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8th May

 

1988 Painkiller Tamperer Is Convicted

Stella Nickell is convicted of murder after she put cyanide in Excedrin capsules, a painkiller. She killed her husband after he took a capsule for a headache.

Her devious plan was apparently born after, when she killed her husband with the cyanide, doctors misdiagnosed his death as emphysema.

She had taken out a $100,000 accidental death policy on his life a year before and she needed an accident for the policy to pay out.

So Nickell tampered with four other bottles of Excedrin and put them on store shelves.

Susan Snow died instantly after taking one of the tampered pills. When her death was reported on the news, Nickell called police to tell them she thought her husband had also been poisoned.

So far her plan was working out and she would probably have gotten away with it, however...

When police came to her house to collect the Excedrin bottle her husband had used, she told them she had two bottles, bought on two different days, from different stores. Both contained cyanide. This was highly unlikely.

Nickell's fate was sealed when her daughter came forward to tell them of her mother's plans to kill her father. The daughter gave evidence that her mother had spent time in the library researching cyanide. Nickell even had a library book out which she had never returned, it was called 'Human Poisoning'.

Nickell got 90 years, possible parole in 2018.

******

1794 Regarded as the founder of modern chemistry, Antoine Lavoisier, is executed by the revolutionary authorities in Paris.

1886 Coca-Cola is invented by John Pemberton in Atlanta.

1914 W.W. Hodkinson creates Paramount Pictures, a movie distribution company.

1945 V-E Day (Victory in Europe Day) begins after Germany unconditionally surrenders to the Allied forces.

1967 Muhammad Ali is indicted after he refuses to go into the US Army on religious grounds.

 

******

 

1945: Rejoicing at end of war in Europe
The Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, has officially announced the end of the war with Germany. In a message broadcast to the nation from the Cabinet room at Number 10, he said the ceasefire had been signed at 0241 yesterday at the American advance headquarters in Rheims.

Huge crowds, many dressed in red, white and blue, gathered outside Buckingham Palace in London and were cheered as the King, Queen and two Princesses came out onto the balcony.

Earlier tens of thousands of people had listened intently as the King's speech was relayed by loudspeaker to those who had gathered in Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square.

Winston Churchill made a broadcast to the nation, and in his wonderful and dramatic way told us that war was over
In it he paid tribute to the men and women who had laid down their lives for victory as well as to all those who had "fought valiantly" on land, sea and in the air.

The act of unconditional surrender is to be ratified in Berlin today - but in the interest of saving lives the ceasefire came into effect yesterday.

In his speech, Mr Churchill said: "We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing; but let us not forget for a moment the toil and efforts that lie ahead. Japan with all her treachery and greed, remains unsubdued.

"We must now devote all our strength and resources to the completion of our task, both at home and abroad. Advance Britannia."

Even after dark, floods of people continued to converge on some of London's great monuments, floodlit specially for the occasion. There were fireworks, too, and effigies of Hitler burned on bonfires around the capital.

Later Mr Churchill was greeted by cheering crowds as he made his way to Whitehall and appeared on the flag-bedecked balcony of the Ministry of Health.

"God bless you all," he said over the loudspeaker, which was greeted with further cheering and waving from the crowd and a round of "For he's a jolly good fellow".

 


Watch/Listen
Crowds in front of double-decker bus
Cheering crowds in Piccadilly, London, celebrate VE Day

Winston Churchill addresses the nation



In Context
The act of surrender was signed again in Berlin the following day before Marshal Georgi Zhukov, representing the Russian High Command.

Also present at the signing were Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder, Deputy Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, General Carl Spaatz of the United States Air Forces and General Jean-Marie de Lattre de Tassigny of the French First Army.

The Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin, refused to accept the surrender signed in Rheims - probably because he suspected the motives of the Western Allies and Germany. He insisted the treaty was ratified in Berlin the following day, so Moscow celebrated VE Day one day later than the rest of Europe, on 9 May.

A victory parade was held in London on 10 August 1945 when once again huge crowds of cheering, flag-waving crowds took to the streets.

Following the two atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the deaths of tens of thousands of people, Japan surrendered on 14 August 1945. Victory in Japan Day was celebrated on 15 August. It is also marked on 2 September, the day Japan signed an unconditional ceasefire.

1968: Krays held on suspicion of murder
The Kray twins, Reginald and Ronnie aged 34, and their 41-year-old brother Charlie have been arrested after a series of dawn raids in London.

They are among 18 men currently being held at West End Central police station helping with inquiries relating to offences including conspiracy to murder, fraud, demanding money with menaces and assault.

More than 100 detectives raided homes and offices all over the capital in the largest operation of its kind carried out by Scotland Yard.

The Kray brothers were the first to be arrested when police forced their way into their mother's council flat at Braithwaite House, Finsbury.

They were in bed at the time of the police raid, were ordered to get dressed and were then taken in separate cars to the police station.

Former amateur boxers, they are now well known as businessmen and own a number of nightclubs in the East End, West End and Knightsbridge, mixing with various celebrities.

Detectives also made arrests in houses and hotels in other parts of London and the Home Counties.

The entire operation has been conducted under strict secrecy by Cdr John du Rose, operational head of London's CID, after 18 months of investigations.

They are expected to be charged tomorrow and to appear before Bow Street magistrates.

Potential witnesses have been promised protection in return for full statements that might help police.

 


Ronnie and Reggie Kray in boxing outfits
The Kray gangsters were once amateur boxers in London's East End



In Context
Ronnie and Reggie Kray ran one of the capital's biggest crime rackets with their elder brother, Charlie.

In March 1969, after an epic trial at the Old Bailey, they were jailed for life for the murders of George Cornell and Jack 'The Hat' McVitie, both members of the London underworld.

A film about the Krays in 1990 fuelled a campaign to get them released.

But successive home secretaries refused to free them.

Ronnie died of a heart attack in prison in 1995.

Charlie Kray, was jailed for 10 years in 1969 for helping his brothers get rid of the body of McVitie, released in 1975 and imprisoned again in 1997 for masterminding a drugs plot. He died in April 2000.

Reggie was released on compassionate grounds a month before his death from cancer in October 2000.

1978: 'Son of Sam' pleads guilty to murders
The man alleged to have murdered six people in a killing spree last year has pleaded guilty to all the charges against him.

David Berkowitz became known as the 'Son of Sam' after taunting letters from him to police investigating the case were published in newspapers.

At a court in Brooklyn, New York, Berkowitz admitted all the killings which last year had residents of three New York boroughs living in fear.

The 24-year-old also admitted wounding seven people before he was arrested last August.

Berkowitz, who acquired his proficiency with guns through a three-year stint in the US army, said he had no motive other than "excitement" for carrying out the shootings.

He showed no emotion as he made the admissions which were against the advice of his lawyers.

They had wanted him to challenge a judge's ruling that he was mentally competent to enter a plea.

'The .44 Killer'

The first killing attributed to Son of Sam occurred in July 1976 when 18-year-old Donna Lauria was shot as she sat in a car with a friend in the Bronx district of New York.

However police did not realise there was a serial killer on the loose until another two people had been murdered and several more injured.

The link was not made until last March when it was found the gun used to kill Ms Lauria had also been used in the fatal shooting of 19-year-old Virginia Voskerichian.

The press initially dubbed Berkowitz "the .44 Killer" after the calibre of gun he used.

However, the Son of Sam nickname was adopted after Berkowitz used the term to describe himself in an anonymous letter to police in April 1977.

He was eventually captured after being linked to the scene of the final killing through a parking ticket issued when he left his car parked illegally. Berkowitz quickly confessed and claimed he was ordered to kill by a neighbour's dog.  He also admitted to being behind the unsolved stabbings of several women, all of whom survived.


Watch/Listen
'Son of Sam' David Berkowitz
David Berkowitz was arrested last August

CBS report on the `Son of Sam' case


In Context
In June 1978 David Berkowitz was sentenced to 365 years in jail.

Over the years Berkowitz has hinted he did not work alone.

Conspiracy theorists believe Berkowitz was part of a satanic cult and that others were involved in the shootings.

He remains in prison where he has become a born-again Christian.

He has a website which he uses to declare his remorse for the killings and insist he has no interest in being freed from jail.


1984: Moscow pulls out of US Olympics
Twelve weeks before the opening ceremony of the Los Angeles Olympic Games, the USSR has announced it is boycotting them. It is expected most of the Eastern Bloc will follow suit.

The announcement, which was made on Russian TV this afternoon, blamed the commercialisation of the games and a lack of security measures, which amounted to a violation of the Olympic charter.

The Soviet Union accused the United States of using the games "for political purposes" and "stirring up anti-Soviet propaganda" and of having a "cavalier attitude to security of Russian athletes".

In 1980 the USA and more than 60 other countries boycotted the Moscow Olympics in protest at the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Top athletes

The Russians' withdrawal will devalue the Los Angeles Games far more than the US boycott as it seems certain that top-class athletes from the Eastern Bloc will also be prevented from taking part.

The White House denounced the move calling it a "blatant political act".

John Hughes, a State Department spokesman, said the USA had "gone the extra mile" to ensure adequate security measures were in place.

He took the opportunity to attack the USSR for its "barbarous behaviour" in Afghanistan and its persecution of Russian dissidents such as Dr Andrei Sakharov living in forced exile in the Russian town of Gorky.

Moscow has still not officially told the IOC of its boycott but there is little hope that the decision will be reversed.

 


Sam the Eagle, Official Mascot of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles
Russia has complained about the commercialisation of the LA Games



In Context
With the exception of Romania, the entire Eastern bloc and Cuba joined the boycott - 14 countries in all.

Although a record 140 nations did turn up - including China which had not taken part since 1932 - the level of competition was somewhat lopsided with the absence of so many world-class athletes.

As a result the USA won a record 83 gold medals.

The Los Angeles Summer Games were highly commercialised - they were the first privately financed games ever and made a profit of $225m thanks to corporate sponsorship and extensive use of unpaid volunteers. Forty-three companies were licensed to sell "official" Olympic products.

Los Angeles launched a bid to host the Olympic Games for a record third time in 2012 but the US Olympic Committee chose New York as its candidate.

LA will however host the 2006 athletics world cup.

2000: Sneak preview of new Tate Modern
The Tate Modern art gallery in London has opened its doors to the world's media ahead of the official opening by the Queen on May 11.

The world's largest modern art gallery is housed in a conversion of the former power station on Bankside which cost £134m and took four years to reconstruct.

For the first time, people will be able to see most of the Tate's 20th Century art collection. Before only a fragment of it could be displayed
Lars Nittve, Tate Modern Director
The new museum will have enough space to display works long hidden from public view due to lack of space - international modern art from 1900 to the present day by the artists such as Dalí, Picasso, Matisse, Rothko and Warhol as well as contemporary work by Dorothy Cross, Gilbert & George and Susan Hiller.

The existing Tate Gallery further down the River Thames at Millbank has been renamed Tate Britain.

The BBC Arts correspondent, Rosie Millard, visited the gallery and described it as vast, with a cathedral-like quality which has earned it the nickname Cathedral of Cool.

Three giant towers loom up inside the former power station's 115ft-high turbine hall - retaining all the atmosphere of its industrial heritage.

From the former turbine hall visitors are swept up by escalator to some 84 galleries on three levels. The exhibits are illuminated by natural light from a translucent roof.

The Tate Modern is defying the traditional way of displaying art - it is not exhibited in chronological order or within the context of particular historical movements, but by themes such as landscapes or still life.

The aim, say the Tate Modern's curators, is to challenge people and make them look at art in a different way.

Director Lars Nittve believes all the effort has been worthwhile. "This gallery is unique in the world," he said. "For the first time, people will be able to see most of the Tate's 20th Century art collection. Before only a fragment of it could be displayed."

But art critic and broadcaster David Lee was not entirely impressed. "We need the Tate Modern and this is something we can build on, but I was a bit disappointed by the minimalism and austerity of it all."


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9th May

 

1978 Italian Former Prime Minister Found Shot Dead

Aldo Moro had been kidnapped by the Red Brigade, a pro Communist movement, on March 16, after a bloody shoot-out when 12 terrorists killed his 5 guards.

The Red Brigade claimed they would put Moro on trial in a People's Court, however, after a search, police couldn't find it.

After negotiations failed, and the Italian authorities had refused to release 13 Red Brigade members being held in Turin in exchange for Moro, he was allowed to send a final message to his wife:

"They have told me that they are going to kill me in a little while, I kiss you for the last time."

Moro's body was found, two days later, riddled with bullets in a car in the centre of Rome.

 

1671 Captain Blood is captured as he attempts to steal the Queen of England's crown jewels, held in the Tower of London.

1960 FDA approves the contraceptive pill (Enovid-10) made by the G.D. Searle Company of Chicago, Illinois.

******

 

1956: Mystery of missing frogman deepens
 

British Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden has refused to reveal the details surrounding the disappearance of a naval diver during a goodwill visit by the Soviet leadership.

But he told a packed House of Commons "the appropriate disciplinary steps" were being taken - heightening speculation that Commander Lionel "Buster" Crabb was on a secret spying mission for which permission had not been granted.

Commander Crabb was reported missing, presumed dead, by the Admiralty on 29 April. The official statement said he had died following a test dive at Stokes Bay, near Portsmouth, on the Hampshire coast.

In fact, it is now known he was last seen on 19 April - the day after a Soviet cruiser carrying Soviet leaders Nikita Khruschev and Marshal Nikolai Bulganin arrived in Portsmouth harbour.

On 4 May the Soviet Government protested to the Foreign Office that a frogman had been seen in the vicinity of their ship, the Ordzhonikidze, during their stay.

Appropriate disciplinary steps are being taken
Sir Anthony Eden

In his statement Sir Anthony told MPs: "It would not be in the public interest to disclose the circumstances in which Commander Crabb is presumed to have met his death.

"While it is the practice for ministers to accept responsibility, I think it is necessary in the special circumstances of this case to make it clear that what was done was done without the authority or knowledge of Her Majesty's ministers. Appropriate disciplinary steps are being taken."

The prime minister refused to add another word to his statement, despite repeated attempts from Labour MPs to get him to do so. It seems clear that he was attempting to distance the British Government from Commander Crabb's activities so as not to upset the Russians.

At one point Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell warned the prime minister that his refusal to expand on his original statement would lead the public to the inevitable conclusion that Commander Crabb had indeed been on a spying mission.

The prime minister replied: "You are entitled to put any wording you like upon what I have said."

Commander Crabb was last seen leaving the Sally Port Hotel in Portsmouth on the morning of 19 April.

He had checked into the hotel two days before with another man, who signed himself Matthew Smith.

Both men apparently checked out of the hotel in the afternoon of Commander Crabb's disappearance.

Several pages of the hotel register were later found to be missing.

Commander Crabb entered the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve in 1940 and became involved in mine and bomb disposal. He later won the George Medal for his work removing limpet mines from the bottoms of ships during the war.

By the time of his disappearance he had been released from the navy and his friends said he was short of money.

He is said to have told friends that he was "going down to take a dekko at the Russian bottoms" for which he would earn 60 guineas.

Anthony Eden
Anthony Eden said "not in the public interest" to reveal details of diver



In Context
It appears that Lionel Crabb was on a spying mission for MI6 - unbeknown to the prime minister. The statement by the Admiralty was an attempt to cover up the mission but when the Soviets claimed to have seen a frogman Sir Anthony Eden was forced to speak out. Sir John Alexander Sinclair, head of MI6 was subsequently forced to resign.

The headless body of a man in the remains of a diving suit was found in Chichester harbour in 1957. A coroner concluded that it was Crabb's body and it was buried with his silver-mounted swordstick.

Ten years later a human skull was found partly buried in sand at Chichester harbour. Although there were several teeth in the jaw they had no distinguishing marks which could link them to Crabb, but a pathologist claimed the skull was the same age as the torso.

Rumours about what really happened to Commander Crabb continued to circulate in the media. One theory was that he had been killed by a new anti-frogman device fitted experimentally to the Soviet cruiser Ordzhonikidze or a sniper on the deck.

Other reports claimed Commander Crabb was alive and well and living in the Soviet Union or East Germany or that he had been taken prisoner by the Russians.

The Cabinet papers concerning the Crabb affair will remain secret until 2057.




1972: Israeli commandos storm hijacked jet
 
Twelve Israeli soldiers disguised as maintenance staff have stormed a hijacked Sabena Boeing at Lod airport in Tel Aviv and released the 100 people on board.

Two of the Arab hijackers were shot dead and their two female companions were captured, although one of them was injured in the attack.

Six of the passengers were also wounded in the gun battle. The 90 passengers and 10 crew had been held hostage for 23 hours.

The end to their ordeal came when two vans, said to be carrying repair men, drove onto the runway and approached the plane.

Two of the men burst into the cockpit and said they were taking over the jet
Captain Reginald Levy
The men got out and pretended to begin work on the airliner but suddenly climbed onto the wings and opened the emergency doors.

The British pilot, Captain Reginald Levy, said: "Everyone of us is lucky to be alive. I have had some tough times but this was my toughest."

The airliner was hijacked after leaving Vienna, where it had made a stop on a flight from Brussels to Tel Aviv.

Capt Levy said: "Two of the men burst into the cockpit and said they were taking over the jet."

He was ordered to fly the plane to Lod, where the gunmen offered to free the passengers in exchange for 100 Arab prisoners held by the Israelis.

While the plane was sitting on the tarmac, the Israelis managed to let down the tyres and empty the fuel tanks to prevent it taking off again.

Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Dayan took charge of negotiations with the hijackers, initially offering to free the Arab prisoners in return for the release of the hostages.

Later Israeli officials said there was never any intention to release the prisoners. It was simply a delaying tactic.

The gunmen belonged to the Black September Organisation of Palestine guerrillas, a splinter group of the PLO.

One of the rescued passengers, Mor Weiss, from Brooklyn, told The Times: "The soldiers opened the four doors, two on either side at the same time. Immediately the Arabs started shooting wildly.

"The troops fired back and I saw the younger of the two male hijackers fall with a bullet through his forehead. Seconds later the other one was shot."

Mr Weiss said he had been picked on because he was wearing a skull cap. He was sent to the back of the plane and made to sit with a stick of dynamite between his feet.

Captain Levy, who comes from Slough, told a news conference, the drama had happened on his 50th birthday. His wife had accompanied him on the flight so they could have a celebratory birthday meal in Tel Aviv.


Plane on tarmac with steps and front door open
Israeli commandos posing as maintenance staff burst into the plane



In Context
The two women hijackers were jailed for life in August 1972. They were found guilty after boarding the Sabena aircraft with explosives packed into the lining of corsets they were wearing and also carrying a pistol and grenade concealed in cans of talcum powder.

They were jailed for life - although one of the three judges voted for the death penalty.

On 29 May 1972 three Japanese gunmen opened fire on crowds at Lod International Airport in Tel Aviv, killing 26 people and injuring dozens more.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said they had recruited the gunmen from the Japanese Red Army. Two died in the attack, the third, Kozo Okamoto, was tried and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Lod, or Lydda airport, has since been renamed Ben Gurion Airport and has some of the strictest airport security in the world.

 

1979: El Salvador cathedral bloodbath

At least 18 demonstrators have been killed and many wounded after police opened fire on anti-government protesters outside the Metropolitan Cathedral in San Salvador, capital of El Salvador.

The protest in the Central American country was organised by the left-wing group known as the Popular Revolutionary Bloc.

People started screaming and running to the church but many were hit before they could get there
Ken Hawkins, eyewitness
Witnesses said the steps of the cathedral were littered with bodies. Freelance photographer Ken Hawkins told the Los Angeles Times there had been no warning from government forces before the shooting started.

"There was a continual burst of very heavy fire for about two and a half to three minutes," he said. "People started screaming and running to the church but many were hit before they could get there."

The left-wing group is currently holding a number of hostages at French and Costa Rican embassies in the city. The Costa Rican ambassador, Julio Esquivel, was released yesterday but France's ambassador, Michel Dondenne, and seven others are still held hostage.

It is demanding the release of five of its leaders but the military government, under Gen Humberto Romero, claims it is holding only two.

Fifty years of violence

Violent clashes between police and protesters are an all-too-familiar sight in El Salvador.

Trouble peaked some 50 years ago when a peasant revolt, in protest of the abject poverty many were forced to live in, led to the killing of 30,000 people and came to be known as La Matanza (the Slaughter).

Two years ago, Gen Romero came to power in what was widely regarded as a rigged election. Anti-government demonstrators gathered in the capital's main square and were fired on by government troops who killed about 50 people. Since then, left-wing groups such as the People's Revolutionary Army have carried out murders and bombings killing dozens of policemen.

Watch/Listen
Crowds scramble towards the cathedral entrance as police open fire
Crowds scramble towards the cathedral entrance as police open fire

Graphic footage of the shootings


In Context
Altogether 24 people were killed in the cathedral shootings.

Later that year, Gen Romero was ousted in an army-led coup.

During the 1980s, El Salvador was ravaged by a bitter civil war between right-wing government "death squads" and leading left-wing group FMLN.

The war left around 70,000 people dead but it also precipitated important political reforms.

In 1992 a United Nations-brokered peace agreement ended the civil war, but no sooner had El Salvador begun to recover than it was hit by a series of natural disasters.

The most notable of these was Hurricane Mitch in 1998 and a number of earthquakes in 2001. These left at least 1,200 people dead and more than a million others homeless.

1988: Syria threatens force in Beirut

Syria has hinted for the first time it may send in troops to halt the bloodshed in the slums of southern Beirut.

At least 150 people have been killed in the fighting in the past four days. More than 400 people - many of them civilians - are being treated in hospital.

The fighting between the Syrian-backed Amal militia and the pro-Iranian Hezbollah is for control of the southern suburbs, where it is believed the Western hostages including Terry Waite are being held.

Thousands of residents have fled the area to escape the violence. Many have sought refuge with relatives or friends living in safer parts of the city.

Heavy casualties

Syria's chief of military intelligence Brigadier Ghazi Kanaan has held talks with Lebanon's Prime Minister Selim al-Hoss.

Afterwards he said: "We have told the combatants 'you will force us to solve the problem if you do not agree to an end'".

Asked if Syria would deploy troops in the southern suburbs in support of the Amal fighters, Brigadier Kanaan replied: "We hope it will not come to this, but I will not allow the situation to continue as it is."

Syrian intervention could lead to even more heavy casualties. An offensive against Sunni Muslim fundamentalists in the northern city of Tripoli in 1985 left at least 300 people dead and thousands wounded.

It is unclear which rebel group currently holds the upper hand in the fighting. Amal defeated Hezbollah in fierce battles in the south of the country last month. Several truces have already collapsed as Hezbollah has refused to give up its captured positions.


1999: Chinese anger at embassy bombing
 
Major cities in China have seen their biggest and angriest demonstrations for years in response to the destruction by Nato bombs of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade with the loss of four lives.

Hundreds of students chanting anti-American and anti-Nato slogans marched in Shanghai, Chengdu, Guanghzou.

In Beijing about 100,000 people invaded the embassy district, massing on streets littered with rocks and broken bottles from earlier protests.

Buses packed with students headed out of campuses across the city. Correspondents said the authorities appeared to be deliberately encouraging the action.

The residence of the US Consul General in the south-western city of Chengdu was stormed and partially burned.

Nato said its pilots hit the embassy in the early hours of 8 May with precision-guided bombs by accident - they had mistaken the embassy for a legitimate military target.

Condemnation

The Chinese press has carried front-page pictures of the victims of the embassy bombing.

At an emergency session of the UN Security Council, the Chinese ambassador accused Nato of carrying out a war crime.

The Russian President, Boris Yeltsin, condemned the bombing as a violation of international law and called for an immediate end to the air strikes on Serbia.

Serbian state television reported that Yugoslavia's President Slobodan Milosevic has conveyed his deepest sympathy to China over the deaths.

President Clinton has offered deep regrets to the people of China, but said the bombing was an accident, not a barbaric act.

He echoed the words of the Nato Secretary-General, Javier Solana, in saying that the incident would not deter the alliance from continuing its air campaign.

As Nato countries try to contain the damage from the embassy bombing, Russia's special Balkans envoy, Viktor Chernomyrdin, said that the conflict itself must be resolved by political means as quickly as possible.

He was speaking after talks in Bonn with the German Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, about the G8 countries' outline peace plan for Kosovo. Both the chancellor and Mr Chernomyrdin later held separate talks with the Kosovo Albanian leader, Ibrahim Rugova.

In Context
In 1998 the Kosovo Liberation Army - supported by the majority ethnic Albanians - came out in open rebellion against Serbian rule over Kosovo.

International pressure grew on Serbia's President Slobodan Milosevic to stop the escalating violence against ethnic Albanians, and Nato launched air strikes against Yugoslavia in March 1999.

Within days, tens of thousands of Kosovo Albanian refugees poured out of Kosovo with accounts of killings and atrocities at the hands of Serb forces.

Eleven weeks later on 10 June 1999, Nato stopped the bombing after Belgrade agreed to a full military withdrawal from Kosovo.

Nato troops were deployed in Kosovo under Operation Joint Guardian to oversee the departure of Serb forces and maintain law and order.

Milosevic was ousted from power in September 2000 and arrested for corruption in April 2001. In February 2002 he stood trial in the Hague for war crimes but died in his cell in March 2006.

The US and China broke off diplomatic contact for about four months until discussion on China's entry into the World Trade Organisation - which finally happened in September 2001 - softened relations between the two nations.

1955: West Germany accepted into Nato
 
West Germany has formally joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation at a special ceremony in Paris.

The German delegates to NATO were greeted by British Foreign Secretary Harold Macmillan at the Conference Hall of the Palais de Chaillot.

Ministers from 14 member countries made a short speech welcoming West Germany into the alliance, saying they believed Germany's inclusion would strengthen peace in Europe.

A decisive turning point in the history of our continent
Halward Lange, Norway's Foreign Minister
Norway's Foreign Minister, Halward Lange, who spent two years in Ravensbruck concentration camp, called the entry of Germany into Nato "a decisive turning point in the history of our continent".

Some ministers also paid tribute to Dr Konrad Adenauer, German Chancellor since 1946.

In response, Dr Adenauer said in German: "I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the words of welcome you have addressed to the federal government and to the German nation.

"All your words reflected the importance of the hour and the event. You will realise that this moment fills me with deep emotion. The German people have paid harshly for the horrors which were committed in their name by evil leadership and have paid these horrors with unlimited suffering.

"Today, everywhere in Germany, peace and freedom are felt to be the greatest treasures as was true in the best periods of her history."

German flag over Nato HQ

This morning, the red, yellow and black German flag was raised at a military ceremony at Nato headquarters in Rocquencourt, France.

A British band played the German national anthem - better known as "Deutschland ueber Alles". A French band had refused to play the music because of its Nazi connotations.

Professor Hans Speidel, former general of the Third Reich and ex chief-of-staff to Field Marshall Erwin Rommel, witnessed the ceremony alongside United States General Alfred Gruenther and Major General Rene Lehr of France.

Herr Speidel was implicated in a plot to kill Adolf Hitler and spent the end of the war in a German prison.

Formal ceremonies over, the Nato members will now discuss the agenda of a proposed conference with the Soviet Union on the future of Germany and disarmament.

In Context
West Germany was reunified with East Germany on 3 October 1990.

The USSR saw the inclusion into Nato of West Germany in 1955 as a direct threat and in the same year it created a counter-alliance called the Warsaw Pact.

This dissolved after the break-up of the USSR in 1991 and Nato had to re-evaluate its role as a military alliance defending Western Europe against perceived Soviet aggression.

Nato formed closer links with former eastern bloc countries by setting up a North Atlantic Cooperation Council in 1991 and the Partnership for Peace programme in 1994.

The Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland became the first former Warsaw Pact countries to gain Nato membership in 1999. Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia are expected to join in 2004.

Nato's first aggressive action against a sovereign state took place in 1999, when it bombed targets in Yugoslavia in an attempt to halt that country's policy of "ethnic cleansing" in Kosovo. This was strongly opposed by Russia.

But the Kremlin's supportive response to the 11 September 2001 attacks on targets in the USA led to the formation in May 2002 of the Nato-Russia Council.

This means Russia and Nato countries will have an equal role in decision-making on policy to counter terrorism and other security threats.


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10th MAY

 

1994 - Nelson Mandela becomes President of South Africa

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandella had served 27 years as a political prisoner in a South African jail.

He had set up a paramilitary wing of the ANC after a massacre of peaceful black demonstrators at Sharpeville in 1960. The purpose of the wing was to engage in acts of sabotage against the white minority government.

Mandella was unsuccessfully tried for treason in 1961, but, a year later, was arrested for illegally leaving the country. He was sentenced to 5 years in Robben Island Prison.

In 1963 he, and 7 others, were put on trial in the Rivonia (the district in Jo-burg where ANC weapons were found) Trial for sabotage, treason and conspiracy. He was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.

The first 18 years was spent in Robben Island Prison in a small cell with no bed or running water. He was forced to do hard labour in a quarry. He was allowed to write and receive only one letter every six months. Once a year he could meet a visitor for 30 minutes.

Mandella became the symbolic head of the antiapartheid movement. His leadership of a civil disobedience movement while in Robben Island Prison led to improved conditions in the jail.

In 1982 he was relocated to Pollsmoor Prison on the mainland, and in 1988 he lived under house arrest in a cottage.

In 1989 F.W. de Klerk became South African president; he would dismantle the apartheid movement and allow blacks to vote. The ban on the ANC was lifted. On February 11th Mandella was released.

Mandella led the ANC in its negotiations with the white minority government for an end to apartheid and the establishment of a multiracial government.

In 1993 Mandella and de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

On April 26, 1994, in South Africa's first free elections, Mandella and the ANC won, and formed a coalition government of national unity with De Klerk's National Party and the Zulus' Inkatha Freedom Party.

******

 

1865 Confederate president, Jefferson Davis, is captured in Irwinville, Georgia.

1941 Nazi deputy Rudolf Hess flies out of war torn Germany and crashes his stolen plane in Scotland. He is arrested and imprisoned until the end of the war.

1954 Bill Haley and the Comets release "Rock Around the Clock" it would, eventually, become the first ever Rock 'n' Roll number one.

1967 Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, of the Rolling Stones, appear in a magistrate's court in Chichester on drugs charges.

 

******

 

1940: Churchill takes helm as Germans advance
German forces have invaded Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg by air and land.

The invasion began at dawn with large numbers of aeroplanes attacking the main aerodromes and landing troops. The Dutch High Commission says more than 100 German planes were shot down by its forces.

In London, it has been announced that Winston Churchill will lead a coalition government after Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain said he was stepping aside.

Two days ago his majority plummeted in a vote of confidence in the Commons during a debate on the war and there were calls from the Tory benches for him to go.

Just about three months after leaving a job in a furniture factory, I was supposed to face the most formidable army the world had ever seen at that particular time


Watch/Listen
Winston Churchill (c), Air Minister Sir Kingsley Wood (l) and Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden (r)
Winston Churchill leaves a Cabinet meeting at Number 10 after becoming Prime Minister

Prime Minister Chamberlain announces his resignation

BBC announces the German invasion of Holland and Belgium


In his broadcast tonight Mr Chamberlain said: "Hitler has chosen a moment when, perhaps, it seemed to him that this country was entangled in the throes of a political crisis and he might find it divided against itself.

"If he has counted upon our internal divisions to help him he has miscalculated the mind of this people."

The first news of the German invasion reached London at dawn. Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax received the Belgian Ambassador and Dutch Prime Minister at 0630 when they formally asked for Allied help.

The invasion had been expected for some time. In a proclamation issued to the German armies in the West, Hitler said: "The hour has come for the decisive battle for the future of the German nation."

Reports from Holland said German troops crossed the border during the night. The Dutch destroyed bridges over the Maas and Ijssel to prevent the German advance.

There were reports of fierce fighting at Rotterdam where German troops were landed by flying-boat. Other planes landed at Waalhaven aerodrome and troops quickly seized control.

This evening German forces are occupying the Maas and Bourse railway stations in Rotterdam. There are conflicting reports about whether they are still in possession of Waalhaven airport.

German reconnaissance planes have been seen flying overhead all day.

British and French troops have moved across the Belgian frontier in response to appeals for reinforcements.

Reports from Belgium say British troops have been enthusiastically received. Their guns have been festooned with flowers and the soldiers plied with refreshments.

In Washington President Franklin Roosevelt was asked at a news conference whether he thought Germany's invasion of the Low Countries would lead to US involvement in the war. He replied that it would not.

 

In Context
Neville Chamberlain was forced to resign after the disastrous British campaign in Norway. Attempts to repel the Germans culminated in the loss of about 4,000 British troops and ultimately German occupation of the country.

Also, Labour leader Clement Attlee made clear his party would not work with a coalition government under Chamberlain. Lord Halifax was offered the position of prime minister but turned it down and Winston Churchill was chosen as leader.

Mr Chamberlain served briefly in Mr Churchill's war cabinet as Lord President of the Council until he retired through illness in October 1940. He died of cancer the following month.

The German invasion of the Low Countries had been expected. Against 144 Allied divisions, the Germans mustered 141. The German air force had 4,020 operational aircraft, the Allies a little over 3,000. The gap in tank strength favoured the Allies: 3,383 against 2,335.

Yet in six weeks, and at a cost of only 30,000 dead, German forces had conquered the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg and on 21 June forced the capitulation of France.

France remained under German occupation until August 1944. Belgium was liberated in September 1944 and Luxembourg in February 1945. Some of the southern Netherlands was liberated in autumn 1944, but most of the country remained under German occupation until the end of the war.

1998: Sinn Fein backs peace deal
Members of Sinn Fein, the political wing of the republican IRA, have voted to accept the Good Friday peace agreement effectively acknowledging the north-south border.

It marks a major shift in modern republicanism - up until now, Sinn Fein had regarded participation in a Northern Ireland body as a tacit acceptance of partition.

I recognise how significant this decision is for republicans
Mo Mowlam, Northern Ireland Secretary
The agreement came at the party's annual conference, which included about 30 IRA prisoners granted special leave to vote.

The British and Irish governments welcomed the decision to formally approve the peace agreement signed at Stormont in April to create the Northern Ireland Assembly and new cross-border institutions.

The Irish Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern, said he now looked forward to an overwhelming 'yes' vote in referendums on the deal later this month.

The British government praised the Sinn Fein leader, Gerry Adams, saying the decision marked a final realisation that violence did not pay.

The Northern Ireland Secretary, Mo Mowlam, expressed her delight at the outcome.

"I recognise how significant this decision is for republicans and pay tribute to the leadership of Gerry Adams in bringing his party to support the agreement, north and south of the border," she said.

In what she described as an "exceptional decision", the IRA's commanding officer in the Maze Prison Patrick Wilson was among the 30 republican inmates freed for the conference in an effort to bring about a "Yes" vote.

Sinn Fein also voted to amend its constitution to allow members to sit in a new Northern Ireland Assembly after Mr Adams told his members they had a real chance to influence the strategy of the party and the way towards a united Ireland.

Martin McGuinness, one of Sinn Fein's UK MPs, told the BBC he was optimistic about achieving a "Yes" vote in the referendum due to be held on 22 May.

"I think there are concerns naturally among a small section of the Sinn Fein membership, but I have to say I think the mood all over the island is that moving into the assembly to further our republican objectives towards our ultimate goal of a united Ireland is at this moment in time the sensible thing to do," he said.

 


Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams persuaded members to vote for a cross-border body



In Context
On 22 May 1998, 71% of voters from Northern Ireland and 94% of those in the Irish Republic showed their support for the Good Friday peace agreement.

Throughout the first three years of the agreement's implementation, unionists accused republicans of failing to live up to the spirit of the agreement's requirement for the decommissioning of arms.

On the other hand, Sinn Fein accused the British government of failing to demilitarise quickly enough.

It added that it could not force anyone to give up arms and that the agreement only stated that the parties should use all their power to influence the process.

Disagreement over decommissioning and policing led to the suspension of the Northern Ireland Assembly twice in 18 months - in February-May 2000 and in August 2001.

The issue of decommissioning remained the major stumbling block in talks between all parties seeking to restore devolution after the Northern Ireland Assembly was suspended in October 2002.

Direct rule only ended in May 2007 when devolution returned to Northern Ireland with DUP leader Ian Paisley as first minister.

1978: Italy mourns murdered statesman
The murdered Italian politician Aldo Moro has been buried after a private funeral service and the Interior Minister, Francesco Cossiga, has resigned.

Italians stopped work to pay tribute to Mr Moro, leader of the ruling Christian Democrat Party who was twice prime minister and considered the chief candidate for president.

A stain of blood that dishonours our country
Pope Paul VI on the murder of Aldo Moro
He was also the architect of a plan to include the Communists in government for the first time in Italy's history - a plan which came into being the day after he was captured 55 days ago.

Mr Moro was kidnapped on 16 March after left-wing Red Brigade gunmen ambushed his car killing his chauffeur and five policemen.

For eight weeks, they held him at a secret location in Rome allowing him to send letters to his family and fellow politicians begging the government to negotiate with his captors.

They demanded the release of 13 Red Brigade members. It is reported that in the last few days the kidnappers told Mr Moro's family they would release him if just one of their gang were released.

The government, under President Giulio Andreotti, resolutely refused all pleas from family, friends, even the Pope himself to concede to any demands.

Eight weeks after he was taken, his body was found riddled with bullets in the boot of a red Renault 5 parked strategically between the headquarters of the ruling Christian Democrat Party and Communist Party HQ in central Rome.

When news of his death broke out, crowds gathered round the car and police had to force their way through to let Mr Cossiga identify the body.

In a public statement, Mr Cossiga then said he was responsible for the decision not to negotiate with the kidnappers and was now stepping down from his post.

About 100,000 people crammed into the St John Lateran square in Rome to protest against the killing holding up banners that read "Murderers" and black-bordered photos of Mr Moro.

The crowd chanted "Moro lives" and union leaders made emotional speeches calling for a united front against terrorism.

Pope Paul VI, a personal friend of Mr Moro who had pleaded with the government to negotiate with the Red Brigade, said the murder was "a stain of blood that dishonours our country". The pontiff was addressing Italy's parliament which today voted in tough new anti-terrorist legislation aimed at the Red Brigade.


Floral tribute to Aldo Moro
Aldo Moro was kidnapped in March and then murdered by the Red Brigade



In Context
The Red Brigade was a left-wing terrorist group formed in 1970 with the sole aim of overthrowing capitalist Italy by violent means. Most of their leading members had been captured and imprisoned by the mid-1980s.

The daring kidnap and murder of such a well-known and respected statesman such as Aldo Moro left the nation in a state of numbed shock. There were some who said police incompetence in finding him and government intransigence were all part of a grand conspiracy.

Francesco Cossiga was not long out of power. The following year he became prime minister and was Italy's president from 1985 to 1992.

1967: Two Rolling Stones on drugs charges
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of rock band the Rolling Stones have appeared before magistrates in Chichester, West Sussex, charged with drug offences.

The magistrates heard that after a tip-off, police raided Mr Richards's mansion in Redlands Road, West Wittering on the evening of Sunday 12 February during a party.

They searched the house, interviewed eight men and one woman and found various tablets and substances that were later examined by the Metropolitan Police Laboratory.

During the police raid, officers took away a number of items including Chinese joss sticks suspected of masking the sweet smell of cannabis resin and pudding basins holding cigarette ash.

Stones' lead singer Mr Jagger, 24, has been accused of illegally possessing four tablets containing amphetamine sulphate and methylamphetamine hydrochloride.

Guitarist Mr Richards, also 24, is charged with allowing his house to be used for the purpose of smoking cannabis.

Both Mr Jagger and Mr Richards pleaded not guilty and were released on bail to appear for trial at West Sussex Quarter Sessions on 22 June.

Outside the court, a crowd of young fans were waiting to see the stars but the two men were driven away in a chauffeur-driven car from the back of the building.

A third man, 29-year-old Robert Fraser, a gallery owner has been charged with possession of heroin and eight capsules of methylamphetamine hydrochloride.

 


Mick Jagger (left) and Keith Richards performing in April 1964
Mick Jagger (left) and Keith Richards pleaded not guilty to all charges


In Context
During the widely publicised trial, the prosecution said the only woman at the house - singer Marianne Faithful and Jagger's girlfriend - was dressed in nothing but a fur rug that she let slip occasionally. They claimed her lack of inhibition was a sign that she was under the influence of cannabis.

On 29 June, the judge sentenced Jagger to three months for possession of amphetamines and Richards to one year in jail for allowing cannabis to be smoked in his home.

But in August the sentences - considered very harsh for first offences - were quashed on appeal.

The Stones continued to dabble in drugs and break the law as befitted their wild image. Richards at one point became a heroin addict. But by the turn of the century the band had become an institution as the longest-running rock group in history.

Mick Jagger was awarded a knighthood in the Queen's Birthday Honours list in June 2002.


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11th MAY

 

1997 Deep Blue Beats Gary Kasparov

IBM's supercomputer, Big Blue, became the first ever machine to beat a human at chess.

Kasparov was a Russian chess master, believed to be the greatest chess player who had ever lived.

Big Blue can analyse 200 million chess moves a second.

Big Blue had lost to Kasparov in their previous meeting.

Kasparov had not lost a match before being beaten by Big Blue.

 

1981 Bob Marley dies of cancer.

1998 India announces that it has successfully tested a series of underground nuclear explosions.

 

******

 

1985: Fans killed in Bradford stadium fire
At least 52 people are known to have died and many are missing after fire engulfed the Bradford City football stadium.

Hundreds of people are in hospital suffering from burns. Most of the dead are children or elderly people crushed in the rush to escape the inferno.

Only one of the victims has been identified so far. He was former club chairman Samuel Firth, aged 86, who died in hospital from burns.

I've never seen anything like it. The smoke was choking. You could hardly breathe
Geoffrey Mitchell, survivor
The tragedy has sent shockwaves around the world. The Queen, the Pope, the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and church leaders have sent messages of condolence to a city in mourning.

The match began in an atmosphere of celebration as Bradford City, who had just been promoted to the second division, were about to play Lincoln City watched by more than 11,000 fans.

Just before kick-off Bradford City captain Peter Jackson was presented with the Third Division Championship trophy.

Five minutes before half time at 3.40pm a small fire was noticed three rows from the back of G block in the Valley Parade ground and fire-fighting equipment was requested.

Within minutes flames were visible and police started to evacuate people in the stand.

But the blaze spread very rapidly - within four minutes the whole of the roof and the wooden stands below were on fire and police struggled to save those who were too stunned or weak to escape.

One survivor spoke of the horror that he witnessed. "It spread like a flash," said 46-year-old Bradford City fan Geoffrey Mitchell. "I've never seen anything like it. The smoke was choking. You could hardly breathe.

"There was panic as fans stampeded to an exit which was padlocked. Two or three burly men put their weight against it and smashed the gate open. Otherwise I would not have been able to get out."

There is still no clue as to the cause of the fire.

1998: India explodes nuclear controversy

The Indian government has announced it has carried out a series of underground nuclear tests.

It is the first time India has carried out such tests since 1974.

The experiments took place without any warning to the international community, and there has been widespread outrage and concern over the move.

The test site, in Pokhran in the northern desert state of Rajasthan, is only about 150km (93 miles) from the border with Pakistan.

The two countries have fought three wars since independence with Britain in 1947, mainly over the disputed territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and there are fears the tests could escalate the conflict and spark a regional nuclear arms race.

'Contained explosions'

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee broke the news to journalists in a hastily-convened news conference.

"These were contained explosions like the experiment conducted in May 1974," he said.

"I warmly congratulate the scientists and engineers who have carried out these successful tests."

He said the devices tested were a fission device, a low-yield device and a thermonuclear device. He said there had been no release of radioactivity into the atmosphere.

There was immediate condemnation of the tests from Pakistan.

The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, said his country had been trying to draw the world's attention to India's nuclear programme.

"As a sovereign and independent nation," he said, "Pakistan will make its own decision on the steps to be taken towards its sovereignty and defence."

Arms race threat

There was already strong diplomatic pressure on Pakistan to show restraint and avoid retaliating - the only hope of avoiding a damaging arms race.

Last month Pakistan tested its own long-range nuclear missile, the Hatf-5, which has a range of up to 1,500km (932 miles).

The tests are said to have contributed to India's decision to launch its own nuclear tests today.

India is known to have developed a short-range nuclear missile, the Prithvi, with a range of 150km (93 miles) but it is working on a much longer range system, the Agni, which could reach targets up to 2,500km (1553 miles) away. India, Pakistan and Israel are the three nations widely suspected of nuclear capability which have not joined the 1970 nuclear non-proliferation treaty, now observed by 185 countries.


In Context
Two days later, India carried out two further nuclear tests and announced it had finished its testing programme.

Pakistan retaliated on 28 May with its own nuclear tests, confirming fears of an arms race in the region.

India's decision to carry out the tests brought a storm of international condemnation.

It also badly damaged its relationship with the United States, which imposed economic sanctions, as did several other countries.

In February 1999, the tension eased when India and Pakistan signed the Lahore accord, pledging to "resolve all issues", including that of Jammu and Kashmir.

The truce was short-lived, and hostilities over Kashmir broke out again within three months.

In October 1999, General Pervez Musharraf seized control of Pakistan in a military coup.

The change of government did not signal any improvement in relations with India, and in 2002 the two neighbours again came close to all-out war.

India and Pakistan began talking again in April 2003, and their relationship has continued to improve ever since.

1963: Moscow jails British 'spy'
A British businessman accused of spying for the West has been sentenced to eight years' detention by a Moscow tribunal.

The President of the Court declared Greville Wynne, aged 44, would serve three years in prison and five in a labour camp. Spectators in the crowded courtroom applauded and some shouted: "Not enough, not enough."

His co-accused, 43-year-old Soviet scientific official Oleg Penkovsky, was given the death sentence. There were loud cheers when his sentence was read out.

He has also been stripped of his rank of colonel and all his medals.

Arrested in Budapest

Wynne's sentence began last November when he was arrested in Budapest, Hungary, and handed over to the Soviet authorities.

During the four-day trial, the court heard both men had spied for British and American intelligence. Most of the evidence based on confessions given by the two men.

Both men pleaded guilty - Wynne "with certain reservations".

The prosecution said Wynne had acted as a go-between passing on "information about Soviet rockets" provided for him by Penkovsky during secret meetings in London, Paris and Moscow.

After sentencing, the court also named British and American officials in Moscow who were said to have helped Wynne in his espionage activities.

British sources continue to deny Wynne was involved in spying.

After the trial, Wynne embraced his wife Sheila in a side room before being driven to the Lubyanka Prison where he has spent the last six months.

It is not known where he will spend the rest of his sentence. Mrs Wynne later told reporters her husband had joked he was not expecting "a Butlin's holiday camp".

Nikolai Borovik, Wynne's Soviet lawyer, said the businessman would appeal. There are also hopes that he may be exchanged for Soviet spy Gordon Lonsdale, currently serving 25 years in a British prison.


Greville Wynne (second from right) on trial in Moscow
Greville Wynne was sentenced after a four-day trial in Moscow



In Context
Two days later, the Russians expelled British diplomat Gervase Cowell - one of the Britons named in the trial as supporting Wynne in his spying efforts.

Oleg Penkovsky was executed by firing squad one week after the trial.

The Wynne-Penkovsky case came at the height of the Cold War when relations between the superpowers were particularly strained.

The Soviet authorities rejected appeals by Greville Wynne's lawyer but 17 months into his sentence, they agreed to exchange Wynne for Soviet spy Gordon Lonsdale, serving 25 years in the UK.

On his release, Wynne was in a poor state of health. He had lost a lot of weight and doctors said his time in prison had left him "emotionally and mentally exhausted". He spent 12 days in hospital before returning to his Chelsea home to be with his wife and son.

He died in 1990.


1956: Gold Coast to get independence
The Gold Coast is to become the first black African nation to be granted independence from Britain.

In a statement to the House of Commons, Colonial Secretary Alan Lennox-Boyd said the Gold Coast will be allowed to govern itself within the Commonwealth provided a general election is held in the country.

If an election will be the only solution to the present situation then [Kwame Nkrumah] will go to the country as soon as possible
Gold Coast Finance Minister
The new West African state will incorporate the Gold Coast, Ashanti, the Northern Territories and Togoland, which recently voted to integrate with the Gold Coast.

He set the target date for independence at 6 March, 1957.

The fledgling state will be named Ghana after an ancient West African kingdom which flourished from 300AD to 1100AD.

Ghana will be the first black African nation to become independent from Britain, but there are fears of internal fighting between various tribes in the region over a new constitution. For this reason, the minister is insisting on elections for a new legislature that will then be asked to approve self-governance.

The finance minister of the Gold Coast, Mr Gbedemah, welcomed Mr Lennox-Boyd's announcement today and in an interview with the BBC made assurances that elections would be held soon.

"I know enough to be able to say that the prime minister [Kwame Nkrumah] has been planning that if an election will be the only solution to the present situation then he will go to the country as soon as possible," he said.

The Gold Coast has been a British colony since 1901. After World War I part of the German colony of Togoland was mandated to the British, who linked it administratively with the Gold Coast colony.

In the Gold Coast, nationalist activity intensified after World War II. Kwame Nkrumah of the Convention People's Party (CPP) emerged as the leading nationalist figure.

In 1951, Britain granted a new constitution, which had been drawn up by Africans, and general elections were held. The CPP won and Mr Nkrumah became prime minister.


Kwame Nkrumah, prime minister of Ghana
Kwame Nkrumah emerged as a leading nationalist figure after World War II


In Context
Like its neighbours, Ghana's post-independence history has been one of political and economic decline. Despite being rich in mineral resources, and endowed with a good education system and efficient civil service, Ghana fell victim to corruption and mismanagement soon after independence in 1957.

In 1966, its first president and pan-African hero, Kwame Nkrumah, was deposed in a coup. In 1981, Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings staged a second coup. The country began to move towards economic stability and democracy.

In April 1992 a constitution allowing for a multiparty system was approved in a referendum, ushering in a period of democracy.

In 1994-95 land disputes in the north erupted into ethnic violence resulting in the deaths of 1,000 people and the displacement of a further 150,000.

Since 1957 independence has been granted to almost all Britain's former colonies, and most have chosen to remain within the Commonwealth.


1971: Britain's oldest tabloid closes
The Daily Sketch newspaper which was founded in 1909 has been published for the last time.

Enclosed in today's souvenir issue was a copy of its sister paper the Daily Mail to which owners Harmsworth Publications hope former Sketch readers will now switch.

However, production of the last copies of the Sketch was held up by an industrial dispute over manning of the printing presses.

At its peak the Daily Sketch achieved a circulation of 1.3 million copies a day but in recent years readership of the paper has been in decline.

The Sketch's fate was sealed two months ago when Harmsworth Publications announced plans to shut down the paper, although the exact date was a closely-guarded secret until recently.

The closure has resulted in more than 800 people being made redundant - they are among 1,700 being laid off by Associated Newspapers, Harmsworth's parent company.

But the former editor of the Sketch, David English, remains with the company. He was appointed editor of the Daily Mail after the Sketch's closure was announced.

Associated Newspapers is now pinning its hopes on the revamped Daily Mail capturing the Sketch's market.

Earlier this month the Mail was transformed from a broadsheet into a tabloid and has taken on many of the Sketch's features such as the Peanuts cartoon strip.

The new Mail's success is even more crucial for Harmworth's survival given that it also publishes the loss-making Evening News.

The Mail's main competitor for the Sketch's readers is widely regarded to be the Daily Express.

The Express' new editor, Ian McColl, is expected to take the paper further to the right and thus encroach on ground traditionally occupied by the Mail. The latest developments are another twist in the on-going battle of the tabloids which began when Rupert Murdoch took over the Sun two years ago.


Daily Sketch newsroom
Many of the paper's journalists face redundancy


In Context
Under David English the new Daily Mail soared in popularity especially among the middle classes.

In 1992 after 20 years at the Mail, David English became editor-in-chief and chairman of Associated Newspapers.

He died in 1998.

Rivalry in the tabloid market intensified in 1984 when Robert Maxwell took over the Mirror Group.

In February 1987 he launched the London Daily News - in direct competition with Associated Newspaper's Evening Standard.

However, after fierce resistance from Associated Newspapers the London Daily News closed in July 1987 with losses in the region of £50m.

In 1986 a new tabloid entered the market when Eddy Shah launched Today - the first national newspaper to be printed in colour.

But in 1995 Today became the first national paper to close since the Daily Sketch.


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12th May

 

1975 American Freighter Mayaguez Is Captured By Cambodia

The ship's 39 strong crew were imprisoned in a Cambodia jail while authorities checked the ship.

The Mayaguez had, it was claimed by the Cambodians, sailed into Cambodian waters.

US President Gerald Ford reacted quickly, calling the seizure, 'an act of piracy' and sent armed forces to intervene and recapture the 39 crew.

The US was feeling vulnerable at this time after the withdrawal from Vietnam. The seizure of the Mayaguez appeared to be a small challenge to the US dominance on the world stage.

US Marines attacked the island of Koh Tang where the prisoners were held, and the port where the gunboats had come from was bombed.

It appears that the Cambodian government had already started to release the prisoners at the time of the attack.

41 Americans died.

 

1994: Labour leader John Smith dies at 55
The Labour leader John Smith has died in St Bartholomew's hospital in London after two serious heart attacks.

The 55-year-old leader of the opposition suffered his first attack at his central London flat.

He had a second heart attack in the ambulance on the way to hospital and was pronounced dead at 0915 BST.

He leaves behind his wife, Elizabeth, and three daughters, all in their twenties.

The news comes as a shock to his party and the nation.

 


Watch/Listen
John Smith
John Smith: Regarded as a man of great integrity

MPs stunned by Smith death

He was regarded as a man of integrity - decent and honest and was widely expected to lead Labour to victory at the next general election and become prime minister.

Senior politicians from all parties have paid tribute to Mr Smith and today's sitting of the House of Commons has been suspended as a mark of respect.

John Smith trained as a barrister and entered Parliament in 1970 as a Labour member for North Lanarkshire, Scotland. He served as secretary for trade in 1970 and subsequently as Labour spokesperson on economic and industrial issues, developing a reputation as a moderate.

After the Conservative election victory two years ago, he took over from Neil Kinnock as party leader and set about unifying the left and right factions of Labour.

Family man

Mr Smith was devoted to his family and was determined to spend as many weekends as possible at his home in Morningside, Edinburgh, but this made for a punishing public regimen.

It took its toll on a man who had already had one heart attack back in 1988.

The deputy party leader Margaret Beckett is interim party leader until a successor is chosen. Home Affairs spokesman Tony Blair is favourite to win the leadership and Gordon Brown, Robin Cook and John Prescott are expected to stand too.

******

 

1981: Second IRA protester dies in jail

A second IRA hunger striker, 25-year-old Francis Hughes, has starved to death in the Maze Prison near Lisburn in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

His death comes a week after the death of Bobby Sands on 5 May, the first to die in a republican campaign for political status to be granted to IRA prisoners.

His blood is on Margaret Thatcher's hands
Francis Hughes' brother Oliver
Hughes began refusing food and medical attention a week after Sands began his hunger strike on 1 March. He lapsed into unconsciousness and died at 1743BST today.

As news of his death spread in Catholic areas of Belfast and Londonderry, women clanged dustbin lids and young men stoned army vehicles, threw petrol bombs and hijacked lorries.

Hughes's brother, Oliver, blamed the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, for his death. Speaking from his hometown of Bellaghy he said: "Margaret Thatcher and the British Government have murdered my brother and his blood is on Margaret Thatcher's hands."

The condition of two other hunger strikers at the Maze, Raymond McCreesh and Patrick O'Hara, continues to deteriorate.

Their five demands include: the right to wear their own clothes, refrain from prison work, associate freely with other republican prisoners, to have visits and parcels once a week and the right to have lost remission on sentences restored.

'Absolute fanatic'

Security forces have said Hughes was "an absolute fanatic whose name stood for murder and nothing else".

A spokesman went on to describe him as "as vicious a man as you could meet, a ruthless killer who thrived on what he was doing".

His republican colleagues hailed him as "fearless and active".

Four years ago, Hughes became a wanted man after the home of a policeman was blown up in County Tyrone.

No-one was hurt but Hughes' fingerprints were found on adhesive tape used on the bomb.

In March 1978 he was finally caught after a gun battle at Bellaghy and eventually sentenced to a total of 83 years in prison for his six-year-long career as an IRA gunman and bomber.

The government is refusing to grant any of the hunger strikers' demands. Mrs Thatcher says they are a cover for gaining political status, a special category denied paramilitaries in the Maze since 1976.

In Context
The Maze Prison was initially run along the lines of a prisoner-of-war camp, segregated according to paramilitary allegiance with military-style command structures.

In March 1976 the British Government ended special category status - which had accorded the prisoners political recognition - and started to treat paramilitary offenders as ordinary criminals.

The jail became the focus of intense international scrutiny between 1976 and 1981 when Republican inmates fought for political status, initially through the "blanket" and "dirty" protests.

Their campaign culminated in two hunger strikes.

During the second in 1981, 10 Republicans, led by Bobby Sands, starved themselves to death and 64 civilians, police and soldiers died in violence directly attributable to the hunger strikes.

Three days after the hunger strikes came to an end on 3 October, Northern Ireland Secretary James Prior negotiated a package of concessions for the Maze prisoners - much to the fury of the loyalist community.

He met two of the prisoners' demands - the right to wear their own clothes and the restoration of 50% of lost remission for those who obeyed prison rules for three months.

 

******

 

1967: Stansted to become London's third airport

The British Government has given the green light to plans to convert Stansted into London's third airport.

President of the Board of Trade Douglas Jay told the House Of Commons that the small airfield in Essex would become the site for a £47m international airport by 1974.

Announcing the decision following the conclusions of a White Paper, Mr Jay said the verdict had been reached "after very careful consideration".

There had been considerable support for an alternative site on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent but Stansted was eventually selected by an inter-departmental committee.

The cost of developing Stansted, where there was already an airport with a 10,000ft runway, would be far cheaper than building a new airfield from scratch.

High noise levels

But Mr Jay said that the government had carried out a thorough re-examination and was satisfied that Stansted, though by no means ideal, was the best area for the airport.

Under proposals in the White Paper, the current airfield will be extended from 800 acres to 2,500 acres and once operational will include two parallel runways for supersonic and jumbo jets.

On top of the £41m development, another £6m will be allocated for road and rail access.

When the new travel facilities are completed it will take 70 minutes by road using the M11 and 45 minutes by rail to reach the airport from central London.

The development will also create jobs for over 20,000 people.

But 20 schools and a hospital will have to close and around 7,000 houses will be exposed to high levels of noise.

Peter Kirk, MP for Saffron Walden, objected to the development and said the decision would be received with "deep resentment and bitterness in his constituency".

But Mr Jay said: "We realise there will be regret in the neighbourhood but this is inescapable wherever the airport is placed.

"No matter where the airport is sited, there will be a disturbance to some people who live and work in the area."

'Unimaginative course'

Farmers also objected to the development on the grounds that it would lead to the loss of good agricultural land.

The National Farmers Union said: "From an agricultural point of view, few if any sites could be more disastrous.

"The government has opted for the easy and unimaginative course in preference to the realistic and bold planning for which we had hoped."

Mr Jay defended the proposals and said that compensation would be "arranged in the normal course of compulsory land purchase."

He said that Stansted would begin operating scheduled services from next year. Improvements to all three of London's international airports including Gatwick and Heathrow, would cost £100m.

******

 

2000: Ford quits Dagenham after 70 years

Ford has confirmed that car production at its Dagenham plant in Essex is to end after more than 70 years.

In total, it will mean the loss of around 3,000 jobs with car assembly at the plant ceasing within two years.

Ford unions reacted angrily to the news. They say the real number of redundancies is closer to 5,000 because Ford's numbers do not include job losses among caterers, cleaners and suppliers.

I'm sickened
Dagenham worker
Two years ago Ford had promised to give Dagenham the contract for the new Ford Fiesta. That now goes to Germany and Spain.

"We're extremely angry. There is no justification for the 3,000 job losses and the closure of this assembly plant," said Tony Woodley of the Transport Workers' Union.

"My view is simply this. To be in the car manufacturing industry, quite simply, you've got to make cars."

Outside the factory, union members made their feelings plain. "I'm sickened to tell you the truth," said one Dagenham worker. "I've been working here 23 years. I'm not old enough to take a pension or leave. I'm just sickened."

Ford's European operations have been struggling recently, hit by falling car sales and intense competition.

The company has the capacity to produce 2.25m cars in its European factories, but sold only 1.65m during the past year.

The decisive factor in moving production from Dagenham to its German factory in Cologne was that facilities there were more flexible, with a second assembly line, enabling Ford to switch to other models quickly.

The company tried to soften the blow by saying the losses would be offset by investment in diesel manufacturing at the plant. Nick Scheele, chairman of Ford Europe, said Dagenham would become Ford's "global centre" for the production of diesel engines, creating 500 jobs over four years.


Watch/Listen
A Ford Fiesta production line in Dagenham before the job cuts
Ford says production facilities on the continent are more flexible.

Ford workers face up to redundancy

******

 

1971: Row rocks Rolling Stone wedding

The Rolling Stones singer, Mick Jagger, has married his fiancée Bianca Perez Morena de Macias at the town hall in the French Mediterranean town of St Tropez.

The civil ceremony was held up for almost an hour-and-a-half, after bitter arguments between Mr Jagger's spokesman and the police over the number of reporters and photographers in the wedding chamber.

A pool of four photographers had been invited to the town hall, but as the time of the ceremony approached about 100 cameramen and other journalists packed the chamber.

At first, Mr Jagger refused to come to the town hall - the message which was delivered by his spokesman said he did not wish to get married in a "goldfish bowl".

But the police insisted the media had the right to stay - and they, in turn, threatened to cancel the wedding unless the couple put in an appearance.

Mick Jagger and his Nicaraguan-born wife-to-be eventually arrived at 1700. Police and journalists exchanged blows in the frenzy.

Hippies turned up on foot and bicycles, mingling with members of the international jet set, who arrived in Rolls Royces for the wedding.

After the brief civil service, the couple left for the St Anne chapel for a religious ceremony.

Students gave the wedding party a noisy reception at the chapel. During the simple service, Father Lucien Baud recalled the groom had been born on St Anne's day, which is why he had chosen to be married in her chapel.

Bach's wedding march was played as the couple exchanged rings. A medley of themes from the film Love Story was also played at the request of the bride.

The couple left by a side door in an attempt to dodge the journalists who had followed them to the chapel.

The reception in the Café des Arts was attended by 200 guests - 70 of whom had been flown from London on a chartered Comet paid for by the groom.

The party went on into the early hours of the morning when the newly-weds left on the yacht Romeang, with a six-man crew for a 10-day honeymoon around Corsica and Sardinia.


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13th May

 

1981 Pope John Paul II Is Shot

Pope John Paul II is seriously wounded. He was in an open car on his way to his weekly general audience in Rome's St Peter's Square.

He was shot by 23 year old Mehmet Ali Agca, a Turk.

Four shots were fired, the Pope was hit in the abdomen and his left hand. Two others were injured: American Ann Odre, 60, was hit in the chest, and Jamaican Rose Hill, 21, was hit in the arm.

Bystanders knocked the gun out of Agca's hand and held him until police arrived.

The Pope was rushed to Rome's Gemelli Hospital. After 5 hours of surgery he was listed as critical but stable.

The Pope would be released from hospital 3 weeks later, fully recovered from his ordeal.

Agca had escaped jail in Turkey apparently intending to shoot the Pope.

In his pocket a note was found, it read:

"I am killing the pope as a protest against the imperialism of the Soviet Union and the United States and against the genocide that is being carried out in Salvador and Afghanistan."

Agca was sentenced to life in prison.

 

******

 

1989: British war hero 'seized' in Beirut

A British war hero is feared kidnapped after he disappeared in the Lebanese capital Beirut.

Jackie Mann, 74, an ex-squadron leader and Spitfire pilot who fought in the Battle of Britain, vanished after leaving his home in the city to go to a bank.

It is feared that Mr Mann has joined the three other UK hostages believed to be held by the pro-Iranian Hezbollah party.

Mr Mann's wife Sunnie has made an emotional appeal for his release on Lebanon Television.

Mrs Mann said: "I appeal to whomsoever is holding my husband to return him to me."

Mrs Mann told reporters: "We are just a couple who have lived in Lebanon for over 40 years because we loved the place and its people."

There are concerns for Mr Mann's welfare because he suffers from a skin problem which requires medication after being badly burnt when he was shot down as a pilot.

The previously unknown group Armed Struggle Cells has claimed it has a British "captive" although it did not mention Mr Mann by name. But the claim is being treated with caution.

The group has demanded the release of Palestinian prisoners it said were being held in Britain accused of killing Palestinian cartoonist Naji al-Ali in 1987.

However, Scotland Yard said no-one linked to the murder was being held in the UK.

A Foreign Office spokesman has confirmed that Mr Mann is missing but said there was no independent evidence that he had been kidnapped.

Officials are checking hospitals in the Lebanon, police and local authorities in Beirut in the search for Mr Mann.

The British embassy had warned three days before Mr Mann was seized that a Shia group was preparing to take another Western hostage.

The Foreign Office and British embassy in Lebanon had renewed warnings to British citizens still living in Beirut to leave immediately following the Salman Rushdie affair in February.

A fatwa, or religious edict, was issued by Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini after the publication of Mr Rushdie's novel "The Satanic Verses". Khomeini said Muslims had a duty to kill Mr Rushdie for blaspheming Islam in his novel.

Concerns have also been mounting after the Speaker of the Iranian parliament, Hashemi Rafsanjani, urged Palestinians to kill five Westerners for every Palestinian killed by Israelis in the occupied territories. Meanwhile, a 24-year-old West German aid worker, Marcus Quint, who was kidnapped earlier this month has been released at the headquarters of the pro-Syrian Amal militia without any explanation.


Jackie Mann
Former Spitfire pilot Jackie Mann has lived in Lebanon for 40 years


 
 
1968: Workers join Paris student protest
French workers have joined student protests in Paris for the first time with a one-day general strike.

About 800,000 students, teachers and workers marched through the French capital demanding the fall of the government under Charles de Gaulle and protesting at police brutality during the riots of the past few days.

This time, police kept a low profile for most of the day but later blocked off bridges across the Seine to keep demonstrators on the Left Bank, the scene of running battles between students and the CRS (riot police) over the last 10 days.

The crowds of protesters marched for four hours starting at the Place de la Republique on the Right Bank of the River Seine.

They grew ever larger as they crossed the river to the Left Bank student quarter and up the Boulevard St Michel to Place Denfert-Rochereau.

Carrying flags and banners, workers, students and teachers chanted "De Gaulle assassin" and "CRS-SS", comparing the riot police to Nazis.

They have several and various demands. Left-wing students - no doubt inspired by similar protests in the United States and the spring pro-democracy riots in Prague - want reform of the "bourgeois" university system and an end to the "police state".

They also called for the release of their leaders, many of whom were arrested after a night of rioting three days ago when students ripped up cobbles from the streets to set up barricades.

Workers have a series of grievances including poor state salaries, centralisation and discrimination.

The one-day strike has affected all aspects of daily life in the capital and is spreading out into the rest of the country.

Public transport, air travel, power supplies, postal services and manufacturing have been severely hampered.


Watch/Listen
Two students kiss behind a barricade in May 1968
Students ripped up cobbles from the street to erect barricades

Footage of the Paris protest
In Context
President de Gaulle was in Romania at the time of the worst riots when his prime minister, Georges Pompidou, sent in the infamous CRS riot police to quell the student unrest.

The strike spread all across France until around 10 million workers had downed tools and paralysed the nation for nearly two weeks.

They did not have the support of the unions or the Communist Party, who called for calm and moderation.

After workers rejected a deal between government, employers and unions to raise wages, Mr Pompidou sent tanks to the outskirts of Paris on 29 May for fear of a revolution.

De Gaulle then called an election for the end of June - and his party won a huge majority. It seemed voters were exasperated with the unrest and inconvenience of the strike.

The new government announced major reforms to the education system - 67 new universities and a more democratic system of governing councils.

1995: British woman conquers Everest
A British mother of two has become the first woman to conquer Everest without oxygen or the help of sherpas.

Alison Hargreaves, 33, is only the second person ever to reach the peak of the world's highest mountain unaided.

She reached the 29,028ft (8,847.7m) summit at 1208 local time on Saturday - 0723 in Britain - and immediately radioed her base camp. She wanted to send a fax to her two children, Tom and Kate, aged six and four, at home near Fort William on the west coast of Scotland.

The message was: "I am on the top of the world and I love you dearly."

She set herself a formidable target
Husband Jim Ballard
Before starting her descent, she planted a silk flower.

Her husband Jim Ballard, 48, a climbing photographer, who stayed at home to look after the children said: "I am very proud of Alison. I always had confidence in her ability to get to the roof of the world, although she set herself a formidable target."

Alison tackled the mountain's notorious north ridge from Tibet after more than a year's training on the slopes of Ben Nevis.

She failed in a similar attempt last year, when she was driven back at 27,500ft (8,382m) by arctic winds which threatened to freeze her hands and feet.

Cally Fleming, a spokeswoman for the Nevis Range ski slope where Miss Hargreaves trained said: "This is the most important climb ever undertaken by a woman. It's fabulous."

Miss Hargreaves, who uses her maiden name for climbing, arrived at base camp at 17,060ft (5,199.9m) on 11 April. She climbed the entire route without porters or oxygen

She was forced to approach the summit almost along the top of the arduous north ridge because weather conditions meant the slopes below were almost bare of snow.

The only other climber to have reached the top of Everest unaided was Reinhold Messner in 1980.

Alison Hargreaves now plans to climb the world's second highest mountain, K2, unaided after a short break in Scotland.


Alison Hargreaves with backdrop of mountains
Alison Hargreaves before leaving for her attempt on Everest


In Context
Three months to the day after her successful conquest of Everest, Alison Hargreaves was killed shortly after reaching the summit of Pakistan's K2.

Three climbers who had tackled the summit with her were also killed. Three members of a separate five-strong Spanish team died the same day.

New Zealander Peter Hillary, son of the Everest pioneer, Sir Edmund Hillary, was climbing with the Hargreaves' team, but turned back before the fateful summit bid and survived.

It is not clear how they died. Witnesses on the mountain said there was a sudden mountain storm, combined with a bitter 100mph (160.9kph) wind. At least one climber is thought to have fallen.

Following Miss Hargreave's death, there was some criticism in the media about whether a mother should be allowed to pursue such a dangerous sport.

In 1996, Jim Ballard and the couple's two children, made an emotional pilgrimage to Pakistan to visit the foot of K2.

Both children have developed a keen interest in climbing and Tom has said he would like to become a professional climber.

1977: Cricket captain sacked over 'circus'
England cricket captain, Tony Greig, has been sacked for signing up players to Kerry Packer's commercial cricket "circus".

On 9 May Mr Packer, the Australian media tycoon, announced he had recruited 35 of the world's best cricketers to play in a series of internationals in Australia this winter.

It follows the Australian Cricket Board decision to turn down his offer of AUS$1.5m a year for television rights to screen Australian Test matches and Sheffield Shield cricket on his Channel 9 station.

The impact of his new World Series Cricket, since dubbed a "circus" by the press, has shocked the cricket establishment and fans around the globe and will be discussed by the International Cricket Conference in July.

Poaching players

Mr Packer has hired Mr Greig to sign on more players and lead the team.

The Cricket Council, the ruling body for the game in this country, took four hours to reach its latest decision to drop the England captain.

Donald Carr of the Test and County Cricket Board, explained the reasons behind the move. "They took into consideration his involvement in the recruitment of players for this series of matches and clearly running in competition with the scheduled Test match series over the next year or two.

"This was considered to be a breach of the normal trust which is expected between the captain and the England team and the authorities."

He said the board reacted with "surprise and grave disappointment" at news that Mr Grieg and two other England players had signed up to Mr Packer's World Series Cricket.

In a statement that he read to the press, Mr Grieg said: "Obviously I am disappointed that my reign as England Captain has come to an end just as we were beginning to put things together.

"From a personal point of view, the only redeeming factor is that I have sacrificed cricket's most coveted job for a cause which I believe could be in the best interests of cricketers the world over."

There are fears that Mr Packer will tempt away more talented players with offers of large salaries to create a World XI team of superstars.


Kerry Packer, Australian media tycoon
Kerry Packer tried to create a superteam - and rocked the cricket establishment.


In Context
With the help of Tony Greig, Kerry Packer recruited 50 top-class players by offering them salaries of around AUS$30,000 (£12,000) a year for a three-year contract. As England captain, Greig had been paid just £1,050 for a season.

After arriving amid a fanfare of publicity, World Series Cricket existed for only 17 months as a live sporting entity.

But Mr Packer - once rated the richest man in Australia and seen as a threat to the sport - was regarded by the cricket world as having revolutionised the game.

He introduced floodlit night games using white balls, coloured clothing and top salaries for top players. Above all he transformed the image of the game from a dull and slow sport to something dynamic and energetic.

He died on 26 December 2005.

Top names in the original World XI team included:
Sussex's John Snow
Kent's Alan Knott and Derek Underwood
West Indies players Viv Richards, Andy Roberts, Pakistan's Imran Khan, Majid Khan, Asif Iqbal and captain Mushtaq Mohammed
South Africa's Graeme Pollock, Barry Richards, Mike Procter, Eddie Barlow and Denys Hobson


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14th May

 

1948 Israel Proclaims It's Existence

The first Jewish state for 2000 years is declared at Tel Aviv Art Museum, by Jewish Agency Chairman, Ben-Gurion, who said:

"We hereby proclaim the establishment of the Jewish state in Palestine, to be called Israel."

Ben-Gurion would become the Israel's first prime minister.

That night Egypt launched an air assault.

It was on this day...
1796 First Vaccination Given

Gloucestershire, England: Edward Jenner administers the first ever vaccination to prevent disease. It was for Small pox, a disease that had killed millions.

The discovery of the vaccine occurred when Jenner observed that milk girls who had suffered the much less serious Cow Pox, didn't get Small Pox.

Taking his 8 year old (!) patient, James Phipps, Jenner scratched his skin with the fluid from a Cow Pox blister. The boy soon recovered from this. Phipps was then inoculated with Small Pox and he suffered no ill symptoms.

The discovery was quickly used by other doctors around the world.

 

1955: Communist states sign Warsaw Pact

The Soviet Union and its Eastern Bloc allies have signed a security pact in the Polish capital, Warsaw, after a three-day conference.

Announcements in Warsaw and Moscow said the Soviet Prime Minister, Marshal Nikolai Aleksandrovich Bulganin, and leaders of seven other countries approved the draft of a new mutual aid agreement called the Warsaw Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation, and Mutual Assistance.

It is designed, among other things, to ensure close integration of military, economic and cultural policy between eight Communist nations.

Signatories to the treaty - the USSR, Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Albania - have agreed to unify their forces under one command although at this stage it is not known who will take this post.

Fear of West German army

Yugoslavia, the only European Communist state not included in the pact, was expelled in 1948 from Cominform, the Communist information agency for refusing to acknowledge Soviet supremacy.

The treaty, signed at the Warsaw Palace, comes in the wake of news that West Germany has been accepted by western nations into Nato (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) following talks earlier this month in Paris.

In a speech at the beginning of the Warsaw talks, Marshal Bulganin warned that the USA, Britain and France were turning West Germany into "the principal hotbed of the danger of war in Europe" by allowing it to re-arm.

He said allowing West Germany into Nato was "the major obstacle" to reunification of Germany.

Existing bilateral agreements between nations of the Eastern Bloc, he stated, were no longer sufficient to ensure their security and this Warsaw Pact would supersede all of those.

He added that Nato was also encouraging countries in the Near and Middle East to form military blocs to plan attacks on the Soviet Union and its allies.

In his concluding speech today, Marshal Bulganin emphasised the pact was inspired by the Leninist principle of peaceful co-existence between democratic nations and said they wanted to abide by the United Nations Charter. However the Times newspaper editorial today points out that unifying the armies of all eight countries will also allow the USSR to base its own troops in member states and "would certainly help to keep the satellites in order".


Warsaw Palace
The pact was signed at the Warsaw Palace
In Context
Warsaw Pact countries placed their forces under the command of Marshal Ivan Stepanovich Koniev.

The Warsaw Pact did allow the USSR to suppress nationalist rebellions. Its troops crushed uprisings in Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968 which prompted Albania to withdraw from the pact later that year.

The democratic revolutions of 1989 in eastern Europe heralded the end of the Warsaw Pact and the Cold War between east and west.

East Germany withdrew in 1990 and on July 1 1991 at a final summit meeting of Warsaw Pact leaders in Prague, Czechoslovakia, it was declared "non-existent".

 

1991: Mandela's wife jailed for kidnaps

Winnie Mandela, the wife of anti-apartheid campaigner Nelson Mandela, has been given a six-year prison sentence for her part in the kidnap of four youths.

Her lawyers lodged an appeal against the sentence and Mrs Mandela was freed on bail.

The woman known to her supporters as the "Mother of Africa" was found guilty yesterday.

Passing sentence the judge, Mr Justice Stegmann, called her an "unblushing and unprincipled liar".

He said it was impossible to imagine the kidnaps taking place without Mrs Mandela being a "moving force".

Mrs Mandela's housekeeper and driver were also found guilty of taking part in the kidnapping of the four youths who were suspected of being police informers.

One of the four - 14-year-old Stompie Moeketsi - later died of his injuries.

Earlier this year Winnie Mandela's chief bodyguard, Jerry Richardson, was sentenced to death for the boy's murder.

Fall from grace

Nelson Mandela, 73, has so far vigorously supported his wife's claims of innocence.

But Mrs Mandela's attempt to distance herself from the activities of her bodyguards - known as the "Mandela Football Club" - appear to have failed.

The sentence compounds the fall from grace for the woman who for more than three decades was the figurehead of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.

She and her husband spent only four months as a married couple before he was sent to prison where he would spend the next 27 years.

She was harassed by the authorities and sent into internal exile.

In 1985 she returned to Soweto in defiance of the banning order in place against her.

However, her critics said she encouraged violence in the township including the notorious "necklace killings" - putting a tryre around a victim's neck and setting it alight. By the time her husband was released from jail last year Winnie Mandela was deeply unpopular.


Watch/Listen
Nelson and Winnie Mandela leave court after the guilty verdict
Nelson Mandela has supported his wife

Report on the Winnie Mandela trial
In Context
The following year police began investigations into claims Winnie Mandela had been involved in two other murders.

Soon afterwards Nelson Mandela announced he and Winnie were separating after 33 years of marriage.

The couple divorced in 1996.

In June 1993 South Africa's Appeal Court reduced Mrs Mandela's sentence to a fine of 15,000 rand (£3,200) and a suspended two-year prison sentence.

She was also ordered to pay another 15,000 rand to the three surviving kidnapped youths.

The death sentence on Mrs Mandela's bodyguard for Stompie Moeketsi's murder was commuted to 19 years imprisonment.

Nelson Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994. He appointed Winnie to his cabinet but sacked her the following year.

Claims of involvement in kidnaps, murders and other crimes during the apartheid era have continued to haunt Winnie Mandela.

 

1964: Nasser and Khrushchev divert the Nile

President Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev have marked the first stage in the building of the Aswan High Dam.

At a dramatic ceremony in southern Egypt, the two heads of state together, along with President Arif of Iraq and President Sallal of Yemen, pressed a button to blow up a huge sand barrage and divert the ancient River Nile into a canal, allowing the next stage of the Dam to begin.

The dam has been financed and built with Russian help and thousands of cheering Egyptian and Russian construction workers witnessed great columns of sand shoot up into the air, followed by a cascade of muddy Nile water swirl through a manmade channel.

Standing alongside the presidents of Egypt, Iraq and Yemen on a platform above the 300-foot gorge, Mr Khrushchev said the dam should be called "the eighth wonder of the world".

Referring to the United States' refusal to fund the dam back in 1956, President Nasser said "reactionary powers" had conspired to prevent the building of the dam but that Egyptian and Russian solidarity had overcome all obstacles.

Mr Khrushchev also condemned "imperialist powers and their agents" and reiterated Soviet plans to strengthen ties with Arab nations.

In a barely veiled attack on Britain, France and the United States, he said all traces of imperialism should be wiped out from the region by getting rid of military bases, multinational companies and foreign missionaries.

He also announced President Nasser would receive Russia's highest honour - Hero of the Soviet Union. The project, due to be completed in four years' time, will increase arable land in Egypt by one third, more than double its current power resources, add £200m to the national income and create the world's largest man-made lake - Lake Nasser.


President Nasser, Nikita Khruschev, President Arif of Iraq and President Sallal of Yemen
Leaders of four states simultaneously pushed the buttons that would set a new course for the Nile
In Context
The dam was a huge propaganda coup for President Nasser, still reeling from the United States' refusal back in 1956 to finance the project because of his links with the USSR.

But in October 1964 Egypt did accept £4.3m from the United States - along with Unesco's £5m grant - to save the Ancient Nubian monuments of Abu Simbel and the Philae temples, under threat from the rising waters created by the dam.

In 1968, they were painstakingly removed and reassembled on higher ground.

The Aswan High Dam was inaugurated in 1971, the year after the death of President Nasser, regarded by his countrymen as a hero of Arab nationalism.

Building the dam
Aswan Dam - 5km (three miles) long, 100m (328 ft) high
Lake Nasser - 4,010 sq kms (1,550 sq miles)
Total construction cost - £300m

 

1957: Cheers as petrol rationing ended

Petrol rationing, which has been in force in Britain for five months following the Suez crisis, has finally been abolished.

There were loud cheers in the House of Commons when the Paymaster General Reginald Maudling made the announcement that restrictions had been lifted because stocks were "at a satisfactory level".

Our members will be overjoyed. Now they can get down to making up the leeway of turnover they lost through this wretched business
Commercial Travellers' Association
Rationing was brought in after Egypt's President Gamal Abdul Nasser took over the running of the Suez Canal from a Franco-British company in July last year. He had been refused funds to build the Aswan High Dam because of his links with the USSR and he nationalised the canal as a sign of Arab defiance against western powers.

Supplies from Iraq to the Mediterranean across Syria - a staunch Nasser ally - were also interrupted.

Now traffic is set to travel freely through the Suez Canal - but the whole British economy has been affected and the motor trade, tourism, farmers and travelling salesmen have all expressed their relief that rationing has been lifted.

A spokesman for the Commercial Travellers' Association told the Daily Telegraph newspaper: "Our members will be overjoyed. Now they can get down to making up the leeway of turnover they lost through this wretched business."

Surcharges on petrol prices imposed to compensate garages and oil companies for loss of revenues are to remain for the time being.

A 10% cut in fuel oil supplies to industry - which resulted in a four-day working week for many factories - will continue until new arrangements have been made with the oil companies.

A conservative estimate suggests oil firms have lost about £4m in revenue. Rationing has cost the Ministry of Power about £20,000 a week to enforce. Up to 700 driving instructors will soon return to their usual jobs after spending the last five months administering the rationing.


British and French forces near the Suez canal
British and French troops tried to force open the supply route in 1956
In Context
Petrol rationing was just one of the side-effects of the Suez Crisis which involved Britain, France, Egypt, Israel, the USSR and the USA.

Britain and France, with the help of Israel, tried to overthrow President Nasser after he nationalised the Suez Canal. Israel invaded the Egyptian Sinai in October to put a stop to incursions by Palestinian militants. They were followed by French and British forces in the cities of the canal zone.

The USA, fearful that Egypt would call for more Soviet aid, forced Britain and France to withdraw and Israel to relinquish the Sinai.

The creation of Opec in 1960 ensured the Arab countries maintained a grip on oil supplies to the rest of the world until the 1980s when new oilfields discovered in the North Sea reduced Britain's dependence on Middle East supplies.

2001: Scientists warn of more CJD cases

Leading experts on new variant CJD, the human form of BSE or "mad cow" disease, have warned the current outbreak could get much worse.

So far, 99 people have had the disease and nearly all of them have died.

New evidence gathered from experiments on mice suggests this first batch of cases could be followed in a few years' time by a much larger "second wave".

It may be five or ten years before the rest of the population of those at risk develop the disease.
Professor John Collinge
Professor John Collinge is one of the government's top advisors on vCJD and director of the Medical Research Council Prion Unit in London.

He has found that a small number of the mice he observed got vCJD fairly quickly while the rest had a longer incubation period before contracting the disease.

"I don't want to be alarmist about this," he said "but it's entirely possible and we have to consider that what we are looking at, at the moment is, thankfully, a very small incidence of the disease amongst a small sub-section of the population. It may be five or ten years before the rest of the population of those at risk develop the disease."

Official estimates predict the final death toll from the disease could be as low as 150 or as high as 136,000.

Number of CJD deaths rising

The number of deaths from vCJD has steadily increased over the last five years - from three in 1995 to 29 in the year 2000. This year 15 cases have already been confirmed.

No-one knows when the disease will reach its peak.

Variant CJD is a degenerative brain disease in humans which is thought to be caused by an abnormal prion protein in the brain. Its most likely origin is exposure to the BSE prion from eating infected beef. Only genetically susceptible people - about 40% of the population - are thought to be capable of getting the disease.

The average age of those who have died is 28, and only a handful of victims have been older than 53. In contrast, 93% of people with "classic" CJD, which occurs sporadically for no known reason and is unconnected with contaminated meat, are over 50.


Packed meat
The most likely cause of CJD is meat infected with BSE or "mad cow" disease
In Context
BSE was first discovered in British cattle in 1986.

Stephen Churchill, aged 19, became the first person to die of the human form of the disease in 1995. It was not until 1996 that the British government acknowledged a link between BSE and new variant CJD.

In December 1997, the sale of beef-on-the-bone was banned in the UK and a BSE inquiry set up to look into the reasons behind the crisis that had led to a Europe-wide ban on British beef exports.

Although fears of a future epidemic have receded since this report - based on the observation that most people to have died from vCJD have been young and that older people are likely to be more resistant - it could take decades for the full scale of the problem to become known.


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15th May

 

1856 San Francisco Organizes It's Second Vigilante Committee

The problems started following an allegedly rigged election earlier in the year. An Irish-Catholic politician named James P. Casey managed to get a seat on the city board of supervisors.

A campaigning local newspaper editor James King, of the Daily Evening Bulletin, accused Casey of being part of a criminal gang.

On May 14, 1856, Casey confronted King in the street and shot him dead with a Colt navy revolver.

The vigilante committee was formed at this point.

A crowd of 500 vigilantes then surrounded the local jail and removed Casey who was put on a short trial and then hanged.

Critics say that this vigilante committee was an attempt for the native born, Protestant elite, to regain political control of the city. Whatever the motivation, the second committee was disbanded later in 1856, after having executed a number of people.

1957: Britain drops its first H-bomb
 

Britain has exploded its first hydrogen bomb as part of a series of tests in the Pacific, the Ministry of Supply has announced.

Details of the bomb, described only as a "nuclear device", are sketchy. The term "device" indicates that it was an experimental explosive rather than a fully developed weapon.

It was almost certainly part of the thermo-nuclear weapons programme which was started in December 1954 to develop the megaton hydrogen bomb, which is as powerful as one million tons of TNT.

The test was carried out at high altitude over the largely uninhabited Christmas Island to minimise nuclear fall-out.

This is the most important range of tests carried out by Britain, developed with limited resources and in a remarkably short space of time.

Scientists have taken two years to develop the tests compared with their American counterparts who took seven years before exploding their first device.

The bomb was dropped by a four-engined jet, Valiant of No 49 Squadron RAF Bomber Command, normally based at RAF Wittering, Northants.

The Minister of Supply, Aubrey Jones, was informed of the Pacific nuclear trials by Air Vice-Marshal WE Oulton, commander of the task force and WRJ Cook, scientific director of the program. Scientists are evaluating the results of the testing and will make a further statement in the next few days.


Watch/Listen
Christmas Island, a tiny speck in the South Pacific
The device was tested at high altitude over Christmas Island

PM Harold Macmillan explains the UK's arms policy
In Context
The tests raised a major debate about the dangers of nuclear weapons and led to the founding in 1958 of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament which pressed for British, and ultimately international, abandonment of nuclear weapons.

The Cold War and the arms race between the superpowers reached a peak by the 1960s.

Then relations thawed and in 1963 the Soviet Union, the UK, the USA and many other countries agreed a Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

1974: Teenagers die in Israeli school attack

Sixteen teenagers have died along with three Palestinians holding them hostage at an Israeli school.

Up to seven children were injured, nine critically, after Israeli troops stormed the building in an attempt to free the youngsters in Ma'alot, five miles (eight kilometres) from the Lebanese border.

As the troops entered the school the teenagers were reportedly attacked with hand grenades by the Palestinians. An Israeli soldier is also believed to have died in the gun battle that followed.

Smoke could be seen pouring out of the windows as the Israeli soldiers threw out furniture which they feared was booby-trapped.

Gang stormed school

It is thought that around 100 pupils aged between 14 and 16 were in the school when the Palestinians stormed it in the early hours of this morning as the teenagers slept.

Fifteen people, children and teachers, managed to escape. A teenage boy was later sent out with a list of prisoners the hostage-takers wanted released in Israel.

The Knesset, the Israeli parliament, met in an emergency session, and by 1500 local time a decision was reached to negotiate.

The Israeli government talked to the hostage-takers, via a loudhailer, and had agreed to release 26 political prisoners held in Israel.

It appears that the deal to free the Israeli children broke down when the Palestinians inside the school failed to receive a code word they were waiting for from their organisation in Damascus.

The Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine said it carried out the attack.

School faced bomb threat

Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir told reporters in Jerusalem that her government had been talking to the hostage-takers but had not been given enough time to complete preparations to free prisoners.

Mrs Meir described the group believed to be behind the attack as "an organisation of blood and murder". Israel's Minister for Information, Shimon Perez, said the decision to storm the school had been taken at the last minute because it was feared the gang would blow it up with the children inside by an 1800 local time deadline.


Soldiers bearing coffins on shoulders
Between 18 and 21 children died inside the school
In Context
It later emerged that between 18 and 21 children had died inside the school and 71 people had been injured.

Several Palestinian hostage-takers were thought to have escaped.

Details vary as to the precise circumstances of the killings. According to some reports, the hostage-takers detonated their grenades and shot the children.

The Palestinian gang who took the children hostage had tried to stop a van a few miles from Ma'alot several hours before entering the school.

Three men dressed in army uniforms opened fire when the van pulled away, killing one girl inside.

Just before dawn they broke into flats in Ma'alot and forced their way into one apartment. A woman, her husband and five-year-old child were shot dead.

The gang then walked to the school and woke the caretaker, who was also shot. They took the children hostage and separated them into boys and girls.

They had promised to release half of the teenagers once they received a code word from their organisation in Syria.

All the children were from a religious high school in Safed, a few miles from Ma'alot. They were on a tour of Galilee and had stopped at the school for the night. The victims were buried in the town the day after the attack.

The violence was believed to be part of a wave of sabotage attacks to coincide with the 26th anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel.

The Popular Democratic Front was later known as the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Israeli planes bombed seven Palestinian refugee camps and villages in southern Lebanon killing at least 27 people in reprisal for the Ma'alot massacre.

 

1993: French police rescue child hostages

Masked police commandos have freed six girls with their nursery teacher and shot dead an armed man, ending a two-day hostage crisis at a nursery school in Paris.

One team burst into the booby-trapped classroom while the hooded gunman was dozing at 0725 local time. The unidentified man, who had 16 sticks of dynamite strapped to his body, was shot three times in the head with guns fitted with silencers.

At the same time a second team went over to the children and covered them with mattresses so they did not see the shooting. Within minutes the girls were reunited with their parents and seemed unperturbed by the dramatic events of the last 46 hours.

Their teacher, Laurence Dreyfus, aged 30, has been hailed a national heroine for keeping the children calm throughout the ordeal and telling them the man with the gun was "hunting wolves".

She was allowed out of the room at intervals to collect food and to reassure parents. At one point, she smuggled in a video camera used by the police to plan their rescue.

The interior minister, Charles Pasqua, said Mrs Dreyfus and Capt Evelyne Lambert - an army doctor who was allowed to stay with her and the hostages - would be awarded France's highest civilian award for bravery, the Legion of Honour.

The lone gunman, who called himself the Human Bomb, burst into the Commandant Charcto nursery school in the suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine on Thursday morning.

There were 21 three- and four-year-olds in the classroom at the time but after painstaking negotiations 15 children were released in batches chosen by Mrs Dreyfus.

The gunman demanded £12m ($18.5m) as a ransom, saying his motives were purely financial, and he had planned his escape meticulously. The authorities granted him part of the money but decided to use force to end the crisis after he said he wanted to take at least one child with him as a human shield.


Laurence Dreyfus
Ms Dreyfus calmed her charges by telling them the gunman was "hunting wolves".
In Context
The Human Bomb was later identified as 42-year-old Eric Schmitt, an Algerian-born French citizen and a loner. His computer business had been made bankrupt two years before and 18 months later he was made redundant from an electrical firm.

He had no previous convictions apart from two for speeding and drink-driving. He had spent seven years in the army where he had learned to handle firearms.

In an interview given to Paris-Match magazine a few days after the end of the hostage crisis, the teacher Laurence Dreyfus said she had found it hard to come to terms with all the praise heaped upon her.

As well as the Legion of Honour she was also awarded the Unesco human rights medal.

 

1954: Queen returns after lengthy voyage

The Royal Family has returned safely from their six-month tour of the Commonwealth to a rapturous welcome in London.

Thousands flocked to the banks of the River Thames to see the Royal Yacht Britannia bringing the Queen home.

Ships' sirens and factory hooters welcomed the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and their two children, Prince Charles and Princess Anne. They spent most of the journey on the ship's saluting platform to wave at the crowd and take photographs.

Churchill on board

They were joined by the Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, who stayed on the yacht last night at the Queen's invitation, after boarding at Yarmouth, on the Isle of Wight.

A huge red-and-white banner was hung from Tower Bridge bearing the words, "Welcome Home".

The twin arms of the bridge opened to their fullest extent to let the yacht through, as well as its escort, and countless small boats full of well-wishers sailing in for a closer look.

Once the Britannia had moored, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret joined the royal party on board the yacht's barge for their onward journey to Westminster.

As they left, there was a thundering 41-gun salute from the Tower of London.

Health concerns

The banks of the Thames at Westminster were again packed with a cheering, whistling crowd as the Royal Family at last disembarked onto dry land.

It was the first close-up glimpse many had had of the Queen since concerns over her health at the end of her strenuous tour. She seemed well and cheerful, but had lost some weight.

The Royal Family continued to Buckingham Palace in three carriages, through streets lined with cheering, flag-waving people, some of whom had waited all night to see the Queen and her family pass by.

Even when the Queen arrived at Buckingham Palace, no sooner had the door closed behind her than the cry began to go up: "We want the Queen!"

Within ten minutes, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, with their two children, appeared on the balcony to roars of approval from the crowd. It was the first of four appearances, the last at nearly 2300 BST (2200 GMT). Even then, the crowd was persuaded to leave only when the lamps floodlighting the palace were switched off.


The royal yacht Britannia at London Bridge
Thousands watched Britannia sail down the Thames
In Context
The young Queen's first Commonwealth tour was a gruelling journey lasting almost six months and covering 43,618 miles by air, sea and land.

She visited many countries which had never before seen their ruling monarch. She made her Christmas broadcast for 1953 live from New Zealand.

The tour was the first undertaken by the Royal Yacht Britannia, which the Queen had launched herself in 1953.

The yacht travelled for more than a million miles on Royal and official duties over 44 years before it was decommissioned in December 1997.

The Labour Party had made it part of their general election manifesto earlier that year not to replace the Britannia as a cost-cutting measure, and the Queen no longer has use of a royal yacht.

The Britannia is now berthed in Edinburgh, where it opened in October 1998 as a star tourist attraction. It is visited by about 275,000 people from the UK and overseas each year.

 

2001: UK supermarkets slash price of drugs

British consumers are already reaping the benefits of cheaper over-the-counter medicine after a court ruling today put an end to the drug industry's price-fixing policy.

The major supermarkets are cutting the price of popular brands by over a half.

Tesco supermarket chain has said it will slash up to 40% from the price of some medicines from Wednesday, including painkillers Calpol and Nurofen. Asda and Safeway have also announced similar cuts.

This is excellent news for consumers who will now benefit from lower prices for common household medicines
John Vickers, OFT director general
Last October, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) challenged the so-called resale price maintenance (RPM) in the Restrictive Practices Court arguing that it allowed drug companies to keep the price of branded over-the-counter products artificially high.

John Vickers, director general of the OFT, was delighted by the outcome. "This is excellent news for consumers who will now benefit from lower and more competitive prices for common household medicines," he said.

The Community Pharmacy Action Group (CPAG) had campaigned to keep RPM, claiming its abolition would lead to the closure of 12,000 local pharmacies forced out of business if the supermarkets launch a price-cutting war.

But the court found there was insufficient evidence that a significant number of pharmacies would be shut and ruled RPM was against the public interest.

The news has been condemned as a "devastating blow" to Britain's pharmacies by CPAG's chairman and community chemist, David Sharpe.

"Many pharmacists will simply not be able to survive given the buying power and aggressive pricing tactics of the supermarkets," Mr Sharpe said. A spokesman for Boots said he was "disappointed" with the court's decision and estimated the move will knock £15m off full year profits. Shares in Boots, the biggest chain of pharmacies in the UK, fell 4.5% on the news.


Over-the-counter drugs
The court ruling allowed supermarkets to slash pharmaceutical prices


In Context
A month later, the Chancellor Gordon Brown said the Labour government would crack down hard on any attempts at price-fixing as part of its policy to encourage competition and do away with what Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers had called "rip-off Britain".

In March 2000 Mr Byers had increased the powers of the OFT and created the Competition Commission from the old Monopolies and Mergers Commission charged with investigating anti-competitive practices.

As a result of a medicines price war with the supermarkets, Boots spent £170m on revamping its health and beauty ranges and cut costs by selling off the Halfords car accessory chain in June 2002.

In November 2001, the European Union imposed record fines on eight drug companies for fixing the price of vitamins.


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16th May

 

1943 Jewish Uprising Against Nazi Germany Is Crushed

Warsaw, Poland: The Jewish resistance fell after 28 days of desperate fighting.

The 40,000 Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto had been attacked by the Nazi's who were armed with artillery, flame-throwers, high explosive and incendiary bombs.

Himmler had ordered the ghetto's destruction and those remaining to be rounded up to concentration camps.

Jews fought the SS, police and Wehrmacht units with home-made explosives, rifles and small arms.

The Nazi's blocked drains which were used for escape, placed mines on the tops of buildings where they knew the resistance fighters were.

The Central Committee of Jewish Labour and the Jewish National Committee in Poland had sent a message on 28th April pleading for help.

Two excerpts from the message read:

"Men, women and children who are not burnt alive are murdered en masse."

"It is imperative that the powerful retaliation of the United Nations shall fall upon the bloodthirsty enemy immediately and not in some distant future, in a way which will make it quite clear what the retaliation is for."

 

1943: Germans crush Jewish uprising

All resistance in the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw has ended after 28 days of fighting.

In his operational report, the local SS commander, Brigadier Juergen Stroop, said the uprising began on 19 April when SS, police and Wehrmacht units using tanks and other armoured vehicles entered the ghetto to take Jews to the railway station for transportation to concentration camps.

They were repelled by Jews using homemade explosives, rifles, small arms and "in one case a light machine-gun".

He said his troops were involved in pitched battles day and night with groups of about 20 or 30 Jews - both men and women.

"On April 23 Himmler issued his order to complete the combing out of the Warsaw ghetto with the greatest severity and relentless tenacity. I therefore decided to destroy the entire Jewish residential area by setting every block on fire."

The last battle ended with the destruction of the Great Synagogue today.

They used to board up the windows [of the trams] so you couldn't see how the Jews were being treated.
Jewish leaders had sent their own reports of the situation during the fighting.

On 28 April the Central Committee of Jewish Labour and the Jewish National Committee in Poland sent a desperate message to the National Council of Poland in London.

It said the SS and German Army have laid siege to the ghetto, attacking the 40,000 remaining Jews with artillery, flame-throwers, high explosive and incendiary bombs.

They have also planted mines in buildings known to harbouring Jewish fighters, while German guards block large drain pipes that have served as escape routes.

"The ghetto is burning," read the message, "and smoke covers the whole city of Warsaw.

"Men, women and children who are not burnt alive are murdered en masse." It said the Jews managed to kill or wound about 1,000 of the enemy and burned down factories and warehouses.

There was an appeal for an immediate response from the Allies. "It is imperative that the powerful retaliation of the United Nations shall fall upon the bloodthirsty enemy immediately and not in some distant future, in a way which will make it quite clear what the retaliation is for." A second message sent on 11 May said the resistance was nearly over.


Watch/Listen
SS soldier inspects Jewish workers - April 1943
The German SS and Wehrmacht has ended all resistance in the ghetto

Anonymous eyewitness account of the defeat of Jewish resistance
In Context
The Nazis created the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw in 1940 and about 500,000 people were crammed into an area not bigger than one square mile (2·6 sq km).

Its inhabitants were systematically transported to Treblinka and those who fought in the legendary Jewish uprising would rather have died with dignity than be taken to the death camps.

About 50 of the 1,000 fighters escaped through the sewers and some fought in the second Warsaw uprising by the Polish Home Army in August 1944.

About 40,000 Jews were massacred in reprisal for the uprising. When Soviet troops liberated Warsaw on 17 January 1945 only about 200 Jews remained and the old city had been virtually destroyed.

Stroop's copy of the operational report entitled "The Jewish quarter in Warsaw no longer exists" came to light during the Nuremberg war crimes trial in 1945.

Stroop himself was sentenced to death by a US military tribunal and sent to Poland to be executed in 1951.

 

1974: Dozens die as Israel retaliates for Ma'alot

Israeli planes have bombed seven Palestinian refugee camps and villages in southern Lebanon killing at least 27 people and leaving 138 injured.

The attack was in retaliation for yesterday's hostage crisis at a school in Ma'alot near the Lebanon border in which 18 teenagers were killed and 70 were wounded.

Worst hit by the Israeli fighter-bombers were the crowded refugee camps of Ein El Helweh near the city of Sidon and Nabatieh.

An official announcement from the Israeli Defence Force said the planes had been aiming at offices and training bases used by the Popular Democratic Front, led by Nayef Hawatmeh, and the Popular Front under Ahmed Jibril.

The PDF was behind the killing of the schoolchildren at Ma'a lot - and the Popular Front planned the shooting of 16 civilians in Kiryat Shemona on 10 April.

Two nights ago, three Palestinian Arabs dressed as Israeli soldiers took over the school at Ma'alot.

There were more than 100 children aged between 14 and 16 sleeping there on the floor after a day's hiking in the region. Some managed to escape through an open door.

The Israeli Government agreed to the hostage-takers' demands to release 26 political prisoners, including a Japanese national involved in the Lod airport massacre.

But negotiations fell apart when the hostage-takers did not receive a coded message they were waiting for from Damascus.

On 15 May at 1745 local time - 15 minutes before they had said they would kill all the children if their demands were not met - Israeli soldiers raided the school building.

Eighteen children and the three Palestinians were killed in a bloody gun battle.

There were emotional scenes today at the funeral of the children in their home town of Safed.

Many of the 10,000 mourners wailed and some shouted: "Death to the terrorists!"

The Ma'alot tragedy has severely hampered peace efforts by US Secretary of State Dr Henry Kissinger. He has flown from Jerusalem to Damascus to meet Syrian leaders in the hope of reaching some kind of compromise over Israel's occupation of the Golan Heights.


Ein El Helweh in ruins
Israeli bombers left parts of the refugee camp of Ein El Helweh in ruins
In Context
It was attacks like the one at Ma'alot that led Israeli troops to invade Southern Lebanon in 1978. They pulled back to a self-declared "security zone" in 1985 from which they withdrew in May 2000.

The Popular Democratic Front, now known as the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, continued its operations during the late 1970s, and saw a steady increase in its membership.

But it began to distance itself from the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), and continued to oppose any kind of peace process.

In the late 1990s its leader, Naif Hawatmeh, sought reconciliation with mainstream Palestinians. In February 1999, he shocked hardline Palestinians by shaking hands with the Israeli President Ezer Weizman at the funeral of King Hussein of Jordan.

 

1985: Miners jailed for pit strike murder

Two South Wales miners have been jailed for life for the murder of taxi driver David Wilkie during the miners' strike last November.

Mr Wilkie was killed when a block of concrete was thrown down on his car from a bridge as he drove a miner to work in South Wales.

There were emotional scenes at Cardiff Crown Court as Dean Hancock and Russell Shankland, both 21, were sentenced after the jury had deliberated for nearly seven hours.

It was an accident. Those two boys wouldn't hurt anyone, they are not those sort of boys
Anthony Williams, co-defendant
Relatives sobbed and screamed. Hancock buried his head in his hands and gasped: "Oh, my God!" and burst into tears. Shankland stood with his head bowed.

His girlfriend, Carol Hopkins, fainted and collapsed and was carried out from the courtroom.

Passing sentence, the judge Mr Justice Michael Mann acknowledged the miners' strike had "engendered a climate of violence" that had led to the killing of Mr Wilkie. But he concluded: "You performed the ultimate act of violence and for it you will go to prison for life."

Concrete block hurled at taxi

During the trial the jury had heard that in the early hours of 30 November 1984, Shankland and Hancock had planned to disrupt a police escort and taxi taking miner David Williams to the Merthyr Vale pit.

They hurled a 46lb concrete block and a concrete post weighing 65lbs from a bridge over the Head of the Valleys Rd at Rhymner.

It fell on the taxi and its driver was killed within seconds from head and chest injuries. The passenger, Mr Williams, was unhurt but deeply traumatised.

Mr Wilkie leaves behind four children, the youngest of whom was born two months after his death.

After the verdicts, Shankland's lawyer John Prosser QC said that his clients were victims in "a nation at war".

Referring to strike leaders like Arthur Scargill, head of the National Union of Miners, he said: "In that war there were generals, and they stood outside the law and they left Russell Shankland outside the law." A third defendant, Anthony Williams, who was on the bridge with the two men was cleared of all charges yesterday. As he left the court today he told journalists: "It was an accident. Those two boys wouldn't hurt anyone, they are not those sort of boys."


Wreck of David Wilkie's taxi cab
A block of concrete thrown from a bridge smashed the taxi and killed the driver
In Context
This was the most serious trial arising from the bitter and violent miners' dispute of 1984.

Political leaders united in condemning the killing - Labour's Neil Kinnock called it an "atrocity" and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said it was "an utterly despicable deed".

But the Left regarded the sentencing as too harsh, a statement of victory over the miners rather than an act of justice.

On appeal, the convictions were reduced to manslaughter and sentences reduced to eight years.

After a fierce campaign for their release led by the NUM's Arthur Scargill and Labour MP Tony Benn, the men were released on 30 November 1989 - the fifth anniversary of David Wilkie's death.

 

1968: Three die as tower block collapses

Two women and a man have been killed after an entire corner of a new block of flats in London's East End came crashing down at dawn.

Eleven of the 260 residents are injured and one woman is still missing.

The Home Secretary, James Callaghan, has visited the site and ordered a team of experts to report to him by tomorrow on the possible causes of the disaster.

Part of the block, called Ronan Point, in Newham in the heart of London's docklands area collapsed just before 0600 BST.

Gas explosion

About 80 families fled their homes, many of them in their nightclothes.

The lifts had stopped working and they had to run down several flights of stairs - some holding their children.

It is believed there was a gas explosion on the 18th floor which ripped through four flats above and sent all the floors below crashing down like falling dominoes.

Volunteers gave out food and clothing at an emergency clearing station in a local school, while police cordoned off the area in the search for survivors.

Local stevedores and dockers are at the site to help clear the rubble as doctors and nurses treat the injured.

The building has been occupied for just two months. It was one of four blocks built by Taylor Woodrow Anglian, awarded the contract by Newham council.

Geoffrey Davies, managing director of the company, denied the collapse may have been caused by the structure of the building itself.

The disaster is thought to have started in the flat of 56-year-old cake decorator Ivy Hodge, who is now in hospital suffering from burns.

She told reporters she remembered getting up to put the kettle on, "Then I found myself on the floor".

There are now serious doubts about the safety of the system-built building and many of the families made homeless by the incident are insisting they must be rehoused. "I wouldn't live there rent-free," said one tenant who was offered temporary accommodation with her neighbours.


Watch/Listen
Ronan Point after the explosion
A corner of Ronan Point (L) collapsed after a suspected gas explosion

Interviews with survivors and rescuers
In Context
One woman was found dead in the rubble the following day and another died later from her injuries.

A public inquiry into the collapse in August 1968 concluded that a gas explosion had triggered the collapse of a building that was structurally unsound. It had been "system-built" using prefabricated concrete panels bolted together like a giant meccano set.

As a result new British Standard Structural Design Codes for concrete were introduced to prevent such a disaster happening again.

Ronan Point was soon rebuilt but the incident led to a major backlash against high-rise blocks of flats - put up in haste to resolve the post-war housing. It was knocked down in 1986 and replaced with low-level terraced houses.

 

1990: Gummer enlists daughter in BSE fight

The government has again attempted to reassure the public that British beef is safe, despite growing fears over the cattle disease, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE).

The Minister of Agriculture, John Gummer, even invited newspapers and camera crews to photograph him trying to feed a beefburger to his four-year-old daughter, Cordelia, at an event in his Suffolk constituency.

Although his daughter refused the burger, he took a large bite himself, saying it was "absolutely delicious".

Beef can be eaten safely by everyone, both adults and children, including patients in hospital
Chief Medical Officer Sir Donald Acheson
His reassurances were echoed by the government's Chief Medical Officer, Sir Donald Acheson, in a formal statement to underline his previous assertions that beef is safe to eat.

He said that after taking advice from leading scientific and medical experts, he had no hesitation in saying that "beef can be eaten safely by everyone, both adults and children, including patients in hospital".

The number of cases of BSE in cattle has shot up since the first case in 1986, and now stands at about 14,000, despite a government policy to slaughter all infected animals and prevent them getting into the food chain.

Fears have been mounting that the disease can jump species to cause the fatal human brain condition, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD).

The rising concern has led to 20 education authorities taking the decision to boycott beef products, taking beef off the menu in hundreds of schools across the country.

The Commons Agriculture Select Committee is to carry out an urgent inquiry into the possible threat to humans from BSE. It will report by the end of July, and Mr Gummer is to give evidence at its first session.

The Committee's chairman, Conservative MP Jerry Wiggin, is a former junior agriculture minister.

He said he considered there was no threat to humans from "properly cooked beef", and criticised local education authorities who had taken it out of school canteens. The Labour Party's spokesman on agriculture, David Clark, however, said the government's handling of the BSE crisis had been a fiasco and showed it was incapable of handling sensitive food issues.


Watch/Listen
John Gummer and the beefburger
John Gummer tried to feed his daughter a beefburger to try to convince the public

BBC news report on the crisis
In Context
By 1992, three cows in every 1,000 in Britain had BSE.

John Gummer's attention-grabbing photocall rebounded dramatically when, in 1996, the government was finally forced to admit there was a link between BSE and the human form of the disease, new variant CJD.

The EU banned the export of British beef - a ban that was not completely lifted for ten years - and the cattle market collapsed as selective culls were carried out of cattle most at risk.

The photocall became the single thing that is most remembered about John Gummer's political career, and "doing a Gummer" has now passed into parliamentary slang.

It may have turned him into a figure of fun, but he was not officially criticised, and remained in Prime Minister John Major's cabinet until Labour took power in 1997.

He then transferred to the Conservative Party backbenches, to speak out regularly on "green" issues such as global warming and town planning.

 

2001: Prescott punches protester

The Labour Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, has punched a protester who threw an egg at him during a visit to Rhyl in north Wales.

The undignified brawl happened as the Labour deputy stepped off the so-called Prescott Express campaign bus.

Television pictures clearly showed Mr Prescott aiming a left jab at a man after being hit on the side of the face by an egg.

The two men were then involved in a scuffle before the police intervened.

Craig threw an egg at Mr Prescott, who was walking past after getting off the battle bus. Then Mr Prescott grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and thumped him.
Protester's girlfriend

A 29-year-old man was taken away in handcuffs. He was later identified by his girlfriend as Craig Evans, a farm worker from Denbigh.

The woman, who did not want to be named, said: "He's a placid lad who has never been in trouble.

"Craig threw an egg at Mr Prescott, who was walking past after getting off the battle bus. Then Mr Prescott grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and thumped him."

Mr Prescott said: "I was attacked by an individual. In the melee that followed I clearly defended myself. I believe that someone is now being questioned by the police and it would be quite improper and quite wrong to add any further comment."

The television pictures of the incident appear to show Mr Prescott trapped against a wall after his left fist flew and he and the protester became locked together in a struggle.

The deputy prime minister, who was clearly shaken, was then led into the theatre where he was due to address an election rally.

Assistant Chief Constable Clive Wolfendale said: "Clearly if there are any allegations made against him as a result of these incidents, we will investigate. If that means questioning Mr Prescott, we will do that."

Today also saw the launch of Labour's manifesto in Birmingham. But that did not go quite according to plan either, after Prime Minister Tony Blair was confronted by a woman who said Labour had failed the NHS.

Sharron Storer, whose boyfriend is a cancer patient, confronted Mr Blair in full view of the TV cameras, berating him for the treatment her boyfriend had received.

Labour was elected in 1997 on a promise to "save" the NHS but the encounter with Miss Storer forced Mr Blair to admit he had only "just begun" to fulfil some of the promises made four years before. The manifesto, Ambitions for Britain, has set out 10-year targets for key objectives and there are promises to spend more on education, health and transport over the next three years.


Watch/Listen
Back of Prescott with egg splattered on jacekt and left arm around  protester
John Prescott and the egg-throwing protester were locked in a struggle

Full footage of the brawl


In Context
A number of newspaper surveys carried out after Mr Prescott's punch suggested the public supported his actions. It earned him the nickname "Two Jabs" - a variation on the more familiar Two Jags from his apparent fondness for luxury cars.

He later described the incident as "frightening and regrettable".

In a news conference Prime Minister Tony Blair explained away the punch-up, saying, "John is John."

Mr Prescott was interviewed by police but he was not prosecuted. The Crown Prosecution Service concluded there was not a realistic chance of convicting Mr Prescott because he had acted in self-defence.

Craig Evans spent several hours in police custody no action was taken against him.

On 8 June 2001 Labour won a second term in government despite a record low turn-out of less than 60%. It won 413 seats, the Conservatives took 166, the Liberal Democrats 52 and others 10.


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1978 Charlie Chaplin's Stolen Body Is Discovered

The grave of the legendary comedian had been robbed 11 weeks earlier and the body in its coffin was taken.

It was discovered, buried, in a field in Corsier near Lausanne, Switzerland, about a mile from Chaplin's home.

There were kidnap demands but Chaplin's widow, Lady Oona Chaplin, refused to pay the about $600,000, saying that Charlie would have thought the demands were ridiculous.

The family did not inform the world's media until after the body had been returned. Two men were charged.


1943: RAF raid smashes German dams
An audacious RAF bombing raid into the industrial heartland of Germany last night has wrecked three dams serving the Ruhr valley.

The attack disrupted water and electricity supplies in a  key area for the manufacture of Germany's war munitions.

The Secretary of State for Air, Sir Archibald Sinclair, called the raid "a trenchant blow for victory".

None of us had any idea what this project was; we were just given instructions to construct and modify various items. The head of this program was Dr Barnes Wallis.
The mission, known as Operation Chastise, has been planned for months.

The crews were specially selected for the job, and have been training in absolute secrecy.

The bombs themselves were invented specifically for the task by the aircraft engineer Dr Barnes Wallis, the designer of the Wellington bomber.

They were barrel-shaped, and used the principle of a "ducks and drakes" stone bouncing on the water to bypass the defences around the dams.

The Lancaster bombers flown by 617 Squadron were extensively modified, and the crews trained to fly at less than 100ft (30.48m) above the water, the height required to drop the bombs successfully.

The mission began yesterday evening, under the command of Wing Commander Guy Gibson.

The targets were three huge water barrage dams - two on the rivers Möhne and Sorpe, and a third on the River Eder.

The Möhne and Sorpe dams control about 70% of the water supplied to the Ruhr basin, and were built to prevent water shortages during the summer.

Wing Commander Gibson led the attack on the Möhne dam personally.

A flight lieutenant who watched what happened at the Möhne dam described the scene:

"The wing commander's load was placed just right and a spout of water went up 300 feet (91.44m) into the air," he said.

"A second Lancaster attacked with equal accuracy, and there was still no sign of a breach.

"Then I went in and we caused a huge explosion up against the dam. It was not until another load had been dropped that the dam at last broke.

"I saw the first jet very clear in the moonlight. I should say that the breach was about 50 yards (45.72m) wide."

The Eder dam - the largest in Europe - was also breached in two places.

Reconnaissance flights showed flood waters sweeping through the Ruhr valley, damaging factories, houses and power stations.

The power station at the Möhne dam has been swept away, rivers are in full flood, and railway and road bridges have disappeared.


Watch/Listen
Squadron 617
The aircrews of Squadron 617 were specially chosen for the mission

Pilot Ken Brown recalls the dambuster raid
In Context
The mission became popularly known as the Dambusters raid, and was immortalised in a 1954 war film.

It was one of the most famous air operations of World War II.

Casualties for the raid were high.

Eight of the original 19 Lancaster bombers were damaged or shot down, and of the 133 aircrew, 53 were killed and three captured.

On the ground, too, almost 1,300 people were killed, including 749 Ukrainian prisoners of war based in a camp just below the Eder dam.

The Möhne and Eder reservoirs poured about 330 million tons of water into the western Ruhr valley. The flood waters spread for about 50 miles (80km) from the source.

The spectacular, daring nature of the raid was a significant boost to British morale.

But militarily, it was a failure. The squadron failed to breach the Sorpe dam; and the disruption to the German war production was minimal. Water supply in the Ruhr valley was back to original levels six weeks later.

The aircrew, however, became famous as war heroes, and the leader of the raid, Wing Commander Guy Gibson, was awarded the Victoria Cross.

He died less than 18 months later, shot down at the age of 26 in September 1944.

 

1974: Bombs devastate Dublin and Monaghan

Three car bombs have exploded in Dublin, killing 23 people and injuring more than 100 others during rush hour.

Five more people died and another 20 were hurt in a blast which hit the border town of Monaghan an hour later.

Up to 15 of the dead are believed to be women and two are thought to be baby boys.

Irish Prime Minister Liam Cosgrave condemned the bombings and said on TV: "I do not know which evil men did this but everyone who has practised violence or preached violence or condoned violence must bear his share of responsiblility.

"It will bring home to us what the people of Northern Ireland have been suffering for five long years."

Hundreds of people were in the street. They were running and screaming aimlessly.
Witness John Casey

The drama unfolded at around 1725 when two of the bombs tore through Talbot and Parnell Street before a third blast rocked South Leinster Street near Trinity College.

A fourth explosion struck a public house in Monaghan shortly after.

The city was immediately declared a disaster area.

A police spokesman said: "There were no warnings. These were acts of outright war. People had no chance.

"We are detaining everyone we think can help with inquiries. We believe the people behind this come from Northern Ireland."

Talbot Street, which was even more crowded than usual because of a corporation bus strike, was the worst hit area.

Several bodies lay in the road for half an hour as ambulances struggled to get through traffic jams.

Witness John Casey, who was walking into a Talbot Street hotel when the bomb went off, said: "Hundreds of people were in the street. They were running and screaming aimlessly.

"A newspaper stand was blown into the air past me and the newsboy next to it just disappeared in front of my eyes."

Immediately after the bombings the Ulster Defence Association in Belfast denied planting the bombs as did the Provisional IRA. But police later discovered that all four cars had Ulster registration plates and two of them had been hijacked in Protestant areas in Belfast.


Bomb scene
The city was immediately declared a disaster area
In Context
The final death toll in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, which included a pregnant woman and a stillborn child, stood at 33.

The loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force eventually admitted carrying out the bombings in 1994.

But relatives of the dead and wounded still believed many questions were left unanswered and they formed the Justice For The Forgotten organisation in 1996.

The group has continued to press the Irish government for a public inquiry into the truth behind the bombings ever since.

Many believe the UVF were helped by British intelligence.

Eventually a private inquiry into the bombings was set up in 2003 by retired Judge Henry Barron.

But the British authorities were unwilling to co-operate and to provide the necessary files and information.

As a result his findings were inconclusive.

In July 2004 the Irish government agreed to set up a commission of inquiry into the bombings.

Nobody has ever been convicted of the atrocities.

 

1960: East-West summit in tatters after spy plane row

The much-heralded Big Four summit in Paris has failed before it even started.

It follows three days of bitter recrimination over a US spy plane shot down two weeks ago by the Russians.

Any hope of East-West rapprochement was doomed from the start as heads of state - President Eisenhower, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, General de Gaulle and Harold Macmillan - never got beyond preliminary procedural meetings.

The U2 spy plane was shot down on 1 May by a Russian missile after it lost height owing to engine trouble.

The civilian pilot, Gary Powers, was able to bale out of the aircraft and was arrested in Sverdlovsk in the USSR.

State Department denial

When the Soviet Union announced it had shot the plane down, the US State Department at first denied it was a spy plane, saying it was simply an aircraft that had gone astray.

But when Mr Khrushchev produced photos taken by the pilot of military installations, President Eisenhower was forced to admit he had authorised the flight because he needed to prevent another Pearl Harbor.

When leaders gathered in Paris for the summit two days ago, after months of planning by Soviet and French officials, Mr Khrushchev demanded an apology before discussions could begin.

He also said the USA should promise never to violate Soviet airspace again and should punish all those responsible for the incident.

President Eisenhower rejected the demands, leaving the hoped-for peace summit in tatters.

De Gaulle's invitation

General de Gaulle had tried to revive the talks by inviting all the delegates to another conference at the Elysee Palace to discuss the situation.

All agreed but President Eisenhower insisted he would not discuss the spy plane incident.

When told of the invitation, Mr Khrushchev was on a trip outside Paris. He returned to the French capital and told a press conference the Soviet Union was ready to take part only if the USA met his demands of a public condemnation of the U2 incident.

So ended the summit that never was. Both sides are now blaming each other for the failure of the conference.


USSR President Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Khrushchev demanded an apology from the Americans
In Context
There were no further U2 flights over the USSR - after 1961 spy satellites performed the same function.

The American pilot, Gary Powers, was sentenced to 10 years in a Soviet prison in August 1960 but was exchanged for a Soviet spy in 1962.

Nikita Khrushchev was ousted by Leonid Brezhnev in 1964 because his economic policies at home had failed and his handling of foreign policy - his humiliation during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis and his open antagonism towards China - was considered erratic.

Nevertheless, history will be remember him as the first Soviet leader to establish good relations with the West and the first to agree to a telephone hotline between the Kremlin and the White House.


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This brings a smile to my face on the culture changes from then and now.From the early to mid-1960s young, mainly working class, Britons with cash to spend joined one of two youth movements.

The Mods wore designer suits protected by Parka jackets and were often armed with coshes and flick-knives. They rode Vespa or Lambretta scooters bedecked with mirrors and mascots and listened to Ska music and The Who.

Rockers rode motorbikes - often at 100mph with no crash helmets - wore leathers and listened to the likes of Elvis and Gene Vincent.

Inevitably the two gangs clashed. The 1964 Whitsun weekend violence in Brighton was famously dramatised in the film Quadrophenia (1979).

In August that year police had to be flown into the Sussex resort of Hastings to break up fights between the two gangs. But two years later, most Mods had turned their attentions to the burgeoning, more laid-back, hippie culture.

 

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18th May

 

1980 Mount St Helen's Erupts

Washington State: The main explosion happened at 8:32 a.m. PDT. 57 people died, 210 square miles of wilderness were destroyed.

Volcanic activity had first been recorded on March 20, 1980, and on the 27th March steam and ash were emitted through St Helen's crater and vents.

The explosion was triggered by an earthquake of about 5.0 on the Richter Scale.

The north side of the summit began to slide down the mountain and the explosion levelled everything for about 12 miles in all directions, 10 million trees were felled.

 

1944: Monte Cassino falls to the Allies

The Polish flag is flying over the ruins of the ancient Italian monastery which has been a symbol of German resistance since the beginning of the year.

Polish troops entered the hill-top abbey this morning, six days after the latest attacks began on this strategic stronghold at the western end of the German defensive position known as the Gustav Line.

British troops have taken control of the fortified town of Cassino at the foot of the "Monastery Hill".

The Allies' hard-fought victory comes four months after their first assault on Monastery Hill failed in January.

When my battalion of 1,001 men advanced into Monte Cassino village, three days of fighting had reduced it to 97 men
A German official announcement said: "Cassino, which the Anglo-Americans have vainly been charging for months with strong forces, was evacuated without a fight on Wednesday night in favour of a bolt position farther in the rear for the sake of economising in forces."

The Allies, under the overall command of General Sir Harold Alexander, began the fourth and final offensive for Monte Cassino on 11 May.

The Gustav Line was finally breached on 14 May. While the 5th Army made a flanking attack to the south, the 8th Army of British, Polish, Canadian and Indian troops made a frontal assault on the line at Cassino.

In addition, the French Expeditionary Force, part of the 5th Army, attacked from the west.

According to reports from Allied headquarters, the 8th Army succeeded in cutting Highway Six, the main road linking the south to Rome

They also claimed a "substantial proportion" of the 1st German Parachute Division had been destroyed.

In the six days of fighting at Cassino the Allies have taken more than 1,500 prisoners.

Farther to the west, the French Expeditionary Corps have taken the town of Esperia, at the foot of Monte d'Oro, another strategic German defensive position.

Reports from the French say their advance was so rapid, the Germans were unable to recover their dead and they found more than 400 bodies awaiting burial.

Large quantities of artillery were also left abandoned. Many of the guns and other equipment are said to be in a usable condition.

American forces pressing forward from the south have captured Formia on the coast and are pushing along the road which winds along the base of the mountains, loosening the German grip on the Gaeta peninsula.

The success of Operation Diadem, the fourth and final assault on Monte Cassino, was down to the co-ordinated assault on the Gustav Line, forcing the German withdrawal.

The first assault in January failed when the series of co-ordinated attacks did not go according to plan and the Germans held on to the crucial valley headed by Monte Cassino.

The second battle began on 15 February with the complete destruction of the monastery by heavy and medium bombers.

But the attack was badly planned and the nearest Allied troops were too far away to take advantage of the shock of bombing and again the German grip could not be shaken. The destruction of the monastery, in fact, made the hill easier to defend. The Germans dug in behind the rubble and when the third battle began on 15 March with yet more bombing, the parachutists defending the town clung on.

 


Ruined monastery on hill top
The monastery at Monte Cassino shows only the outer walls remaining after the Allied bombing
In Context
The Allies had landed troops on the west coast of Italy at Anzio in January with the intention of breaking the deadlock in the Italian campaign.

However, they suffered heavy losses from Field Marshall Albert Kesselring's troops and it was only after reinforcements arrived that they succeeded in breaking out from the beachhead and linking up with the US 5th Army on 25 May.

The 5th Army under Lieutenant-General Mark Clark pressed on to take Rome on 5 June 1944 ignoring orders from General Sir Harold Alexander to thrust into the German line of retreat. The capture of Rome was seen as significant but it meant the Germans escaped.

The Italian campaign then assumed secondary status as six divisions were withdrawn for the French Riviera landings. Efforts were made to replace these troops with Italians.

The Allies' advance through Italy was slowed down by bad weather and difficult terrain. The Americans and British also disagreed over the aims of the campaign which led to a lack of clear leadership.

By February 1945, General Sir Harold Alexander had been appointed supreme commander in the Mediterranean and was instructed after the Yalta conference to pin down the maximum number of German divisions while the main Allied effort was made on the western front.

He finally succeeded in taking Bologna and then Verona in April 1945. Mussolini was captured by Italian partisans retreating with the Germans. He was executed on 28 April. The Germans surrendered on 2 May.

 

1991: Sharman becomes first Briton in space

Britain's first astronaut, 27-year-old Helen Sharman from Sheffield, has blasted into orbit.

The Soviet Soyuz TM-12 space capsule made a textbook launch from the Baikonur cosmodrome in the Soviet republic of Kazakhstan at 1350 BST carrying Miss Sharman and fellow cosmonauts Anatoly Artebartsky and Sergei Krikalyov.

Astronaut wanted. No experience necessary
Radio advertisement
Her parents and sister watched from a viewing stand one kilometre away and saw their daughter smile and wave to the onboard camera.

She carries with her a photograph of the Queen, a butterfly brooch given to her by her father and a "space passport" in case her spacecraft is forced to land outside the Soviet Union.

Woman from Mars

Miss Sharman, a former chemist for the Mars chocolate company, had won her place in space in 1989 after answering an advertisement she heard on the car radio - "Astronaut wanted. No experience necessary."

She was eventually selected from over 13,000 applicants to be the British member of the Russian scientific space mission, Project Juno.

The USSR has already taken a Mongolian, an Afghan, a Cuban, a Syrian and a Japanese journalist to space.

She spent 18 gruelling months training in Star City, 30km north-east of Moscow and now speaks fluent Russian. She has become known among her comrades for her remarkably calm and unruffled nature. She has trained alongside her British back-up Major Tim Mace.

Tomorrow, the Soyuz is due to dock with the Mir space station which has been occupied by two crew members for the last six months.

The British element of the Juno project has had trouble raising funds and the only sponsors to come forward are Interflora, a watch manufacturer and a cassette tape company.

During her eight days in space, Miss Sharman will carry out a series of medical and agricultural experiments. She will also take part in a radio-ham test with British schools, take photos of the British Isles and see how pansies grow in weightless conditions.


Helen Sharman in a space suit
Helen Sharman won a place in space history after answering an advertisement
In Context
Seven days later, Helen Sharman came back to Earth in her Soyuz TM11 capsule which parachuted into Kazakhstan. With her was Commander Musa Manarov who held the record for the longest time in space at 541 days.

When she emerged from the capsule she said: "The air is very fresh. Smell the flowers, they are wonderful."

She was awarded an OBE in 1993.

She has since become a lecturer and broadcaster on science education.

After 15 years in space, the Mir space station was decommissioned and disintegrated in the Earth's atmosphere on 23 March 2001.

 

1950: US and Europe agree Nato aims

Almost exactly a year after signing the North Atlantic Treaty, 12 nations have agreed a permanent organisation for the defence of the United States and Europe.

The final meeting of the fourth session of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, or Nato as it has become known, was held in front of cameras at Lancaster House in London.

The 12 foreign ministers sat around a horseshoe table, with the United States Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, at the centre. A large audience of newspaper and newsreel correspondents, cameramen and photographers broadcast their speeches around the world.

This business of building for peace is a very grim business, and it has to be worked for day in and day out.
UK Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin
During negotiations over the past few days, the ministers have reached agreement over a communiqué outlining the aims of the Organisation, and setting out a six-point plan for strengthening ties between their countries.

Key among these was the establishment of a council of deputies, with a permanent chairman and a full-time staff, to put the objectives of the Treaty into action.

Opening the meeting, Mr Acheson thanked all his colleagues for their "tireless efforts" and said that "genuine progress" had been made.

"Throughout its deliberations, the council has recognised that only through coordinated plans and effort could its great objectives be achieved," he said.

He then went on to read the communiqué, which spoke of the principles behind Nato and outlined the objectives the organisation is working towards.

It stressed the importance of seeking a diplomatic solution before military force is used, but where some nations are not willing to cooperate, it said, "the maintenance of peace and the defence of freedom require the organisation of adequate military defence."

The communiqué also includes directives on defence, finance and economics, and establishes a North Atlantic planning board for shipping.

The British Foreign Minister, Ernest Bevin, called the agreement one of "historic significance".

"I'm afraid we cannot arrive at sensational decisions," he told the meeting. "This business of building for peace is a very grim business, and it has to be worked for day in and day out. "We must never give up faith in its ultimate trials."
 


Ernest Bevin
British Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin: agreement of "historic significance"
In Context
The 12 nations who signed the North Atlantic Treaty in 1949 were Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Britain, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and the United States.

Later in 1950, US general and future president Dwight D Eisenhower was appointed Nato's first supreme commander.

Nato soon ran into controversy when West Germany was included in the Treaty in 1955. The Soviet Union saw it as a direct threat, and in the same year created a counter-alliance called the Warsaw Pact.

When the Cold War ended, the Warsaw Pact was dissolved in 1991.

No longer directed at the perceived threat of Soviet aggression, Nato formed closer ties with Eastern Europe and began a major re-evaluation of its role.

The Organisation's first aggressive action took place in 1995, in a campaign of airstrikes launched against Bosnian Serb positions in the former Yugoslavia.

It was followed in 1999 by an 11-week campaign of airstrikes over Kosovo which it undertook without United Nations approval.

 

1964: Mods and Rockers jailed after seaside riots

Scores of youths have been given prison sentences following a Whitsun weekend of violent clashes between gangs of Mods and Rockers at a number of resorts on the south coast of England.

Yesterday two youths were taken to hospital with knife wounds and 51 were arrested in Margate after hundreds of teenagers converged on the town for the holiday weekend.

Dr George Simpson, chairman of Margate magistrates, jailed four young men and imposed fines totalling £1,900 on 36 people.

Three offenders were jailed for three months each and five more sent to detention centres for up to six months.

Obscenities

In Brighton, two youths were jailed for three months and others were fined.

More than 1,000 teenagers were involved in skirmishes on the beach and the promenade last night.

They threw deckchairs around, broke them up to make bonfires, shouted obscenities at each other and at passers-by, jostled holidaymakers and terrified elderly residents.

At about 1300 BST Mods and Rockers gathered at the Palace Pier chanting and jeering at each other and threw stones when police tried to disperse them.

The teenagers staged a mass sit-down on the promenade when police, using horses and dogs, tried to move them on.

In Margate, there were running battles between police and up to 400 youths on the beach early yesterday morning. Bottles were thrown and two officers were slightly hurt.

Later, on the high street, around 40 young men smashed council flat windows and vandalised a pub and a hardware shop.

Last night, hundreds of young men and girls were still wandering around the resort long after the last train had left.

Police stepped in to prevent further violence and dispersed about 30 youths in leather jackets who marched up the promenade shouting "Up the Rockers!" There were further clashes at Bournemouth and Clacton.
 


Watch/Listen
Crowd running on the beach
More than 1,000 teenagers were involved in skirmishes in Brighton

Mods explain `Mod culture'
In Context
From the early to mid-1960s young, mainly working class, Britons with cash to spend joined one of two youth movements.

The Mods wore designer suits protected by Parka jackets and were often armed with coshes and flick-knives. They rode Vespa or Lambretta scooters bedecked with mirrors and mascots and listened to Ska music and The Who.

Rockers rode motorbikes - often at 100mph with no crash helmets - wore leathers and listened to the likes of Elvis and Gene Vincent.

Inevitably the two gangs clashed. The 1964 Whitsun weekend violence in Brighton was famously dramatised in the film Quadrophenia (1979).

In August that year police had to be flown into the Sussex resort of Hastings to break up fights between the two gangs.

But two years later, most Mods had turned their attentions to the burgeoning, more laid-back, hippie culture.

 

1972: Duke too ill for tea with the Queen

The Duke of Windsor was not well enough to attend tea with the Queen when she came to visit his home in Paris this afternoon.

He was said to be "dreadfully disappointed" after doctors told him he was not to come downstairs because of ill health.

They made their decision just hours before the Queen, with Prince Philip and Prince Charles, was due to see her uncle for the first time in five years - and the first time in his own home.

The Queen did spend 15 minutes talking alone with her "Uncle David" in his first floor sitting room after the Duchess of Windsor hosted tea in the downstairs drawing room.

The Royal party had arrived from the races in Longchamp, a day after a tour of the Provence region as part of a state visit to France.

Housebound for six weeks

Earlier this year, the duke had a hernia operation and although at first he seemed to have recovered well, his health then took a turn for the worse. He has not left the house for six weeks.

There has been some speculation that the Queen may have discussed one of her uncle's strongest wishes - that the title of Royal Highness would be formally conferred on his wife.

But Buckingham Palace has said there is no question that the American divorcee can ever receive such a title.

The Duke of Windsor, once King Edward VIII, abdicated in 1936 after constitutional objections to his plans to marry the twice-divorced Wallis Simpson. He was succeeded to the throne by George VI, father of the present Queen.

The couple tied the knot in France in 1937 and have lived there ever since in virtual exile although they have made various visits to the Royal family in London over the years. The Duke spent some time in the Bahamas as governor during World War II.


The Duke of Windsor announces his abdication to the nation
The Duke of Windsor abdicated from the throne in 1936


In Context
Ten days later, the Duke of Windsor died at his home in Paris. Doctors revealed he had been suffering from throat cancer for some time.

He left an estimated fortune of £4m.

The Duchess of Windsor attended his funeral in Frogmore, England. She lived as a recluse in Paris until her death in 1986 and was buried next to her husband in England.

Her impressive collection of jewellery was auctioned a year later in Paris raising more than £31m for the Pasteur Institute, a centre for biological research.


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19th May

 

1960 Payola Scandal Arrests

On this day Alan Freed, a disc jockey, who coined the phrase rock 'n' roll, is arrested, along with 7 others, on suspicion of commercial bribery (specifically: accepting payments for playing records on the radio, or payola).

The payola scandal had hit the headlines in 1959 and led to an inquiry by The Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission.

Early in 1960, The National Association of Broadcasters had said that any DJ found having been paid to play a record would be fined $500 plus a year in prison.

The practice of paying for each record play led to some DJ's earning a reputed extra $35,000 a year, but some record companies complained that the practice stopped other records being played without a payment which was unfair.

 

1980: Nine dead after Mount St Helens eruption

At least nine people have died after the massive eruption of Mount St Helens volcano in Washington State, USA.

Many more are missing and the death toll is expected to rise.

A huge cloud of ash has turned day into night for towns and cities across north-western America. People have been told to stay indoors and wear gauze masks. Many roads have been closed, trains halted and aircraft grounded.

Mount St Helens exploded at 0832 local time on 18 May.

Avalanches of hot ash

It triggered an earthquake measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale and the north face of the mountain collapsed in a massive avalanche.

At the same time a giant mushroom-shaped cloud of ash rose 15 miles (24km) into the sky in just 15 minutes. Then avalanches of hot ash, pumice and gas known as pyroclastic flows poured out of the crater.

Westerly winds have blown millions of tons of ash across the United States turning blue skies grey as far as Spokane, Washington - 250 miles (400km) away.

Nearly 150 square miles (240 sq km) of forest has been destroyed and it is believed thousands of wild animals have been killed.

One of those who died was local celebrity 84-year-old Harry Truman. The former president's namesake had consistently refused to leave his motel at the foot of the mountain beside Spirit Lake.

He stayed with his 16 cats and 18 racoons while about 2,000 people were evacuated from the area in the last few weeks as the mountain threatened to blow.

The lake has been wiped out by the massive force of the eruption along with boiling mud flows triggered by mountain snow that melted in the intense heat. Dr Bob Christiansen of the US Geological Survey who predicted the huge eruption said another major blast was unlikely.


Watch/Listen
Mount St Helens erupting
As Mount St Helens erupted it threw up tons of ash 15 miles high turning day into night

Images of the Mount St Helen's eruption
In Context
The explosion had the power of 500 atomic bombs and was the largest of its kind in recorded US history.

The final number of those who died directly from the eruption was 57. The Washington State Department of Game estimated nearly 7,000 big game animals (deer, elk, and bear) perished as well as all birds and most small mammals.

Of the 32 species of small mammals thought to be living near Mount St Helens only 14 were known to have survived, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

Scientists learned a great deal about volcanos from the explosion and have been studying how plant life has gradually returned to the once devastated region around the mountain.

The volcano became active again in October 2004 but scientists believe the chances of an imminent eruption as huge as that of 1980 are low.

 

2004: Angry dads hit Blair with purple flour

Protesters have hurled condoms full of purple flour at British Prime Minister Tony Blair as he addressed MPs in the House of Commons, prompting an urgent review of security.

The PM was speaking at the despatch box during his weekly question and answer session soon after midday when father-of-two Ron Davies threw two missiles from the front of the public gallery normally reserved for VIPs.

A second man, Guy Harrison, shouted and held up a poster, before police rushed in and arrested the men.

As one missile hit the PM's back and another landed at his feet, Mr Blair turned around and looked bemused.

The Speaker, Michael Martin, ordered all MPs to leave the chamber while the powder was examined and found to be safe.

Campaign group Fathers 4 Justice said they had orchestrated the incident to demand equal rights for divorced fathers trying to gain access to their children.

The attack has led to calls for improved security at Westminster.

Baroness apologises

Only last month a £600,000 security screen was installed in front of the public gallery to prevent such an incident.

But the front three rows - normally reserved for ambassadors and guests of MPs and peers - are not protected.

In a later statement to the House of Lords, Labour peer Baroness Golding said the two protesters were guests of hers and she offered "unreserved apologies" to the Speaker, MPs and fellow peers.

It is believed the two men got tickets to the VIP section of the gallery at a charity auction.

Mr Blair's spokesman said the prime minister wanted to know when he could return to finish question time - but the Speaker vetoed the move.

Commons business recommenced at 1330 BST.

Home Secretary David Blunkett said a security review had already been launched at Westminster after recent breaches at Buckingham Palace. The security services will bring forward recommendations "very quickly indeed", but it could mean there will be more restrictions on access to Parliament, he said.


Tony Blair with circle drawn to highlight purple powder
A condom with purple powder hit the prime minister on the shoulder
In Context
Ron Davis and Guy Harrison were both convicted of disorderly behaviour and fined £500 and £600 respectively.

A cross-party group of MPs condemned the media coverage of the flour bomb attack saying it had "rewarded" Fathers 4 Justice for their actions.

Fathers 4 Justice continued to organise various stunts climbing onto well-known landmarks, such as York Minster, Buckingham Palace and St Paul's cathedral, dressed as superheroes to highlight their cause.

Their membership increased by thousands and branches were opened in other parts of the world.

A security review of the House of Commons led by MI5 did not prevent further intrusions into Parliament.

In September 2004, five protesters broke into the Commons chamber to demonstrate against the ban on foxhunting.

In January 2006, Fathers 4 Justice disbanded following reports linking the group to a plan to kidnap Tony Blair's five-year-old son Leo. It re-formed following a protest stunt on the BBC's National Lottery Show in May 2006.

 

1986: South African raids wreck peace bid

South African troops have launched raids on three neighbouring countries in an effort to destroy bases purportedly used by the anti-apartheid organisation the African National Congress (ANC).

At least three people are reported dead after this morning's co-ordinated attacks on cities in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana by South African warplanes, helicopters and commandos.

The raids have severely jeopardised diplomatic efforts by a Commonwealth mission now in South Africa.

The Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group had been trying to negotiate a peaceful settlement with South Africa's ruling National Party and Prime Minister PW Botha to bring an end to national strife caused by the apartheid regime.

Five of the seven delegates have already left Cape Town in protest.

Call for sanctions

Along with Angola, Mozambique and Tanzania, the three nations attacked today form the so-called "frontline states" that support the ANC in their struggle against white minority rule. But all three deny providing the ANC with military bases.

There has been widespread condemnation of South Africa in the West and across Southern Africa.

Zambia's President Kenneth Kaunda called the raids a "dastardly, cowardly action". The government of Botswana issued a statement condemning "this naked act of aggression against our country".

And the Commonwealth Secretary General Sir Shridath Ramphal called the move "a declaration of war" and demanded immediate economic sanctions against South Africa.

But the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her Foreign Secretary, Sir Geoffrey Howe, while condemning the attacks are ignoring calls for early sanctions against Pretoria.

News of the raids - on Gaborone in Botswana, Zimbabwe's capital, Harare and Lusaka in Zambia - came in an announcement by the head of the South African Army, Lieutenant General AJ Liebenberg. "The action taken against the terrorists should be interpreted as indicative of the firm resolve of the Republic of South Africa to use all the means at its disposal against terrorists wherever they may be," he said.


Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda
Zambia's President Kenneth Kaunda condemned "cowardly action"
In Context
In the 1980s, South Africa was in crisis, with widespread civil unrest among the majority black population. President PW Botha allowed the repeal of some apartheid laws, but he was determined to crush the outlawed ANC movement, both at home and abroad.

By the end of the decade, sanctions imposed by the US, most Commonwealth nations and the EC - except Britain - along with the international sporting boycott were starting to hurt.

The ruling National Party knew that it was time for change and in February 1989, PW Botha was forced to step aside as prime minister in favour of the more liberal FW de Klerk, although PW Botha remained president.

Later that year, the South African government approved a visit by Prime Minister de Klerk to Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, who supported the ANC.

The move prompted PW Botha to resign as president.

He left the National Party in 1990, the year that saw the release of Nelson Mandela, head of the ANC.

Four years later the ANC formed South Africa's first democratically elected government with Mr Mandela as the country's first black president.

 

1974: Giscard d'Estaing voted French president

Valery Giscard d'Estaing has been elected President of France, winning the second round of elections by a narrow margin to defeat Francois Mitterrand, the communist-backed socialist.

Mr Giscard, the Gaulliste-backed Independent Republican candidate, won 50.7% of the vote in the second of two rounds against Mr Mitterrand's 49.3%.

Speaking in English for the benefit of the foreign press, he made a statement. "You want a deep political, a deep economic and a deep social change. You will not be disappointed," he said.

Mr Mitterrand graciously conceded victory but said the close result and large turnout showed a huge groundswell of support for the coalition of the Left that would surely come to power in the next presidential election.

Record turnout

Thanks to good weather and forecasts of a close result, there was indeed a record turnout - the biggest since 1965 when France began electing its presidents by direct universal suffrage.

More than 87% of voters went to the polls, 750,000 more than in the first round two weeks ago.

At 48, Mr Giscard is France's 20th president and the youngest this century.

As finance minister he ran the economy for nine out the past 12 years - from1962 to 1966 under Charles De Gaulle and then again from 1969 under Georges Pompidou.

An ardent pro-European, he will be welcomed by the EEC whose members hope he will steer France away from doctrinaire foreign policy and an anti-American stance and push forward European integration.

He is seen in Brussels as pragmatic and highly intelligent but the French working class, aware of his privileged background, regard him as somewhat cool and aloof.

During the seven-week election campaign, he fought hard to change his snobbish image by kicking a football around with villagers and playing folk-songs on an accordion. But the image of him on posters all over the country alongside his attractive 20-year-old daughter Valerie-Anne probably captured the family vote in a country that is deeply Catholic, if not in church then in culture.



Giscard d'Estaing
At 48, Giscard d'Estaing is the youngest French President this century
In Context
Valery Giscard d'Estaing developed a close relationship with Germany's Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and together they turned their dream of a more integrated Europe into reality.

His main contribution was the formation of the European Council in 1974, a group of all heads of state of member countries that pushed forward a European Monetary System in 1979.

At home, he made several reforms in the early part of his reign - the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18, divorce and abortion laws relaxed, in spite of fierce opposition from the Catholic Church.

He also saw through laws on equal pay and opportunities for women, reduced the retirement age to 60 and allowed Paris to vote in its own mayor.

But as his seven-year term drew to a close in 1981 he was blamed for France's economic downturn and lost the presidential election to Francois Mitterrand.

1997: Labour to stub out tobacco sponsorship
The sponsorship of sports events by tobacco firms is to be outlawed, according to Labour's Health Secretary, Frank Dobson.

The announcement, made in a speech to the Royal College of Nursing's annual conference in Harrogate, could spell the end of the British Formula One Grand Prix.

Other sports like rugby, snooker, darts, cricket and ice hockey could also lose around £10 million in sports sponsorship in Britain.

We recognise that some sports, like some smokers, are heavily dependent on tobacco sponsorship. We will therefore give them time and help to reduce their dependency on the weed
Frank Dobson, Health Secretary
Mr Dobson told the conference: "We will ban tobacco advertising. It will cover all forms, including sponsorship."

But he acknowledged the move would come as a severe blow to sports organisers of major events like the Silk Cut Challenge Cup snooker final and the Embassy World Professional Darts Championship.

"We recognise that some sports, like some smokers, are heavily dependent on tobacco sponsorship. We will therefore give them time and help to reduce their dependency on the weed," he said.

In an uncompromising speech he said: "The tobacco industry kills around 120,000 of its customers every year. So it has to recruit 120,000 new smokers to its ranks each year to make up for the casualties."

He said the final details would have to be ironed out before a draft White Paper was published in the coming months.

Doctors delighted

Health professionals are delighted by the move, promised during the recent election campaign that saw Labour to a resounding victory.

In a statement, the Imperial Cancer Research Fund said: "We welcome any moves to ban tobacco advertising and sponsorship."

A spokesperson for the British Medical Association added: "It's unacceptable for tobacco, the major cause of preventable ill health, to be linked with sport."

And a representative from anti-smoking group ASH said: "We're delighted and excited. We hope to be able to help the Government to work out a draft Bill."

The tobacco industry is now seeking urgent talks with the government to discuss the issue.


McLaren Honda of Alain Prost, during the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 1989
The ban on tobacco sponsorship could mean the end of Formula One
In Context
In November 1997, the government decided Formula One racing would be exempt from the sponsorship ban. But weeks later, the press revealed that the prime minister, Tony Blair, had met representatives of Formula One before the decision was announced.

It also emerged that Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone had donated £1 million to the Labour Party before the general election.

Although Labour and Mr Ecclestone strongly denied any connection between the donation and the exemption, Labour gave him back his £1 million.

In December 1997, the European Union passed a law banning tobacco advertising and sponsorship - bar Formula one - across Europe.

It was overturned by the European Court of Justice after appeals from the tobacco industry.

In The UK tobacco advertising in shops and newsagents was outlawed in December 1999 and tobacco sponsorship of sports ended in 2003.

In July 2005 the European Union imposed a ban on tobacco advertising and sponsorship of sporting events, apart from events that are purely local.

After the British Grand Prix advertising ban came into effect, some tobacco producers switched to using logos or colour schemes similar to their usual adverts to promote their products at races.

This was a severe financial blow to snooker which had to look for new backing. The 2006 snooker World Championship was the first in 30 years not to be sponsored by Embassy cigarettes.


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20th May

 

1873 Levi Strauss Patents Copper-Riveted Jeans

Levi Strauss started on his road to riches by supplying San Francisco miners with trousers made of hard wearing canvas.

In 1872 Strauss received a letter from a customer, Jacob Davis, who told him that the trousers lasted longer if you put rivets at certain stress points. Davis needed a patent, however, to protect this innovation.

Strauss agreed to take on the legal work and in return Davis was made Strauss's production manager.

Eventually the canvas material was replaced by blue denim and the modern 'blue jean' was born.

 

1983: Car bomb in South Africa kills 16

At least 16 people have been killed and more than 130 people injured in a car bomb explosion in South Africa's capital city, Pretoria.

The explosion happened outside the Nedbank Square building on Church Street at about 1630 hours - the height of the city's rush hour.

More than 20 ambulances attended the scene and took the dead and injured to three hospitals in and around Pretoria.

Police sealed off the surrounding area with a barbed-wire fence as emergency personnel sifted through the rubble looking for bodies.

Bomb disposal experts were called to the scene to search for a possible second bomb.

The outlawed anti-apartheid group the African National Congress has been blamed for the attack.

Bled to death

A huge pall of smoke rose hundreds of feet into the air as debris and bodies were strewn around the scene of the explosion.

It is understood the bomb had been placed in a blue Alfa Romeo car outside the multi-storey building, which houses the South African air force headquarters.

It exploded at the height of the city's rush-hour as hundreds of people were leaving work for the weekend.

Glass and metal were catapulted into the air as shop-fronts and windows were blown out.

Many passers-by had limbs amputated by the flying debris. Others bled to death.

South Africa's Minister for Law and Order, Louis le Grange, who visited the scene immediately, blamed the attack on the ANC.

He said: "I have no doubt who is responsible for this despicable attack."

He said the explosion was the "biggest and ugliest" terrorist incident since anti-government violence began in South Africa 20 years ago.

He added: "Most of the victims were civilians, but some were air force personnel in uniform, black and white. Quite a number of those killed were black.

The ANC is committed to overthrowing the minority white government.

Oliver Tambo, who is the organisation's acting president while its senior figure, Nelson Mandela, is in prison, said the Nedbank Square building was a legitimate target, although he did not admit carrying out the attack.

General Mike Gedenhuys, Police Commissioner, said: "Many of the victims are so badly mutilated they have not yet been identified."

General Magnus Malan, South African's defence minister, described the explosion as a "cowardly, criminal deed in the Communist war being raged against South Africa".

He said more than 40,000 civilians had died as a result of terrorism in the past five years in Africa and 83,000 armed men had died.

South Africa has nearly five million whites, 21 million blacks, nearly one million Indians and about 2.5 million people of mixed race.

The government's apartheid system denies citizenship rights to black people except in 10 remote homelands. The ANC has warned it intends to step up its campaign to bring an end to white minority rule.


Oliver Tambo
The ANC, led by Oliver Tambo, admitted planting the car bomb
In Context
The number of dead rose to 17 and 197 people were injured in the explosion.

Four days later the South African Air Force bombed ANC bases in Maputo, Mozambique, in retaliation for the Pretoria car bomb.

At least six people, including two children, were killed.

Following the Maputo attack the ANC formally admitted carrying out the Pretoria bombing.

On 2 February 1990 the South African government lifted restrictions on the ANC allowing legal opposition to apartheid for the first time in 40 years.

The ANC party's leader, Nelson Mandela, was freed on 11 February 1990 after 27 years in detention.

In May 1994 Mandela became South Africa's first black president when the ANC swept into power.

 

1965: British police to be issued with tear gas

Britain's police are to be armed with tear gas guns and grenades to be used against armed criminals or dangerous individuals.

The Home Secretary, Sir Frank Soskice, made the announcement in the House of Commons today.

He assured MPs the gas caused only temporary discomfort with no long-term side-effects.

"Non-toxic tear smoke" already used by the police in the Colonies would be stored at 40 police centres in England and Wales and at six in Scotland.

It is the first time British police are being issued with the "non-lethal weapon" - although London's Metropolitan Police and four other forces have been able to obtain supplies from the military in emergency cases.

Gas against "violently insane"

Sir Frank made clear the chemical would be used only "in dealing with armed criminals or violently insane persons in buildings from which they cannot be dislodged without danger or loss of life".

He said the gas would have no long-term effect on people who came into contact with it.

Sir Edward Dodd, the Chief Inspector of Constabularies, told the BBC tear gas would under no circumstances be used for crowd control.

"The Secretary of State has asked chief constables to report to him the circumstances under which weapons are used whenever it is necessary to use them," he said.

He envisaged it would be used only "two or three times a year".

CS gas was developed at the Chemical Defence Experimental Establishment at Porton in Wiltshire.

It is delivered in a grenade or cartridge and has an immediate effect - victims experience watering eyes and blurred vision which wears off as soon as they leave the area affected.

The idea of allowing issue of tear gas to police was first recommended by a working party in 1962. For the last 10 years, police chiefs have expressed concern about the vulnerability of their officers and members of the public on rare occasions when criminals barricade themselves in buildings and there is no alternative but to send in armed officers.


Sir Edward Dodd, Chief Inspector of Constabularies
Sir Edward Dodd said tear gas would not be used for crowd control


In Context
Tear gas is widely accepted by police forces around the world as a means of controlling civilian crowds.

British police carry guns or tear gas to deal with sieges, armed robberies, terrorist attacks or diplomatic duties.

However, tear gas was often used against demonstrators at the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland in the 1970s.

CS gas was used for the first time on the British mainland to control rioters in Toxteth, Liverpool in 1981, but rarely since then.

CS spray was cleared for use in 1996 as a safer alternative to police batons but three forces - Nottinghamshire, Northants and Sussex - still do not use it because of health concerns.

Police and Arms
A 1995 Police Federation survey on police attitudes to armed patrols found:
79% of police officers said they were not in favour of being routinely armed with guns
But 40% said more officers should be trained to use firearms
42% felt their life had been in serious danger as a result of personal threat in the previous two years
39% had been threatened with firearm, knife or other weapon in the previous two years
In the event of a decision to arm all officers 43% said they would be prepared to carry firearms on duty or all of the time
6% said they would resign from the police service if they were ordered to wear a firearm

 

1973: Royal Navy moves to protect trawlers

Britain has sent in Royal Navy ships to protect trawlers in the disputed Icelandic 50-mile zone as the so-called "cod war" escalates.

Three frigates - the Cleopatra, the Plymouth and the Lincoln - are sailing alongside the British trawlers now fishing in box formation.

The skippers had said they would not return to the seas without naval protection against Icelandic gunboats. They have been cruising the area since Iceland extended its fishing from three to 50 miles eight months ago.

The Navy is not going to stand idly by and see trawlers chivvied as they have been chivvied recently. The Navy has a job to do.
Joseph Godber, Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries
He said the frigates, armed with light guns and rocket missiles, would take "appropriate action" if necessary.

The decision to send in the Navy was made three days ago by the Cabinet Defence and Overseas Policy Committee with the Prime Minister Edward Heath present.

The trawler owners and the skippers had disagreed over whether or not to accept naval assistance.

The trawler owners feared that the Royal Navy's presence would restrict fishing as happened some 13 years ago during the first cod war.

But they have since agreed to let the frigates accompany the fishing boats because three tugs - the Statesman, the Irishman and the Lloydsman - would also be present and allow the trawlers to fish more freely.

The Icelandic ambassador in London, Niel Siguurdsson, said last night he was "surprised and disappointed" by the move. Last week, the British ambassador, Sir Ian MacKenzie, failed to get assurances from Iceland's prime minister, Olafur Johannesson, that its ships would stop threatening British trawlers.


HMS Cleopatra
HMS Cleopatra, one of the three frigates on patrol is armed with light guns and rocket missiles
In Context
Iceland has extended its territorial waters three times since the end of the 1950s to protect its fishermen and their main catch of Atlantic cod from foreign fleets.

On each occasion, Icelandic patrol boats trying to enforce the new limits clashed on the high seas with British trawlers and naval vessels.

This second cod war ended after the intervention of NATO with a two-year agreement limiting British trawlers to certain areas within the 50-mile limit.

Britain also agreed that its vessels would not catch more than 130,000 tonnes of fish a year.

This agreement expired on 13 November 1975, when Iceland again extended its fishing to 200 miles (332km) and the third cod war began.

Nato again helped negotiated an end to the dispute on 6 June 1976.

Britain was limited to using 24 trawlers within a 200-mile zone at any one time for an annual catch of up to 50,000 tonnes.

2000: Blairs' delight at birth of fourth child
The British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie are celebrating the birth of their baby son who will be called Leo.

He is the first child to be born to a serving British Prime Minister for more than 150 years and was named after Mr Blair's father.

The latest addition to the Blair household arrived at 0025BST and weighed in at 6lbs 12oz, according to Downing Street.

An emotional Mr Blair said he was thrilled at becoming a father again and praised the doctors and midwives who assisted his wife.

He said: "Our baby is fine. He's a gorgeous boy. They are just resting now. It was an ordinary, natural birth, though it was quite a long labour so Cherie is quite tired now."

Congratulations

The proud parents and their new baby returned to Downing Street shortly after Leo's birth at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London.

Mrs Blair, 45, had been admitted to the hospital during Friday lunchtime, five days before her official due date of 24 May.

The prime minister then joined his wife at the hospital at 2050 BST and stayed with her for six hours before they returned to Downing Street with their new son.

The couple managed to give the hordes of waiting media the slip by leaving the hospital via a back door.

The couple already have two sons, Euan, 16, and Nicky, 14, and a daughter, Kathryn, 12.

The prime minister has said he will not be taking parental leave but intends to scale back his official workload.

Congratulations have already started to pour in following the birth. Mrs Blair's father, actor Tony Booth, said he was "absolutely thrilled and delighted" at the news he had a new grandson.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have sent Mr and Mrs Blair flowers and best wishes, as have Tory leader William Hague and his wife Ffion.

Mr Hague said: "We send our congratulations to them and their children. We know this is a wonderful day for them, and a happy day for the country as a whole."

Liberal Democrat Leader Charles Kennedy said it was important to give the Blairs some breathing space to enjoy their new arrival. "The most important thing now is that everyone respects their right to privacy and peace for a decent interval."


Prime Minister Tony Blair, paternal mug in hand, relaxes in front of the media
The first serving prime minister in 150 years to father a child
In Context
Leo Blair travelled 14,000 miles before he could walk, and was in the eye of a political storm before he could talk.

He made his first public appearance when he was weeks old.

But soon after that he was at the centre of a row over privacy, when "unauthorised" photographs of him were used by newspapers in spite of pleas by the Blairs.

His parents are determined to protect his privacy - as well as that of his siblings - and have kept strict control over photographs and information about him. Soon after Leo's first birthday Mr Blair resisted pressure to reveal whether or not he had been given the controversial MMR vaccine.

In August 2002 Cherie Blair became pregnant for the fifth time but suffered a miscarriage.

1958: High Wycombe weighs new mayor
The mayor and corporation of High Wycombe were weighed in today in full view of the public to see whether or not they have been getting fat at the taxpayers' expense.

The annual custom dates back to medieval times and is unique to this Buckinghamshire market town.

Weight is no longer an election issue, but for custom's sake the new mayor, Councillor Lesley Brain, and 24 charter trustees and honorary burgesses obliged by sitting on a specially erected scale to have their weights recorded and compared with last year's.

Traditionally the "macebearer" dressed in tradional costume rings a bell and calls out the weight. When he adds the words "And no more!" the crowd cheers as a sign of their appreciation and gratitude for hard work done for the community.

'And some more!'

But if he shouts "And some more!", it means the mayor has been indulging in too much good living at ratepayers' expense and the crowd jeers and boos.

In years gone by they would have also pelted the offending person with tomatoes and rotten fruit.

Luckily for the new mayor, this year's crowd was more restrained as the macebearer shouted: "Councillor Brain - 13 stone 2lbs - and some more!"

A rather corpulent Councillor RA Wood weighing in at 20 stone received a loud "Boo!" as he slid off the scales.

The weighing-in was preceded by the mayor-making ceremony which began at the Mayor's Parlour in Victoria Road followed by a colourful procession to the Guildhall. The new mayor signed several legal oaths to the monarch, the citizens of High Wycombe and to the clerk of the market.


High Wycombe new mayor, Lesley Brain, on weighing machine
The tradition of weighing the mayor is unique to High Wycombe


In Context
Two years later Cllr Wood entered the High Wycombe record books weighing in at 20st 5lbs.

He was beaten in 2002 when outgoing mayor Cllr Nigel Vickery weighed in at 21 stone.

In 1999 the new mayor Cllr Peter Cartwright revitalised the ceremonial procession to the Guildhall and on to the weighing-in ceremony in the High Street by re-introducing a drummer drumming out the old mayor.


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21st May

 

1927 and 1932 Double Transatlantic Solo Record Day, Male and Female

On this day in 1927, Charles A. Lindbergh lands at Le Bourget Field in Paris, becoming the first person ever to fly solo non-stop across the Atlantic. He flew from New York to Paris. The flight, which began at Roosevelt Field in New York, took 33 and a half hours to cover the 3,600-miles.

Lindbergh won a $25,000 reward put up by hotelier Raymond Orteig, of France, for the first non-stop flight between New York and Paris.

Lindbergh became an instant international hero and President Calvin Coolidge sent a warship to pick him up so that he could return to New York for a tickertape parade and a Congressional Medal of Honor.

On this same day, in 1932, Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly solo the near 2000 miles from Newfoundland to Ireland. She accomplished her feat in 15 hours. She was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross by the U.S. Congress.

[The first ever non-stop transatlantic flight was achieved by two British fliers in 1919. John W. Alcock and Arthur W. Brown flew between Newfoundland to Ireland, a distance of 1,960 miles.]

1991: Bomb kills India's former leader Rajiv Gandhi

Rajiv Gandhi, the 46-year-old former Indian prime minister, has been assassinated.

He was campaigning for the Congress Party on the second day of voting in the world's largest democratic election when a powerful bomb, hidden in a basket of flowers, exploded killing him instantly.

At least 14 other people were also killed in the attack in the town of Sriperumbudur, about 30 miles from Madras, the capital of the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

No-one has admitted carrying out the murder but it is being blamed on Mr Gandhi's arch enemies, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a violent guerrilla group fighting for a separate homeland for Tamils on the island of Sri Lanka.

End of a dynasty

Rajiv Gandhi's death has shocked the world and marks the end of the Nehru dynasty that had led India for all but five years since independence from Britain.

After his brother Sanjay was killed in an air crash in 1980, he gave up his job as an airline pilot and was elected to Sanjay's parliamentary seat.

He became prime minister after his mother, Indira Gandhi, was assassinated by her own Sikh bodyguards in 1984.

Often seen as a reluctant leader, he and his Congress Party won a record majority later that year.

He encouraged foreign investment, a freer economy and rejuvenated his own party, ridding it of his mother's unelected cronies.

After he lost the election in 1989, Rajiv Gandhi resigned.

This time, the Congress Party was expected to win the largest number of parliamentary seats - but not overall control - against the Hindu BJP Party and the Janata Dal, now split into two parties. The campaign has been marred by sectarian violence between Hindus and Muslims in what has proved to be the most violent election in Indian history. Two hundred people have already been killed.


Watch/Listen
Rajiv Gandhi
Rajiv Gandhi's murder is being blamed on the Tamil Tigers

Rajiv Gandhi obituary
In Context
It later emerged that a female Tamil Tiger (LTTE) suicide bomber had assassinated Rajiv Gandhi.

In 1987 Mr Gandhi, then prime minister, had sent Indian peacekeeping forces to Sri Lanka in a disastrous attempt to impose peace in the country. The move proved unpopular both at home and abroad and his troops pulled out in 1990.

A year after Mr Gandhi's death, the Tamil Tigers were outlawed in India.

PV Narasimha Rao, succeeded Gandhi as Congress leader and became India's prime minister later that year.

After a number of bribery scandals, the party was heavily defeated in the 1996 elections. But its popularity was revived in 1998 by Mr Gandhi's Italian-born widow Sonia who took over as leader and returned the party to power in the 2004 elections.

She refused to become prime minister herself, however, and the job went to former finance minister Manmohan Singh.

1961: Freedom Riders spark Montgomery riots
Martial law has been imposed in the town of Montgomery, Alabama, following more violent clashes between blacks and whites.

The trouble at the Negro First Baptist Church erupted this evening when a crowd of white men, women and children began throwing stones through the windows as black civil rights leader Dr Martin Luther King was speaking.

The attack is the latest in a string of violent incidents which have dogged the so-called Freedom Riders, a multi-racial group on a bus tour of the southern US states challenging racial segregation.

Three hundred federal marshals armed with teargas were called in by Attorney General Robert Kennedy to disperse tonight's angry mob.

Minutes later local police reinforcements arrived and baton-charged the crowd, which finally broke up.

In his address to the congregation, Dr King called for a massive campaign to end segregation in Alabama.

He said the state had demonstrated "the most inhuman form of oppression" and it was time to put a stop to it.

Dr King has returned to Montgomery to rally his supporters after being told of last night's attack on the Freedom Riders, when they arrived at the Greyhound bus depot in Montgomery.

Beaten unconscious

A group of whites armed with clubs assaulted the riders as they got off the bus.

Federal marshals were called in to break up the violence after Justice Department official John Seigenthaler was beaten unconscious when he tried to help two Freedom Riders. Another white rider, Jim Zwerg, was also badly beaten.

Estimates of the number injured in yesterday's attack vary between 20 and 75.

The police were reportedly nowhere to be seen until the worst of the violence was over.

The trouble in Montgomery follows violence in Anniston when the Freedom Riders' bus was firebombed and Birmingham, Alabama, when the riders were thrown into jail.

Tonight, the Governor of Alabama, John Patterson, has appealed to residents to stay off the streets and to refrain from any acts of violence.

But he imposed the state of martial law only as a last resort. Earlier he threatened to arrest any marshal who tried to intervene in what he called local law enforcement.

Attorney General Mr Kennedy - brother of President John F Kennedy - said he sent in the marshals because he failed to receive an assurance from the governor that law and order could be maintained. Governor Patterson has now requested the marshals to leave and take Dr King with them.


Freedom Riders waiting to board bus at Montgomery depot
Freedom Riders challenged racial segregation at Montgomery bus depot
In Context
The Freedom Rides followed the successful Montgomery bus boycott in the mid 50s, which saw thousands of black Americans refuse to travel by bus for 13 months. The loss of revenue and a Supreme Court ruling finally forced the Montgomery Bus Company to desegregate.

But in many southern states segregation continued to operate.

Four days after the clashes outside the Baptist Church, the Freedom Riders were given armed protection as they marched into the "whites only" waiting room in Montgomery and bought tickets to take them to Jackson, Mississippi.

They were allowed to continue their journey through the deep south, escorted by the Alabama National Guard and Highway patrol officers.

But on arrival in Jackson, they were arrested and jailed for 60 days. More Freedom Riders travelled south to keep up the pressure and by the end of the summer about 300 had been arrested.

On 1 November 1961 their dreams were realised when the Interstate Commerce Commission, at the request of Robert Kennedy, issued rules prohibiting segregated travel on the buses.

1966: Cooper loses to world champ Clay
American Cassius Clay has beaten Britain's Henry Cooper in the sixth round of a fight in London to retain the world heavyweight championship.

Cooper's hopes of bringing the title back to the UK were dashed one minute and 38 seconds into the sixth round when the referee stopped the fight - a deep gash over his left eye forced him to concede victory to 24-year-old Clay.

There were two right-hand punches but it was his head that did the damage
Jim Wicks, Henry Cooper's Manager
About 40,000 spectators watched at the Arsenal football ground in Highbury, north London as Cooper, aged 32, fought bravely with his big left hooks to battle against Clay's quick footwork and fast punches.

After the fight Cooper was sent to Guys Hospital where he had 12 stitches for the cut that dashed his hopes of world victory.

His manager Jim Wicks, said Clay had butted Cooper with his head and should be disqualified.

Clay, a committed Muslim, has recently changed his name to Mohammed Ali.

'I am the greatest!'

The 1960 Olympic champion, famed for proclaiming "I am the greatest!", took the heavyweight title from Sonny Liston in 1964.

He was left unmarked by the fight apart from some swelling on the cheekbone under his left eye - the result of one of Cooper's best punches.

After his win, he went to Cooper's dressing room to see him and said: "I hate to spill blood. It's against my religion."

His manager and "spiritual adviser" Herbert Muhammed said Clay should be proud of his performance. "It was a wonderful punch," he said. "The same one that broke Liston. It's terrible to see a man destroyed like that. I think the referee should have stopped the fight before."


Henry Cooper boxing Cassius Clay - 21 May 1966
The referee stopped the fight in the sixth round


In Context
Slow motion footage of the fight later showed Mohammed Ali had won the fight legitimately and not from a clash of heads.

The following year, he lost his boxing licence in the US after he refused to be drafted into the army on religious grounds.

In 1970 Mohammed Ali won back his right to box at the Supreme Court. But in 1971 he was beaten by Joe Frazier.

He took back the title of world champion in 1974 in a famous fight against George Forman in Zaire known as the "rumble in the jungle". He lost it again briefly to Leon Spinks in 1978 and then won it back the same year to become the only boxer to win the title three times.

During the mid-1980s he contracted Parkinson's disease as a result of blows to the brain.

He was voted BBC Sporting Personality of the Century in 1999.

Henry Cooper retired in 1971, became a TV commentator and was knighted in 1999.

1950: Tornado sweeps southern England
Two people have died in violent storms and a tornado which have devastated southern England.

Several others were injured in lightning strikes and fierce winds which caused massive damage to property around London.

The two who died were Frederick Cast and James Perry, of Kempston in Bedfordshire. Both were struck by lightning and killed as they ran for shelter.

Three others with them were injured and taken to hospital.

Black cloud

The worst damage to property was caused by a tornado which began in the late afternoon in Buckinghamshire.

Eyewitnesses spoke of a dense, black cloud gathering on the horizon and quickly developing into the dark column of a tornado.

It swept through towns and villages across the top of London as far as the Cambridgeshire fens, leaving ruin in its wake.

Terrifying wind

In the Buckinghamshire village of Linslade, the terrifying wind wrecked hundreds of houses and other buildings as it tore through the streets and surrounding fields.

One resident, Tony Birch, described the scene:

"When we looked out of the side of the house, clouds appeared to be coming together in different directions.

I believe I saw the actual source of the tornado."

Dozens homeless

Whole streets of houses were stripped of their roof tiles, with furniture inside ruined by the heavy rain which followed.

Dozens of people have been made homeless, and relief workers are now helping those affected.

There were extraordinary scenes as the wind passed over: hundreds of trees were uprooted, drawn into the air and dropped large distances away.

The tornado also lifted up parked cars, cattle and horses and dumped them in nearby fields.

Witnesses said the tornado was 50 yards (45.7 metres) wide in places, although it shrank to just 5 yards (4.6 metres) wide in others.

It took less than an hour to travel from one end of the village to the other, but it caused hundreds of pounds worth of damage.

Flood warnings

Other towns in the tornado's path were also badly affected.

About half a mile from Linslade, in the town of Leighton Buzzard, a shop in the high street was struck by lightning and set on fire, while in Ely, Cambridgeshire, a double-decker bus was overturned. There are warnings of further flooding throughout the entire region, and it's likely that the difficult weather conditions will continue.


Tornado in the USA
Tornadoes happen almost every year in the UK and leave a trail of destruction
In Context
The path of the 1950 tornado was at least 66 miles long. It remains the longest trail on record for a tornado in England, and at two and a half hours the tornado is the longest lasting on record in Europe.

In Linslade alone, 200 houses were damaged, 50 extensively. The Ministry of Supply handed out 450 tarpaulins to cover damaged roofs.

A further victim of the storms was eight-year-old Jennifer Margaret Reeves, who was swept away by flood waters and drowned.

One or two tornadoes are reported every year in the UK, of varying severity. Most are very limited in area, and cause damage over a narrow band not many miles in length.

They generally happen as a result of violent thunderstorms, and are caused by strong air currents within a storm cloud creating a high-speed funnel of wind.

1958: Trunk dialling heralds cheaper calls
Automated telephone connection will make calls easier and cheaper, Postmaster General Ernest Marples has announced.

From December, Subscriber Trunk Dialling will be introduced in the Bristol area where 18,000 subscribers will be able to make trunk calls without the aid of the operator.

In ten years' time - by 1970 - I should think three quarters of all trunk telephone calls will be dialled
Ernest Marples, Postmaster General
The General Post Office is to spend £35m modernising the phone system in an effort to popularise use of the telephone. At the moment there are on average less than two calls a day per telephone made in the UK - half the number of those made in the US.

All calls will be charged automatically according to both time of call and distance. Prices will start at 2d and a three-minute call will cost 2s 6d, a reduction from 3s 6d.

Londoners to wait two years

Callers in London will not benefit from the new system until 1961 because more complicated equipment will be needed in the larger cities.

"In ten years' time - by 1970 - I should think three quarters of all trunk telephone calls will be dialled," said Mr Marples.

New streamlined coin phone boxes will be installed in Bristol with slots for 3d, 6d and 1s pieces. Money cannot be put in until the call is answered.

Mr Marples demonstrated to reporters how the new automatic dial payphones will work.

A series of pips indicates when the time paid for is running out and the caller must insert more coins to carry on talking.

"And if you don't put it in in that time, you'll hear the 'number unobtainable' in which case as they say - rudely - you've had it!" he explained. "We didn't want to be hard on the people in the kiosks for this reason - they may not have quite the right money available and [we wanted] to give them the chance to continue their conversation if they so wished. It's quite revolutionary and I think it will give them good value for money."



Postmaster General Ernest Marples
Postmaster General Ernest Marples demonstrates how to use a direct-dial payphone


In Context
On 5 December, the Queen inaugurated automatic trunk dialling by making a call from Bristol Central Telephone Exchange to the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, more than 300 miles (482km) away.

Her call lasted two minutes five seconds and cost 10d (or the equivalent of four pence in decimal currency).

In 1976 the last manual exchange in the United Kingdom at Portree in the Isle of Skye closed making the British telephone system fully automatic.

British Telecom took over the running of the phone system from the Post Office in 1981.

Telecommunications technology has come a long way since.

The advent of the Internet, email and mobile phones along with cut-throat competition in the global telecoms market has forced British Telecom to lower the price of phone calls and other services.


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