Today is the 342nd day of 2017 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: "Where most of us end up there is no knowing, but the hellbent get where they are going." -- James Thurber, "Further Fables for Our Time"
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 full moon (Dec. 3) and last quarter moon (Dec. 10).