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Today in History - Wednesday Edition

Today is Wednesday, Dec. 7, the 342nd day of 2016. There are 24 days left in the year.

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    The battleship USS Arizona belches smoke as it topples over into the sea during the Japanese surprise attack.

    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.

    Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Billboard Magazine

    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, 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.

    Ten years ago: President George W. Bush gave a chilly response to the Iraq Study Group's proposals for reshaping his policy, objecting to talks with Iran and Syria, refusing to endorse a major troop withdrawal and vowing no retreat from embattled U.S. goals in the Mideast. The U.S. military transferred the first group of Guantanamo Bay detainees to a new maximum-security prison on the naval base. Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, the first woman U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, died in Bethesda, Maryland, at age 80.

    Five years ago: Rod Blagojevich, the ousted Illinois governor whose three-year battle against criminal charges became a national spectacle, was sentenced to 14 years in prison. Veterans from Pearl Harbor observed the 70th anniversary of Japan's attack with a solemn ceremony at the site of the bombing. Veteran character actor Harry Morgan, 96, died in Brentwood, California.

    One year ago: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump called for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States," an idea swiftly condemned by his rival GOP candidates for president and other Republicans. The federal government opened an investigation into the Chicago Police Department, the same day authorities announced they would not charge an officer in the shooting death of 25-year-old Ronald Johnson, a black man who authorities said was armed with a gun as he ran away from officers.

    Today's Birthdays: Linguist and political philosopher Noam Chomsky is 88. Bluegrass singer Bobby Osborne is 85. Actress Ellen Burstyn is 84. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., is 79. Broadcast journalist Carole Simpson is 76. Baseball Hall of Famer Johnny Bench is 69. Actor-director-producer James Keach is 69. Country singer Gary Morris is 68. Singer-songwriter Tom Waits is 67. Sen. Susan M. Collins, R-Maine, is 64. Basketball Hall of Famer Larry Bird is 60. Actress Priscilla Barnes is 59. Former "Tonight Show" announcer Edd Hall is 58. Rock musician Tim Butler (The Psychedelic Furs) is 58. Actor Patrick Fabian is 52. Actor Jeffrey Wright is 51. Actor C. Thomas Howell is 50. Producer-director Jason Winer is 44. NFL player Terrell Owens is 43. Rapper-producer Kon Artis is 42. Pop singer Nicole Appleton (All Saints) is 41. Latin singer Frankie J is 40. Country singer Sunny Sweeney is 40. Actor Chris Chalk is 39. Actress Shiri Appleby is 38. Pop-rock singer/celebrity judge Sara Bareilles is 37. Actress Jennifer Carpenter is 37. Actor Jack Huston is 34. Singer Aaron Carter is 29.

    Thought for Today: "No nation ever had an army large enough to guarantee it against attack in time of peace or insure it victory in time of war." — President Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933).