Today is the 342nd day of 2018 and the 78th day of autumn.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1941, the United States declared war on Japan and officially entered World War II.

In 1980, John Lennon was shot to death outside his Manhattan apartment building.

In 1991, the leaders of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine signed an agreement dissolving the Soviet Union and establishing the Commonwealth of Independent States.

In 1993, President Bill Clinton signed into law the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Eli Whitney (1765-1825), inventor; James Thurber (1894-1961), humorist; Sammy Davis Jr. (1925-1990), entertainer; David Carradine (1936-2009), actor; Jim Morrison (1943-1971), singer-songwriter; Kim Basinger (1953- ), actress; Ann Coulter (1961- ), political commentator; Teri Hatcher (1964- ), actress; Kevin Harvick (1975- ), race car driver; Ryan Newman (1977- ), race car driver; Ian Somerhalder (1978- ), actor; Nicki Minaj (1982- ), rapper; Dwight Howard (1985- ), basketball player; Josh Donaldson (1985- ), baseball player.

TODAY'S FACT: SpaceX became the first private company in the world to successfully launch, place in orbit and recover a spacecraft on this day in 2010.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1940, the Chicago Bears routed the Washington Redskins in the NFL championship game, 73-0. It remains the largest margin of victory in NFL history.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "All men should strive to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why." -- James Thurber, "The Shore and the Sea"

TODAY'S NUMBER: 500,000 -- pounds of cotton exported by the United States in 1793, before Eli Whitney's invention of the cotton gin. By 1810, the U.S. was exporting 93 million pounds of cotton annually.

TODAY'S MOON: Between new moon (Dec. 7) and first quarter moon (Dec. 15).


Today is the 343rd day of 2018 and the 79th day of autumn.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1793, Noah Webster published New York City's first daily newspaper, the American Minerva.

In 1872, Pinkney Benton Stewart Pinchback became the first serving U.S. governor of African-American descent when he was named acting governor of Louisiana.

In 1968, engineer Douglas Engelbart demonstrated the first computer system to use hypertext links and a mouse.

In 1979, the World Health Organization certified that smallpox had been eradicated.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Emmett Kelly (1898-1979), clown; Jean de Brunhoff (1899-1937), author; Kirk Douglas (1916- ), actor; Redd Foxx (1922-1991), comedian; Dick Van Patten (1928-2015), actor; Judi Dench (1934- ), actress; Deacon Jones (1938-2013), football player; Beau Bridges (1941- ), actor; Dick Butkus (1942- ), football player; John Malkovich (1953- ), actor; Donny Osmond (1957- ), singer; Felicity Huffman (1962- ), actress; Kurt Angle (1968- ), wrestler/actor; Simon Helberg (1980- ), actor.

TODAY'S FACT: After Pinkney Benton Stewart Pinchback was appointed acting governor of Louisiana, it would be more than 100 years before the first elected African-American governor, Lawrence Douglas Wilder of Virginia, took office, in 1990.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1934, the New York Giants exchanged their cleats for sneakers during the third quarter, then outmaneuvered the Chicago Bears on a frozen field to turn a 13-3 deficit into a 30-13 victory.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "I think you should take your job seriously, but not yourself -- that is the best combination." -- Judi Dench

TODAY'S NUMBER: 7 -- number of classic children's books about Babar the elephant written and illustrated by Jean de Brunhoff. He died of tuberculosis at age 37, and his son Laurent continued the series.

TODAY'S MOON: Between new moon (Dec. 7) and first quarter moon (Dec. 15).

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