TODAY 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 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 1917, during World War I, the United States declared war on Austria-Hungary.
In 1946, fire broke out at the Winecoff Hotel in Atlanta; the blaze killed 119 people, including hotel founder W. Frank Winecoff.
In 1967, the Beatles opened the Apple Boutique in London; the venture proved disastrous, and the shop closed the following July.
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 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, 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 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:
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.