Today is Tuesday, Dec. 7, the 341st day of 2021. There are 24 days left in the year.
Birthdays: Linguist and political philosopher Noam Chomsky is 93. Bluegrass singer Bobby Osborne is 90. Actor Ellen Burstyn is 89. Broadcast journalist Carole Simpson is 81. Baseball Hall of Famer Johnny Bench is 74. Actor-director-producer James Keach is 74. Country singer Gary Morris is 73. Singer-songwriter Tom Waits is 72. Senator Susan M. Collins, Republican from Maine, is 69. Basketball Hall of Famer Larry Bird is 65. Actor Priscilla Barnes is 64. Former “Tonight Show” announcer Edd Hall is 63. Rock musician Tim Butler (The Psychedelic Furs) is 63. Actor Patrick Fabian is 57. Actor Jeffrey Wright is 56. Actor C. Thomas Howell is 55. Former NFL player Terrell Owens is 48. Rapper-producer Kon Artis is 47. Pop-rock singer/celebrity judge Sara Bareilles is 42.
In 1787, Delaware became the first state to ratify the US Constitution.
In 1909, chemist Leo H. Baekeland received a US patent for Bakelite, the first synthetic plastic.
In 1917, during World War I, the United States declared war on Austria-Hungary.
In 1941, the Empire of Japan launched an air raid on the US Navy base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii as well as targets in Malaya, Hong Kong, Guam, the Philippines, and Wake Island; the United States declared war against Japan the next day.
In 1946, fire broke out at the Winecoff Hotel in Atlanta; the blaze killed 119 people, including hotel founder W. Frank Winecoff.
In 1972, America’s last moon mission to date was launched as Apollo 17 blasted off from Cape Canaveral.
In 1982, convicted murderer Charlie Brooks Jr. became the first US prisoner to be executed by injection, at a prison in Huntsville, Texas.
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 1988, a major earthquake in the Soviet Union devastated northern Armenia; official estimates put the death toll at 25-thousand.
In 2001, Taliban forces abandoned their last bastion in Afghanistan, fleeing the southern city of Kandahar.
In 2004, Hamid Karzai was sworn in as Afghanistan’s first popularly elected president.
In 2011, Rod Blagojevich, the ousted Illinois governor whose three-year battle against criminal charges became a national spectacle, was sentenced to 14 years in prison. (A pardon from President Donald Trump freed Blagojevich from prison in 2020, after he had served eight years.) Veteran character actor Harry Morgan, 96, died in California.
In 2016, President-elect Donald Trump selected retired Marine General John Kelly to head the Department of Homeland Security, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, the former chief executive of World Wrestling Entertainment, Linda McMahon, to run the Small Business Administration and Iowa Governor Terry Branstad to be the new US ambassador to China. Time magazine named Trump its Person of the Year.
In 2017, Democratic Senator Al Franken said he would resign after a series of sexual harassment allegations; he took a parting shot at President Donald Trump, describing him as “a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault.” Republican Representative Trent Franks of Arizona said he would resign, after revealing that he discussed surrogacy with two female staffers.
In 2018, the man who drove his car into counterprotesters at a 2017 white nationalist rally in Virginia was convicted of first-degree murder; a state jury rejected defense arguments that James Alex Fields Jr. acted in self-defense.
In 2020, retired Air Force Brigadier General Charles “Chuck” Yeager, the World War II fighter pilot ace and quintessential test pilot who in 1947 became the first person to fly faster than sound, died at 97. A federal judge blocked President Donald Trump’s attempts to ban TikTok, the latest legal defeat for the administration as it tried to wrest the popular app from its Chinese owners. US servicemen and women and National Park Service officials gathered at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii to remember those killed in the 1941 Japanese attack, but elderly survivors stayed home to pay their respects from afar and avoid health risks from the coronavirus pandemic.