Today in History


By the Associated Press

Today is Monday, Dec. 7, the 341st day of 2015. There are 24 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Dec. 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese navy launched a surprise attack on the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii as part of a plan to pre-empt any American military response to Japan’s planned conquest of Southeast Asian territories; the raid, which claimed some 2,400 American lives, prompted the United States to declare war against Japan the next day.

On this date:

In 43 B.C., Roman statesman and scholar Marcus Tullius Cicero was slain at the order of the Second Triumvirate.

In 1787, Delaware became the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

In 1842, the New York Philharmonic performed its first concert.

In 1909, chemist Leo H. Baekeland received a U.S. patent for Bakelite (BAY’-kuh-lyt), the first synthetic plastic.

In 1946, fire broke out at the Winecoff (WYN’-kahf) Hotel in Atlanta; the blaze killed 119 people, including hotel founder W. Frank Winecoff.

In 1965, Pope Paul VI and Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras I simultaneously lifted the mutual excommunications that had led to the split of their churches in 1054.

In 1975, author-playwright Thornton Wilder, 78, died in Hamden, Connecticut.

In 1985, retired Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart died in Hanover, New Hampshire, at age 70.

In 1987, 43 people were killed after a gunman aboard a Pacific Southwest Airlines jetliner in California apparently opened fire on a fellow passenger, the pilots and himself, causing the plane to crash. Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev set foot on American soil for the first time, arriving for a Washington summit with President Ronald Reagan.

In 1990, actress Joan Bennett died in Scarsdale, New York, at age 80.

In 1995, a 746-pound probe from the Galileo spacecraft hurtled into Jupiter’s atmosphere, sending back data to the mothership before it was presumably destroyed.

In 2004, Hamid Karzai (HAH’-mihd KAHR’-zeye) was sworn in as Afghanistan’s first popularly elected president.

Ten years ago: Federal air marshals shot and killed an airline passenger, Rigoberto Alpizar, at Miami International Airport after he claimed to have a bomb. (It turned out that Alpizar, who suffered from bipolar disorder, had no bomb.)

Five years ago: Elizabeth Edwards, the estranged wife of former U.S. Sen. John Edwards, died at her home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, at 61 after fighting breast cancer. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange surrendered to authorities in London, where he was jailed for nine days before being freed on bail as he fought extradition to Sweden for questioning in a rape investigation. Mike Tyson, three-division champion Julio Cesar Chavez of Mexico and Russian-born Kostya Tszyu, a junior welterweight champion, were selected for induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and Museum; also selected were Mexican trainer Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain, referee Joe Cortez, and “Rocky” actor and screenwriter Sylvester Stallone.

One year ago: Six prisoners held for 12 years at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, arrived in Uruguay amid a new push by President Barack Obama to close the U.S. prison. Britain’s Prince William and his wife, Catherine, arrived in New York City on their first official visit to the U.S. Ken Weatherwax, who’d played Pugsley on “The Addams Family” television series in the 1960s, was found dead at his home in Box Canyon, California; he was 59.

Today’s Birthdays: Linguist and political philosopher Noam Chomsky is 87. Bluegrass singer Bobby Osborne is 84. Actress Ellen Burstyn is 83. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., is 78. Broadcast journalist Carole Simpson is 75. Baseball Hall of Famer Johnny Bench is 68. Actor-director-producer James Keach is 68. Country singer Gary Morris is 67. Singer-songwriter Tom Waits is 66. Sen. Susan M. Collins, R-Maine, is 63. Basketball Hall of Famer Larry Bird is 59. Actress Priscilla Barnes is 58. Former “Tonight Show” announcer Edd (cq) Hall is 57. Rock musician Tim Butler (The Psychedelic Furs) is 57. Actor Patrick Fabian is 51. Actor Jeffrey Wright is 50. Actor C. Thomas Howell is 49. Producer-director Jason Winer is 43. NFL player Terrell Owens is 42. Rapper-producer Kon Artis is 41. Pop singer Nicole Appleton (All Saints) is 40. Latin singer Frankie J is 39. Country singer Sunny Sweeney is 39. Actor Chris Chalk is 38. Actress Shiri Appleby is 37. Pop-rock singer/celebrity judge Sara Bareilles (bah-REHL’-es) is 36. Actress Jennifer Carpenter is 36. Singer Aaron Carter is 28.

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