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This day in history

Friday, Dec. 7, is the 342d day of 2012. There are 24 days left in the year.

Today’s birthdays: Actor Eli Wallach is 97. Linguist and political philosopher Noam Chomsky is 84. Actress Ellen Burstyn is 80. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) is 75. Journalist Carole Simpson is 72. Baseball Hall of Famer Johnny Bench is 65. Singer-songwriter Tom Waits is 63. Senator Susan M. Collins (R-Maine) is 60. Basketball Hall of Famer Larry Bird is 56. Singer/celebrity judge Sara Bareilles (‘‘The Sing-off”) is 33.

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In 1787, Delaware became the first state to ratify the US Constitution.

In 1796, electors chose John Adams to be the second president of the United States.

In 1808, electors chose James Madison to be the fourth president.

In 1836, Martin Van Buren was elected the eighth president.

In 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the US Navy base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii ; it claimed some 2,400 American lives.

In 1946, fire broke out at the Winecoff Hotel in Atlanta; the blaze killed 119 people.

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

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