1980 News and Interesting History Tidbits


Gdansk Shipyard Poland Seized By Workers
Workers led by Lech Walesa in the Gdansk shipyard in Poland seize control and demand pay raises and the right to form a union free from communist control.


In September the Solidarity (Solidarnosc) Union was formed, the workers' first independent trade union, led by shipyard electrician Lech Walesa.

This was the start of the movement that allowed Poland to end Communist Rule in the country.






Clifford Robert Olson Serial Killer
Clifford Robert Olson begins his reign of terror in Canada when he abducts and kills 12-year-old Christine Weller. Between November 1980 and August 1981 he murders 11 children. He is caught and pleads guilty to the murders and is given 11 concurrent life sentences in 1982.







Mount St. Helens Erupts
After a week of small earthquakes below the area, an eruption of Mount St. Helens blasts a mushroom cloud over most of the state of Washington.
Just 2 months later St. Helens catastrophically erupted on May 18, 1980 during which 57 people were killed or never found and huge tracts of forest and homes were destroyed.









Moscow Olympics 1980
The Summer Olympic Games of the XXII Olympiad are held in Moscow, Soviet Union.

The first Olympic Games held in Eastern Europe.

Boycott led by the United States includes 64 countries in protest of the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan

The British Olympic Association has defied the British Government and will be sending a team to the Moscow Olympics later in the year.

The British and US government and other Governments around the world have called for a boycott of the Moscow Olympics. Although many governments pressurised their Olympic Athlete's only 16 countries did not compete including The United States, Japan, West Germany, China, Canada and 9 others.

To place it in context 81 other countries athletes many in defiance of their governments wishes did compete but many as a sign of support against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan marched under the Olympic Flag, instead of their national flags.









Alexander Kielland Platform Capsizes
The Alexander Kielland platform 230 miles off shore from Dundee in Scotland is hit by a giant wave which causes one of the legs supporting it to give way, the platform then capsized throwing those trying to get off into the cold North Sea. RAF and Norwegian helicopters along with any shipping close to the accident have been asked to help with the rescue. The current stormy weather conditions are making rescue difficult and the bitter cold sea combined with the stormy conditions left 123 dead








CNN 24hr News Is launched
The first 24-hour news television station – CNN is launched in Atlanta, Georgia







Draft Registration re-introduced
All 19 and 20 year old men are required to register for the Draft, this followed Proclamation 4771, Registration Under the Military Selective Service Act signed by President Jimmy Carter re-establishing the Selective Service registration requirement for all 18-26 year old male citizens born on or after January 1, 1960.









Robert Mugabe Elected
Robert Mugabe wins election to become Zimbabwe's first black prime minister.







Bologna Terrorist Bomb
A bomb planted by right wing terrorists in a waiting room explodes in Bologna railway station, killing over 70 and injuring more than 200.











Rioting Liberty City, Miami
Following the death of Arthur McDuffie from multiple skull fractures caused by a blunt object during his arrest by 4 Miami police officers on December 17th, 1979 a trial of the officers led to a not guilty verdict on 17th May.
After the verdict approximately 5,000 people attended a protest at the downtown Metro Justice Building, but the protest turned into a riot and three people are killed and at least 23 injured during the first night of violence.
During the next few days a total of 18 people are killed with 100's of others injured and law and order is resumed when a curfew is implemented from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. together with 3,000 National Guardsmen deployed on the streets.










Iran Embassy London Siege
Six terrorists take control of the Iranian Embassy including 26 hostages in Prince's Gate, South Kensington in central London demanding the release of 91 political prisoners held in Iran as well as an aircraft to take them and the hostages out of the UK. Following the murder of an Iranian diplomat and dumping of his body outside the embassy SAS commandos storm the embassy killing five Iranian gunmen and Nineteen hostages are set free with one hostage death and two injuries in the cross-fire










Nelson Mandela Letter From Prison
Nelson Mandela the imprisoned leader of the African National Congress (ANC) makes public a statement from a letter written by Nelson Mandela and smuggled out of prison "UNITE! MOBILISE! FIGHT ON! BETWEEN THE ANVIL OF UNITED MASS ACTION AND THE HAMMER OF THE ARMED STRUGGLE WE SHALL CRUSH APARTHEID!"









Windfall Act on Oil Industries High Profits
Following the high increases in the cost of Gas at the pump congress passes legislation for the "Crude Oil Windfall Profits Tax Act" which collects roughly $227 billion dollars over the next 10 years .









Salisbury Changed Its Name To Harare
Salisbury, Rhodesia Changed Its Name To Harare, Zimbabwe 1980









The Killer Clown
A jury finds John Wayne Gacy Jr. ( also known as The Killer Clown ) guilty of the murders of 33 boys and young men, he had admitted the murders but he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

He had started his murders in 1972 and continued till 1978 when he was caught, 27 were found in a crawl space under the floor of his house and others were found in nearby rivers.

The sentence was 21 consecutive life sentences and 12 death sentences.

On May 10, 1994, Gacy was executed at Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill, Illinois, by lethal injection









Wrangell-St.Elias National Park Alaska
The Wrangell-St.Elias National Park in Southern Alaska was established in 1980 by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. It is the largest national park in the United States covering an area of over 13 million acres (53,000 km²). Some of the animals that live in the park and are protected include Bears, Wolves and Moose.










Unemployment increasing to 7%
Current unemployment figures reach 7% which is the highest since the recession in 1976 / 1977, and in some rural areas of the country the rate has increased to as much as 12% which can be described as a labor market recession .










United States Hockey Team Win
The United States hockey team, composed in great part of college players, defeat the defending champions and favorites to win the gold medal Soviet Union squad by 4-3.










Canary Islands Plane Crash
A Dan-Air Boeing 727 crashes into the side of a mountain due to foggy conditions and confusion between air traffic controllers and the ships captain. The aircraft was carrying British tourists to the Canary Islands and all 146 people were killed on impact.










New Rules Re Sexual Harassment
The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued regulations prohibiting sexual harassment in the workplace of workers by supervisors.










US Embassy Hostage Crisis
A mission to rescue the 52 hostages from the US embassy in Iran ( Operation Eagle Claw ) was aborted due to equipment failure, The Iranian foreign minister warned that any attempt by the US would be considered an act of War. Eight US Servicemen lost their lives in the aborted attempt.


The hostages were held for 444 days from November 4, 1979 to January 20, 1981, after a group of students took over the American embassy in support of Iran's revolution.


The crisis ended after The Algiers Accords are agreed on January 19, 1981 brokered by the Algerian government between the USA and Iran to resolve the situation.


The Algiers Accords consisted of a number of stipulations which both parties agreed to Including:


The US would not intervene in Iranian internal affairs

The US would remove a freeze on Iranian assets and trade sanctions on Iran

Both countries would end litigation between their respective governments and citizens referring them to international arbitration, namely the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal.

The US would ensure that US court decisions regarding the transfer of any property of the former Shah would be independent from "sovereign immunity principles" and would be enforced

Iranian debts to US institutions would be paid










UK Breakfast TV
The ( IBA ) Independent Broadcasting Authority announces that the breakfast television contract will go to TV-am and will launch in 1983.

The BBC launched "Breakfast Time". in January 1983

TV-am Launched it's service in February 1983

In the ratings war between the BBC breakfast time and TV-AM, the BBC won but after a major change of presenters and the introduction of Greg Dyke's furry puppet Roland Rat TV-AM built it's audience numbers until they lost the franchise in 1990.










Leonardo da Vinci Auction
American oil tycoon Armand Hammer pays $5,126,000 at a London auction for a notebook containing writings written around 1508 by the legendary artist Leonardo da Vinci.

When it went up for auction again in 1994 Bill Gates bought the Manuscript $30.8 million.








John Lennon Shot
Former Beatle John Lennon was shot dead by an unknown gunman who opened fire outside the musician's New York apartment.









Yugo Car Manufacturer File For Bankruptcy
The maker of the Yugo automobile goes out of business and files for bankruptcy. The Yugo was a car that was very popular for a while in the 1980s because of its very low price. However, apparently quite a bit of customers “got what they paid for”.

The Yugo was a failure because it was so poorly-designed. It was even said that the body was pierce-able with a wooden pencil.









Fire At MGM Grand Hotel Vegas
A fire broke out in the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino (Now Bally's Las Vegas) in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, Smoke and fire spread through the hotel, killing 84 people and injuring 785, including tourists and employees.








Who Shot JR Ewing on Dallas ?
I can remember one of the greatest cliffhangers in TV Drama history even though I could not be described as a dedicated TV follower.

The date I was researching was May 29th 1980 and the world had to stay on tenterhooks till the series returned in the Autumn of that year.

I remembered when I was researching this day in history and reading all the possible suspects people thought it might be how big a news item it was and how much speculation there was . The strangest thing is I can remember the speculation of who shot JR but do not have a clue who it was !!!!

Just goes to show you how our memory will keep some things and not remember others






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