Today in History: December 7

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Today in HistoryToday is Wednesday, Dec. 7, the 342nd day of 2016. There are 24 days left in the year.Today’s Highlight in History:On Dec. 7, 1941, Imperial Japan’s navy launched a pre-emptive attack on the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, one of a series of raids in the Pacific. The United States declared 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 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 1972, America’s last moon mission to date was launched as Apollo 17 blasted off from Cape Canaveral. Imelda Marcos, wife of Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos, was stabbed and seriously wounded by an assailant who was shot dead by her bodyguards.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 1993, gunman Colin Ferguson opened fire on a Long Island Rail Road commuter train, killing six people and wounding 19. (Ferguson was later sentenced to a minimum of 200 years in prison.)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 was sworn in as Afghanistan’s first popularly elected president.

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