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Today in History - Dec. 7

Celebrity birthdays, highlights in history, plus more facts about this day
/ Source: The Associated Press

Today is Thursday, Dec. 7, the 341st day of 2006. There are 24 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese forces attacked American and British territories and possessions in the Pacific, including the home base of the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.

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 1836, Martin Van Buren was elected the eighth president of the United States.

In 1946, fire broke out at the Winecoff Hotel in Atlanta; the blaze killed 119 people, including hotel founder W. Frank Winecoff.

In 1963, during the Army-Navy game, videotaped instant replay was used for the first time in a live sports telecast as CBS re-showed a one-yard touchdown run by Army quarterback Rollie Stichweh. (Navy beat Army, 21-15.)

In 1972, America’s last moon mission to date was launched as Apollo 17 blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

In 1972, Imelda Marcos, wife of Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos, was stabbed and seriously wounded by an assailant who was then shot dead by her bodyguards.

In 1983, in Madrid, Spain, an Aviaco DC-9 collided on a 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 and the two pilots, 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: The space shuttle Columbia landed at the Kennedy Space Center, ending a nearly 18-day mission marred by a jammed hatch that prevented two planned spacewalks.

Five years ago: Taliban forces abandoned their last bastion in Afghanistan, fleeing the southern city of Kandahar. Americans held services on the 60th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. The space shuttle Endeavour docked with the international space station, delivering a new three-member crew to relieve a crew in place since August. The U.S. unemployment rate jumped to 5.7 percent in November, the highest in six years.

One year ago: Federal air marshals shot and killed an airline passenger at Miami International Airport after he falsely claimed to have a bomb.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Eli Wallach is 91. Bluegrass singer Bobby Osborne is 75. Actress Ellen Burstyn is 74. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran, R-Miss., is 69. Broadcast journalist Carole Simpson is 66. Baseball Hall-of-Famer Johnny Bench is 59. Country singer Gary Morris is 58. Singer-songwriter Tom Waits is 57. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee chairwoman Susan M. Collins, R-Maine, is 54. Actress Priscilla Barnes is 51. Basketball Hall-of-Famer Larry Bird is 50. Former “Tonight Show” announcer Edd Hall is 48. Rock musician Tim Butler (The Psychedelic Furs) is 48. Actor C. Thomas Howell is 40. Pop singer Nicole Appleton (All Saints) is 31. Actress Shiri Appleby is 28. Singer Aaron Carter is 19.

Thought for Today: “Any frontal attack on ignorance is bound to fail because the masses are always ready to defend their most precious possession — their ignorance.” — Hendrik Willem van Loon, Dutch-American journalist and lecturer (1882-1944).