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1985: Gorbachev/Glasnost, Achille Lauro, New Coke

By Patrick Mondout

Reformer Mikhail Gorbachev's accession to leadership in the Soviet Union was a big international story while Coca-Cola blundered with a new formula closer to home.

Major Stories

January 13: Train derailment in Ethiopia leaves 392 dead and 370 injured in the world's third worst train accident.
January 17
: The San Francisco 49ers defeated the Miami Dolphins by a score of 38-16 in Super Bowl XIX.
January 20
: President Reagan is inaugurated for a second term.
February 7
: Under the orders of narcotrafficker Rafael Cero Quintero, Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique Camarena Salazar and his pilot were kidnapped, tortured, and executed.
February 19: William Schroeder becomes the first recipient of an artificial-heart to leave hospital after the procedure.
March 10: Soviet leader (for the previous 13 months) Konstantin Chernenko dies at age 73 after a long illness.
March 11: Mikhail Gorbachev becomes general secretary of the Soviet communist party and thus the new Soviet leader.
March 16: Associated Press reporter Terry Anderson is taken hostage in Beirut. (He would not be released until December 4, 1991.)
March 17: A double murder in Los Angeles marks the beginning of serial killer Richard "Night Stalker" Ramirez reign of terror.
March 20: Libby Riddles becomes the first women to win the 1,135-mile Iditarod dog sled race in Nome, Alaska. Her move to fight her 13 dogs through a blizzard while everyone was pinned in three days earlier gave her an insurmountable lead though she would never again finish higher than 16th.
April 23: The whizzes at Coca-Cola celebrate their 99th anniversary by announcing they will be replacing their flagship drink in May with what is essentially Pepsi-flavored Coke. Angry Coke addicts horded cases of the old cola and demand its return.
May 5: In a terrible error in judgment, President Reagan visits a Nazi SS graveyard while in West Germany to honor WWII veterans and victims of the Holocaust.
May 8: In one of the biggest marketing blunders of the century, Coca-Cola introduces their new formula (see April 23).
May 13: Philadelphia Mayor Wilson Goode orders his police department to storm the headquarters/fortress of a radical group called MOVE. After a daylong gunfight ended in stalemate, Street ordered the police to drop an explosive device into the headquarters and ordered the fire department to keep their distance. The resulting fire left 11 MOVE members dead and 250 homes destroyed.
May 20: Retired Naval officer John Walker and his son Michael are charged by the FBI with espionage.
May 23
: Thomas Patrick Cavanagh scores a life sentence for attempting to sell stealth bomber secrets to the Soviet Union.
May 25: A cyclone and storm surge in Bangladesh leave over 10,000 people dead.
May 29: Thirty-nine soccer (or football as it is known to the other 99% of humanity) fans are killed and hundreds are injured as a perimeter wall collapsed at Heysel Stadium in Brussels.
July 5: Robert Ballard and his joint American/French team finds the remains of Titanic two miles under the ocean ending over 70 years of searching.
July 10: The whizzes at Coca-Cola (see May 8) announce they are bringing back the old formula as "Coke Classic." The new Pepsi-flavored Coke was eventually called "New Coke" by clever Coke officials.
June 14: A TWA flight was hijacked en route to Rome from Athens by two Lebanese Hizballah terrorists and forced to fly to Beirut. The eight crew members and 145 passengers were held for 17 days, during which one American hostage, a U.S. Navy sailor, was murdered. After being flown twice to Algiers, the aircraft was returned to Beirut after Israel released 435 Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners.
June 23: A bomb destroyed an Air India Boeing 747 over the Atlantic, killing all 329 people aboard. Both Sikh and Kashmiri terrorists were blamed for the attack. Two cargo handlers were killed at Tokyo airport, Japan, when another Sikh bomb exploded in an Air Canada aircraft en route to India.
July 19: New Hampshire teacher Christa McAuliffe is officially recognized as the winner of NASA's Teacher in Space program.
September 2Hurricane Elena leaves four dead.
September 30: Sunni terrorists kidnapped four Soviet diplomats in Beirut, Lebanon. One was killed and the other three were later released.
October 2: Movie star Rock Hudson dies of AIDS at age 59.
October 7: Four Palestinian Liberation Front terrorists seized the Italian cruise liner Achille Lauro in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, taking more than 700 hostages. One U.S. passenger was murdered before the Egyptian Government offered the terrorists safe haven in return for the hostages' freedom
October 10: U.S. Navy fighter jets intercepted the Egyptian airliner carrying the Achille Lauro cruise ship terrorists (see October 7) and forced it to land at a NATO base in Sicily were they are taken into custody.
October 26 - November 6: Hurricane Juan hits the Southeast U.S. and leaves 97 dead in its wake.
November 19: First summit meeting between President Reagan and Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev in Geneva.
November 21: US Navy analyst Jonathan Jay Pollard is arrested for spying for Israel.
November 23:
An EgyptAir airplane bound from Athens to Malta and carrying several U.S. citizens was hijacked by the Abu Nidal Group.
December 27: Palestinian terrorists massacre 20 inside the Rome and Vienna airports.


Carefully staged in front of a fireplace to show a 'warming of relations', this photo was taken at the historic summit in Geneva between Reagan and Gorbachev.

Image courtesy of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, all rights reserved.

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