. Motivational speaker Tony Robbins is 52. Actor Antonio Sabato Jr. is 40. Rapper Ja Rule is 36.
Thought for Today: "Well, it has happened again. The Earth has circled four times around the sun, astronomers have designated this a leap year and anxious bachelors won't answer their telephones until midnight." -- David O'Reilly, American journalist.