Dec. 7 (UPI) — 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 1941, Japan launched a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, catapulting the United States into World War II. The attack killed 2,403 people, wounded hundreds, destroyed 188 planes and crippled the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The following day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt called Dec. 7 “a date which will live in infamy.”
In 1972, Apollo 17 was launched on the last scheduled manned mission to the moon. Astronauts Eugene Cernan and Jack Schmitt left a commemorative plaque on the lunar surface as they left.
In 1975, Indonesia invaded East Timor after the latter declared itself a democratic republic in the wake of Portugal’s departure from the island. More than 100,000 East Timorese died in the conflict, most of whom were civilians placed in internment camps or killed by the Indonesian military.
In 1982, the first execution by lethal injection took place at the state penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas.
In 1987, Mikhail Gorbachev became the first Soviet leader to officially visit the United States since 1973.
In 1988, an estimated 25,000 people died in a powerful earthquake in Armenia.
In 1991, President Mikhail Gorbachev fired the Gen. Vladimir Lobov, chief of staff of the Soviet Union’s armed forces, and replaced him with Viktor Samsonov, an officer who defied the August coup attempt.
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 to 1990 without informing the public.
In 1993, Colin Ferguson opened fire on a New York commuter train, killing six people and injuring 19 others. The shooter, who was from Jamaica, blamed his hatred of white people.
In 2002, Azra Akin, a 21-year-old model from Turkey, won the Miss World competition two weeks after Muslim-Christian violence in Nigeria killed more than 200 people, forcing organizers to move the pageant to London.
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 2016, a 6.5-magnitude earthquake rattled Indonesia’s Aceh province, killing nearly 100 people.
In 2016, a Pakistan International Airlines aircraft crashed near Islamabad, killing 48 people. Among the dead was pop-star-turned-Muslim-cleric Junaid Jamshed.
In 2017, former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in prison for possession of child pornography. On January 24, 2018, he was sentenced to another 40 years to 175 years for sexually abusing some 265 gymnasts.