The Eighties Club
The Politics and Pop Culture of the 1980s
Table of Contents     1980   1981   1982   1983   1984   1985   1986   1987   1989
Pan Am Flight 103 crash site at Lockerbie, Scotland

1/28 -- The Canadian Supreme Court rules that a law restricting abortion is unconstitutional.

1/29 -- the Reagan administration prohibits family planning clinics from providing abortion assistance if they receive federal funding.

2/5 -- Federal grand juries indicts Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega on charges of taking bribes from known drug traffickers in return for the use of airstrips in Panama for their American drug operations.

2/21 -- Evangelist Jimmy Swaggert makes a tearful television confession to an illicit affair with a Louisiana prostitute.

2/24 -- The U.S. Supreme Court rules 8-0 that Larry Flynt was exercising his First Amendment rights when he ridiculed Rev. Jerry Falwell with a fictional interview, printed in Flynt's skin magazine Hustler.

3/16 -- Lt. Col. Oliver North is indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that he conspired to defraud the government in connection with the Iran-Contra affair. Two days later, North resigns from the U.S. Marine Corps.

3/16 -- Iraqi forces use poison gas on Kurdish civilians in Halabja, killing more than 4,000 men, women and children.

3/21 -- Leaders of Nicaragua's Sandinistas and the Contra rebels meet for the first time in order to begin implementing a 1987 Central American peace plan designed to end the six-year civil war.

4/3 -- The U.S. first-class postal rate is increased to 25c per ounce.

4/8 -- The Soviet Union announces that it will withdraw its troops from Afghanistan within the next nine months. The Soviet invasion had occurred in 1979, and about 15,000 Soviets and one million Afghans had been killed in the resistance that followed.

4/18 -- The U.S. Navy sinks several Iranian military craft after destroying two Iranian oil platforms. Previously, Iranian gunboats had fired on an United Arab Emirates tanker, and an American vessel had been damaged by an Iranian mine. Saudi Arabia claimed Iran had been attacking its ships in the Persian Gulf for some time and the American navy was charged with protecting oil shipments.

4/20 -- The Senate votes 69-27 to give $20,000 and an official apology to each of the Japanese-Americans interned during World War II who are still living.

5/22 -- After 32 years in power, Hungarian dictator Janos Kadar is ousted by Hungary's Communist party.

5/23 -- The Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party accepts many of the political reforms advocated by Mikhail Gorbachev, including more popular participation in elections and less intrusion by the government into the daily lives of the people.

5/29 -- President Reagan goes to Moscow for his fourth meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev. The two nations sign nine agreements on such subjects as student exchanges and nuclear testing.

6/6 -- Over one million South African blacks begin a three-day strike protesting the government's crackdown on anti-apartheid groups.

6/27 -- Mike Tyson takes all of 91seconds to win $20 million by defeating Michael Spinks in an Atlantic City championship fight.

7/1 -- Delegates at a Moscow Communist conference endorse Mikhail Gorbachev's proposals, including the partial transfer of power from the party to democratically elected legislatures.

7/8 -- French voters reelect Socialist President Francois Mitterand, who was challenged by the right-wing Jacques Chirac.

7/20 -- Michael Dukakis accepts the Democratic nomination for president following a nominatng speech by Arkansas governor Bill Clinton. His running mate is Texas senator Lloyd Bentsen. The Ayatollah Khomeini announces an end to Iran's eight-year war with neighboring Iraq.

7/20 -- Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini agrees to a ceasefire with Iraq. After eight years of warfare, the two nations begin to negotiate. The war has cost over 100,000 Iraqi and about one million Iranian lives.

7/30 -- The USS Vincennes mistakes an Iranian passenger plane for a fighter and shoots it out of the sky in the Persian Gulf; 290 people are killed. This happens only moments after the Vincennes skirmishes with Iranian gunboats.

8/8 -- Angola, Cuba and South Africa agree to a truce, mediated by U.S. negotiators, in Angola and neighboring Namibia.

8/12 -- Edwin Meese III resigns as Attorney General in the wake of congressional hearings and an independent counsel's investigation into possible wrongdoing which allegedly includes tax evasion, accepting bribes and violating conflict of interest laws.

8/18 -- Vice-president George Bush accepts the Republican nomination for the presidency. His running mate is J. Danforth Quayle, an Indiana senator.

8/18 -- Pakistan's leader, Gen. Mohammad Zia ul-Haq, who deposed Prime Minister Junejo in May, is killed when his plane explodes in midair. U.S. Ambassador Arnold I. Raphel is also killed.

9/7 -- The SEC accuses Drexel Burnham Lambert of defrauding clients by trading on inside information. The firm will plead guilty to six felony charges in December and pay $650 million fines.

9/24 -- Both China and France authorize the use of the steroid drug RU486, which induces abortion in the first months of pregnancy.

9/27 -- Congress and the White House agree on legislation that reforms the welfare system for the first time in a half-century. The legislation required states to establish education and training programs, and required welfare recipients to participate in those programs and/or work after a certain period of time.

10/17 -- The U.S. promises Mexico up to $3.5 billion in short-term loans to help that country deal with serious economic problems.

10/21 -- A federal grand jury indicts Ferdinand Marco, former president of the Philippines, and his wife Imelda on racketeering charges, charging that Marcos had embezzled over $100 million from his government to buy real estate in the U.S.

11/8 -- George Bush is elected the 41st president of the United States, defeating Michael Dukakis by a 54% to 46% margin.

11/22 -- The U.S. Air Force unveils the B-2 Stealth bomber at a plant in the Mojave Desert. The USAF plans to buy 132 of the new bombers at a cost of $500 million each.

12/7 -- An earthquake registering 6.9 on the Richter scale kills 25,000 in Soviet Armenia.

12/7 -- In an address to the United Nations assembly, Mikhail Gorbachev announces plans to reduce the Soviet military by 10%, including a unilateral reduction of the Soviet military presence in Eastern Europe.

12/21 -- A Pan Am passenger jet explodes 31,000 feet above Scotland, killing all 259 persons on board as well as 11 on the ground. An investigation determines that a bomb caused the explosion and the U.S. offers a $500,000 reward for information leading to the prosecution of those responsible.

This year...Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu announces plans to destroy 5,000 villages and relocate their inhabitants in urban housing complexes.....Israeli troops kill hundreds of Arab demonstrators as violence continues to erupt in the occupied territories of the West Bank and the Gaza strip....Following the death of Pakistani strongman Mohammad Zia ul-Haq (see above), Benazir Bhutto, 35, whose father, Prime Minister Zulfikay Ali Bhutto, was executed by Zia in 1979, becomes prime minister in December; she is the first woman to head a Muslim state.....Instigated by students, demonstrations against Burma's dictator Gen. Sein Lwin leave thousands dead; Sein Lwin is removed from power, political prisoners are freed, and freedom of the press is permitted for the first time since 1962; but many more civilians are slain when Prime Minister Gen. Saw Maung launches a crackdown.....Polish workers strike for three weeks in August, demanding the return of the outlawed Solidarity organization.....Unemployment in the U.S. drops to 5.4%, the lowesty level since 1974.....U.S. savings & loans lose over $13 billion.....Campeau Corp. pays $6.6 billion for Federated Department Stores; Rupert Murdoch pays Walter Annenberg $3 billion for Triangle Publications, which includes TV Guide and Seventeen; Philip Morris acquires Kraft for $13.1 billion; Kohlberg Kravis Roberts pays $24.9 billion for RJR-Nabisco, the biggest leveraged buyout in history.....British Rail introduces the Electra locomotive, increasing speed to 140 mph.....Ted Turner, who has purchased the MGM library of films, launches Turner Network Television (TNT).....Salman Rushdie enrages Muslim readers with the alleged blasphemies in his novel The Satanic Verses.....Soviet athletes take home 132 medals in the Olympic Games at Seoul, while East Germany wins 102 and the U.S. wins 94.....massive flooding in China kills thousands, leaves hundreds of thousands without shelter.....Bangladesh suffers major flooding in September, and over one million people are left homeless.....A prolonged drought forces the U.S. to import grain for domestic use for the first time in history.....U.S. farm subsidies this year total $26 billion, up from $3 billion in 1981.