1980: Olympic Boycott, Reagan Elected, Mount St. Helens
By Patrick Mondout
This year saw the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union, the
subsequent boycott of the Moscow Olympics by President Carter, and
Carter's loss to Ronald Reagan in November. It also saw the eradication of
Smallpox (according to the World Health Organization - though the U.S. and
Russia continue to hoard samples) the continued Hostage Crisis in Iran,
the bailout of Chrysler, and the eruption
of Mount St. Helens.
In Cuba, Fidel Castro found an inventive way to empty his prisons and
fill the streets of Miami with criminals all at the same time. Between
April and August, well over 100,000 Cubans crossed the Straits of Florida
to the U.S. (where they automatically became eligible for citizenship in a
controversial policy put in place in 1959) in what Carter administration
officials at first said was proof of Castro's failed revolution. While
Carter's people were busy spinning it as a "freedom flotilla",
Castro began sending as many undesirables as possible to America.
Realizing he was losing votes in the other 49 states, Carter reversed
course and called the action illegal and began sending the refugees to
January 6: Jilted Jean Harris kills Dr. Herman Tarnower, her
lover and creator of the Scarsdale Diet.
January 7: Loan guarantees of $1.5B are announced by President Carter
that will keep Lee Iacocca's Chrysler from liquidation.
January 20: The Pittsburgh Steelers win their fourth world
championship in six years with a 31-19 victory over the Los Angeles Rams
January 26: Following the peace accords started a few years
earlier, Israel and Egypt announce they have establish diplomatic
February 3: News leaks of the FBI sting on members of Congress
known as Abscam.
March 14: The US Olympic boxing team is killed along with 59 others
in a plane crash near Warsaw, Poland.
March 21: President Carter announces the United States will boycott
the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.
April 7: Over six months after the taking of the American hostages
in Iran, the Carter administration breaks off relations with Iran and
imposes economic sanctions.
April 17: White rule in Rhodesia ends as it becomes black-ruled
April 25: President Carter orders a rescue mission to free the
hostages in Iran. The operation is a fiasco and results in the deaths of
eight servicemen after a pair of helicopters were collided in the Iranian
May 9: A portion of the Sunshine Skyway Bride in Tampa, Florida
collapses after being hit by a Liberian freighter resulting in 35 deaths.
May 4: Yugoslavian President Josip Tito dies at age 87.
May 18: Mount
St. Helens erupts in Washington state killing 59 and sending ash
June 1: Newsjunkies became insomniacs as Ted Turner's Cable News
Network (CNN) - a 24 hour news channel - debuted.
July 17: Saddam Hussein succeeds Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr as president.
July 26: The Shah of Iran dies of cancer in Egypt.
August 4-11: Hurricane
Allen slams the Caribbean and Texas leaving 272 dead.
September 24: Saddam Hussein's Iraq invades its neighbor, Ayatollah
Khomeini's Iran, starting eight years of hostilities between the two
Persian Gulf nations. The U.S. supports the former in what it believes to
be the lesser of two evils.
November 4: Former movie star Ronald Reagan easily defeats
incumbent Jimmy Carter for the presidency.
November 12: NASA's Voyager
I reaches Saturn and returns stunning images of the ringed planet.
November 21: A fire at the MGM Grand Hotel-Casino in Las Vegas,
Nevada kills 87 people.
December 8: Beatle John Lennon is gunned down outside his apartment
in Manhattan by a deranged fan.