The Eighties Club
The Politics and Pop Culture of the 1980s
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1985

1/13 -- An Ethiopian train jumps the track, killing 392 in Africa's worst train accident (and the world's third worst.)

1/20 -- Ronald Reagan, 73, is sworn in for his second term as president.

1/24 -- TIME Magazine is cleared of libel charges brought by Israeli leader Ariel Sharon.

2/17 -- The U.S. first-class postal rate increases to 22c.

3/1 -- After 12 years of military dictatorship, Uruguay returns to civilian rule; problems faced by the new government include 30% unemployment and an inflation rate of 66%.

3/10 -- Konstantin Chernenko, 73, becomes the third Soviet leader to die during the decade. Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, 54, becomes general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party.

3/15 -- After 21 years of military dictatorship, Brazil returns to civilian rule.

3/15 -- Faced with trial on charges of fraud and larceny, Labor Secretary Raymond Donovan resigns.

3/18 -- Capital Cities Communications purchases ABC for $3.5 billion -- the largest business acquisition in U.S. history, excluding the oil industry. Two days later, media mogul Rupert Murdoch buys 50% of 20th Century Fox.

4/11 -- After 41 years in power, Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha dies, age 78. He is succeeded by Communist Party chief Ramiz Alia.

5/5 -- President Reagan goes through with a controversial visit to a military cemetery at Bitburg, West Germany, where Nazi SS soldiers were buried.

5/13 -- Police in Philadelphia raid the headquarters of MOVE, a radical black cult. A fire rages out of control, destroying 61 homes and killing 11 people.

5/28 -- President Reagan unveils a tax reform plan that would increase personal exemptions and lower tax bills for many individuals, while raising taxes for corporations.

6/11 -- Karen Ann Quinlan, comatose since 1976, dies, 31, after a court permits removal of her respirator in a celebrated case.

6/12 -- Karen Ann Quinlan, the focus of a "right to die" controversy, dies at the age of 31. Quinlan's parents had gone to court to force doctors to disconnect her life support after she became comatose.

6/14 -- Members of the Islamic Jihad terrorist group hijack TWA Flight 847 after it leaves Athens and take it to Beirut, where they murder U.S. Marine Robert Dean Stethem. The other hostages are held until the end of June.

6/23 -- 329 people are killed when an Air India Boeing 747 crashes off the Irish coast.

7/9 -- David Stockman, the director of the Office of Management and Budget who had been in the front line of government budget battles and spending cuts, resigns to take a job on Wall Street.

7/10 -- Realizing it has made a mistake with New Coke, Coca-Cola announces the return of classic Coke. The Rainbow Warrior, a ship belonging to the environmental group Greenpeace, is sabotaged and sunk in New Zealand. One man is killed, and later in the year two French agents will be sentenced to prison for the crime.

7/13 -- Surgeons remove a polyp from President Reagan's large intestine at Bethesda Naval Medical Center. A biopsy revealed that the growth was malignant, but doctors said it was removed before cancer cells could spread to other parts of the body.

7/13 -- Live Aid, consisting of 16-hour rock concerts in London and Philadelphia broadcast all over the world, raises $70 million for famine relief in Ethiopia.

7/18 -- Though President Reagan has described the Nicaraguan contras as the "moral equal of our Founding Fathers," Congress prohibits the administration from supplying anything but non-lethal aid to the anti-Marxist guerrillas.

7/20 -- South Africa declares a state of emergency, giving the army and the police absolute power in the black townships. Arrests without warrants are made, and people are imprisoned indefinitely.

8/1 -- The U.S. Congress passes a budget for FY 1986 that sets spending at $967.6 billion and a deficit of $171.9 billion.

8/12 -- The worst single plane accident ever occurs when a Japan Air Lines Boeing 747 crashes into a mountain on a domestic flight.

8/27 -- Gen. Ibrahim Babangida proclaims himself president of Nigeria after a coup ousts President Buhari.

9/1 -- The wreckage of the Titanic, which sank in 1912, is found 2.5 miles below the surface off the coast of Newfoundland by a team of French and American marine researchers.

9/16 -- The Commerce Dept. announces that the U.S. has become a debtor nation for the first time since 1916.

9/19 -- Am earthquake wreaks havoc in Mexico City, killing more than 20,000 people.

10/2 -- Actor Rock Hudson, 59, dies of AIDS at Beverly Hills. His death heightens awareness of the AIDS threat.

10/7 -- Palestinian terrorists seize the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro after it departs from Egypt and murder 69-year-old American Leon Klinghoffer. The hijackers attempt to escape in an Egyptian plane which is forced to land in Sicily by American F-14 fighter planes.

10/14 -- The United Nations celebrates its 40th anniversary -- but cannot agree on a declaration for the occasion.

10/16 -- The Achille Lauro hijacking crisis precipitates the collapse of the Italian government.

11/14 -- A volcanic eruption claims 25,000 lives in Colombia.

11/19 -- President Reagan meets Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in Geneva, the first summit meeting in six years between the heads of the two nations. Little progress is made on the issues, but the two men agree to meet twice in the next two years.

11/19 -- A Texas jury orders Texaco to pay a record $10.5 billion to Pennzoil for interfering with Pennzoil's agreement to purchase Getty Oil.

11/27 -- A judge orders Jonathan Pollard, a Navy counterintelligence analyst, held without bail on espionage charges. Pollard admits to providing Israel with classified material.

12/12 -- President Reagan signs the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act into law; the law mandates congressional spending limits with a goal of eliminating the federal deficit by 1991.

12/16 -- Mafia boss Paul Castellano, 71, is shot dead in a New York City street; Castellano and nine others are on trial for auto-theft conspiracy. John Gotti, 45, is suspected of being behind the killing.

12/27 - Palestinian terrorists kill 18 people and wound over 100 in attacks staged near the counters of Israel's El Al Airline in the airports in Rome and Vienna. Four of the terrorists are killed, the other three captured.

This year...Terrorist attacks in Europe and the Mediterranean kill 107 and wound more than 400, carried out by Arab, Islamic, Palestinian, and French guerrilla groups....Vietnamese forces drive the Khmer Rouge from their Cambodian bases in mid-February.....The failure of Ohio's Home State Savings & Loan leads to a run on other S&Ls that are not federally insured; Ohio's governor closes 70 other thrifts.....Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev criticizes his predecessors and calls for sweeping economic changes in the USSR.....A price war waged between oil-producing nations will produce a worldwide oil glut, slashing oil prices by 60% in six months.....IBM researchers at Zurich develop the scanning tunneling microscope.....Capital Cities Communications buys ABC for $3.5 billion; Proctor & Gamble acquires Richardson-Vicks for $1.24 billion; R.J. Reynolds buys Nabisco Brands for $4.9 billion General Electric acquires RCA and its NBC for $6.3 billion; Philip Morris acquires General Foods for $5.7 billion, becoming America's largest consumer company.....Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon Days is published.....Compact discs and CD players are introduced.....British scientists claim a huge hole in the ozone layer is opening every spring over Antartica.....Coca-Cola introduces a new formula, but consumer protests force the company to reintroduce its traditional drink under the name Classic.