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Today is Monday, Dec. 7, the 341st day of 2009. There are 24 days left in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:
On Dec. 7, 1941, Imperial Japanese warplanes attacked the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, as well as other American and British bases in the Pacific; the pre-emptive raids prompted the United States to enter World War II.
On this date:
In 1787, Delaware became the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.
In 1796, electors chose John Adams to be the second president of the United States.
In 1808, electors chose James Madison to be the fourth president of the United States.
In 1836, Martin Van Buren was elected the eighth president of the United States.
In 1909, in his State of the Union address, President William Howard Taft defended the decision to base U.S. naval operations in the Pacific at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, instead of in the Philippines. Chemist Leo H. Baekeland received a U.S. patent for Bakelite, the first totally 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 1972, America's last moon mission to date was launched as Apollo 17 blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Fla.
In 1983, in Madrid, Spain, an Aviaco DC-9 collided on a foggy runway with an Iberia Air Lines Boeing 727 that was accelerating for takeoff, killing all 42 people aboard the DC-9 and 51 aboard the Iberia jet.
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 two pilots and himself, causing the plane to crash.
In 1988, a major earthquake in the Soviet Union devastated northern Armenia; official estimates put the death toll at 25,000.
Ten years ago: NASA scientists all but gave up hope of contacting the Mars Polar Lander, last heard from four days earlier as it began its descent toward the Red Planet.
Five years ago: Hamid Karzai was sworn in as Afghanistan's first popularly elected president. The House of Representatives passed an intelligence network overhaul measure, 336-75. Amway co-founder Jay Van Andel died in Ada, Mich., at age 80. Singer Jerry Scoggins, who performed ''The Ballad of Jed Clampett,'' the theme song to ''The Beverly Hillbillies,'' died at age 93.
One year ago: President-elect Barack Obama introduced retired Gen. Eric Shinseki as his choice to head the Veterans Affairs Department. Actress-singer Barbra Streisand, actor Morgan Freeman, country singer George Jones, dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp and musicians Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey of The Who received Kennedy Center Honors.
Today's Birthdays: Actor Eli Wallach is 94. Linguist and political philosopher Noam Chomsky is 81. Bluegrass singer Bobby Osborne is 78. Actress Ellen Burstyn is 77. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., is 72. Broadcast journalist Carole Simpson is 69. Baseball Hall of Famer Johnny Bench is 62. Country singer Gary Morris is 61. Singer-songwriter Tom Waits is 60. Sen. Susan M. Collins, R-Maine, is 57. Basketball Hall of Famer Larry Bird is 53. Actress Priscilla Barnes is 52. Former ''Tonight Show'' announcer Edd Hall is 51. Rock musician Tim Butler (The Psychedelic Furs) is 51. Actor Jeffrey Wright is 44. Actor C. Thomas Howell is 43. Buffalo Bills wide receiver Terrell Owens is 36. Pop singer Nicole Appleton (All Saints) is 34. Country singer Sunny Sweeney is 33. Actress Shiri Appleby is 31. Pop-rock singer Sara Bareilles is 30. Singer Aaron Carter is 22.
Thought for Today: ''What man strives to preserve, in preserving himself, is something which he has never been at any particular moment.'' -- George Santayana, Spanish-American philosopher (1863-1952).