The almanac

By United Press International

Today is Wednesday, Dec. 7, the 341st day of 2011 with 24 to follow.

The moon is waxing. The morning stars are Neptune, Uranus, Jupiter and Venus. Evening stars are Mercury, Saturn and Mars.


Those born on this date are under the sign of Sagittarius. They include Italian sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini in 1598; Theodor Schwann, German physiologist and co-originator of cell theory, in 1810; novelist Willa Cather in 1873; composer Rudolf Friml ("Indian Love Call") in 1879; actors Eli Wallach in 1915 (age 96) and Ted Knight in 1923; linguist Noam Chomsky in 1928 (age 83); actor Ellen Burstyn in 1932 (age 79); rock/folksinger Harry Chapin in 1942; baseball Hall of Fame member Johnny Bench in 1947 (age 64); singer/songwriter Tom Waits in 1949 (age 62); basketball Hall of Fame member Larry Bird in 1956 (age 55); and actor C. Thomas Howell in 1966 (age 45).


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 2,403 dead, destroyed 188 planes and a crippled U.S. 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 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 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 repaired 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 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 2007, the South Korean coast guard struggled to contain the largest oil spill in Korea following a collision between a barge and an oil tanker that spilled 10,000 tons of oil into coastal waters.

In 2009, thousands of Iranian students rallied at universities in Tehran and other cities, shouting anti-government slogans and facing off against security forces.

In 2010, a national survey, the Rasmussen Report, indicated 34 percent of likely U.S. voters believed the United States could win the 9-year-old war in Afghanistan.

A thought for the day: Roscoe Pound said, "The law must be stable but it must not stand still."

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