February 18th, 1885:

(AP Photos)

(NAT of "Huck Finn" by Andru Bemis)

Mark Twain's "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" --- one of the Great American novels --- is first published in the United States.

1861:

(AP Photos)

Months before the Civil War breaks out, Jefferson Davis is sworn in as President of the newly-formed Confederate States of America.

1970:

(AP Photos)

Five of the 'Chicago Seven' defendants are found guilty of conspiring to incite riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

The convictions are later overturned.

2001:

(AP Photos)

Veteran FBI agent Robert Hanssen is arrested --- accused of spying for Moscow for years.

At first, Hanssen pleads innocent, but then changes his plea to guilty --- and he's sentenced to life in prison.

Also that same year:

(AP Photos)

(SOT of NASCAR's president)

In Florida, auto racing star Dale Earnhardt, Senior dies from injuries received in a crash at the Daytona 500. He was 49.

And, 1954:

(AP Photos)

(NAT of Travolta)

Actor John Travolta --- whose movie roles include "Saturday Night Fever" (pause), "Grease" (pause) and "Pulp Fiction" (pause) --- is born in Englewood, New Jersey.

Today in History, February 18th --- ___ ___, The Associated Press.

*****

SOURCES:

b0873 --- Today in History for February 18th --- 02/06/2006

b0285 --- Today in History for May 31st --- 05/22/2006

Britannica:

Mark Twain: http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9073929/Mark-Twain

Jefferson Davis: http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9029515/Jefferson-Davis

Chicago 7 Chronology: http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/Chicago7/chronology.html

Encarta:

John Travolta: http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761582107/Travolta_John.html

*****

^Today in History<

^By The Associated Press=

Today is Saturday, Feb. 18, the 49th day of 2006. There are 316 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Feb. 18, 1885, Mark Twain's "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" was published in the United States for the first time.

On this date:

In 1546, Martin Luther, leader of the Protestant Reformation in Germany, died.

In 1564, artist Michelangelo died in Rome.

In 1861, Jefferson Davis was sworn in as president of the Confederate States of America in Montgomery, Ala.

In 1930, the ninth planet of our solar system, Pluto, was discovered.

In 1960, the Eighth Winter Olympic Games were formally opened in Squaw Valley, Calif., by Vice President Nixon.

In 1970, five of the "Chicago 7" defendants were found guilty of conspiring to incite riots at the 1968 Democratic national convention.

In 1972, the California Supreme Court struck down the state's death penalty.

In 1977, the space shuttle Enterprise, sitting atop a Boeing 747, went on its maiden "flight" above the Mojave Desert.

In 1988, Anthony M. Kennedy was sworn in as the 104th justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 1995, the NAACP replaced veteran chairman William Gibson with Myrlie Evers-Williams, the widow of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers.

Ten years ago: A member of the Irish Republican Army blew himself up and wounded nine other people when the briefcase bomb he was carrying detonated accidentally on a double-decker bus in London's West End.

Five years ago: Auto racing star Dale Earnhardt Sr. died from injuries suffered in a crash at the Daytona 500; he was 49. Death also claimed baseball Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews at age 69, broadcaster Roger Caras at age 72, "Cheaper by the Dozen" co-author Frank B. Gilbreth Jr. at age 89 and painter Balthus at age 92. Veteran FBI agent Robert Philip Hanssen was arrested, accused of spying for Russia for more than 15 years.

One year ago: Explosions tore through Baghdad and a nearby city on the eve of Shiite Muslims' holiest day, killing three dozen people. Uli Derickson, the flight attendant who helped save passengers during the 1985 TWA hijacking, died in Tucson, Ariz., at age 60.

Today's Birthdays: Actor Jack Palance is 85. Former Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown is 84. Actor George Kennedy is 81. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner, R-Va., is 79. Author Toni Morrison is 75. Movie director Milos Forman is 74. Singer Yoko Ono is 73. Singer/songwriter Bobby Hart is 67. Singer Irma Thomas is 65. Singer Herman Santiago (Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers) is 65. Singer Dennis DeYoung is 59. Actress Sinead Cusack is 58. Producer-director-writer John Hughes is 56. Actress Cybill Shepherd is 56. Singer Juice Newton is 54. Singer Randy Crawford is 54. Rock musician Robbie Bachman is 53. Rock musician Larry Rust (Iron Butterfly) is 53. Actor John Travolta is 52. Game show host Vanna White is 49. Actress Greta Scacchi is 46. Actor Matt Dillon is 42. Rapper Dr. Dre is 41. Actress Molly Ringwald is 38. Actress Sarah Brown is 31. Singer-musician Sean Watkins (Nickel Creek) is 29. Actor Tyrone Burton is 27. Actor Shane Lyons is 18.

Thought for Today: "What is man but his passion?" _ Robert Penn Warren, American author, poet and critic (1905-1989).

*****

^Today in History<

^By The Associated Press=

Today is Wednesday, May 31, the 151st day of 2006. There are 214 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On May 31, 1889, more than 2,000 people perished when a dam break sent water rushing through Johnstown, Pa.

On this date:

In 1809, composer Franz Joseph Haydn died in Vienna, Austria.

In 1819, poet Walt Whitman was born in West Hill, N.Y.

In 1910, the Union of South Africa was founded.

In 1916, during World War I, British and German fleets fought the naval Battle of Jutland off Denmark; there was no clear-cut victor, although the British suffered heavier losses.

In 1961, South Africa became an independent republic.

In 1962, World War II Gestapo official Adolf Eichmann was hanged in Israel for his role in the Nazi Holocaust.

In 1970, tens of thousands of people died in an earthquake in Peru.

In 1976, Martha Mitchell, the estranged wife of former Attorney General John N. Mitchell, died in New York.

In 1977, the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, three years in the making, was completed.

In 1994, the United States announced it was no longer aiming long-range nuclear missiles at targets in the former Soviet Union.

Ten years ago: Benjamin Netanyahu claimed victory in Israel's election for prime minister, defeating incumbent Shimon Peres by nine-tenths of one percent.

Five years ago: Veteran FBI agent Robert Hanssen pleaded innocent to charges of spying for Moscow. (He later changed his plea to guilty and was sentenced to life in prison.) Moderate PLO leader Faisal Husseini died at age 60. Actress and TV personality Arlene Francis died in San Francisco at age 93.

One year ago: Breaking a silence of 30 years, former FBI official W. Mark Felt stepped forward as "Deep Throat," the secret Washington Post source that helped bring down President Nixon during the Watergate scandal. President Bush, faced with a string of setbacks on Capitol Hill, shrugged off questions about his political clout and promised during a news conference to keep pushing Congress for a Social Security overhaul. Oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once Russia's richest man, was convicted of charges including fraud and tax evasion and sentenced to nine years in prison.

Today's Birthdays: Actress Elaine Stewart is 77. Actor-director Clint Eastwood is 76. Singer Peter Yarrow is 68. Former Anglican Church envoy Terry Waite is 67. Singer-musician Augie Meyers is 66. Actress Sharon Gless is 63. Football Hall-of-Famer Joe Namath is 63. Actor Tom Berenger is 56. Actor Gregory Harrison is 56. Actress Roma Maffia is 48. Comedian Chris Elliott is 46. Actor Kyle Secor is 46. Actress Lea Thompson is 45. Singer Corey Hart is 44. Rapper DMC is 42. Rapper Kid Frost is 42. Actress Brooke Shields is 41. Country musician Ed Adkins (The Derailers) is 39. Actor Colin Farrell is 30. Rock musician Scott Klopfenstein (Reel Big Fish) is 29. Actor Eric Christian Olsen is 29. Actor Curtis Williams Jr. is 19.

Thought for Today: "Every ambitious man is a captive and every covetous one a pauper." _ Arab proverb.

*****

Mark Twain

born Nov. 30, 1835, Florida, Mo., U.S.

died April 21, 1910, Redding, Conn.

pseudonym of Samuel Langhorne Clemens American humorist, writer, and lecturer who won a worldwide audience for his stories of youthful adventures, especially The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), Life on the Mississippi (1883), and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)...

...Huckleberry Finn, by general agreement, is Twain's finest book and an outstanding American novel. Its narrator is Huck, a youngster whose carelessly recorded vernacular speech is admirably adapted to detailed and poetic descriptions of scenes, vivid representations of characters, and narrative renditions that are both broadly comic and subtly ironic. Huck, son of the village drunkard, is uneducated, superstitious, and sometimes credulous; but he also has a native shrewdness, a cheerfulness that is hard to put down, compassionate tolerance, and an instinctive tendency to reach the right decisions about important matters. He runs away from his increasingly violent father and, with his companion, the runaway slave Jim, makes a long and frequently interrupted voyage floating down the Mississippi River on a raft.

*****

Jefferson Davis

born June 3, 1808, Christian county, Ky., U.S.

died Dec. 6, 1889, New Orleans, La.

president of the Confederate States of America throughout its existence during the American Civil War (1861-65). After the war, he was imprisoned for two years and indicted for treason but never tried...

...President of the Confederacy.

On Jan. 21, 1861, twelve days after Mississippi seceded, Davis made a moving farewell speech in the Senate and pleaded eloquently for peace. Before he reached his Brierfield plantation, he was commissioned major general to head Mississippi's armed forces and prepare its defense. But within two weeks the Confederate Convention in Montgomery, Ala., chose him as provisional president of the Confederacy. He was inaugurated on Feb. 18, 1861, and his first act was to send a peace commission to Washington, D.C., to prevent an armed conflict. Lincoln refused to see his emissaries and the next month decided to send armed ships to Charleston, S.C., to resupply the beleaguered Union garrison at Fort Sumter. Davis reluctantly ordered the bombardment of the fort (April 12-13), which marked the beginning of the American Civil War. Two days later Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers, a move that brought about the secession of Virginia and three other states from the Union.

*****

John Travolta

born in 1954, American motion-picture actor, whose charismatic screen presence made him one of the most popular stars of the 1970s. After a period in eclipse during the 1980s, he experienced renewed success in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Born in Englewood, New Jersey, Travolta began his acting career while still in his teens, performing in a number of small stage productions, television commercials, and in the Broadway musical Grease (1972), about 1950s teen culture. He first achieved fame as a simpleminded classroom clown on the popular television situation comedy "Welcome Back, Kotter" (series ran 1975 to 1979). Travolta also made several highly successful motion pictures during this period, including Carrie (1976), a horror film; Saturday Night Fever (1977), a movie about disco culture; and the film version of Grease (1978). He was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in Saturday Night Fever as an ambitious working-class youth who dances in nightclubs as a means of escape and self-expression.

In the 1980s Travolta found fewer roles to match his talent, partly because he had become so thoroughly associated with brief trends in popular American culture of the 1970s, like the disco-music craze (see Rhythm-and-Blues Music; Funk and Disco). After delivering notable performances in such commercially successful films as Urban Cowboy (1980) and Blow Out (1981), Travolta's popularity declined and he slipped into relative obscurity until he appeared in the comedy film Look Who's Talking (1989) and its sequels, Look Who's Talking Too (1990) and Look Who's Talking Now (1993). Travolta regained widespread critical and popular acclaim in 1994 when American director Quentin Tarantino cast him in the film Pulp Fiction, which won the prestigious Palme d'Or award for best picture at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival. Travolta's performance in the film as a philosophical assassin earned him a second Academy Award nomination for best actor.

Suddenly in demand again in Hollywood, Travolta followed up the success of Pulp Fiction with similarly hard-boiled roles in films such as Get Shorty (1995), Broken Arrow (1996), and Face/Off (1997). Travolta has also continued to appear in romantic comedies, such as Michael (1996), directed by Nora Ephron, and She's So Lovely (1997), directed by Nick Cassavetes.

Travolta was able to demonstrate more of his range in Mad City (1997), a film directed by Constantin Costa-Gavras. In this somewhat disappointing satire on the media, he played a museum security guard who, after losing his job, blunders into taking museum visitors and staff hostage. In Primary Colors (1998) Travolta played President Jack Stanton opposite Emma Thompson as the First Lady. The Mike Nichols film was based on a bestselling novel, which fictionalized details of the successful 1992 presidential campaign of Bill Clinton.

In 1999 Travolta starred in The General's Daughter, playing a detective hired to investigate the rape and murder of a well-respected base commander's daughter, an investigation that reveals a slew of cover-ups at West Point. In 2001 he appeared in the thrillers Swordfish, about a covert CIA plot to fund counterterrorist operations, and Domestic Disturbance, in which he played a divorced man who discovers that his teenage son's stepfather is a murderer. In 2005 he reprised the role of Chili Palmer in Be Cool, a character he first played in Get Shorty.