Almanac

Today is Thursday, Dec. 7, the 341st day of 2017. There are 24 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Dec. 7, 1941, during a series of raids in the Pacific, Imperial Japan’s navy launched a pre-emptive attack on the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, killing 2,400 people, about half of them on the battleship USS Arizona. (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 1909, chemist Leo H. Baekeland received a U.S. patent for Bakelite, the first synthetic plastic.

In 1917, during World War I, the United States declared war on Austria-Hungary.

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

In 1987, 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, a gunman opened fire on a Long Island Rail Road commuter train, killing six people and wounding 19. (The shooter was later sentenced to a minimum of 200 years in prison.)

In 2004, Hamid Karzai was sworn in as Afghanistan’s first popularly elected president.

Ten years ago: Congressional Democrats demanded a full Justice Department investigation into whether the CIA had obstructed justice by destroying videotapes documenting the harsh 2002 interrogations of two alleged terrorists.

Five years ago: President Barack Obama asked Congress for $60.4 billion in federal aid for New York, New Jersey and other states hit by Superstorm Sandy (lawmakers ended up passing a $50.5 billion emergency relief measure in addition to a $9.7 billion bill to replenish the National Flood Insurance Program).