Today is Sunday, Dec. 7, the 342nd day of 2008 with 24 to follow.
The moon is waxing. The morning stars are Saturn and Mars. The evening stars are Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune.
Those born on this date are under the sign of Sagittarius. They include Italian sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini in 1598; waxworks museum founder Marie Tussaud in 1761; German physiologist Theodor Schwann, co-originator of the cell theory and the first to use the term, in 1810; novelist Willa Cather in 1873; composer Rudolph Friml ("Indian Love Call") in 1879; actor Eli Wallach in 1915 (age 93); actor Ted Knight in 1923; linguist Noam Chomsky in 1928 (age 80); actress Ellen Burstyn in 1932 (age 76); rock/folksinger Harry Chapin in 1942; Baseball Hall of Famer Johnny Bench in 1947 (age 61); former basketball star and coach Larry Bird in 1956 (age 52); and actor C. Thomas Howell in 1966 (age 42).
On this date in history:
In 1787, Delaware became the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.
In 1909, Leo Baekeland patented the process for making Bakelite, giving birth to the modern plastics industry.
In 1925, five-time Olympic gold medalist and future movie Tarzan Johnny Weissmuller set a world record in 150-yard free-style swimming.
In 1931, U.S. President Herbert Hoover refused to see a group of "hunger marchers" at the White House.
In 1941, Japan launched a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, catapulting the United States into World War II. The Japanese attack left a reported 2,403 dead, 188 destroyed planes and a crippled Pacific Fleet. U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt described it as "a date that will live in infamy."
In 1972, Apollo 17 was launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on the last scheduled manned mission to the moon.
In 1983, the first execution by lethal injection took place at the state penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas.
In 1986, the speaker of Iran's parliament said his country would help free more U.S. hostages in Lebanon in exchange for more U.S. arms.
In 1987, Mikhail Gorbachev arrived in Washington, the first Soviet leader to officially visit the United States since 1973.
In 1988, as many as 60,000 people were killed when a powerful earthquake rocked the Soviet republic of Armenia.
In 1991, on the 50th anniversary of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, U.S. President George H.W. Bush called for an end to recriminations and sought the healing of old wounds.
In 1992, the destruction of a 16th-century mosque by militant Hindus touched off five days of violence across India that left more than 1,100 people dead.
In 1993, U.S. Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary revealed the United States had conducted 204 underground nuclear tests from 1963-90 without informing the public.
Also in 1993, astronauts aboard the space shuttle Endeavor fixed the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope.
In 1995, a two-week strike by hundreds of thousands of French public-sector workers protesting planned cuts in welfare spending spread to cities throughout France.
In 2001, the U.S. Labor Department announced the loss of nearly 1 million jobs over the previous three months.
In 2002, Azra Akin, a 21-year-old model from Turkey, won the Miss World competition, two weeks after Muslim-Christian violence in Nigeria forced organizers to move the pageant to London. More than 200 people were killed in the religious riots.
In 2003, during a visit to the United States, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said "we will never tolerate" Taiwan splitting away from China.
In 2004, Hamid Karzai was sworn in as Afghanistan's first popularly elected president.
In 2005, U.S. air marshals killed a man who said he had a bomb aboard an American Airlines plane at Miami International Airport. No bomb was found and authorities said the man's wife told them he was mentally ill and hadn't taken his medication.
In 2007, the Bush administration and mortgage lenders agreed to freeze rates for up to five years for people up to date on subprime loans due for sharp increases. Critics say the plan would affect only a small percentage of those facing such rate hikes.
Also in 2007, the South Korean coast guard struggled to contain the largest ever oil spill in Korea following a collision between a barge and an oil tanker that spilled 10,000 tons of oil into coastal waters.
A thought for the day: Roscoe Pound said, "The law must be stable but it must not stand still."