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22nd May

 

1859 Creator Of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Born

Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Scotland on this day in 1859. He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh where he met a man who he later would claim to have used as a basis for Holmes, Dr Joseph Bell.

After graduation, Conan Doyle ran a medical practice in London, but business was slow and he managed to write the Study In Scarlet during this time. This story was published in Beeton's Christmas Annual in 1887.

In 1891 The Strand magazine ran a number of Holmes stories, and it was at this time that he became a full-time writer. (He was paid an average of $175 for each of his first 6 short stories. He raised his rate to $250 a story after they became popular.)

Doyle, however, soon grew tired of his creation and he killed Holmes off in an episode called The Final Problem in 1893.

But the public outcry that resulted forced him to start a new series of stories.

He was knighted in 1902 for his work in a field hospital in South Africa.

He died in 1930.

 

1981: Yorkshire Ripper jailed for life

Peter Sutcliffe, known as the Yorkshire Ripper, has been sentenced to life imprisonment at the Old Bailey.

The judge, Mr Justice Boreham, imposed a sentence of 30 years. He described Sutcliffe, a lorry driver from Bradford, as "an unusually dangerous man" and recommended he serve his full term.

I couldn't believe it of him because he had behaved so normally at home
Sonia Sutcliffe, Peter Sutcliffe's wife
The jury returned a majority verdict on 13 counts of murder and seven counts of attempted murder between 1976 and 1981.

Most of the victims were prostitutes who were beaten about the head and their bodies mutilated.

Sutcliffe remained impassive as he listened to the verdict - crowds outside the court cheered when they heard it.

By their verdict, the jury had rejected three psychiatrists' statements that he was a paranoid schizophrenic driven to kill by a "divine mission".

Painstaking investigation

Yorkshire Police spent nearly six years trying to track down the killer and by the end of the investigation, the incident room in Leeds was crammed full of facts and information relating to the case.

A quarter of a million names were individually filed on cards and more than 30,000 statements were taken. But none of it led to his arrest.

In 1978 and 1979 a hoax tape and letters sent police on a wild goose chase to the North East looking for someone with a Geordie accent.

Police registered millions of car number plates seen in red light districts all over the north. Sutcliffe's was spotted 60 times and he was interviewed nine times before his final arrest.

In the end Sutcliffe was caught after police discovered he had put false number plates on his car and found weapons in the boot.

He soon admitted he was the Yorkshire Ripper and spent 15 hours giving the police graphic details of his crime. His wife, Sonia, was not in court but in an interview with the Sheffield Star - which stated she had not been paid - she said she was shocked when told the news that her husband was the Ripper.


Watch/Listen
B/W picture of Peter Sutcliffe driving a lorry
Peter Sutcliffe, a lorry driver, murdered at least 13 women over six years

Report on the `Ripper' investigation
In Context
Sutcliffe was later diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and sent from Parkhurst Prison on the Isle of Wight to Broadmoor secure mental hospital in Berkshire in 1983.

He has been attacked several times by inmates. In 1998, he was stabbed in both eyes by convicted murderer Ian Kay and lost the sight of one eye.

Aside from the hoax phone calls and letters, detectives working on the Ripper case were hampered by the lack of a centralised system.

Thousands of documents and other information were stored at individual police stations.

So a new computer system was developed called Holmes - Home Office Large Major Enquiries System - that gave all stations access to various databases, saving time and reducing the risk of human error.

In October 2005 John Humble from Sunderland was arrested and charged over the hoax letters and tapes.

He pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice and was jailed for eight years in March 2006.

 

1972: President Nixon arrives in Moscow

America's President Richard Nixon has arrived in Moscow for talks with Soviet leaders.

He was given a modest welcome as he stepped off the plane at Vnukovo airport with his wife earlier today.

The welcome party consisted of Soviet president Nikolai Podgorny, Prime Minister Alexei Kosygin and Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko.

A twenty-minute ceremony, during which the president briefly inspected a guard of honour, was held and broadcast live by Moscow television.

'International issues'

The national anthems of both countries were played and a carefully selected group of Soviet citizens dutifully, but silently, waved American and Soviet flags.

President Nixon, the first US president to visit Moscow, was said to be surprised that Leonid Brezhnev, general secretary of the Communist Party, was not at the airport.

But Soviet officials said Mr Brezhnev's absence was according to protocol, as he does not hold a government position.

However, following a high-speed motorcade through Moscow, President Nixon was invited to unscheduled talks with Mr Brezhnev at the Kremlin.

The meeting lasted 105 minutes and, although US officials would not give details, Ronald Ziegler, the White House press secretary, said the two men discussed "international issues".

Many observers were hoping the war in Vietnam and the nuclear arms race would be high on the agenda.

For the first time in history the stars and stripes flag of America flew over the Grand Palace of the Kremlin to mark the visit.

This evening President Nixon and his wife attended a banquet at the Kremlin. The couple walked along a red carpet and up a 60-step staircase into the Granovit banqueting hall, where the two presidents drank toasts to peace.

There are known differences between the two men on such issues as the war in Vietnam and the Middle East.

President Nixon spoke about the need for co-operation and reciprocation between the two countries in their efforts to conquer disease, improve the environment, and to expand bilateral trade and economic links.

He said he was eager to make the summit a memorable one for its substance.

During his speech he alluded to Vietnam: "We should recognise that it is the responsibility of great powers to influence other nations in conflict or crisis to moderate their behaviour."

He also spoke of a possible arms agreement which, he said "could begin to turn our countries away from a wasteful and dangerous arms race and towards more production for peace".

President Podgorny said the Soviet Union wanted not just good but friendly relations with the US. The US president is due to remain in the Soviet Union until 29 May.


President Richard M. Nixon shakes hands with Communist Party leader Leonid Brezhnev on 29 May 1972
President Nixon and Mr Brezhnev met on the first day of the American visit
In Context
During the week-long summit several agreements between the two countries were reached.

On 26 May a treaty to halt the nuclear arms race, known as the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (Salt), was signed in the Kremlin by President Nixon and Mr Brezhnev.

The agreement, which was the culmination of nearly three years of talks between the two superpowers limited each superpower to 200 defensive nuclear missiles and froze the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles for the next five years.

An agreement designed to establish more favourable conditions for developing commercial and other economic ties between the USA and the USSR was also reached.

The two countries also agreed to make their first joint manned venture into space in June 1975.

Other agreements relating to incidents at sea, science and technology, health and the environment were also made.

Little progress was made on the Middle East or Vietnam although the two sides did agree to further negotiations on both subjects.

 

1969: Apollo 10 gets bird's eye view of Moon

Two US astronauts aboard Apollo 10 are on their way back to the safety of their mother ship after their lunar module came to within eight nautical miles (14kms) of the Moon's surface.

Colonel Thomas Stafford and Commander Eugene Cernan were carrying out a rehearsal for a planned Moon landing this summer.

They were in the lunar module (LM) nicknamed Snoopy and are now about to rejoin the command module (aka Charlie Brown) piloted by Commander John Young 50 miles (80km) above the Moon.

The two spacemen came closer than any human being has come to a celestial body.

"Snoopy" made two passes over the planned landing site for Apollo 11 before making a successful rendez-vous with "Charlie Brown".

After the first sweep at six times the speed of sound, Col Stafford said they had taken so many photographs he feared the camera had jammed while trying to change the film.

We just saw earthrise - the Earth appearing over the edge of the lunar horizon - and it's got to be magnificent
Commander Eugene Cernan
If the mission fails to bring back still shots of possible landing sites and approaches it will be a serious blow to Apollo planners. They want to make sure astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin have a safe landing this July in Apollo 11.

But Col Stafford did manage to get a good view of the surface which he described as "very smooth, like wet clay".

Commander Cernan then reported to control at Houston: "We just saw earthrise - the Earth appearing over the edge of the lunar horizon - and it's got to be magnificent. It would be nice to be here more often."

Apollo 10 was launched four days ago from Cape Kennedy. It is the fourth manned Apollo launch within seven months. It is hoped that the mission will bring back plenty of colour stills and moving images of the Moon and views of the Earth.


Apollo 10 command module pictured by lunar command module
The Apollo 10 mission is a dress rehearsal for a July moon landing
In Context
When America decided to land men on the moon cautious astronomers pointed out that the surface could hold unknown dangers - huge boulders could topple any landing craft, a seemingly smooth surface might be covered with moondust so deep it would swallow up a spacecraft.

The Ranger programme sent rockets onto a collision course with the Moon and sent back images of the surface but left scientists none the wiser.

It was not until the Russians succeeded in landing Luna 9 in 1966 - followed soon after by the Americans' Surveyor soft-landers - that the deep-dust theory could be brushed aside.

Apollo 10 did succeed in bringing back the best images yet seen of the Moon and Earth from space.

Apollo 11 successfully landed Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong on the Moon on 21 July 1969.

Eugene Cernan became the last man to land on the Moon on the Apollo 17 mission in December 1972.

 

2000: Hezbollah makes gains in Lebanon

Lebanese Hezbollah fighters have advanced into Israel's southern occupation zone, split it in two and are within a few miles of the common border.

The news came after Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia Muslim militant group supported by Syria and Iran, took over several outposts abandoned by the Israeli-backed South Lebanon Army (SLA).

UN spokesman Timur Gokksel said the so-called security zone had been severed at its narrowest point, leaving large numbers of SLA fighters cut off from supply lines.

An Israeli army spokesman said that as much as one-third of the zone was now out of the control of the Israelis and the SLA, which he said had virtually evaporated from all of its positions in the central and western part of the zone.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has ordered his country's troops to be ready to pull out of southern Lebanon as early as 1 June - five weeks ahead of schedule.

Visiting the border town of Zarit, he later warned severe reprisals would follow any attacks launched at Israeli soldiers or civilians when the full troop pullout does take place.

Emotional scenes

Southern Lebanon has seen emotional scenes in recent days, as Lebanese civilians pour into villages abandoned by the SLA after more than 22 years.

Members of families divided by the occupation have been re-united - some meeting for the first time.

On Monday, Hezbollah fighters and hundreds of civilians entered Houla and other nearby villages, just two kilometres (1.2 miles) north of Israel. Dozens of SLA members who had manned fortified positions at Houla and nearby Marqaba had surrendered to their opponents.

There are reports that some militiamen's families, fearing retribution after collaboration with Israel, are gathering on the Israeli border, seeking asylum.

The Hezbollah arrested a number of alleged SLA "collaborators" on arrival in Houla, who it says failed to surrender.

The SLA has been steadily pulling out of strategic hilltop villages in advance of Israel's planned complete withdrawal from southern Lebanon.

The Lebanese resistance has pushed south towards the Israeli border, filling the vacuum left by the retreat. According to Israeli television, the air force is destroying artillery pieces abandoned by the SLA lest it fall into Hezbollah hands.


Hezbollah guerillas enter a town on a tank
Hezbollah members are arresting SLA "collaborators"
1970: South Africa cricket tour called off
The Cricket Council has reversed a decision to allow South African cricketers to tour England this summer.

The move follows strong pressure from the Home Secretary, James Callaghan.

After a 90-minute meeting at Lord's Cricket Ground with other members of the council, its secretary SC Griffith said in a statement there had been a "formal request from Her Majesty's Government to withdraw the invitation to the South African touring team".

"With deep regret the council were of the opinion that they had no alternative but to accede to this request and they are informing the South African Cricket Association accordingly."

England will play five matches against a Rest of the World team instead.

English cricket's U-turn

Four days ago, English cricket's ruling body had given the green light for the tour which was due to begin next week.

It said this would be the last time white South African test cricket came to Britain.

During a meeting on Thursday at the Home Office, Mr Callaghan questioned the reasoning behind the invitation and warned of the consequences for the Commonwealth Games, due to take place in Edinburgh in July.

African and Asian countries which had threatened to boycott the Games if the tour went ahead have said they will now attend.

The news was welcomed by anti-apartheid activist Peter Hain, whose Stop The Seventy Tour campaign had threatened to disrupt any matches played during the tour.

He praised the Labour government for their actions. "I would hope," he said, "the Conservative Party will come out in support of the Labour Party in these circumstances."

South Africa's Minister of Sport, Frank Waring, was furious at the announcement.

"It amounts to bowing down to irresponsible elements that manifest a total disregard for sport and the rights of others," he said.


Anti-apartheid campaigner Peter Hain
Stop the Seventy Tour leader Peter Hain threatened to disrupt matches
In Context
In 2001, secret government documents published under the 30-Year Rule revealed that Peter Hain - then a Minister for Europe in a Labour government - had been under surveillance in 1970.

Harold Wilson's government had even considered charging him with seditious conspiracy for threatening to disrupt the proposed cricket tour.

The apartheid system - which saw South Africa ousted from the British Commonwealth in 1961, excluded from sporting events and subjected to trade sanctions in the 1970s and 1980s - started to come apart in 1985.

That year, non-whites won limited constitutional rights and interracial marriage was permitted.

President P W Botha resigned in 1989 and his successor FW de Klerk repealed all apartheid laws by 1991 but only whites could vote and segregation continued.

A new constitution enfranchised all South Africans in 1993 and Nelson Mandela became the country's first black president in 1994.


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23rd May

 

1934 Bonnie And Clyde Are Shot Dead

It happened at Sailes, Louisiana, where officers from Texas and Louisiana laid an ambush. Police shot 187 bullets in a two minute attack, taking no chances in killing this 'most wanted' couple who were responsible for the deaths of 12 people, mostly lawmen.

Bonnie Parker had met Clyde Barrow when she was visiting her husband in prison. They struck up an immediate bond. She brought him a gun to help him escape. He escaped. Clyde was caught in Ohio. A personal appeal by his mother earned him a released in 1932.

Bonnie and Clyde started on their partnership after Clyde's release. Then Bonnie was sent to jail for stealing a car.

On her release, the two went on a robbery spree in Texas and Oklahoma. They picked up an associate in one gas station robbery (W.D. Jones, who joined them for 18 months). Clyde's brother, Buck, also joined them (he was killed in a shoot-out early in 1934).

Bonnie and Clyde became something of a media sensation, posing for photographs, and they even got nicknames: Bonnie was "Suicide Sal" and Clyde was "Texas Rattlesnake".

Today they are immortalized in the Hollywood movie starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.

 

1998: Leaders welcome 'yes' vote for N Ireland

The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has welcomed the resounding "yes" vote in the referendum on the Good Friday Agreement on Northern Ireland, calling it "a day for joy".

The referendum, held yesterday on both sides of the border, returned a resounding "yes" vote with 71% of voters from Northern Ireland and 94% of those in the Irish Republic showing their support for the Good Friday peace agreement.

"This is the result we have worked for and wanted," said Mr Blair. "It's another giant stride along the path to peace, hope and the future."

Three to one have supported the referendum. That is a resounding victory for all the people of Northern Ireland.
Mo Mowlam, Northern Ireland Secretary
The agreement signed last Easter seeks to resolve relationships within Northern Ireland - between Northern Ireland and the Republic and between both parts of Ireland and England, Scotland and Wales - and pave the way for devolution from Westminster with a new all-inclusive Assembly.

It was signed on 10 April - Good Friday - by all interested parties except Rev Dr Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party and Bob McCartney's United Kingdom Unionist Party. They objected to the presence of the IRA's political wing Sinn Fein in the multi-party talks leading up to the agreement.

The Northern Ireland Secretary, Mo Mowlam, told reporters she was delighted with the two nations' endorsement of the agreement.

"An important step forward"

Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble said: "It is quite clear that a majority of unionists - not as big a majority of unionists as I would have liked - but a clear majority - have endorsed this agreement. We have taken an important step forward."

John Hume, leader of the nationalist SDLP, said that for the first time the people of both sides of the Irish border were speaking as one.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said he was prepared to sit down with David Trimble in a new Northern Ireland assembly "now".

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said the overwhelming result was the true "voice of the people". The British Government will press ahead next month with elections for a Northern Ireland Assembly.


Watch/Listen
Copy of the Northern Ireland Agreement stuck in letter box
Copies of the Northern Ireland Agreement were sent to every home in Ireland

Political reaction to the 'yes' vote
In Context
After the euphoria of the positive vote for a peaceful solution to the problems of Northern Ireland came the reality.

The first three years of the agreement's implementation saw accusations and counter-accusation from both sides of the divide.

Unionists said the republicans had not complied with the spirit of the agreement's requirement for the decommissioning of arms.

And 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 has remained the major stumbling block in talks between all parties seeking to restore devolution since the Northern Ireland Assembly was suspended in October 2002 over alleged intelligence gathering by republicans.

Direct rule finally ended in May 2007 when the Northern Ireland Assembly met with the return of devolution and DUP leader Ian Paisley as first minister

 

1977: Dutch children held hostage

More than 100 children and six teachers have been taken hostage in a primary school in northern Holland.

The Dutch Prime Minister, Joop den Uyl, said the hostage-takers - who are from the South Molucca islands (formerly part of the Dutch East Indies) - had still not made any demands.

Patience is the watchword but we are prepared to use controlled violence if necessary
Joop den Uyl, Dutch prime minister
But he said they would probably want the release of 20 Moluccans imprisoned in 1975 for hijacking a train not far from the current sieges and raiding the Indonesian consulate in Amsterdam.

This second generation of Moluccans are campaigning for the Dutch government to press for an independent state for their people in Indonesia, even though most of them have never set foot in their homeland.

Their parents, many of whom fought on the side of the ruling Dutch during Indonesia's war of independence between 1945 and 1949, left Indonesia for fear of reprisals.

They hoped to return but were gradually integrated into Dutch society.

There are now some 40,000 South Moluccans living in the Netherlands. Many refuse to take on Dutch citizenship and tensions between the communities are at an all-time high.

South Moluccans freed

The gunmen took over the school in the village of Bovensmilde at around 0900 local time. They released 15 South Moluccan children, gathered the rest in two classrooms and covered the windows with newspapers.

Police and troops moved into the area and worried parents are waiting outside. The gunmen have accepted blankets and some food for their hostages.

At one point a mentally handicapped women ran into the school grounds. At the insistence of the hostage takers police had to undress to escort her off the premises to show they were unarmed.

Seven other South Moluccans seized a train at the same time with about 50 passengers on board in open countryside near the city of Groningen.

The Rotterdam-Groningen express was brought to an abrupt halt when a young Moluccan girl pulled the emergency cord just before it reached its destination. Five heavily armed men then boarded the train from surrounding fields, released children and the elderly and separated women and men.

They have been given a telephone to negotiate with the government. Mr Den Uyl indicated the government would take a hard line on any demands made to them. "Patience is the watchword but we are prepared to use controlled violence if necessary," he said.


Watch/Listen
Dutch police bring a mentally-handicapped woman to safety dressed only in their underwear to show they are not armed
Dutch police stripped to their underwear to bring out a hostage

Footage of the hostage scene


In Context
Four days later all the children at the school were released after an outbreak of gastric flu - four teachers remained hostages along with 55 others on board the train near Groningen.

On June 11 - a record 20 days after the crisis began - Dutch marines stormed the train and the school.

During a fierce gunbattle on the train, six of the nine hostage-takers were shot along with two of the hostages.

The Netherlands government improved social and economic conditions for Moluccans in the following months and years.

In March 1978 Molluccans carried out another failed siege - of a government building in Assen - but since then there have been no further incidents.


1962: Ex-general escapes death sentence
A military court in Paris has sentenced the leader of the extremist Secret Army Organisation (OAS) to life imprisonment.

Former general Raoul Salan wept, smiled and then laughed with relief.

It was widely expected he would receive the death penalty for leading an organisation violently opposed to Algerian independence that has carried out acts of terrorism in France in the last few years.

The panel of nine judges at the Palais de Justice had found him guilty of five capital charges, including planning the failed coup in Algiers in April last year.

But to everyone's amazement, the presiding judge announced there were "extenuating circumstances" surrounding the case.

Salan's lawyers hugged him and members of the public in the crowded courtroom sang the Marseillaise or shouted "Algerie Francaise!".

There was no attempt to restore order in the courtroom. The judges withdrew without actually reading out the sentence, which, it later emerged, is life imprisonment.

Plan to kill French president

The "extenuating circumstances" that saved Salan's life have not been made public. But the court must have taken on board the pleas made by Salan's lawyer, M Tixier-Vignacour.

He had painted a picture of a French patriot and respected general fighting for French interests in Algeria.

Since its creation in 1961, the OAS has embarked on a campaign of terrorism in Algeria and France including the attempted assassination in September 1961 of the French President, Charles de Gaulle.

Only three days ago French police said they had foiled another attempt on General de Gaulle's life when they arrested 16 members of the OAS.

Nevertheless, the organisation's activities failed to stop President de Gaulle agreeing a ceasefire with nationalists represented by the Algerian Front de Liberation Nationale (FLN) in March. This follows a bitter war between the FLN and the French Army that resulted in the collapse of the French government in 1958 and the return of de Gaulle as head of state.


Former General Raoul Salan
The former general wept with relief when he realised he would not be executed
In Context
Gaullists feared that Raoul Salan's imprisonment might send the wrong message to OAS members - that if caught, they too could claim to be true French patriots and escape the death sentence.

But after his arrest the OAS collapsed. The Evian Agreements between the French government and Ben Bella, leader of pro-independence group the FLN, brought independence to Algeria in July 1962.

French officials estimate the eight years of terrorism and warfare leading to independence cost 350,000 lives - Algerian sources put the figure much higher at 1.5 million.

Raoul Salan was released during a general amnesty in May 1968.

 

1984: Villagers die in water plant blast

At least four people have been killed and dozens more injured in an explosion at a water treatment plant in Abbeystead, near Lancaster.

The tragedy happened as a party of officials from the Northwest Water Authority were showing people from the nearby village of St. Michael's-on-Wyre around the plant.

It is thought that most of the visitors, including some children, are among those killed and injured.

I could hear everybody inside crying and screaming
Pat Kaylor, survivor
A massive rescue operation is underway, involving more than 20 ambulances and heavy lifting equipment.

Cranes are being used to pull concrete beams from the wreckage of an underground chamber where most of the victims are thought to have been at the time of the explosion.

Survivors spoke of a huge ball of fire which engulfed them. Many were trapped inside, while others were thrown out into a neighbouring field.

One villager from St Michael's, Pat Kaylor, was blown out of the entrance doorway by the force of the explosion.

"I just sat on the wall," she said. "My clothes were practically all burned off and my skin was just in tatters, and I could hear everybody inside crying and screaming."

The blast brought down the ceiling of the underground chamber crashing down on top of the group of visitors. The crater immediately filled with river water.

Outside, the force of the explosion damaged cars parked nearby, and twisted steel fittings in the pumping station itself.

The cause of the explosion remains a mystery, although the possibility that it may have been a gas explosion is being taken seriously.

The Abbeystead water treatment plant is part of a multi-million pound showcase operation to distribute water around Lancashire.

The Abbeystead pumping station itself was built underground to avoid damaging one of the finest beauty spots in the area.

However, there had been complaints the plant was overloading the River Wyre and worsening flooding in 1980, when the rivers burst their banks and caused widespread local damage. The villagers from St Michael's were at the pumping station to be reassured that the plant's operation were not responsible for the flooding.


Graphic of pumping station layout
Abbeystead's design was less intrusive than old-style water treatment plants


In Context
The explosion at Abbeystead killed nine people immediately, with another seven people dying later of their injuries. Two children were among the dead. Nobody who was in the underground valve house escaped unhurt.

The mystery surrounding the cause of the explosion continued for some time, as tests in the immediate aftermath revealed no trace of gas, nor were there any gas installations in the pumping station itself.

However, the investigation by the Health and Safety Executive revealed that the siting of the Abbeystead pumping station underground, and close to seams of coal, had made it vulnerable to build-ups of methane gas.

The station had also been unused for several weeks before the visit, and the gas had accumulated in the water pipe leading into the valve chamber.

It was then pumped into the valve house during the demonstration, creating a lethal inflammable atmosphere.

The investigators never found out how the gas came to explode. However, nobody involved in building the pumping station had realised that gas could be a problem, so both guests and workers in the valve house were allowed to smoke.

The Abbeystead pumping station was refurbished and returned to use following the accident.


1966: Emergency laws over seamen's strike
The British government has declared a state of emergency a week after the nation's seamen went on strike.

The new emergency powers will allow the government to cap food prices, allow the Royal Navy to take control and clear the ports and lift restrictions on driving vehicles to allow for the free movement of goods.

Ports and docks around the country are becoming increasingly congested as ships are brought to a standstill by protesting members of the National Union of Seamen.

The government must protect the vital interests of the nation. This is not action against the National Union of Seamen
Harold Wilson, Prime Minister
The NUS is demanding their 56-hour week is reduced to 40 hours.

The Minister of Labour Ray Gunter has been negotiating with the NUS to bring the strike to an end.

He acknowledged conditions and regulations governing the seamen needed to be modernised, but said the pay demands could not be satisfied because the resulting amount of overtime pay would go counter to the prices and incomes policy that aims to reduce inflation by limiting wage rises to 3.5%.

The Prime Minister Harold Wilson told the House of Commons the state of emergency was being imposed.

Mr Wilson said these powers would not be used until deemed absolutely necessary.

Whatever its outcome, the government has ordered an inquiry into the terms and conditions of the seamen.

Shipowners estimate exports worth £40m will be delayed by the strike which has seen "dead" ships blocking berths in London, Liverpool, Southampton and other major ports.

Passenger ships are also severely affected. Most of Cunard's fleet is out of action. Today, 900 crew members of the Queen Mary stopped work when the ship ended her voyage from New York at Southampton. The Queen Mary was carrying 850 passengers including the evangelist Dr Billy Graham about to begin a tour of Britain.

In Context
On 28 May, Harold Wilson said Communists were using the seamen's strike to gain influence over the National Union of Seamen. He said they were "endangering the security of the industry and the economic welfare of the nation".

The following day the seamen decided to return to work, partly due to his comments and partly thanks to a pay compromise reached with ship owners.

Mr Wilson's hardline tactics split the Labour party into Left and Centrists and did little to improve the country's economic problems.

The NUS did not call another strike until February 1988.

In 1990 the union amalgamated with the National Union of Railwaymen to form the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT).


The National Union of Seamen logo
The National Union of Seamen are demanding improved pay and conditions


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24th May

 

1883 Brooklyn Bridge Opens

It took 14 years to build and 27 people lost their lives building it. It was one of the most spectacular engineering achievements of it's time, and the largest suspension bridge ever completed at that time in history. It would connect New York to Brooklyn for the first time, and eventually served as the catalyst for the creation of Greater New York City in 1898.

The opening ceremony was presided over by President Chester A Arthur, and New York Governor, Grover Cleveland. The senior designer was John A Roebling, who died while taking final compass readings across the East River. His son, Washington A Roebling, 32, took over as chief engineer.

The first person across the bridge was Emily Roebling, wife of William, who rode across it with a rooster, a symbol of victory.

In the first 24 hours it is estimated that 250,000 people walked across the broad promenade on the Bridge designed for pedestrians.

The foundations of the Bridge were built in timber caissons (watertight chambers) 44 feet underwater on the Brooklyn side and 78 feet on the New York side. This caused serious illness in those that worked in the chambers as little was known about underwater construction and compression sickness (the "bends"*) at the time. Washington Roebling himself was taken ill with the bends, but survived, albeit bed ridden.

*The bends is when nitrogen bubbles appear in the blood stream when a human body is decompressed quickly from underwater (ie comes up to the surface too fast).

 
2001: Israel wedding party tragedy
At least 20 people have been killed and hundreds have been injured at a wedding party in Jerusalem after the dance floor collapsed.

Guests were left clinging to the sides of the Versailles wedding hall when the third floor suddenly gave way at about 2245 local time and crashed through two storeys below.

There were nearly 700 guests in the building, which is in the industrial Talpiot area of Jerusalem. Many were left trapped by the falling rubble which left a gaping hole through the centre of the building.

Reports say about 250 people have been taken to hospital but rescuers say there are signs of life beneath the debris. A special Israeli army rescue unit is at the scene.

We were in the ruins. We had to be pulled out
Efraim Rino, wedding guest

The father of the groom, Zion Dror, said: "We were dancing, and all of a sudden three storeys collapsed. My family is fine, thank God."

The bride, Keren Dror, who was standing with the groom in the centre of a circle of dancers fell with him when the floor collapsed. She is reported to have injuries to her head and limbs and has been taken to hospital.

One wedding guest Efraim Rino told Israel Radio: "I grabbed my son as the floor collapsed. We fell one floor, and then the next floor collapsed. And the next. And I'm trying to hold my son's hand all the time. He's ten years old. We dropped all the way down. We were in the ruins. We had to be pulled out.

"People were flying through the air, the orchestra, the loudspeakers, everything fell."

Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert has already visited the scene and rejected suggestions of a terror attack.

There are some reports the Versailles banquet hall was built using a cheap method of construction, known as Pal-Kal, which was outlawed five years ago. A caller to Israel's Army Radio said he had organised a wedding at the hall a week ago and had called the owners afterwards to say he was worried about the state of the dance hall floor.


Looking down from dance floor into hole where rescuers searching
Rescuers search the rubble of the dance floor which plunged through two storeys


In Context
The final number of dead was 23.

Ten people were arrested by the Israeli authorities. They included the hall's owners, the engineer who invented the Pal-Kal method of cheap and lightweight ceiling construction and contractors and builders involved with recent renovations.

An immediate safety check of all buildings using Pal-Kal was ordered. However, there were reports the checks were not thoroughly carried out and in the first six months after the disaster only one building, Lev Hagiva, was partly closed.

Seven weeks after the banquet hall collapse families of the victims won their battle to have the tragedy declared a national disaster, so they could be entitled to compensation from the state.

In December 2003 a report into the Versailles wedding hall disaster found it a "miracle" there had been no other collapses given the lack of action taken on sub-standard buildings.

In October 2004 two of the owners of the hall were convicted of causing death through negligence. Two other employees were acquitted.

1975: Journalists leave fallen Saigon
A group of 80 reporters and cameramen - including nine Britons - have been allowed to fly out of Saigon to Vientiane in Laos.

They are the first Westerners to leave the capital of South Vietnam since it fell to communist forces on 29 April.

That day there were chaotic scenes in Saigon as desperate South Vietnamese citizens tried to board overcrowded US helicopters in a bid to flee their own country.

The next day, North Vietnamese tanks rolled in and forced a humiliating surrender.

Thousands desperate to leave

There are still 16,000 foreign passport holders, including thousands of Vietnamese with French passports, waiting anxiously for exit visas and a way out.

After weeks of failed promises and delays, the Western journalists boarded a Russian-made plane belonging to the North Vietnamese Air Force to Vientiane in Laos, the only Indo-Chinese country that still has diplomatic ties with the US.

The fall of Saigon has been marked by victory parades by the communist forces over the last few days.

Posters of Ho Chi Minh, leader of the Viet Minh, have been placed on public buildings and marching bands paraded the streets.

Some South Vietnamese welcomed the victory - others loyal to President Thieu who could not get away committed suicide. Most are relieved that the war is finally over.

The communist authorities have so far been lenient on Thieu supporters and are more concerned with "re-educating" former soldiers and young people, tackling growing crime and food shortages in an attempt to bring some sort of order to the streets of Saigon.

In Context
Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh City, and North and South Vietnam were unified in 1976.

This was preceded by three decades of bitter independence wars, which the communists fought first against the colonial power France, then against US-backed South Vietnam.

The US had entered hostilities to stem a perceived "domino effect" of successive nations falling to communism.

The jungle war produced heavy casualties on both sides, atrocities against civilians, and the indiscriminate destruction and contamination of much of the landscape.

In 1986, the communist government allowed in elements of market forces and private enterprise.

But some party leaders still fear that too much economic liberalisation will weaken their power base and introduce "decadent" ideas into Vietnamese society.

In November 2000 President Bill Clinton's visit to Vietnam was presented as the culmination of US efforts to normalise relations with the former enemy.

 
1989: Yorkshire Ripper's wife wins damages
A jury at the High Court in London has awarded £600,000 damages to Sonia Sutcliffe, wife of the Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe, against the satirical magazine Private Eye.

The award is £100,000 more than the previous record British libel sum.

Mrs Sutcliffe, who is legally separated from her husband, made no comment. She left the court shrouded in a blanket.

If that's justice, then I'm a banana
Ian Hislop, Editor of Private Eye
She will get £25,000 of the award immediately and the rest pending the appeal which will be lodged straightaway by Private Eye.

Its editor, Ian Hislop, said the magazine may go out of business and will be appealing to the magazine's readers for financial assistance.

He pointed out the award was 100 times larger than that awarded to three of Sutcliffe's victims.

On the steps of the court he said: "If that's justice, then I'm a banana."

In 1981 Sutcliffe was jailed for life for killing 13 women. When he was first arrested and charged, Private Eye accused Mrs Sutcliffe of doing a deal with the Daily Mail worth £250,000.

They said there had been a squalid race to buy her story and claimed she had negotiated with the press to profit from her fame as the wife of a serial killer.

Mrs Sutcliffe's defence lawyers said she had done no such deal because she did not want to capitalise on what her husband had done.

She had been plunged into a living nightmare of media attention but had rejected all financial offers even though they could have given her a new life.

Famous libel lawyer Peter Carter-Ruck said the award was disproportionate and called for the libel laws to be changed. He said juries should be guided by the judge on the sums they award.

Two years ago the former Conservative MP Jeffrey Archer was awarded £500,000 from the Daily Star over allegations that he slept with a prostitute.


Ian Hislop, editor of Private Eye magazine
Ian Hislop, editor of Private Eye, was furious at the size of the award
In Context
The damages were later reduced to £60,000 on appeal.

As for Jeffrey - now Lord - Archer, he was jailed for four years in July 2001 after being found guilty of perverting the course of justice and lying in his 1987 libel trial against the Daily Star and News of the World newspapers.

He has agreed to pay more than £1.8m in damages, costs and interest.

Huge awards granted to libel defendants were common in the late 1980s. Although libel law has not been reformed on paper, in practice, damages awarded these days are much more realistic. Those that are regarded as excessive are usually reduced on appeal.

1968: De Gaulle: 'Back me or sack me'

The President of France, Charles de Gaulle, has issued an ultimatum to striking students and workers who have brought the country to a standstill during three weeks of violent demonstrations.

In a televised address to the nation, he demanded that the French people back his programme of reform - or accept his resignation. He said the choice would be made in a referendum later this year.

In the speech, he said the nation was "on the brink of paralysis", and warned of civil war if the situation continued.

Violence within minutes

Eight million workers - a third of the country's workforce - are now on strike, at the start of a third week of social unrest.

Within minutes of President de Gaulle's speech, riots erupted again in Paris, Lyon, Nantes, Bordeaux and Strasbourg.

In Lyon, a policeman became the first person to die in the demonstrations. He was run over by rioters driving a lorry into a line of riot police.

Crowds of spectators

The largest demonstration was in Paris, where an estimated 50,000 workers followed the traditional workers' route from the Place de la Bastille to the Place de la Republique.

They were cheered by crowds of spectators who lined the pavements.

But violence erupted when students broke through police cordons guarding bridges across the Seine.

Armed with Molotov cocktails, they advanced on the French stock exchange, the Bourse, shouting "The Bourse belongs to the workers!" and "Occupy the Bourse!"

Barricades

They broke down the doors of the building and smashed windows, stuffing burning rags inside.

As students on the street outside sang the Communist revolutionary song, the Internationale, the Red Flag was hoisted above the building.

Police used tear gas to cut a passage for fire engines, but rioters made barricades of overturned cars and linked hands around the vehicles to stop firefighters running out their hoses.

By 2230 (2030 GMT), however, the fire was out, leaving the main floor of the stock exchange badly damaged.

Running battles between the police and demonstrators are continuing, with casualties already in the hundreds.

The Latin Quarter of Paris is effectively a siege camp, and there is no sign of an end to the demonstrations which are already being called France's second revolution.


Demonstrators in Paris
Eight million workers are out on strike as the crisis enters its third week
In Context
President de Gaulle was persuaded not to hold a referendum by his Prime Minister, and eventual successor as President, Georges Pompidou.

Summit negotiations between the government, employers and unions began the day after the President's address, and negotiated a deal to raise wages.

But this was rejected by the striking workers, and the demonstrations got steadily worse until Mr Pompidou sent tanks into the outskirts of Paris on 29 May, for fear of a revolution.

General de Gaulle then called an election for the end of June. The demonstrations died away as campaigning got under way, and de Gaulle's party won a huge majority as public opinion appeared to turn against the strikers.

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

General de Gaulle finally resigned in the following year, 1969, after staking his reputation on a referendum on political reform, which he lost.

1999: Drugs row Dallaglio goes
Lawrence Dallaglio has resigned as England's rugby union captain following newspaper allegations that he took and dealt hard drugs.

The Rugby Football Union made the announcement at Twickenham after a three-hour meeting with the London Wasps star at a secret location in London on Monday.

The 26-year-old told the RFU he would be withdrawing from the England squad to tour Australia this summer after the News of the World reported that he had admitted he had used and sold drugs before taking up rugby.

The tabloid newspaper also reported he had boasted of taking drugs at a party during the Lions' successful tour of South Africa.

Dallaglio "categorically denied" the principal claims in the News of the World that he had dealt in drugs, including cocaine and ecstasy.

In a statement he added that "the circumstances in which the supposed admissions were obtained amounted to an elaborate set-up".

But News of the World editor Phil Hall said: "We stand by our story. Lawrence Dallaglio is damned in his own words and frankly, we are amazed at his denial."

The RFU has launched an immediate investigation into the affair. Any disciplinary action against Dallaglio will be considered only when the inquiry has been completed, according to RFU chairman Brian Baister.

Dallaglio has provided the authorities with blood and urine samples and the RFU announced that every member of the touring party will also be tested for drugs.

England coach Clive Woodward, who was among the panel of six senior RFU figures who met Dallaglio, said he was "bitterly disappointed" for the player and his family but was confident he would be "proved innocent" by the investigation.

Leicester lock forward and British Lions skipper Martin Johnson has been appointed England captain until the end of the Rugby World Cup this autumn.

 


Lawrence Dallaglio in 1998
Lawrence Dallaglio claimed he had been set up by the News of the World


In Context
The Dallaglio affair severely dented the image of a man widely regarded as a clean-cut hero and saviour of English rugby.

It also attracted yet more unwelcome publicity for the game that was still reeling from the furore surrounding the personal life of Will Carling - one of Dallaglio's illustrious predecessors.

On 23 August the RFU dropped drugs charges against Dallaglio - much to his relief - after "new evidence" emerged during an open hearing chaired by a high court judge.

It decided not to ban him but instead imposed a fine of £15,000 for bringing the game into disrepute - on top of legal costs amounting to £10,000.

Dallaglio has since emerged from the scandal with honours. He was part of the World Cup-winning team in 2003 and he was re-appointed England captain following Martin Johnson's retirement from the role in 2004.

Dallaglio announced his retirement from international rugby a few months later and was replaced as captain in October 2004 by Johnny Wilkinson.

However, he was persuaded out of retirement to play in the British and Irish Lions tour of 2005 and he also played for England during the 2006 Six Nations Championship.


Watch/Listen
Photograph by Dinh Quang Thanh
The capture of Saigon by the Viet Cong was greeted with fear, confusion and joy

The Viet Cong take control of Saigon

 


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25th May

 

1992 Battle Of The Talk Shows begins As Jay Leno Takes Over Tonight Show

Today was the first time Jay Leno became the full time host of The Tonight Show. He replaced Johnny Carson who had been main anchor for 30 years.

His appointment caused controversy with many surprised that the host of the Late Show, David Letterman, didn't get the job. The Late Show ran on the same channel, NBC, every night after The Tonight Show.

Letterman left NBC after CBS offered him $42 million to run the Late Show against Leno's Tonight Show.

Letterman beat Leno every week for the first year.

 

1982: Dozens killed as Argentines hit British ships

Dozens of men are feared dead in the seas around the Falkland Islands after the container ship Atlantic Conveyor and the destroyer HMS Coventry were hit by Argentine missiles.

HMS Coventry managed to destroy two Argentine Skyhawk planes with Sea Dart missiles. Another wave of Skyhawks hit her four times with 1,000 bombs. She capsized, losing 21 of her crew.

An explosion and a fireball swept through the operations room. The ship listed to port and the crew and wounded made their way to the upper decks from where they were rescued.

It is thought the Atlantic Conveyor, owned by Cunard, was mistaken for the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes.

She was attacked by two Super Etendards which fired French-built Exocets like the ones that sunk the Coventry's sister ship HMS Sheffield on 4 May.

One of the eight men still unaccounted for on the container ship is her master, Captain Ian North.

Bill Slater, Managing Director of Cunard, said he was a "remarkable man... very well known in the industry generally and this is typified by the messages of sympathy we've received from all over the world".

Two Exocets were fired at the Atlantic Conveyor.

Only one struck home but it was enough to damage the ship seriously.

The Defence Ministry hopes some of the supplies carried by the Atlantic Conveyor can be salvaged.

All the Harrier jump jets aboard have been flown off and some of the helicopters and other supplies could be saved because the vessel is still afloat and upright.

There are now 43 British merchant ships serving with the task force. Cargo vessels and tankers for fuel and water form a conveyor belt of supplies between Britain and the South Atlantic.

Three passenger ships have also been taken over as hospital and troop ships. The operation is costing the government around £5m a week, employing 2,000 members of the Merchant Navy.


Exocet missile
A single Argentine Exocet missile was enough to wreck the Atlantic Conveyor
In Context
The Atlantic Conveyor eventually went down with the loss of 12 men, including its commander Captain Ian North. He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

The vessel's troop-carrying Chinook helicopters, key equipment necessary to re-capture the islands, sank with the ship.

Without them, the British troops were forced to march to take their first major objective - Goose Green.

After a bloody land battle, Argentine forces surrendered to the British and peace was declared on 20 June.

More than 900 people died in the three-week war - 655 Argentines, 255 British troops and three Falkland islanders.

The Falklands War gave a huge boost to Margaret Thatcher's popularity. She won the general election the following year with a massive majority and remained in power until 1990.

Although the two nations have made peace and relations are harmonious, Argentina still retains its historic claims to the "Malvinas" and Britain maintains an expensive and large garrison there.

1967: Celtic win European Cup
Celtic has become the first British team to win the European Cup, beating favourites Internazionale Milan 2-1.

An estimated crowd of 70,000 crammed into the Portuguese National Stadium in Lisbon to witness the Glasgow side lift the greatest prize in club football.

Milan have been champions of Europe three times in the past four years and this was only their second defeat in continental competition in that time.

As the final whistle blew, euphoric Celtic fans poured onto the pitch to celebrate their team's victory, many whooping with joy and waving banners.

Blistering attack

The manager, Jock Stein, said: "There is not a prouder man on God's Earth than me at this moment. Winning was important, but it was the way that we won that has filled me with satisfaction.

"We did it by playing football; pure, beautiful, inventive football. There was not a negative thought in our heads."

According to the Celtic players, Stein told his players to "go out and enjoy themselves" at the start of the match.

But it could all have turned out very differently. Within minutes of kick-off defender Jim Craig felled Renato Cappellini and Alessandro Mazolla netted the resulting penalty.

Milan held onto their early lead until half-time. But shortly after the break Celtic full-back Tommy Gemmel scored the equaliser

The goal gave Celtic the inspiration the players needed. They continued to attack the Italian goal until Gemmel again stormed up the left wing, passed back to Bobby Murdoch who sent a powerful shot towards the goal which was deflected into the net by Stevie Chalmers to give the Glasgow side a 2-1 lead.

The celebrations began immediately and although the Portuguese police feared the crowd would get out of control, there was no hooliganism.

But the chaos inside the stadium meant that the Celtic players could not be presented with the trophy on the pitch.

Instead club captain Billy McNeill had to be ushered round the outside of the stadium under armed escort. He then climbed the stairs to the presentation podium where he finally held the trophy aloft to enormous cheers from the crowd.

Jubilant fans danced in the streets of Glasgow after hearing of their club's 2-1 win .

The team is expected to fly into Abbotsinch Airport in Glasgow tomorrow night, from where they will drive to Celtic Park for a heros' welcome from fans.

1961: Kennedy pledges man on Moon

President John F Kennedy has called for millions of dollars to fund a space programme to get the first man on the Moon by 1970.

In a speech to a joint session of Congress broadcast on TV and radio around the United States, he asked for an extra $1,700m (£600m) on the federal budget.

The largest proportion of this would be spent on researching and developing ways of getting an American on the Moon by the end of the decade.

"I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth," he said.

He said $9,000m (£3,214m) would be needed over the next five years to fund space rockets and other projects need to get a man on the Moon. But the president added "this very urgent request" would not need to be funded by extra taxes provided the economy continued to grow and companies exercised wage and price restraint.

Russia's first man in space

This was his last address to the country before his meeting with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. He is still basking in the glory of Russia's latest achievements in space exploration - last month Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space.

Three weeks ago, when Alan Shepard became America's first astronaut, President Kennedy said the country had to "work with the utmost speed and vigour" to develop its space programme.

Today, he demonstrated his total commitment to the project.

"If we were to go only half way or reduce our sights in the face of difficulty," he said, "it would be better not to go at all."

The administrator of Nasa, James Webb, was encouraged by the president's speech and said the US and the USSR were on a level playing field in their ambitions to land a man on the Moon because as yet no Russian rockets were capable of such a mission. Other Nasa officials told the Times newspaper that most of the funding would be used to research ways of reaching the Moon, surviving on it and returning safely to Earth.


President Kennedy
President Kennedy asked Congress for millions to fund this "urgent request"
In Context
On 21 July 1969, right on schedule, Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the Moon, stepping onto the Moon's surface in the Sea of Tranquillity at 0256 GMT.

He was joined by Buzz Aldrin 20 minutes later. The entire event was watched avidly by millions live on television across the world.

The Apollo 11 crew returned safely on 24 July and spent the next 21 days in quarantine at an American military base - a procedure dropped in subsequent missions since no alien organisms were found.

The Moon landing marked the pinnacle of the space race and American investment in the space programme declined from then on.

The last three of the original 20 Apollo missions were cancelled, and the last lunar module, Apollo 17, landed in December 1972.

In January 2004 however, interest in missions to the Moon was rekindled when US President George Bush announced American astronauts would return to the Moon by 2020 as the launching point for journeys further into space.

1963: African states unite against white rule
Leaders of 32 African nations have set up an organisation that will give them a united voice for the first time in Africa's history.

The African summit conference ended today in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, with an agreement from all delegates to found an Organisation of African Unity.

Its primary aim will be to "decolonise" the remaining bastions of white rule in Southern Rhodesia, South Africa, Mozambique and Angola.

It plans to support African "freedom fighters" with finance, arms, volunteers and training bases and to close off their airspace to colonial forces.

Heads of state were urged to impose sanctions on South Africa and break off diplomatic relations. The conference also expressed concern about racial discrimination in the United States.

May this convention of union last 1,000 years
Emperor Halie Selassie
The OAU charter also states it will co-ordinate efforts to raise the standard of living of member states and defend their sovereignty. But its aim is to guide rather than lead an Africa that is still finding its feet.

The organisation has four main institutions - an annual assembly of heads of state, a council of ministers a general secretariat and a commission of mediation, conciliation and arbitration. Addis Ababa will be the headquarters.

The conference host, 71-year-old Emperor Halie Selassie, has spent a year preparing his city for the summit of African nations which represents a total population of 200 million people.

He told delegates: "May this convention of union last 1,000 years." His 2,000 guests were then treated to a lavish banquet.

The charter will be signed tomorrow morning by all but Morocco which sent an observer instead of an official because of the presence of Mauritania with which it has a border dispute.

 


BBC reporter Lionel Fleming outside the OAU headquarters in Addis Ababa
The OAU headquarters are in Addis Ababa


In Context
In the 1970s, the OAU organised material and moral support for the liberation movements in countries such as Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

In the 1980s, it put pressure on the west to impose sanctions on apartheid South Africa.

But the concept of non-interference in internal disputes enshrined in the OAU constitution led critics to call it a "trade union for dictators".

On 25 May 2001, 38 years to the day after it was founded, the OAU was dissolved to be replaced by the African Union, also based in Addis Ababa.

It aims to unify the 53 African member states politically, socially and economically and is loosely modelled on the European Union.

The new organisation, first put forward by Libya's Colonel Gaddafi, also plans to have an impact on ordinary Africans.

1994: Camelot wins UK lottery race
The Camelot consortium has won the contract to run Britain's first national lottery which starts in November.

The group predicts it will bring in a total of £32bn during the seven years of its licence. It plans to give £9bn of that to the lottery fund's five "good causes".

Camelot has pledged to give up to 30% of its takings to the fund split equally between charities, the arts, sport, National Heritage projects and a Millennium Fund.

From November, there will be a national draw each week when two people will share a jackpot of up to £5m to be announced on a special television programme - either on BBC or ITV, depending who wins the TV rights.

Each ticket will cost £1 and there will be smaller prizes - about 250,000 people are expected to win between £10 and a few thousand every week. Instant scratch cards will go on sale next spring.

Camelot was clearly the all-round best applicant
National lottery director-general Peter Davis
Camelot - owned by Cadbury Schweppes, bank note printer De La Rue, telecoms group Racal, US computer company GTech and British computer firm ICL - beat off seven other contenders.

They included the bookmakers' favourite UK Lottery Foundation headed by billionaire businessman Richard Branson and former cabinet minister Lord Young.

Announcing the decision, national lottery director-general Peter Davis said: "Camelot was clearly the all-round best applicant... They were strong in every department."

But Mr Branson was not happy with the choice and said his consortium would have given all profits not used to run the lottery to the nominated charities and the arts.

"With this business there is no risk. It's a licence to print money," he said. "For a few shareholders to cream off hundreds of millions of pounds from this is absolutely wrong."

 


National Lottery ticket
Nearly a third of lottery profits will be given to good causes


Who gets the money?
  • 50% of sales spent on prize money
  • 12% spent on tax
  • 28% is divided between nominated charities
  • The rest goes to Camelot and retailers
  • In 2002 there were six "good causes" - arts, sports, charities, heritage, millennium projects and education, health and environment
  • More than £11bn has been given to these causes
  • In Context
    After initial public enthusiasm, ticket sales began to deteriorate as did Camelot's public image.

    In 1997, three senior Camelot executives picked up six-figure bonuses, attracting criticism from the new Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Chris Smith.

    From 1999 the lottery was regulated by the National Lottery Commission.

    There was considerable confusion over the bid for the next licence to run from September 2001.

    Bids submitted in August 2000 by Camelot and Mr Branson's People's Lottery were rejected for failing to meet "statutory criteria" - but the Commission decided to pick the People's Lottery anyway.

    Outraged, Camelot took the Commission to the High Court - and won.

    Bids were resubmitted and Camelot was granted a second term.

    Mr Branson decided not to contest the "cowardly" decision for fear of damaging the lottery.


    Celtic team before kick-off
    The Celtic players became known as the Lisbon Lions after their cup win


    In Context
    The Celtic victory is regarded as the greatest in the Scottish club's history.

    The 11 players became known as the Lisbon Lions - the first non-Latin side to win the European championships.

    The team players were all born within a 30-mile radius of Glasgow.

    They flew into Glasgow the following day and were transported by coach to Celtic Park where an estimated 50,000 people had packed into the grandstand and terraces to greet their heros.

    Jock Stein was credited with creating the winning side. He had joined as manager in March 1965 and within weeks Celtic had won the Scottish Cup for the first time in 11 years - they had previously been beaten in four finals.

    He led the team to many more triumphs - including a second European cup final four years later, but the team lost to Dutch side Feyenoord Rotterdam.


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    26th May

     

    1953 "It Came From Outer Space" Premieres

    The first ever feature length science fiction film to be screened in 3-D debuted in Los Angeles on this day.

    It was part of a drive to help cinemas in some way compete with the rise in popularity of television.

    The audience had to wear glasses with one red and one blue lense which, when coupled with the movie being directed so that things ran into or seemingly poked out of the screen, gave the impression that the screen was no longer flat...

    It was one of those early 1950's fads which caused great excitement at the time but never really caught on.

     

    2000: Hezbollah celebrates Israeli retreat

    The Hezbollah leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, has been greeted by tens of thousands of supporters during a victory rally to celebrate the Israeli withdrawal from South Lebanon.

    He said disputed land and prisoners still held by Israel should be returned to Lebanon - but made no reference to achieving it through combat.

    His speech followed a statement from Hezbollah - which fought to drive the Israeli army out of Lebanon - that its fighters will soon pull out of southern Lebanon, now that the Israelis have withdrawn.

    Earlier, United Nations peacekeepers equipped with armoured cars began patrolling the former Israeli-controlled zone in Lebanon.

    I promise you that every prisoner will soon be returned and the farms of Shebaa will return to Lebanon
    Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah leader
    The UN special envoy, Terje Roed-Larsen, said they would be deployed in permanent positions up to the Israeli border after the organisation had verified full Israeli withdrawal.

    The Lebanese Government has also deployed about 600 armed police officers in the newly-evacuated area.

    But Beirut refused to send in the army saying it prefers to wait for official confirmation of Israel's pullout.

    In the victory rally at Bint Jbeil, near the border with Israel, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah prayed to God "that the victory be fulfilled with the liberation of the whole territory and the release of all prisoners".

    He was referring to an area known as the farms of Shebaa on Lebanon's borders with Syria but occupied by Israel since 1967.

    "I promise you that every prisoner will soon be returned and the farms of Shebaa will return to Lebanon," he told the crowd.

    Sheikh Nasrallah said Israel had no alternative, saying that Hezbollah "considers that all occupied Lebanese territory must be restored".

    But the Shia Muslim leader did not speak about the consequences if Israel refrained.

    The Hezbollah leader has also called for a severe punishment of those who "collaborated" with Israel during its years of occupation.

    A total of 1,500 members of the militia have given themselves up to the authorities or to Hezbollah. Collaboration can carry the death sentence in Lebanon.


    Villagers joyfully return to their village of Houla on 22 May 2000, after the Israeli withdrawal
    Hezbollah fought for two decades to end Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon
    1998: Veterans reject Japanese 'sorrow'
    Emperor Akihito of Japan has spoken of his "deep sorrow and pain" over the suffering inflicted by his country during World War II, but did not apologise for the treatment of prisoners in work camps.

    Addressing a state banquet at Buckingham Palace, attended by the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh, Queen Mother and 11 other senior Royals, the Emperor said he could "never forget" the many kinds of suffering experienced by so many.

    The Empress and I can never forget the many kinds of suffering so many people have undergone because of that war
    Emperor Akihito of Japan
    War veterans said that Emperor Akihito had not gone far enough and demanded a "real, meaningful apology."

    They are angry with Japan over its refusal to offer more substantial compensation and a full apology for their suffering during the war.

    Backs turned to the emperor

    Earlier, in a gesture of contempt, former prisoners of war turned their backs on Emperor Akihito and whistled the wartime anthem Colonel Bogey as he rode with the Queen in a Royal carriage down The Mall.

    Later, outside nearby Westminster Abbey where the emperor laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a memorial to the dead of World War I, around 500 protesters repeated their protest, turning their backs and humming Colonel Bogey again.

    Under the post-war Japanese constitution, Emperor Akihito is a non-political figurehead and, as such, cannot formally apologise for the suffering inflicted by the Japanese imperial army.

    But in the banquet speech on Tuesday, delivered in Japanese, he came close to saying sorry.

    "It truly saddens me, however, that the relationship so nurtured between our two countries should have been marred by the Second World War.

    "The Empress and I can never forget the many kinds of suffering so many people have undergone because of that war.

    At the thought of the scars of war that they bear, our hearts are filled with deep sorrow and pain. All through our visit here, this thought will never leave our minds.

    We sincerely hope that such a history will never be repeated between our two nations."

    1981: Italy in crisis as cabinet resigns
    The Italian Prime Minister Arnaldo Forlani and his coalition cabinet have resigned following a scandal over membership of a Masonic lodge.

    It follows a police raid on the Arezzo home of financier Lucio Gelli in March that uncovered a list of hundreds of members of the P2 (Propaganda Two) Masonic lodge.

    Among those on the list were leading members of the armed forces, civil servants, top bankers, industrialists and newspaper editors. Many have denied that they were members of the lodge

    The Italian Communist Party had said it would call for a no-confidence vote in parliament unless the cabinet resigned over revelations that several prominent politicians were members of P2.

    Flaminio Piccoli, secretary of the Christian Democrats, said: "Membership of the party and adherence to the Freemasons cannot be other than incompatible."

    The Minister of Justice, Adolfo Sarti, resigned last week amid allegations that he had applied for admission to the lodge.

    Senator Sarti has denied he made any attempt to join P2 and, in a letter to the prime minister, said he had been forced out of government because his name was tainted in a "slanderous campaign".

    'Secret society'

    Two other ministers and 30 MPs have been included in a list of alleged members of P2, which is now under investigation.

    P2 is one of more than 520 Masonic lodges which belong to the Grand Orient of Italy, the principal Masonic organisation in the country.

    The lodge has been described as "a state within a state" amid allegations that it plotted to carry out a right-wing coup in Italy.

    A three-man commission appointed by the government has been set up to establish whether the lodge was a "secret society" of a type banned under the constitution.

    Prime Minister Forlani has met with President Sandro Pertini to submit the resignation of the cabinet following a meeting with his ministers earlier in the day.

    But the President has made it clear he did not want a general election to take place. "With all the problems facing the Italian people," he said, "they certainly do not need a dissolution of parliament."

    1950: UK drivers cheer end of fuel rations
    Long queues have appeared at garages this evening and motorists have torn their ration books into confetti after the government announced an end to petrol rationing.

    The Minister of Fuel and Power, Philip Noel-Baker, told the House of Commons rationing would be abolished because two American companies had agreed a deal to supply oil in return for buying British goods.

    "This is indeed VP [Victory for Petrol] day for the motor users' campaign," said a spokesman for three motoring organisations - the RAC, AA and Royal Scottish Automobile Club.

    "The effect on the industrial, commercial and community life will be electric. Ration books now become as obsolete as the man with the red flag."

    Under a deal agreed earlier this month, Standard Oil Company of New Jersey and the California Texas Oil Company will be paid in sterling and in turn they have agreed to invest the money in British equipment, services and oil tankers.

    It is hoped the policy will attract more dollar-spending tourists - which may offset the amount of dollars paid for the new fuel supplies from America.

    The government estimates an increase in fuel consumption of one million tons a year. About 430,000 tons of this will be supplied by the US firms. The rest will come from newly expanded refineries in Britain.

    But the poor quality of petrol in this country will not improve until refineries - such as those at Southampton and Cheshire - have been completed, probably in 1952.

    Discounted driving licences, known as half-rate licences - issued to drivers using basic petrol - will also be abolished.

    The Treasury will benefit from £26m in revenue from full-rate licences, a new rate of petrol tax and savings on administration costs. More than 2,000 officials who run the rationing system will lose their jobs.

    The practice of putting red dye in commercial petrol to curb black market sales will also stop.

    1972: Thomas Cook packaged and sold
    The state-owned travel firm Thomas Cook & Son has been sold to a consortium of private businesses headed by the Midland Bank.

    The consortium paid £22.5m for the firm - far higher than expected.

    It was thought Thomas Cook would be lucky to fetch £20m after depressed results from the travel industry as a whole and a sharp fall in Thomas Cook's profits over the last few years.

    'Delighted'

    The consortium said it was "delighted" with the result. Managers at Cook's have also welcomed the decision as "a tremendous boost" - although trades unions continue to oppose the takeover.

    The sale was approved by John Peyton, Minister for the Transport Industries, and announced to the House of Commons in a statement.

    The consortium of three companies - Midland Bank, Trust Houses Forte, and the Automobile Association - were told of the decision just 15 minutes before MPs.

    Travel revolution

    Thomas Cook is widely credited with starting the foreign travel revolution. It was founded in 1841 by the Baptist cabinet maker and strict teetotaller whose name it bears.

    His idea for a new company began when he arranged a train excursion for temperance campaigners from Leicester to Loughborough.

    Thomas Cook became state-owned in 1948. At the time, it was the biggest and best-known travel agency in the world, and its shops dominated the high street.

    In the early 1950s, when only one in 100 Britons had ever been abroad, the company showed information films in town halls encouraging holidaymakers to try exotic places like Spain, Italy and Switzerland.

    Costly decision

    The travel craze caught on, and within 10 years demand had rocketed. But when Thomas Cook's rivals started selling mass travel that anyone could afford - the so-called package holiday - Thomas Cook did not get involved.

    The decision was to cost them dear, and the company's current difficulties are blamed on its failure to keep up as the British holiday was transformed.

    Over the next year, the consortium plans to take a close look at the Thomas Cook operation.

    Although no immediate changes are planned, the consortium is meeting managers early next week for initial talks on the new regime.

     


    Package holidaymakers
    Thomas Cook's losses are blamed on its refusal to get involved with mass travel


    In Context
    Thomas Cook continued to lose money for several years after the takeover, and by 1975 it had to report the biggest loss in its history.

    A review of the company found it crippled by old-fashioned civil service methods and an archaic accounting system.

    After some radical reorganisation, Thomas Cook moved away from tour operating, and into the travellers' cheque business. Within a year, the company was no longer making a loss.

    Thomas Cook celebrated its 150th anniversary in 1991, and a year later was sold to the German bank, West LB, and the charter airline, LTU Group.

    During the next ten years, Cook's acquired a charter airline and some small package companies, and changed hands again. It is now owned by the German tourism company, C&N Touristic AG.

    Today, Thomas Cook AG is the third largest travel group in the world.


    Fuel pump at petrol station
    No more ration cards for petrol thanks to a deal with US oil companies


    In Context
    Petrol rationing was first imposed at the onset of World War II in September 1939 and its continuation five years after the war ended was a hotly debated issue, especially during the 1950 general election campaign.

    The Conservatives in opposition had long argued it was no longer necessary but Labour said the nation had a severe dollar shortage and could not afford to buy US supplies.

    After the 1950 election - which saw Labour's majority slashed - the government realised the public would no longer tolerate rationing.

    Petrol rationing was reintroduced in January 1957 for five months during the Suez Crisis when Egypt and Syria blocked supplies.

    It was almost brought back again during a world fuel crisis in 2000 when Opec squeezed supplies to stop fuel prices coming down.


    Italian prime minister Arnaldo Forlani
    The scandal over the P2 lodge is thought to involve many eminent figures


    In Context
    In the wake of the scandal, a police chief shot himself and a former minister was rushed to hospital after reportedly swallowing barbiturates.

    Licio Gelli, the Grand Master of the P2 lodge, fled to Switzerland after the P2 membership lists were discovered.

    He was arrested while trying to withdraw tens of millions of dollars from a special bank account in Geneva and found guilty of fraud arising from the 1982 collapse of the Banco Ambrosiano, which had close ties to the Vatican.

    He then escaped from a Swiss prison and went to live in hiding in South America until 1987 when he gave himself up and was extradited to Italy.

    In 1998 he fled from his home in Tuscany while on parole but Italian police tracked him down to Cannes on the French Riviera. He was extradited a second time to begin a 12-year prison sentence in Italy.


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    27th May

     

    1937 The Golden Gate Bridge Opens

    It took 5 years to build and it's opening day was exclusively for pedestrians, of which there were around 200,000 who crossed it. Vehicles began using the bridge on 28th May 1937.

    The bridge is colored "international orange" and is one of the most recognizable structures in the world.

    Joseph Strauss, the chief engineer on the project, had originally submitted his design in 1921, he was given the job in 1929.

    Construction began on 5th January 1933. Eleven people died constructing it.

    When it opened it was the longest bridge in the world (4,200 feet) and held that record until he Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York opened in 1964.

     

    1964: Light goes out in India as Nehru dies

    Jawaharlal Nehru, founder of modern India and its current prime minister, has died suddenly at the age of 74.

    He was taken ill in the early hours of this morning at his house in New Delhi. He had returned from holiday at a hill station near the capital the previous evening, apparently in reasonable health.

    It is believed he suffered a heart attack, and although specialists fought to save him for much of the day, he passed away early this afternoon with his daughter, Indira Gandhi, by his side.

    News of his death was broken to the lower house of parliament, the Lok Sabha, at 1400 local time (0830 GMT), by cabinet minister C Subramaniam.

    In a broken voice, he told colleagues, "The prime minister is no more. The light is out."

    People's tribute

    Politicians openly wept as party leaders paid tribute to the man who has led India since independence from Britain 17 years ago.

    The news spread quickly through the streets, and thousands of ordinary Indians began to converge on Mr Nehru's mansion in New Delhi.

    Within two hours of the announcement, tens of thousands of people had gathered, and truckloads of police took up positions outside the grounds to control the rapidly growing crowd.

    Mr Nehru's body was moved from his first-floor bedroom down to a makeshift bier in front of the house.

    Then began a long procession which lasted through the rest of the evening and into the night, as nearly 250,000 men, women and children filed past to pay their respects.

    Battle for succession

    The Home Minister, Gulzarilal Nanda, was sworn in as interim prime minister at midnight, although it is being emphasised that the appointment is temporary.

    Pandit Nehru had not indicated who he would prefer to succeed him.

    When the subject was raised just five days ago at a news conference, he said that although he had given some thought to the suggestion that he should retire, "my lifetime is not ending so very soon."

    The man thought most likely to succeed him is Lal Bahadur Shastri, a Minister without Portfolio in Mr Nehru's cabinet with a reputation for moderation. He was a close political confidant of Mr Nehru. Other possible candidates are Mr Nehru's daughter, Indira Gandhi, and the former finance minister, Morarji Desai.


    1994: Dissident writer Solzhenitsyn returns
    Alexander Solzhenitsyn has flown back to his native Russia after 20 years of exile in the United States.

    His plane touched down in the far eastern port of Magadan from Anchorage, Alaska, and he was greeted by 2,000 people, given flowers and the traditional welcome gift of bread and salt.

    The 75-year-old Nobel prize winner paid tribute to the millions of victims of Soviet repression.

    "Today, in the heat of political change," he said, "those millions of victims are too lightly forgotten, both by those who were touched by that annihilation and even more so by those who were responsible for it.

    He arrived with his wife Natalya, aged 54, and the youngest of his three sons, Stephan, aged 20, along with a group of reporters documenting his historic journey.

    He plans to travel right across Russia by train stopping off to meet ordinary people and catch up on 20 years of absence.

    He should arrive in Moscow in about two months' time, where a house is being built for him and his wife on the outskirts of the capital. The couple already own a flat in the city centre.

    They have kept their house in Vermont for their sons who are American citizens.

    Imprisoned by Stalin for a total of ten years for political dissent, Solzhenitsyn was stripped of his citizenship and expelled from the Soviet Union in 1974 for attacking the regime.

    In 1990 Mikhail Gorbachev restored his citizenship and the following year dropped treason charges against him.

    A very different Russia

    The Russia Solzhenitsyn is about to see may well have restored freedom of speech but it is plagued with economic problems, rising unemployment and organised crime.

    In his comments over the past few weeks the writer has indicated he will play a moral and social role and not get involved with politics - but he has already criticised President Boris Yeltsin for allowing the country to become polluted by Western ways. His return has received a mixed press in Russia. Nezavisimaya Gazeta called him "shamelessly outdated, with no understanding of Russia or the West". The newspaper Izvestia was more charitable - "Whatever Solzhenitsyn's political views," wrote Konstantin Kedrov, "he is bigger than politics."


    Watch/Listen
    Alexander Solzhenitsyn
    Solzhenitsyn is seen by some as a hero and others as an irrelevance

    Report on Solzhenitsyn's return to Russia
    In Context
    Alexander Solzhenitsyn arrived in Moscow on 23 July after a two-month odyssey across Russia by train. He was met by about 1,000 people - a mix of admirers and protesters.

    He expressed his shock at what he had seen on his journey, and attacked the leaders of the new Russia for betraying its people.

    In December 1998, the author refused to accept a state award from President Boris Yeltsin to mark his 80th birthday. Mr Solzhenitsyn said he could not accept the Order of St Andrew from a leader who had reduced Russia to a state of ruin.

    He developed a more cordial relationship with President Vladimir Putin. In September 2000, the two men spent three hours together discussing Russia's destiny.

    He died in August 2008, at the age of 89.

    Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, whose reforms led to the end of communism in the country, said Solzhenitsyn played a key role in undermining Stalin's totalitarian regime.

    His works "changed the consciousness of millions of people", Mr Gorbachev said.

    Works by Solzhenitsyn
    One Day in the life of Ivan Denisovich (1962)
    Cancer Ward (1968)
    Gulag Archipelago (1973)
    October 1916 (1983)
    The Russian Question at the End of the Twentieth Century (1995)
    1980: Peach death was 'misadventure'

    The jury at the inquest of Blair Peach, the London teacher who died in a demonstration against the National Front last year, has returned a verdict of misadventure.

    The verdict came with three riders: that there should be more control of the Special Patrol Group (SPG) police unit by officers, that there should be better liaison with local police, and that no unauthorised weapons should be available in police stations.

    Mr Peach's supporters greeted the jury's conclusion with dismay.

    At a news conference, Mr Peach's girlfriend, Celia Stubbs, said the policeman who killed him had got off "scot-free".

    We regard the verdict as establishing beyond any doubt that police killed Blair Peach<br>
    Paul Holborow, Anti-Nazi League<br>

    The Anti-Nazi League, which organised the demonstration in which Mr Peach was killed, said it would seek to have the verdict overturned.

    The League's National Secretary, Paul Holborow, said, "We regard the verdict as establishing beyond any doubt that police killed Blair Peach.

    "We think that the riders indicate that the SPG is an uncontrolled private army and has a licence to kill."

    The verdict was welcomed, however, by Police Federation chairman James Jardine, who added that he hoped the matter would end there.

    Blair Peach, a 33-year-old schoolteacher from New Zealand, died of fatal head injuries at an Anti-Nazi League protest against a National Front meeting at Southall on 23 April last year.

    His inquest has become one of the longest in legal history, with 84 witnesses going before the court.

    They included the 40 SPG officers implicated in the incident.

    None of the police witnesses admitted hitting Mr Peach, although three said they saw him sitting on the pavement.

    During the hearing it emerged that there had been an internal investigation into the death by a team of 30 detectives led by Commander John Cass of Scotland Yard's Complaints Investigation Bureau.

    The jury heard how items such as crowbars, sledgehammers and coshes were found in the lockers of members of the SPG.

    However, the coroner twice refused to admit the investigation report as evidence, leading to accusations of a cover-up by the Anti-Nazi League.

    2000: GM blunder leaves farmers in uproar
    Scottish farmers who accidentally planted genetically modified seeds have said they will fight for compensation after the UK Government advised them to dig up the crop.

    It is believed thousands of hectares of land in Scotland have been sown with the GM contaminated oil seed rape.

    The product came from Canada and about 500 farmers across the UK are thought to have used it.

    Farmers are innocent victims in this episode
    National Union of Farmers statement
    Although the Ministry of Agriculture in London says the seed is safe, farmers are now being strongly urged to destroy their crops.

    The government has advised farmers to take legal action against the seeds suppliers Advanta Seeds UK.

    The National Farmers Union of Scotland will meet the Scottish Agriculture Minister Ross Finnie next week to discuss how they can recoup their losses.

    In a statement the union said: "Farmers are innocent victims in this episode.

    "We will be pushing for full compensation for all farmers who inadvertently planted these crops. If MAFF had informed the Scottish Executive about the problem earlier, then much of the affected seed need not have been sown and Scottish farmers would not be in this situation."

    The row erupted after Advanta disclosed that some of its conventional rape-seed "sold and sown" in the UK during the past two years was actually GM contaminated.

    Under EU rules, the GM crops produced from the seed cannot be marketed within Europe itself.

    The NFU estimates that the contamination incident could leave its UK members up to £3m worse off.

    Advanta believes its rape seed was contaminated by pollen from a GM crop in a neighbouring field in Canada in 1998.

    The government was first told on 17 April about the mistake, but did not make it public until a month later.

     


    An anti-GM campaigner
    The crop from the contaminated seeds cannot be sold in Europe


    In Context
    In July 2000, the National Farmers' Union of Scotland accepted a £1.3m compensation deal offered by Advanta for around 400 Scottish farmers affected by the GM seeds blunder.

    In August, the government revealed trials of genetically modified crops were being carried out on oil seed rape in both England and Scotland despite opposition by environmentalists.

    The Scottish Parliament's health committee is to publish a report on the effect on humans of GM crop trials in December 2002.

    The decision follows serious concerns over the toxic effect of the trials, possible allergies and their effect on antibiotic resistance.

    The three-year programme of GM crop trials in Scotland due to end in 2003 provoked demonstrations, petitions and the destruction of fields by environmentalists.


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    28th May

     

    1959 Two Monkeys Survive Space Flight

    The monkeys were named Able, a 7 pound female rhesus monkey, and Baker, a 1 pound female spider monkey.

    They were shot 300 miles into space in a Jupiter missile AM-18 from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

    The flight only lasted 15 minutes and they reached speeds of 10,000 mph; they were weightless for 9 minutes. They were recovered, apparently unharmed, 1500 miles away near Puerto Rico.

    The flight was criticized by animal welfare groups.

    A statement from the League Against Cruel Sports read:

    "Such action as this falls within the category of scientific devilry rather than scientific research."

     

    1998: World fury at Pakistan's nuclear tests

    Pakistan has exploded five underground nuclear devices in response to India's nuclear tests two weeks ago.

    The move has provoked worldwide condemnation and fears of a nuclear conflict in one of the world's most volatile regions.

    We never wanted to participate in this nuclear race
    Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan's Prime Minister
    Pakistani officials said the devices were detonated underground at 1030GMT in the Baluchistan region near the border with Afghanistan.

    Shortly afterwards, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif addressed the nation on television and said the five tests by India had made the action "inevitable".

    "Today's day is history in the making," he said. "Today God has given us the opportunity to take this step for our country's defence which is inevitable. We never wanted to participate in this nuclear race. We have proved to the world that we would not accept what was dictated to us."

    Popular support

    The prime minister said Pakistan's response was fully supported by its people and attacked the international community for a weak response to India's tests.

    But after his national address, he said he was ready for more talks with India on a non-aggression pact.

    There was uproar in the Indian parliament when the news was announced. The Indian Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, said Pakistan's action vindicated India's decision to conduct tests of its own.

    The western nations were quick to condemn Pakistan's action. US President Bill Clinton said Pakistan had missed "a truly priceless opportunity" by not showing restraint. He said Pakistan would now face sanctions.

    Nato said the tests were a "dangerous development" and also warned of sanctions.

    Ever since the partition of the sub-continent in 1947, when Britain dismantled its Indian empire, India and Pakistan have been arch rivals. The animosity has its roots in religion and history, and is epitomised by the long-running conflict over the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

    Now they have not only entered a new nuclear arms race but expanded the club of nuclear powers across the globe which includes the US, Russia, China, Britain, France, North Korea and Israel. Optimists hope India and Pakistan's nuclear parity will now lead to serious and constructive peace talks.


    Watch/Listen
    A young newspaper vendor holds up the evening paper - 28 May 1998
    "Pakistan conducts nuclear tests" reads a Pakistani evening paper

    Report on the Asian nuclear race
    In Context
    In February 1999 relations between the two Asian rivals eased after they signed the Lahore accord pledging to "resolve all issues" including that of the disputed regions of Jammu and Kashmir.

    But conflict broke out just three months later when India launched air strikes on Pakistani-backed forces that had infiltrated Indian-administered Kashmir. Pakistan insisted those forces were in fact "freedom fighters" demanding their own state.

    The ensuing military build-up in the region led at least 30,000 people to flee their homes.

    Under US pressure, Pakistan ordered the infiltrators out of the region.

    October 1999 saw a military coup in Pakistan with General Pervez Musharraf taking power.

    In 2002 Pakistan and India came close to all-out war but talks between the countries' two leaders in January 2004 led to hopes of peace.

    1974: Strikes topple NI power-sharing body
    Northern Ireland's first power-sharing assembly has collapsed.

    Its leader, Brian Faulkner, and fellow members have resigned, leaving Northern Ireland facing direct rule from Westminster.

    It follows a seven-day general strike organised by militant unionists opposed to the Sunningdale agreement.

    Over the last week industrial production has come to a halt with power cuts of up to 18 hours.

    Rubbish has not been collected and there have been reports that undertakers would not bury the dead.

    Last year, the British Government under Edward Heath held talks at Sunningdale in Berkshire with the government of the Irish Republic and three political parties - the Official Unionists led by Mr Faulkner, the nationalist SDLP and the non-sectarian Alliance.

    They agreed to set up a power-sharing executive for Northern Ireland and, eventually, a Council of Ireland involving the Republic with limited jurisdiction over issues of joint concern between north and south.

    The declaration also recognised the wishes of unionists to remain within the UK and nationalists for a united Ireland. Both sides agreed the will of the majority should be respected.

    But hardline loyalists - led by Harry West, Ian Paisley and William Craig - did not attend most of the talks at Sunningdale, and when the proposals were announced, they criticised them strongly.

    Disruptive tactics

    The new executive took power formally on 1 January this year but soon ran into trouble.

    Anti-power sharing unionists did their best to disrupt proceedings and 18 members including Ian Paisley had to be forcibly removed by the police.

    In February, a general election saw Labour returned to power in Westminster and 11 of the 12 seats in Northern Ireland won by unionists opposed to the deal under the umbrella of the United Ulster Unionist Council.

    Of those supporting the executive, only Gerry Fitt was elected as the UUUC won more than 50% of the vote.

    With the Sunningdale executive teetering on the edge, the coup de grace was delivered by the loyalist Ulster Workers' Council, which organised a seven-day strike after the assembly approved the agreement last week.

     


    Emergency workers arrive at the scene of Belfast bombings on Bloody Friday, 21 July 1972
    The failure of the executive was another blow in the history of the Troubles


    In Context
    Direct rule was re-imposed by Northern Ireland Secretary Merlyn Rees and the assembly prorogued.

    There were several unsuccessful attempts in the 1980s to set up power-sharing government in Northern Ireland.

    Northern Ireland's first power-sharing assembly finally came into being in June 1998 after a referendum on the Good Friday Agreement, the 1990s equivalent of the Sunningdale agreement.

    Disputes 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.

    It was suspended again in October 2002 over allegations of IRA spying within the Northern Ireland Office.

    1967: Sir Francis Chichester sails home

    Sir Francis Chichester has arrived in Plymouth tonight in his yacht, Gypsy Moth IV, after completing his epic single-handed voyage around the world.

    He crossed the finishing line at 2058, nine months and one day after setting off from the historic port.

    Sir Francis is the first man to race around the world solo with only one port of call, Sydney.

    About 250,000 well-wishers cheered and sang, welcoming home the 65-year-old adventurer who has inspired the nation this past year.

    Thousands of small boats accompanied Gypsy Moth into Plymouth Sound 119 days after it set sail from Sydney, Australia, the only stop in the mammoth journey.

    What I would like after four months of my own cooking is the best dinner from the best chef in the best surroundings and in the best company<br>
    Sir Francis Chichester<br>

    They let off hooters and sirens as fire boats sprayed red, white and blue water.

    The Royal Artillery sounded a ten-gun salute.

    At the breakwater, Sir Francis was joined by his wife, Lady Chichester, and son Giles who brought two bottles of champagne on board.

    Today's home-coming was carefully planned and he was met on shore by the Lord Mayor of Plymouth and other dignitaries and driven to the Guildhall.

    There, at a press conference, he was asked what he would like to do now.

    "What I would like after four months of my own cooking is the best dinner from the best chef in the best surroundings and in the best company."

    Later he received a message from the Queen and Prince Philip congratulating him on his achievement.

    Sir Francis has spent nearly 220 days alone at sea and crossed the Atlantic, Cape of Good Hope, the Pacific and Cape Horn - 28,500 miles of dangerous ocean.

    But this man is no stranger to seafaring. He won the first solo transatlantic yacht race in 1960 in Gipsy Moth III, sailing from Plymouth to New York City in 40 days. He beat his own record in 1962 repeating the voyage in 33 days.

    In Context
    In July 1967, Sir Francis was dubbed with Sir Francis Drake's sword by the Queen at Greenwich. <br>

    Later that year, he published Gypsy Moth Circles the World, which was followed by several more books on his seafaring adventures. <br>

    In 1971 he made one more solo transatlantic crossing, then ill-health forced him to pull out of another transatlantic race in 1972 and he died a few weeks later on 26 August. <br>

    Several British yachtsmen and women have beaten the 220-day record since 1967. <br>

    Naomi James was the first woman to do this in 1978 and beat Sir Francis' record by two days. <br>

    In February 2001 after 94 days at sea Britain's Ellen MacArthur became the fastest woman to sail the world. Four years later, in 2005, she became the fastest person to sail solo non-stop around the world - in 71 days and 14 hours. <br>

    1951: Glasgow powers up for the Festival
    Her Royal Highness, Princess Elizabeth, has formally opened the Exhibition of Industrial Power in Glasgow, the latest show in the Festival of Britain.

    The exhibition tells the story of industrial power and showcases energy, technology and science.

    In a speech at the opening ceremony, Princess Elizabeth described herself as "a lover of Scotland," and said she was delighted that Glasgow had been chosen to host the exhibition.

    "It is a well-deserved compliment to the land of so many famous engineers and inventors," she said.

    However, she added, the exhibition - like all of the Festival of Britain - belongs to the whole country.

    Power and technology

    The exhibition, in the Kelvin Hall - itself named after pioneering physicist Lord Kelvin - has a series of halls, each showing a different aspect of power and technology.

    In the Hall of Power, visitors can get into a pit cage and go down into a replica of the working face of a coal mine.

    Even the operator of the pit cage is authentic - Albert Hamble was temporarily laid off from the colliery where he works after it flooded.

    In the steel section, there is a blacksmith's forge from an earlier day when horses were the main form of transport.

    And a model shows how a modern power station works in the hydro-electricity stage of the exhibition.

    Second industrial revolution

    The Princess referred to the age of electricity as "the second industrial revolution" in her speech, and a large part of the show is dedicated to showing how the technology has transformed lives.

    Since the National Grid was completed six years ago, even crofters' houses in remote parts of Scotland can access electricity, and one of the most vivid displays is of two replica cottages - one with, and the other without electrical power.

    The Festival of Britain, a country-wide celebration of Britain's history, achievements and culture, has been a great success since it was opened by King George VI on 3 May.

    More than 100,000 people attended Festival events in the first two days alone, despite the bad weather. The exhibition organisers in Glasgow are expecting similar numbers, and the show continues until August.

     


    Princess Elizabeth at the Glasgow exibition of the Festival of Britain
    Princess Elizabeth said the exhibition belonged to the whole country


    In Context
    After the devastation and resulting austerity of the war years, the Festival of Britain aimed to raise the nation's spirits whilst promoting the very best in British art, design and industry.

    Some criticised the event as a waste of public money but the London exhibitions alone attracted 8.5 million visitors in five months.

    By contrast, the Millennium Dome built some 50 years later pulled in 6.5 million in the 12 months of its controversial existence.

    Princess Elizabeth spent much of May 1951 standing in for her father, King George VI, who after the ceremony to open the Festival of Britain was ordered by his doctors to take a month off for health reasons.

    He missed most of the Festival which was to become a highlight of his reign, and a little over eight months later, he died.

    Princess Elizabeth succeeded him as Queen Elizabeth II.


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    29th May

     

    1953 Two Men Reach the Summit Of Mount Everest For The First Time

    It happened at 11:30 am. The two men were Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay, of Nepal.

    Mount Everest is the highest point on Planet Earth at 29,035 ft above sea level.

    They were taking part in a British Expedition. Queen Elizabeth was informed of their achievement on June 2nd, the day of her coronation.

    The classic reason why people climb mountains, "Because it is there" was a quip from George Leigh Mallory who said it to a journalist after a 1921 expedition to Everest.

    1968: Manchester Utd win European Cup
    Manchester United have become the first English club to win the European Cup beating Portuguese side Benfica by four goals to one.

    Ten years after the Munich air crash, which killed eight of Matt Busby's young team, Manchester United have reached the pinnacle of European football.

    Celtic became the first Scottish and British club to win the cup the previous year.

    United's star player, George Best, was named European Footballer of the Year - just a fortnight after being named the football writers' Footballer of the Year.

    Massive crowd

    Tonight's match at Wembley was watched by a crowd of 100,000 and an estimated 250 million TV viewers. It was the biggest television audience since the World Cup final two years before.

    As both teams wear red kit, United opted to play in their blue away strip for the game.

    The first half passed in a flurry of fouls before Bobby Charlton headed the opening goal in the second half to make it 1-0.

    With only 10 minutes left to go, Benfica scored the equaliser - and very nearly won the match when their feared striker Eusebio broke away from Nobby Stiles, the player tasked with marking him, and blasted the ball towards the net.

    But it was saved by keeper Alex Stepney and the game went into extra time.

    Winning goal

    Two minutes into extra time Best put United ahead again, slipping round the keeper and gently tapping it over the line.

    It was followed by two more United goals, from 19-year-old Brian Kidd and captain Bobby Charlton, taking the final score to 4-1.

    Manager Matt Busby said: "They've done us proud. They came back with all their hearts to show everyone what Manchester United are made of. This is the most wonderful thing that has happened in my life and I am the proudest man in England tonight."

    Busby was seriously injured in the crash which claimed the lives of his so-called Busby Babes and there was speculation at the time that the club had been so badly damaged it would have to fold.

    But they struggled on to complete the 1958/59 season and when Busby returned to the manager's role the following season he began the task of rebuilding the side.

    The club won the league in 1965 and 1967, but today's win marks the pinnacle of the club's achievements.

    Charlton and Bill Foulkes were the only survivors of the crash who played in today's final.

    1985: Fans die in Heysel rioting
    Thirty-nine Juventus football fans have died during rioting at the European Cup Final in Brussels.

    The tragedy occured when a wall collapsed in the stadium and crushed Juventus fans as they tried to escape Liverpool supporters.

    The two sets of supporters had spent the day drinking in the Belgian city and had arrived at the Heysel stadium waving flags and chanting.

    But shortly before kick off the atmosphere turned violent and Liverpool supporters stampeded through a thin line of police towards the rival fans.

    As the Juventus fans retreated a wall collapsed under the pressure and fans were crushed and trampled to death in the panic.

    Police at the scene were unable to contain the violence and riot police were called in to calm the situation.

    As the full extent of the tragedy unfolded the Red Cross moved in to treat the injured in tents set up at the scene. A priest was also called to give the Last Rites.

    There were 58,000 fans in the ground and, as well as the dead, over 350 were injured.

    Despite protests from both team managers the game went ahead with Juventus winning 1-0 thanks to a second half penalty.

    Trouble had been reported since the two sets of fans arrived in the city. There were reports of stabbings and police numbers were dramaticaly increased to separate the fans.

    1953: Hillary and Tenzing conquer Everest

    The New Zealander Edmund Hillary, and the Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, have become the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest on the Nepal-Tibet border.

    They reached the top of the world at 1130 local time after a gruelling climb up the southern face.

    A symmetrical, beautiful snow cone summit
    Edmund Hillary
    The two men hugged each other with relief and joy but only stayed on the summit for 15 minutes because they were low on oxygen.

    Mr Hillary took several photographs of the scenery and of Sherpa Tenzing waving flags representing Britain, Nepal, the United Nations and India.

    Sherpa Tenzing buried some sweets and biscuits in the snow as a Buddhist offering to the gods.

    They looked for signs of George Mallory and Andrew "Sandy" Irvine who had disappeared in 1924 in a similar attempt to conquer Everest, but found nothing.

    Then they began the slow and tortuous descent to rejoin their team leader Colonel John Hunt further down the mountain at Camp VI.

    When he saw the two men looking so exhausted Col Hunt assumed they had failed to reach the summit and started planning another attempt.

    But then the two climbers pointed to the mountain and signalled they had reached the top, and there were celebrations all round.

    Careful planning

    Col Hunt attributed the successful climb to advice from other mountaineers who had attempted the feat over the years, careful planning, excellent open-circuit oxygen equipment and good weather.

    Mr Hillary described the peak, which is 29,028 feet (8,847 m) above sea level, as "a symmetrical, beautiful snow cone summit".

    He was one of the members of the expedition led by Eric Shipton in 1951 that discovered the southern route to the top of the mountain.

    A year later, Tenzing reached the record height of 28,215 feet (8,599 m) during a Swiss expedition led by Raymond Lambert. Mount Everest was named after Sir George Everest, the surveyor-general of India who was the first to produce detailed maps of the Indian subcontintent including the Himalayas.


    Watch/Listen
    Ed Hilary and Sherpa Tenzing after returning from the summit of Everest
    The two men only stayed on the summit for 15 minutes

    Interview with Sir Edmund Hillary

    In Context
    News of the conquest of Mount Everest did not reach the outside world until 2 June, the eve of the Queen's coronation.

    Colonel Hunt and Edmund Hillary were knighted on their return.

    Sir Edmund took part in several expeditions after that including a trip across Antarctica to the South Pole in 1958. He set up a medical and educational trust for the Sherpa people in 1961 and was New Zealand High Commissioner to India in Delhi from 1984 to 1989.

    He died aged 88 in January 2008.

    Tenzing Norgay was awarded the George Medal for his achievement and later became director of the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling. He died in 1986.

    The body of George Mallory who had attempted the ascent in 1924 was found on Mount Everest in 1999.

    By the 50th anniversary of the ascent in May 2003 over 1,300 people had reached the summit of the roof of the world.

    1972: Japanese kill 26 at Tel Aviv airport
    Three Japanese gunmen have opened fire on crowds at Lod International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, killing 26 people and injuring dozens more.

    The three men arrived on an Air France flight from Paris and once their luggage had come through to the baggage hall, they drew out automatic guns and hand grenades and fired randomly at anybody in sight.

    One of the men ran out onto the tarmac, shot passengers disembarking an El Al flight and then killed himself with his own hand grenade.

    A second man was shot by security guards and a third was arrested.

    The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said they had recruited the gunmen from the Japanese Red Army and said they "came from thousands of miles away to join the Palestinian people in their struggle".

    In a statement, they said the raid was an act of revenge for killing two Arab hijackers who attempted to take a plane at Lod airport on 8 May.

    Among the victims were 11 Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land from Puerto Rico.

    Eminent scientist dead

    A leading Israeli scientist Professor Aharon Katzir, aged 62, was also killed. He was professor of chemistry at the Weizmann Institute of Science and former president of the Israel Academy of Sciences.

    All incoming airliners were diverted to Cyprus until authorities had taken control of the situation.

    Israel's defence minister, Moshe Dayan and Transport Minister, Shimon Peres, arrived at the airport soon after the attack to witness a scene of carnage, with dead and dying people all across the terminal. Israeli officials are expected to call on all international airports to improve their security measures.


    An airport worker at Lod
    An airport worker at Lod picks up a woman's shoe in the aftermath of the massacre
    In Context
    The two gunmen who died were later named as Kyoto university student Takeshi Okudaira, codenamed Giro, and Yasuyuki Yasuda, also a student. All three had been trained in Baalbeck, Lebanon, and had planned to commit suicide after their "mission" was completed.

    The surviving gunman, Kozo Okamoto, was tried in June 1972 and given a life sentence, in spite of his pleas to be allowed to shoot himself.

    He spent 13 years in jail in Israel before being released in a prisoner exchange with the Palestinians. He was given asylum in Lebanon where he is regarded as a hero and converted to Islam.

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

    1982: Pope makes historic visit to Canterbury
    Pope John Paul II has visited Canterbury Cathedral - the first pontiff ever to do so.

    The Pope was greeted by the Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie and a crowd of wellwishers who cheered as he arrived by helicopter.

    The narrow streets of the ancient city were lined with up to 25,000 people.

    They included people from the Pope's native Poland, who waved their flags along the route.

    How happy I am to be able to speak to you today in this great cathedral
    Pope John Paul II
    The pontiff told the congregation of his happiness at visiting the cathedral, adding that it was a day "which centuries and generations have awaited".

    There was controversy ahead of the Pope's visit as it became clear he would not use the ceremonial entrance - the Great West door - at the front of the cathedral.

    His bodyguard, Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, had earlier said the pontiff would use the back door because of "security and tiredness".

    John Paul II walked slowly with Dr Runcie to the deanery for a meeting with the Prince of Wales.

    The meeting with the Prince of Wales was followed by a ceremony which involved the Pope, Dr Runcie and Methodist minister the Rev Dr Kenneth Greet renewing their baptismal vows together.

    The church leaders then greeted all the cardinals and bishops with a "kiss of peace" before lighting candles for Christian martyrs of different faiths.

    The Pope and Dr Runcie knelt in silent prayer at the spot where St Thomas-à-Becket was murdered in 1170.

    The Pope and Archbishop issued a common declaration, which thanked God for "the progress that has been made in the work of reconciliation" between them.

    Later in the afternoon, he received a massive ovation from 80,000 people at a mass at Wembley Stadium, billed as the first of his great "outdoor spectaculars".

    The crowd sang "He's got the whole world in his hands" and clapped their hands as the Pope passed by in his "Popemobile". Uniformed police surrounded a specially built main altar in the stadium as the Pope said "peace be with you" and began the mass in front of the huge crowd and 2,500 priests.


    Pope John Paul II
    Pope John Paul II is the first pontiff to visit Canterbury Cathedral
    In Context
    The Pope's visit to Canterbury Cathedral was part of a hectic six-day trip to Britain - the first ever made by a pontiff.

    John Paul's itinerary was drafted 42 times before the Vatican finally approved it.

    It took the pontiff to London, Canterbury, Coventry, Liverpool, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Cardiff.

    Other highlights of the tour included a mass at Westminster Cathedral and a meeting with the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

    There were concerns about the Pope's health after he was severely injured in an assassination attempt in May 1981. He survived after major surgery.

    After years of ill health the Pope died at 2137 (1937 GMT) on Saturday 2 April 2005 after he failed to recover from a throat operation.

    1984: Miners and police clash at Orgreave
    Police have used riot gear for the first time since the miners' strike began three months ago.

    Forming the biggest picket of the strike so far, at least 5,000 miners gathered outside Orgreave coking plant near Sheffield.

    The intimidation and the brutality that has been displayed are something reminiscent of a Latin American state
    Arthur Scargill, NUM leader
    They were met by police from ten counties. Altogether, 41 police officers and 28 strikers were injured.

    During fierce clashes with police 81 people were arrested.

    Arthur Scargill, leader of the National Union of Miners, had called on miners to picket the plant to try and stop British Steel's coke convoys.

    He stood among his men as hundreds of police formed lines around the miners to try to stop them getting to the coke lorries.

    Trouble broke out when pickets spotted the first convoy at about 0900 BST. They surged forward and there were running battles with police on horseback.

    Smoke bombs, bricks, stones and ball-bearings were thrown and fencing torn up. Ambulance men wearing protective headgear led casualties away to safety.

    Both sides pinned the blame on each other.

    "We've had riot shields, we've had riot gear, we've had police on horseback charging into our people, we've had people hit with truncheons and people kicked to the ground." said Mr Scargill.

    "The intimidation and the brutality that has been displayed are something reminiscent of a Latin American state."

    South Yorkshire Chief Constable Peter Wright said officers had to wear protective helmets and use shields to allow the gates of the factory to remain open.

    Mr Scargill is hoping to repeat the success of 12 years ago, when his pickets stopped coke deliveries at Saltley gasworks in Birmingham in his struggle to improve the lot of British miners. But this time he seems to have failed - the 34 lorry drivers today managed to make two journeys unhindered and say they are determined to continue the coke runs.


    Watch/Listen
    Police at Orgreave
    Hundreds of police formed cordons to stop miners getting to coking lorries

    Footage of the picket line battle
    In Context
    The miners' dispute began on 6 March 1984 when the head of the National Coal Board, Ian McGregor, announced plans to cut production, the equivalent of 20 pits or 20,000 jobs.

    Arthur Scargill called on miners to strike as they had done successfully in 1972 and 1974. But his refusal to hold a ballot lost him the support of other unions.

    Margaret Thatcher and her Conservative government would not be defeated this time and had a concerted plan of action.

    Coal was stockpiled and imported and a National Reporting Centre was set up to co-ordinate Britain's regional police force. This allowed officers to be deployed quickly to trouble spots to tackle Mr Scargill's flying pickets, sent all over the country to persuade workers to down tools.

    On-off talks between an uncompromising Arthur Scargill and the NCB came to nothing. The pickets failed to stop or even restrict power supplies to the nation.

    Miners finally returned to work in March 1985.


    Watch/Listen
    Fans at the Heysel stadium in Brussels
    Only a minority of the 58,000 fans in the stadium were involved

    Radio commentary from Heysel


    In Context
    Within days, and with the backing of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, English teams were banned from competing in Europe by the FA and then Uefa.

    "We have to get the game cleaned up from this hooliganism at home and then perhaps we shall be able to go overseas again" Mrs Thatcher said.

    All English teams were banned for five years apart from Liverpool who were banned for six.

    Fourteen Liverpool fans were given three-year sentences - half the terms were suspended - after being found guilty of involuntary manslaughter at a five-month trial in Belgium in 1989.

    Violence in football grounds has been largely eliminated thanks to closed circuit TV, seating in stadiums, segregation of rival fans and the banning of alcohol.


    Pat Crerand (L), Matt Busby (C), George Best (R)
    Manchester United lift the European Cup to the delight of manager Matt Busby


    In Context
    The European Cup marked the highlight of Matt Busby's long career at Manchester United and he later received a knighthood. He retired after the following season to become the club's general manager.

    For George Best it was the highlight of his footballing career. The same year he was also named European Footballer of the Year.

    He was regarded by many as one of the greatest footballing talents in the world, ranked alongside the Brazilian great Pele.

    He was the first footballer to gain superstar status - but his fame led him into a life of womanising and alcohol.

    By 1972 he had announced his retirement from the game - he returned to United a year later but by early 1974 he had left for good.

    In 2002 he had a liver transplant. He died in November 2005.

    Bobby Charlton had a distinguished playing career for England and Manchester United. He scored 48 goals for England, a record which still stands. He was knighted in 1994.


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    30th May

     

    1431 Joan Of Arc Is Burned At The Stake

    At this time in history, Normandy was controlled by the English. Joan of Arc was burned at the stake at Place du Vieux-Marchý, in Rouen, on this day. She was charged with heresy. She was 19.

    Back story: The 100 Years War between England and France was underway. England controlled most of the North of France, including Paris.

    Joan lived in a village of Domrýmy which lay on French side of the border. She claimed to have heard the "voices" of Christian Saints: St. Michael, St. Catherine, and St. Margaret.

    She claimed that the "voices" told her to recapture Reims, the traditional place of French coronations, which was in enemy hands. Charles, the heir apparant to the French crown (aka 'Dauphin'), couldn't be crowned until Reims came under his control.

    Joan traveled to Vaucouleurs, a stronghold of the Dauphin, in January 1429. The captain of the garrison there agreed to allow her passage to Charles, who was at Chinon.

    Charles met with her. Some of his courtiers interrogated her. They decided to make use of this welcome sign from the Gods.

    Joan was given a small army to command. After a number of stunning victories against the English, on July 16 1429 she had managed to regain Reims for the French, which enabled the crowning of Charles VII. Joan stood nearby during his coronation holding up a standard of Christ in judgment.

    September 8, 1429 Joan's troops attacked Paris.

    May 1430 she was caught by the Burgundians who sold her to the English. She was charged with heresy by rejecting the authority of the Church in favor of the "voices" in her head.

    She was convicted and then recanted her crimes, so was given life imprisonment. She was ordered to wear women's clothing, however, when she was found wearing male clothing, and then claiming that the reason she wore them was because St. Catherine and St. Margaret had told her to wear it, she was charged as a relapsed heretic and turned over to the secular officials who burned her at the stake.

    In 1920, Joan of Arc, was canonized as a Christian saint by the Roman Catholic Church. Her feast day is May 30.

     

    1981: Bangladeshi president assassinated
    The president of Bangladesh, Zia Rahman, has been assassinated in the south-eastern city of Chittagong.

    President Zia is believed to have died at 0430 local time when rebels stormed a government guest house.

    He is reported to have been killed by sub-machine-gun bullets when he opened the door of his room to see what was happening outside.

    Eight people are thought to have died in the shooting, including a security officer, an officer who was guarding the president and one of the attackers.

    Widely admired

    The killing was believed to be part of an army rebellion and government forces have taken control of the town after rebel leader Major General Manzur Ahmed fled.

    One report on Bangladesh radio said Maj Gen Manzur was hiding in the hills outside Chittagong, while another report said he had been captured.

    There are reports that Maj Gen Manzur staged a coup attempt partly because he resented a planned transfer to a non-command post in Dhaka.

    Following the death of the 45-year-old president, the rebels announced they were forming a revolutionary committee but diplomats said they had failed to win support from army units across the rest of Bangladesh.

    The army, under its chief of staff, Major General Hussain Muhammad Ershad, remained loyal to the Dhaka government and quickly put down the rebellion.

    The Bangladesh government said the uprising in the port city had been carried out by a "few miscreants".

    In the capital Dhaka, tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets to show their grief at the death of their president, who was widely admired and respected.

    Abdus Sattar, who has been named as acting president, has declared a state of emergency and a 40-day period of mourning. He also called on Maj Gen Manzur to surrender.

    Dhaka airport is closed and all telephone and telex links to India have been suspended.

    Army officers have been involved in several attempts to remove President Zia from office during his six-year rule.

    1972: Official IRA declares ceasefire

    The official wing of the IRA in Northern Ireland has announced a ceasefire, reserving the right of self-defence against attacks by the British Army and sectarian groups.

    However the Provisional IRA dismissed the truce as having "little effect" on the situation.

    The Northern Ireland Secretary, William Whitelaw, welcomed the move and a spokesperson said it was "a step in the right direction".

    The overwhelming desire of the great majority of all the people of the north is for an end to military actions by all sides
    Official IRA statement
    A statement was read out from Dublin after last night's meeting of the executive of the Northern Republican Clubs, a political movement allied to the IRA.

    It said: "The overwhelming desire of the great majority of all the people of the north is for an end to military actions by all sides."

    It went on to say that a suspension of activities would be a chance to prevent all-out civil war in Ulster.

    The group insisted it would continue a campaign of civil disobedience and the political struggle until its demands were met - namely:

    • the release of all internees,
    • an amnesty for political prisoners in British and Irish jails,
    • the withdrawal of British troops from the streets of Northern Ireland,
    • the abolition of the Special Powers Act
    • and a declaration of freedom of political expression.

    The RUC and British Army will be the first to benefit from such a ceasefire as they have been the main targets of the IRA.

    Residents of Belfast in particular have been worn down by the four-year campaign of violence and this news will be very welcome there. And Father Hugh O'Neill who leads a Londonderry peace movement said: "Please God, everyone will now sit down and begin to talk."


    Watch/Listen
    Masked IRA gunman - April 1972
    The official IRA campaign against the RUC and the Army could end soon

    Reaction in Ulster to the ceasefire
    In Context
    The Official IRA called a ceasefire because its campaign of violence which began in 1968 was proving unpopular in Northern Ireland.

    The Provisional IRA had been formed in 1969.

    From 1972 onwards, its members detonated thousands of bombs in an effort to destabilise Northern Ireland and force British troops out.

    Following the Downing Street Declaration, the Provisional IRA announced a ceasefire in 1994, abandoned it in 1995 but resumed in 1997.

    Its political wing, Sinn Féin, accepted the 1998 Good Friday Agreement but the IRA refused to decommission its weapons, a key part of the agreement.

    In May 2000 the IRA said it would allow inspection of its arms dumps as part of a decommissioning process.

    The Real IRA, another splinter group, called a ceasefire after the Omagh bombing of August 1998 caused widespread outrage.

    1990: France bans British beef imports
    The French Government has banned imports of British beef and live cattle because of fears over BSE, or "mad cow" disease.

    France is Britain's biggest beef customer, spending some £183m a year. So the news comes as a blow to farmers already suffering financially from a severe drop in beef sales as consumer confidence plummets.

    It is bad news for the government, too, as it tries in vain to convince the British public that beef is safe to eat.

    Safety guarantees

    The French Agriculture Minister, Henri Nallet, said no beef or live cattle would be allowed in from Britain until there were satisfactory guarantees about its safety.

    The British Agriculture Minister, John Gummer, said the ban was "unwarranted, unjustified and contrary to European Community law".

    In February the French government banned the import of products like offal but said they would wait for a collective EC decision before taking any further action.

    Mr Nallet said today's decision was not taken from any new scientific evidence but because of the effect bad publicity about British beef was having on sales of French beef.

    "Totally illegal"

    The National Farmers Union said it would try to overturn the ban. "France is a major trading partner," said Sir Simon Gourlay, President of the NFU. "It's part of the European Community. It's subject to European Community law and we take the view that this is totally illegal."

    Although there are still restrictions on British beef imports to 18 countries, France's ban is unilateral and total, raising suspicions that the move is as much to do with French protectionism as concern with consumer safety.

    The fear among many farmers is that no amount of resolute action to control the disease will overcome prejudice against British beef and that other countries will follow suit.


    Watch/Listen
    A Hereford cross heffer
    The British Government is trying to convince the public British beef is safe

    French and UK parliaments debate ruling
    In Context
    A few days later, Germany and Italy joined France in banning all British beef.

    After fierce negotiation in Brussels the bans were lifted in return for tough health controls on British beef exports.

    The BSE crisis reached a peak on 20 March 1996 when the British government acknowledged a link between BSE and CJD, the human form of the degenerative disease first found in British cattle 10 years earlier.

    A week later, there was a worldwide ban on all British beef exports. This was lifted in 1999 by all countries except France and Germany, which lifted the ban in 2000.

    After the EC threatened to impose huge fines, France finally lifted its ban in October 2002.

    In March 2006, the EU finally allowed the UK to export live animals born on or after 1 August 1996, and beef and products from cattle slaughtered after 15 June 2005.

    2001: French ex-minister jailed over sleaze
    Former French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas has been jailed for six months in the country's biggest sleaze scandal in recent history.

    The 78-year-old judge and close confidant of the late President Francois Mitterrand was found guilty of illegally receiving funds from oil giant Elf Aquitaine between 1989 and 1992.

    His ex-lover, Christine Deviers-Joncour, and two top Elf executives were also jailed for misusing funds in the embezzlement scandal.

    Ms Deviers-Joncour sank into her chair, head in hands, as the sentence was announced - three-years' imprisonment, half of which is suspended.

    Former company president Loik Le Floch-Prigent, 57, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison. Alfred Sirven, 74, his former second-in-command and controller of the company slush fund - got four years.

    Both men were also ordered to pay fines of two million French francs ($270,000). Mr Dumas must pay one million francs.

    The trial that has gripped the nation focused on allegations of corruption arising from the $9m which Elf is said to have paid to Ms Deviers-Joncour for her work as a consultant and lobbyist in support of the firm's world-wide sales effort.

    "Game of shadows and light"

    Mr Dumas has said he played a part, for the sake of France, in what he called "a subtle game of shadows and light", but denied that he made any personal gain.

    The trial produced more headline-grabbing details about the lavish lifestyles of the accused, and the many gifts allegedly given to Mr Dumas by his lover in an attempt to influence government decisions.

    And in a major dramatic twist Sirven, on trial in his absence, was captured in the Philippines after four years on the run. He was brought back amid fevered expectation of what he might reveal about the affair, as the former controller of the Elf purse-strings. But in the end he refused to testify.

    The ripples from the case have spread across the border into Germany, where Elf embarked on controversial expansion projects in Helmut Kohl's era as Chancellor. Both Dumas and his former lover will remain free while their appeals are heard - which could take years.


    Roland Dumas emerges from court after sentencing
    Roland Dumas: found guilty of illegally receiving funds from oil giant Elf
    In Context
    Roland Dumas was cleared in January 2003.

    His initial trial and sentence were widely regarded in France as a sign the French government was ready to rid itself of corruption.

    But subsequent attempts to prosecute politicians collapsed. In October 2001 President Jacques Chirac won his right to maintain immunity from prosecution on allegations of misappropriating public funds.

    In the same month prosecutors dropped their case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn - the popular former finance minister in Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin's cabinet - for forgery and misappropriation of funds.

    In February 2002 French magistrates published a report ending an eight-year investigation led by magistrate Eva Joly into corruption involving French politicians and the once state-owned company Elf Aquitaine.

    In 2003 37 people, including three senior Elf executives, were sentenced to spend up to five years in prison for their part in the corruption scandal.

    1967: Egypt and Jordan unite against Israel

    The King of Jordan and President Abdel Nasser of Egypt have signed a joint defence agreement.

    The news came as a surprise to Egyptians and foreigners alike since King Hussein has often been criticised for cosying up to the West.

    Just two days ago, the president had called the king an "imperialist lackey".

    Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight
    President Nasser of Egypt
    But it seems they have found a common enemy in Israel.

    Tensions in the region have been building for the last three weeks since Egypt increased its military presence in the Sinai Peninsular and ordered the United Nations Emergency Force off Egyptian territory.

    On 22 May President Nasser closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping.

    Five days later he declared: "Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight."

    Unannounced visit

    Today, King Hussein was met at Almaza military airport by the president on an unannounced visit to the Egyptian capital, Cairo.

    Five hours later, Cairo Radio announced the two leaders had signed the deal stating that "the two countries consider any attack on either of them is an attack on both and will take measures including the use of armed forces to repulse such an attack".

    The five-year deal paves the way for the creation of a defence council and joint command. General Mohammed Fawzy, Egypt's Chief of Staff, would command military operations in case of war.

    After the agreement was signed, President Nasser thanked his "dear brother" King Hussein for coming to Cairo and said any differences between their nations had been erased "in one moment".

    King Hussein then flew back to the Jordanian capital, Amman, accompanied by the chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, Ahmed Shukairy. He is in charge of commando forces in the Gaza strip bordering Israel. Israel says the pact has greatly increased the danger of an all out-war between Israel and the Arab states.


    King Hussein of Jordan inspecting his troops on the border with Israel - 29 May 1967
    King Hussein of Jordan inspecting his troops on the border with Israel the day before his surprise visit to Cairo
    In Context
    After a period of relative peace in the Middle East, Palestinian guerrilla groups, supported by Egypt and Syria, started a series of attacks on the Israeli border in 1965.

    These were followed by Israeli reprisals and a gradual build-up of Arab military forces around Israel's border.

    When diplomatic efforts by the UK and the US failed, Israel took decisive action on 5 June 1967.

    It launched a massive pre-emptive strike that crippled Egypt's air force, then seized the Sinai peninsula from Egypt in the south and the strategic Golan Heights from Syria in the north. It also pushed Jordanian forces out of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, uniting the once divided Holy City.

    The assault ended on 10 June and became known as the Six Day War - it changed the face of the Middle East conflict.

    It also displaced some 500,000 Palestinians who fled to Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.

    Egypt and Jordan are the only Arab nations that have since made peace with Israel.


    Coffin amid huge crowds
    President Zia was buried two days later at a funeral attended by huge crowds


    In Context
    The president was assassinated by a small group of army officers. The killing was alleged to have been ordered by Major General Manzur.

    Manzur was later reported to have been captured in a tea garden in Chittagong and killed by army officers.

    A military court tried 31 officers in connection with an attempted coup and 12 were executed for complicity in the assassination of the president.

    In 2000, a parliamentary committee in the capital Dhaka concluded that the trial of those accused of killing him was not conducted in accordance with the law.

    The committee recommended that the families of the 12 army officials hanged for the murder should be compensated.

    A member of the committee, a former army officer, told the BBC that the committee considered that the officers were sentenced to death without valid evidence in some cases and were the victims of injustice.


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    31st May

     

    2005 Identity Of Watergate Informant 'Deep Throat' Is Revealed

    Deep Throat was W. Mark Felt, who, at the time of Watergate, was assistant director of the FBI.

    Felt had been angry at Nixon's failure to promote him after J. Edgar Hoover died, and at the speed of the investigation into Watergate.

    The two reporters from The Washington Post, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, ('Woodsetin') gained legendary status because of their investigation in which they proved that Nixon had conspired to cover up a bugging and intimidation campaign against his political opponents.

    Woodstein had agreed to maintain Deep Throat's anonymity, and only ever consulted him on extremely important issues. After fears that his telephone was being tapped, Felt demanded that he meet Woodward in a parking garage at night, a scene played out in the memorable movie All The Presidents Men.

    The announcement that Felt was Deep Throat appears to have surprised Woodstein. The announcement was made in an interview with Vanity Fair.

    In 1973, the Washington Post won a Pulitzer Prize in public service for its coverage of the Watergate scandal.

     

    1985: English teams banned after Heysel
    The Football Association has banned English clubs from playing in Europe following the Heysel stadium tragedy two days ago in which 39 fans died.

    The Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, supported the ban which was announced by FA officials outside Number 10 Downing Street and called for tougher sentences on convicted football hooligans.

    "We have to get the game cleaned up from this hooliganism at home and then perhaps we shall be able to go overseas again," she said.

    Last Wednesday evening, 39 people died and more than 400 were injured when a wall collapsed at the stadium in Brussels during violent riots just before the European cup final between Liverpool and Juventus (Turin).

    We have to get the game cleaned up from this hooliganism at home and then perhaps we shall be able to go overseas again
    Margaret Thatcher
    The match went ahead despite the tragedy and Juventus won 1-0.

    The ban, decided after the return from Mexico of FA chairman Bert Millichip and secretary Ted Croker, will affect Everton, Manchester United, Liverpool, Norwich City, Tottenham Hotspur and Southampton. They are all due to compete in major contests next season.

    "It is now up to English football to put its house in order," said Mr Croker outside Number 10.

    Mr Millichip acknowledged the ban was a pre-emptive move and that Uefa (the Union of European Football Associations) would have imposed it anyway.

    "It was very important that the FA took positive action and immediately," he said, saying it was the most difficult decision he had ever had to take.

    The Labour leader of the Opposition, Neil Kinnock, said the ban of English teams would only benefit those who caused the "murderous riot" in Belgium.

    The Football League which was not consulted is also opposed to the decision.

    The Belgian government has already banned all British clubs from its territory until further notice.

    Liverpool, whose fans were blamed for much of the violence, had decided to pull out of next season's Uefa cup competition before the FA announcement.

    1973: US Senate stops Cambodia bombing

    The US Senate has voted to cut off funds for the bombing of Cambodia.

    The move is a serious blow to President Richard Nixon's South-East Asia policy and follows a similar resolution voted in by the House of Representatives on 10 May.

    The president's special adviser, Dr Henry Kissinger, had pleaded with the senate not to rebel against the government while he was still trying to negotiate a lasting settlement in Indo-China.

    He said if the communists in Vietnam realised there were divisions in Congress, he would find it impossible to hold them to the terms of the 28 January ceasefire.

    But it seems his argument held little sway with Congress.

    The amendment to an approprations bill was sponsored by Democrat Senator Thomas Eagleton and supported by many liberal Republicans.

    The only way to face up to our responsibilities, the only way to do it effectively is to cut the purse strings
    Mike Mansfield, Senate majority leader
    Large sections of the American people are opposed to the bombing of Cambodia. Their views have been reflected today by senators who believe they can stop the war by holding back funds.

    The Senate majority leader, Mike Mansfield, said: "The only way to face up to our responsibilities, the only way to do it effectively is to cut the purse strings."

    There is also pressure to end the civil war in Cambodia from China -currently home to Prince Norodom Sihanouk, former leader of Cambodia deposed in a military coup three years ago.

    The Cambodian army are fighting a battle on several fronts - against Prince Sihanouk's guerrilla groups, the Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot and the North Vietnamese communists, the Vietcong, who have been taking a battering from US fighter bombers. The prince remains a personal as well as political enemy to Cambodia's President Lon Nol who has recently told William Sullivan, Dr Kissinger's assistant, that he was willing to start peace talks with the prince and his government in exile.


    Watch/Listen
    Remains of a child's cot in a bombed Cambodian village
    Many Americans are opposed to the bombing of Cambodia

    CBS report on US role in Cambodia
     

    In Context
    The carpet bombing that had started covertly in 1970 to stop America's enemies from Vietnam using Cambodia as a base outraged the American public and crippled Cambodia as a nation.

    Under pressure from Congress, the Nixon administration finally ended the bombing in August 1973.

    The Cambodian army gradually lost more territory to the Khmer Rouge who began a reign of terror in 1975.

    Prince Sihanouk became head of state for a brief period before he was forced into political exile by Pol Pot.

    For the next four years Pol Pot oversaw the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people, by execution, forced labour and starvation.

    The Vietnamese forced out Pol Pot in 1979 and withdrew from Cambodia 10 years later. In 1993 the monarchy was restored with Sihanouk as king.

    1957: Arthur Miller guilty of contempt
    US playwright Arthur Miller has been convicted of contempt of Congress.

    The conviction relates to an investigation last year by the House of Representatives' Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) into a Communist conspiracy to misuse American passports.

    During the investigation 41-year-old Mr Miller, who is married to Hollywood movie star Marilyn Monroe, refused to reveal the names of alleged Communist writers with whom he had attended five or six meetings in New York in 1947.

    He was said to be co-operative in all other aspects of the hearing but told the committee his conscience would not permit him to give the names of others and bring possible trouble to them.

    'Exposure for exposure's sake'

    The guilty verdict was announced in a 15-page "opinion" today by Federal Judge McLaughlin who presided over a six-day trial, which ended last week.

    During the trial Mr Miller's counsel, Joseph Rauh, had claimed that the questions his client had refused to answer had no reasonable connection with a passports inquiry.

    He argued that the committee had simply wanted to expose the playwright and that "exposure for exposure's sake" was illegal.

    But Judge McLaughlin found that HUAC did have a valid legislative purpose in looking into the passport regulations and that Mr Miller had indeed experienced his own difficulties in obtaining a passport from the State Department.

    The trial was told by the government that Mr Miller had joined the Communist party in 1943 but this was denied by the defendant who said that to the best of his belief he had never been a party member.

    He did, however say that "there were two short periods - one in 1940 and one in 1947 - when I was sufficiently close to Communist Party activities so that someone might honestly have thought that I had become a member".

    Mr Miller was not in court when the guilty verdict was announced. The maximum punishment for contempt of Congress is one year in jail, a fine of £357 or both.

    No date was fixed for sentencing but it is understood the case will automatically go to appeal.

    After the trial Mr Miller, who will remain on bail pending the next legal step, said through a spokesman: "I have no comment to make, nor has my wife."

    The case is now bound to call into question the whole system of Congressional inquiries and their impingement on individual rights.

    1966: Vietnam Buddhist burns to death

    A 17-year-old Buddhist girl has committed suicide by setting herself alight in a street in the city of Hue.

    She was protesting against the South Vietnam regime.

    It is the fifth such death in three days.

    A girl of 19 set herself alight two days ago outside a pagoda in Saigon and a monk did the same in the mountain town of Dalat.

    In June 1963 Buddhist monk Quang Duc became famous when he was photographed setting himself alight in a suicide protest against the South Vietnamese government then under Ngo Dinh Diem.

    Appeal to stop suicides

    The Buddhists are demanding the resignation of the military government led by Prime Minister Air Vice Marshal Ky and Head of State General Nguyen van Thieu.

    But their spiritual leader, Thich Thien Minh, has appealed to his fellow Buddhists to stop this kind of self-sacrifice.

    Today he met with a six-member government delegation in Hue to discuss the possibility of enlarging the government to include more civilians.

    The city has been under the control of Buddhist students for the past two months. They agreed to remove roadblocks and close the radio station after an order from Lt-Col Phan van Khoa, the pro-government mayor of Hue.

    Yesterday, US President Lyndon Johnson condemned the recent Buddhist suicides saying these "acts of desperation" hampered progress towards a more democratic government.

    During his Memorial Day speech in the National Cemetery at Arlington, Virginia, he said such action obscured the sacrifice of many thousands of Vietnamese in their struggle for independence. He also pledged America's continued military support in the war against the communists in the north.


    Buddhist Monk Quang Duc set himself alight in 1963
    In 1963 Buddhist monk Quang Duc killed himself in an anti-government protest
    In Context
    The following day, Thich Thien Minh was seriously injured when a bomb was thrown into his car.

    He had just reached agreement with the government to add 10 civilians to the national ruling committee of 10 generals.

    But General van Thieu clung on to power until shortly before forces from the communist north overran the capital, Saigon, in April 1975 and the Vietnam War finally ended.

    Buddhists were persecuted and many sent to "re-education" camps. Among them was Thich Thien Minh himself, who was jailed for life in 1979 for allegedly plotting to overthrow the regime.

    He is a member of the outlawed the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam - the government allows only its state-controlled Buddhist Church of Vietnam to operate.


    Arthur Miller
    Arthur Miller had close associations with the Communist party


    In Context
    The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) was set up in 1938 to investigate fascists as well as communists within federal government.

    In 1947 it turned its attention to the arts. A group of writers, directors and actors known as the Hollywood Ten were subsequently convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to answer questions about their political beliefs

    They were blacklisted by Hollywood and over the course of the next 10 years some 320 people were barred from work in the film studios over their alleged membership of the Communist party.

    A few weeks after the Miller case, John Watkins won an appeal in the Supreme Court quashing a similar conviction.

    On 7 August 1958, after a two-year legal battle to clear his name, Washington's Court of Appeals quashed Miller's conviction for contempt of Congress.

    As more convictions of contempt were quashed by the courts of appeal, the committee's influence declined and it was abolished in 1975.


    victim on ground and rescue workers
    Liverpool fans were blamed for the violence


    In Context
    The horrific scenes at the Heysel stadium unfurled shortly before the European Cup final when Liverpool fans charged towards Juventus supporters, causing a dividing wall to collapse and crushing fans to death. The final death toll was 39 - most of the victims were Italians.

    The ban was lifted in 1990.

    Violence in football grounds has been largely eliminated thanks to closed circuit TV, seating in stadiums, segregation of rival fans and the banning of alcohol.

    More recently any violence has taken place outside the ground as happened during World Cup matches in France in 1998 when England fans went on the rampage in Marseille destroying shops.

    England fans behaved well during at the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan as well as Euro 2004 in Portugal.


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    1st June

     

    1968 Helen Keller Dies

    She died at the age of 87 in Westport, Connecticut. She had been blind and deaf since being struck down with (what is thought to be) scarlet fever at 19 months.

    In her life she became a world renowned writer and lecture (her lectures were delivered through an interpreter).

    She was awarded The Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964, the USA's highest civilian award, for her work with the blind.

    Helen Keller wrote:

    "My life has been happy because I have had wonderful friends and plenty of interesting work to do."

    "I seldom think about my limitations, and they never make me sad. Perhaps there is just a touch of yearning at times, but it is vague, like a breeze among flowers. The wind passes, and the flowers are content."

     

    2001: Nepal royal family massacred
    The King and Queen of Nepal have been shot dead after the heir to the throne went on the rampage with a gun before turning it on himself.

    Eleven people died in the incident which started when Crown Prince Dipendra allegedly had a dispute with his mother over his choice of bride.

    King Birendra, Queen Aishwarya and Prince Niranjan were among the victims of the tragedy at the royal palace in Nepal's capital, Kathmandu.

    The other victims included three of the King's children, his two sisters and one more member of the family by marriage.

    Life support machine

    The King's younger brother was also hurt in the attack, but his condition is not known.

    The only person left unharmed from the family was the King's middle brother Prince Gyanendra, who was out of the country at the time of the incident.

    Some reports say the Crown Prince is on a life support machine in hospital.

    If he lives, he is expected to be declared the successor.

    Crown Prince Dipendra, who was educated at Eton College, is reported to have been in conflict with his family over his choice of bride, Devyani Rana, for some time.

    Queen Aishwarya is said to have been the real power behind the throne and allegedly threatened to remove her oldest son from the line of succession, although this would not have been allowed under the constitution.

    The murders are thought to be the worst mass killing of royalty since the Romanovs were put to death in 1918 during the Russian Revolution.

    "This is a most unfortunate and shocking event," said Deputy Prime Minister Ram Chandra Paudel.

    "Shocking is an understatement, we have been orphaned by this loss," said a vegetable seller, Janardan Sharma, who like many in Kathmandu rushed to the royal palace to try to find out more news of the tragedy.

    Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the UN, issued a statement saying that he was "profoundly shocked" by the killings of King Birendra and other members of his family.

    He called for calm in the country and said that he was "deeply saddened by this tragedy".

    King Birendra, 55, ascended the throne in 1972.

    When nationwide unrest broke out in 1990 he was forced to legalise political parties and accept a parliamentary system.

    He was the last ruling Hindu monarch.

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    1993: Serb attack on football match kills 11
    Eleven people have died after Serb forces shelled artillery onto a holiday football match in Bosnia.

    Four children were among the dead, and 100 were injured on the makeshift pitch in the Sarajevo suburb of Dobrinja.

    Several hundred men, women and children were watching the football match when the first shell landed on the pitch. A second hit a few minutes later, wounding those who had gone to help victims of the first.

    Dr Mufid Lazovic, a Sarajevo surgeon, said: "Today we have a very bad day, a lot of injury to patients and a lot of injury to civilians and children."

    Although the suburb is used to shelling, the residents believed the high blocks of flats surrounding the pitch would be enough to protect them from Serb artillery. Many now believe the game was deliberately targeted.

    A lot of injury to civilians and children
    Surgeon Dr Mufid Lazovic
    The attack came on one of the most important muslim festivals of the year. The area is supposed to be in one of the UN's "safe areas" - a term scornfully dismissed by Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic, whose government says they are nothing more than death traps.

    It accuses the international community of appeasing Bosnian Serbs and warns that without a change of policy the slaughter of Muslims will continue.

    Cedric Thornberry, of the UN protection force, defended the concept of safe areas, saying: "The difficulty we face is not only question of co-operation of the parties but the fact that we are terribly thin on the ground and governments are not at this point tumbling over themselves to provide us with more troops".

    UK Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd said he hoped there would be a UN Security Council resolution on secure havens in Bosnia imminently.


    Watch/Listen
    Injured young boy
    Several hundred people were injured

    Report from the scene of the attack

    In Context
    The attack on the suburb of Dobrinja was followed by an even worse massacre in 1995, when the 'safe haven' of Srebrenica was overrun by the Bosnian Serb forces of General Ratko Mladic.

    Thousands of Bosnian Muslim men and boys were separated from their families and slaughtered, despite the presence of Dutch UN troops.

    The Bosnian Croats seized large parts of territory previously occupied by the Bosnian Serbs.

    In 1995 the Dayton peace accord was signed in Paris, creating two entities of roughly equal size, one for Bosnian Muslims and Croats, the other for Serbs.

    An international peacekeeping force was deployed, signalling the start of a new era for Bosnia.

    1979: End of white rule in Rhodesia
    Rhodesia has formally ended nearly 90 years of white minority rule and declared it will now be known as Zimbabwe-Rhodesia.

    In the absence of any official ceremony crowds of revellers, mainly black, gathered in the streets of Salisbury and surrounding townships at midnight to mark the change.

    But although the name may have changed and there are 12 black faces in the cabinet under a new, black prime minister - Bishop Muzorewa - much will stay the same.

    The man in overall command of the military will remain in his post, as will those in charge of the army, air force and police.

    The jobs of top civil servants - all white - are protected under the new constitution.

    Pushing people forward simply because of their colour would be most unfortunate
    Ian Smith
    Ian Smith, although no longer prime minister, will remain in government.

    At his final news conference in the top job Mr Smith said the less change there was the better, setting himself at odds with new Prime Minister Muzorewa, who said he hoped changes would be "very fast" in coming.

    Mr Smith warned that "pushing people forward simply because of their colour, irrespective of merit, would be most unfortunate and would of course lead to disaster".

    He continued: "It would mean that Rhodesia would then develop into a kind of banana republic where the country would in no time be bankrupt."

    Mr Smith, who has moved from his official residency to a more humble abode, said he would be asleep during the changeover. The new government has yet to be officially recognised by Britain and the United States.


    Watch/Listen
    Former Rhodesia Prime Minister Ian Smith
    Former PM Ian Smith said he would be asleep during the handover of power

    Celebrations and confrontation in Zimbabwe
    In Context
    The interim state of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia lasted little more than six months, before the country became a British colony once again.

    Zimbabwe's independence on 18 April 1980 was internationally recognised.

    A violent campaign supported by President Mugabe to seize white-owned farms began in 2000.

    The European Union imposed sanctions on the country in 2002 and Mr Mugabe's re-election was condemned as seriously flawed by international observers.

    1958: De Gaulle returns to tackle Algeria
    France's General Charles de Gaulle has been invited back to the helm 12 years after relinquishing power.

    President Rene Coty asked the general to form a new government as the war in Algeria threatens to bring civil war to a France divided into those who want to see the colony independent and those who wish it to remain a part of France.

    The president's decision was endorsed today by the National Assembly which voted by 329 votes to 224 to have him as prime minister.

    General de Gaulle demanded special powers for at least six months to restore order and unity, and to draft a new constitution for a Fifth Republic and submit it to the people in a referendum in the autumn.

    The Assembly will vote on the issue of special powers tomorrow before parliament goes into recess for six months.

    Civil war

    In a speech to a crowded Assembly he painted a bleak picture of France "threatened with dislocation and perhaps civil war".

    But apart from mentioning a change in the relationship between France "and the peoples who are associated with her", he did not say exactly how he would go about resolving the issue.

    The general is expected to visit war-torn Algeria within a week. There is growing feeling among the loyalists there that de Gaulle will give in to Muslim demands for an independent Algeria.

    More power to president

    General De Gaulle resigned in 1946 after a Constituent Assembly drafted a new constitution that rejected his plan for a strong executive.

    The general regards the divisions within parties in parliament as a great weakness that may have led to the fall of France in 1940. He believes in a strong executive and a clear division of power between the legislature and the executive.

    In Context
    By 1958, the growing number of casualties in the Algerian war of independence (1954-1962) alarmed the French public and drained the French economy, so General Charles de Gaulle was invited back to take power.

    On 28 September 1958 79% of voters in France and its African colonies endorsed the constitution of the Fifth Republic that gave more power than ever to the executive and particularly to the president.

    The Gaullists and their allies won the November general elections by a wide margin and de Gaulle was elected president in December that year.

    After secret talks with the FLN independence movement at Evian in 1962, Algeria was granted independence. This was endorsed by referenda in both France and Algeria.

    In 1965 de Gaulle was elected president for a second term but resigned in 1969.

    He died of a heart attack on 9 November 1970, aged 79.

    1985: Hippies clash with police at Stonehenge
    More than 300 people have been arrested after an attempt by police to prevent a convoy of hippies reaching Stonehenge led to a violent confrontation.

    The travellers were on their way to the ancient stone circle in Wiltshire for an illegal festival but were stopped seven miles from their destination by 500 police officers, who blocked a road and refused to let them pass.

    Officers from six different forces dropped 15 tons of gravel onto the road and used council vehicles to block the path of the 140-vehicle convoy.

    What happened next is hotly disputed. Police have said they came under attack, being pelted with lumps of wood, stones and even petrol bombs.

    But those in the convoy insist that police "ambushed" their peaceful procession of vehicles, methodically smashing windows, beating people on the head with truncheons as they tried to surrender, dragging women along by their hair, and using sledgehammers to damage the interiors of their coaches.

    Protesters have accused the police of reacting with extreme brutality to an essentially peaceful gathering.

    After the initial police intervention some 200 people - including mothers with small children and babies - fled into a nearby field.

    Four hours later, following an appeal by the authorities, some of the protesters left quietly.

    Twelve injured people were taken to hospital and 200 were ferried away by police, leaving behind fires and damaged vehicles.

    1970: British Prime Minister hit by flying egg
    The Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, has been hit in the face with an egg thrown by a Young Conservative demonstrator.

    The raw egg, thrown at close range, hit him on the forehead and bounced onto his jacket where it broke.

    It was thrown by Tory supporter Richard Ware. He had waited nearly an hour to make his protest, outside the Wealdstone Labour Hall in north-west London, over the cancellation of the South African Springboks cricket tour.

    The tour was called off on Home Secretary James Callaghan's orders afer he raised fears of mass demonstrations against apartheid. During the 1969 rugby tour, matches were frequently interrupted by protesters.

    The Labour leader shrugged off the incident as a sign the cost of living could not be as high as the Tories were suggesting if people could afford to throw raw eggs.

    Eggs must be cheap enough to throw about
    Prime Minister Harold Wilson
    The economy has been one of the central issues of this election campaign.

    Earlier in the day Mr Wilson had faced heckling from a crowd of around 500 gathered to greet his arrival at the Holborn and St Pancras South constituency in north London.

    One woman shouted: "He's even put a tax on ant eggs for goldfish."

    Another man retorted: "Goldfish are a luxury."

    When Mr Wilson was later hit by the egg, he quipped: "If they are fighting the cost of living in Harrow, obviously eggs must be cheap enough to throw about.

    "If the Tories get in, in five years no-one will be able to afford to buy an egg."

    Although his government has been dogged by economic crises, culminating in the devaluation of sterling three years ago, there have been signs of recovery recently.

    Chancellor Roy Jenkins introduced a series of indirect taxes in 1968 and a pay rise ceiling of 3.5% which have helped improve the economy to the extent Mr Wilson felt it was safe to call an election for 18 June.

    The polls have all been predicting an easy victory for Labour and Mr Wilson.

    The campaigning so far has focussed firmly on the two main party leaders, Mr Wilson and Conservative Edward Heath.

    Although Mr Wilson has developed a reputation for one-liners at the daily news conferences, it was Mr Heath who got the better of him this time. Asked about the egg incident, Mr Heath replied: "This was a secret meeting on a secret tour which nobody is supposed to know about. It means that men - and perhaps women - are walking the streets with eggs in their pockets, just on the off-chance."


    Harold Wilson turning to face the camera after being hit by an egg
    Harold Wilson jokes about the cost of living after having an egg thrown at him
    In Context
    Four days after the egg incident, Harold Wilson's wife was hit by a flour bomb as the couple waited for the prime ministerial car after a visit to the local Labour Party in Battersea, south London.

    Asked afterwards if he felt the police should be given increased powers to deal with violent demonstrators, Mr Wilson said freedom was part of a democracy and a respect for the rights of others.

    He went on to lose the election to the Conservatives - after what was generally regarded as a very lack-lustre campaign.

    The Tories took 330 seats, with Labour on 288 and the Liberals won just six seats. The Scottish Nationalists also gained their first Westminster MP.

    This was the first election in which 18-year-olds were entitled to vote - but turnout was down on previous years to 72%, the lowest since 1935.


    Watch/Listen
    Stonehenge
    Thousands flock to Stonehenge every year

    Police and hippies clash at Stonehenge


    In Context
    The Battle of the Beanfield, as it became known, was the first major test of an English Heritage ban on midsummer festivals at Stonehenge.

    Two years later a Wiltshire police sergeant was found guilty of having caused actual bodily harm to a member of the hippy convoy.

    Travellers sued the police for damages for alleged wrongful arrest, false imprisonment and damage to property, and in February 1991 a jury at Winchester crown court awarded a total of £24,000 to 21 hippies.

    English Heritage's ban was lifted in 2000, and druids have since shared the site with young revellers who use it as a party venue.


    General de Gaulle at Bruneval in 1947
    General de Gaulle described France as being on the brink of civil war


    Watch/Listen
    Crown Prince Dipendra
    Crown Prince Dipendra allegedly argued with his mother over his choice of bride

    Nepal mourns massacred royals


    Kathmandu in turmoil: Dave Adair documents the days after the Nepalese royal family massacre

    In Context
    It was later confirmed Crown Prince Dipendra had turned the gun on himself but did not die immediately and lapsed into a coma.

    He died some 30 hours after the shootings when the king's middle brother, Prince Gyanendra was declared the new king.

    Devyani Rana fled Nepal and is reported to be in Europe.

    Riots followed the killings as conspiracy theories about coups flourished.

    Prince Paras Shah, who had suddenly become second in line to the throne as son of the new king, was blamed for the tragedy as people refused to believe Dipendra could have killed his parents.

    Two leading Maoists also tried to blame India for conspiring with the Nepali government to undermine the sovereignty.

    There followed an upsurge in violence led by the Maoist rebels which led to a state of emergency in November 2001.

    A seven-month truce failed in August 2003 and two years later the king imposed direct rule saying the government had failed to defeat the Maoists.

    In April 2006 an alliance of seven opposition parties organised national strikes and protests which led to a violent crackdown by the police. The UN human rights commissioner in Nepal urged the king to restore democracy and prevent further bloodshed.

    The following month, the Nepalese government approved a plan to curtail the king's powers, oblige the royal family to pay tax and hand over control of the army to parliament which will also name the king's heir.


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    2nd June

     

    1953 Coronation of England's Queen Elizabeth II

    The spectacle of a coronation dates back over 1000 years. It happened at Westminster Abbey in London, England. Elizabeth was 27 years of age, married to 30 year-old Philip Mountbatten (a distant cousin), who became the Duke of Edinburgh.

    Elizabeth was daughter to the second in line to the throne. But her uncle, and first in line, King Edward VIII, abdicated the throne over his decision to marry Wallis Warfield Simpson, an American divorcee. Thus Elizabeth's father, King George VI, was crowned King in his place.

    Elizabeth has had four children, two before being crowned Queen, Prince Charles, born in 1948, and Princess Anne, born in 1950. Whilst serving as monarch she gave birth to Prince Andrew in 1960 and Prince Edward in 1964.

    Her constitutional position in the United Kingdom is little more of that of nominal Head of State, with the main power held in the democratically elected House of Commons, with the main leader of the largest party there being the Prime Minister.

     

    1979: Millions cheer as the Pope comes home

    The Pope has returned home to Poland as the first Roman Catholic pontiff to visit a Communist-ruled country.

    As John Paul II set foot on his native soil, at Okecie military airport, he fell on his knees and kissed the ground.

    He was greeted by the Polish head of state, Henryk Jablonski, and Polish Primate Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski.

    The Pope was then driven into Warsaw in an open top car past around two million people who cheered: "Long live our Pope".

    He was greeted by a further 250, 000 people as he entered Victory Square for an open air Mass.

    Religious motives

    Many wept as the Pope walked up to the altar and stood with open arms before a 30ft cross which was draped in red stoles.

    In an exchange of speeches with Mr Jablonski, he said his visit was dictated by strictly religious motives.

    The Pope stressed that he hoped his trip would help the "internal unity of my fellow countrymen and also a further favourable development of relations between the state and the church in my beloved motherland."

    "I have kissed the ground of Poland on which I grew up, the land from which, through the inscrutable design of providence, God called me to the chair of Peter in Rome, the land from which I am coming today as a pilgrim," he added.

    During the 15-minute speech he also talked about the the sufferings of Poland during the WW II.

    "We have every respect for and we are grateful for every bit of help that we have received from others at this time, while we think with sadness of the disappointments that we were not spared."

    In a departure from his prepared text, the Pope also referred to a banner he had seen held up by a group of visiting Czechoslovak Catholics which read: "Remember, father, your Czech children."

    He said it was good that he had seen the banner and he would not forget them.

    His return marks the start of an official nine-day visit which is widely expected to have a major impact on church-state relations and Eastern Europe. During his trip he will visit Czestochowa in southern Poland, site of the Jasna Gora sanctuary and home of the famous Black Madonna Byzantine icon.

     

    1994: MI5 officers killed in helicopter crash
    An RAF Chinook helicopter carrying more than 20 of Britain's top intelligence experts has crashed on the Mull of Kintyre, killing everyone on board.

    An investigation is under way to find out why the aircraft - described by RAF officials as "state of the art" - came down during a routine flight from Belfast to Inverness, killing 29 people.

    The deaths of 25 senior police, army and MI5 officers - some of the most experienced intelligence experts in the country - were described by the Chief Constable of Northern Ireland as a "catastrophic loss in the fight against terrorism".

    Three separate inquiries will be held, and questions are expected to be asked as to why so many senior staff were flying in the same aircraft.

    The Chinook crashed into a hillside near the Mull of Kintyre lighthouse in thick fog.

    The explosion scorched surrounding heather and gorse as the helicopter was turned into a huge fireball.

    The bodies of the dead are being taken to a temporary mortuary in Machrihanish air base. The full identification process is likely to continue until early next week.

    The RAF has maintained a fleet of more than 30 Chinook helicopters since 1980. They are used for transporting troops and equipment. The aircraft which crashed had recently been refitted.

    Northern Ireland Secretary Sir Patrick Mayhew insisted the Chinooks had a "remarkable" safety record. None of the remaining aircraft in the fleet is being grounded.

    As the investigation gets under way some RAF officers admitted the crash could have been caused by many things - pilot error, instrument failure, mechanical collapse, or even "birdstrike".

    There are fears that an explanation may never be conclusively established.

    1985: Uefa bans English clubs from Europe
    European football's governing body Uefa has banned English clubs from playing in Europe indefinitely, following the riot at Brussels' Heysel stadium four days ago in which 39 people died.

    The ban follows an announcement by the British Football Association on 31 May preventing its own English teams from playing in Europe.

    Today's announcement came after an emergency session of soccer chiefs in Switzerland, and cannot be appealed. It is expected to cast English clubs into the European wilderness for several years.

    Liverpool fans have been blamed for the Heysel tragedy, when supporters charged at a wall separating them from Juventus fans, causing it to collapse onto the mainly Italian crowd.

    English football welcomes move

    Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are exempt from the ban, and disciplinary action against Liverpool FC is also being considered.

    Reacting to the decision, football league president Jack Dunnett said: "It is unfair to punish clubs which had nothing to do with the Brussels tragedy".

    But the move was welcomed by other leading figures in English football.

    FA Secretary Ted Croker said: "There are many of us who don't want to see us back in Europe until we have got our own house in order."

    A British representative on Uefa's 11-strong executive committee said he had unsuccessfully tried to push for the ban to be limited to a set period. But David Will, president of the Scottish FA, said: "The feeling in Uefa is very, very strong".

    The British government is set to announce new measures to tighten crowd control in British clubs in the aftermath of the Heysel tragedy.

    These are expected to include confirmation of a drinks ban in all British clubs, the introduction of club membership cards to give known supporters access to matches, and wider use of CCTV cameras.

    In Liverpool police are launching an inquiry into the Brussels riot. A public hotline has been set up in an attempt to establish what happened and identify those responsible.

    1966: First US space probe lands on Moon

    The United States has landed its first spacecraft on the Moon.

    Scientists were surprised and delighted that Surveyor 1 - America's first attempt at a "soft" landing - succeeded.

    They had expected it to take at least four tries.

    The Soviet Union was the first to achieve the feat four months ago. It is believed to have sent four failed missions before landing the Luna 9 probe successfully.

    Astonishing pictures

    The Surveyor 1 craft landed at 0617 GMT in the Ocean of Storms, about 590 miles (950 km) from where Luna 9 came down.

    Just over half an hour later, it began transmitting a series of astonishing photographs of the Moon's surface.

    The American President, Lyndon B Johnson, used the occasion to emphasise the openness of America's space programme.

    In a comment directed at the Soviet Union, which earlier this year delayed the release of photographs from Luna 9, he said Surveyor's "remarkable photographs" would be made available as soon as possible.

    In fact, national television networks in America broadcast the first pictures taken by the 10ft (3m) high triangular-shaped spacecraft as they came in.

    Smooth landing

    Scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California began counting down the spacecraft's descent from an altitude of about 60 miles (95 km) from the Moon's surface, when Surveyor was travelling at about 6,100 mph (9,800 km/h).

    The altitude marking radar started the powerful main braking rocket. This burned out in about 40 seconds, about 25 miles (40 km) above the Moon's surface. The rocket's speed had been reduced to 250 mph (400 km/h).

    By the time Surveyor was 13 feet (four metres) from its target it had been slowed to about eight mph (13 km/h).

    "It settled on the surface in a fairly soft fashion, just a few degrees off the horizontal," said one of the scientists.

    The first pictures showed a number of objects which appeared to be rocks about an inch (2.5cm) across, and pebbles strewn about the lunar surface.

    Dr Leonard Jaffe, chief Surveyor project scientist, discounted previous theories about deep layers of soft dust, pointing at photographs taken after touchdown of the Surveyor's pad on one of the spacecraft's tripod legs. Scientists believe that the success of the Surveyor 1 mission has put the lunar landing program about a year ahead of schedule.


    Surveyor probe
    Surveyor was America's first attempt at a soft landing (picture courtesy NSSDC)
    In Context
    Surveyor 1 spent the lunar night on the Moon and was successfully reactivated the next lunar day, on 6 July. Contact was lost on 7 January 1967.

    The United States sent another six Surveyor probes to the Moon over the following 18 months. Only two were failures.

    Later Surveyor missions were able to take samples of the rocky surface of the Moon, discovering them to consist largely of basalt.

    The Apollo 12 mission was planned to land close to where Surveyor 3 had touched down to demonstrate the accuracy of its navigation.

    Astronaut Pete Conrad was able to retrieve the camera and scoop from the Surveyor's landing site and return them to Earth.

    The information gathered from the Surveyor missions was essential for the success of the American Apollo manned expeditions which began the following year.

    Budget constraints brought the first phase of American lunar exploration to an end in 1972.

    Then, in January 2004, US President George Bush announced American astronauts would return to the Moon by 2020 as the launching point for missions further into space.

    1976: Piggott celebrates 7th Derby victory
    Jockey Lester Piggott has won the Epsom Derby for a record seventh time, riding the French-trained Emperie.

    By the final furlong it was clear Piggott would win when he raced ahead of the leaders.

    The favourite horse to succeed, Wollow, was beaten to 5th place, as Piggott won by three lengths on the 10-1 runner.

    His achievement beats previous records set by Jim Robinson in the 1830s, and Steve Donoghue during the wartime years, both of whom won six times each.

    The prize was £100,000, making it the richest Derby ever.

    Over 300,000 watched the race and throughout the UK £25m was spent betting on the 23 runners.

    The confident jockey said he had known last night that he was going to win.

    The Queen, as always, was present at the Derby but did not have a runner.

    Emperie is trained by Maurice Zilber and owned by American Nelson Bunker Hunt who's 21-year-old daughter led the triumphant horse into the winner's enclosure.

    Piggott became the race's youngest winning jockey this century when, aged 18, he was successful on the 33/1 shot Never Say Die in 1954.

    His other wins were in 1957, 1960, 1968, 1970, and 1972.

     


    Watch/Listen
    Jockey Lester Piggott
    The jockey said he knew he would win

    Epsom celebrates Derby Day


    In Context
    Lester Piggott won the Epsom Derby on two further occasions, in 1977 and 1983, bringing him an unbeaten total of nine victories.

    He first announced his retirement in 1985, but two years later he was found guilty of a £3.25m tax fraud, imprisoned and stripped of his OBE.

    Following his release, he returned to the saddle in 1990 and scored a fairytale triumph on Royal Academy in the Breeders' Cup Mile in America.

    Aged 56, he claimed the 2,000 Guineas in 1992 on Rodrigo de Triano - his 30th British Classic win.

    Piggott finally retired in 1995, although he took part in a special race at the Melbourne Cup meeting in 2001.


    President of the Scottish FA David Will
    President of the Scottish FA David Will: "The feeling in Uefa is very, very strong"


    In Context
    English clubs were excluded from continental competition for five years - and Liverpool for six years - but hooliganism continued to plague English football.

    In 1992 English hooligans caused violence and destruction at the European championship finals in Sweden, and in 1995, a friendly international between Republic of Ireland and England in Dublin was abandoned after 27 minutes when England fans rioted.

    In June 2000 Uefa threatened to expel England from the Euro 2000 tournament after a weekend of trouble in Brussels and Charleroi saw 584 British citizens arrested.


    Watch/Listen
    Wreckage from the Chinook crash
    Wreckage from the Chinook crash

    Reaction to the helicopter tragedy


    In Context
    In 1995 an initial RAF board of inquiry ruled that the pilots - Flight Lieutenants Jonathan Tapper and Richard Cook - were guilty of "gross negligence".

    But since then campaigners have fought to clear the pilots' names.

    A fatal accident inquiry in 1996 and a Commons defence committee report in 1998 left open the question of what caused the accident.

    In September 1999 the government faced calls for a fresh inquiry when Computer Weekly released evidence claiming to cast doubt on the reliability of the helicopter's engine control software, supporting campaigners' claims that the aircraft was at fault and not the pilots.

    In February 2002 a House of Lords committee opposed the RAF's verdict and concluded there were no grounds for blaming the pilots.


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    3rd June

     

    1989 Chinese Troops Sent In To Tiananmen Square

    It took the Chinese army until 4th June to completely clear the square of the protesters for democratic reform. Hundreds were killed and thousands arrested.

    Trouble had started back in April 15, following the death of Hu Yaobang who had supported democratic reforms. 100,000 students and protesters took to the streets to mourn his passing. A group of students requested a meeting with Premier Li Peng on April 22nd to discuss democratic reforms, but were refused, and thus students boycotted universities across the nation.

    They congregated in Tiananmen Square where, by the middle of May, the crowd had growing to close to a million.

    Martial law was declared on May 20th.

    The authorities moved to the military option after talks stalled on 3rd June. Infamous pictures of students blocking the army's progress (one man stood in front of a tank) flashed around the world.

    The West, for a very short time, imposed economic sanctions, but by the end of 1990 trade had resumed again.

     

    1962: 130 die in Paris air crash

    A chartered Air France Boeing 707 headed for Atlanta, Georgia, has crashed on take-off at Orly Airport in Paris, killing 130 people on board.

    It is the worst ever recorded air disaster involving one aircraft.

    Miraculously, two of the 10 crew survived. The air stewardesses, who had been sitting at the rear of the plane, escaped with minor injuries.

    Three hours after the disaster another steward was found alive in the wreckage but he died later in hospital.

    Atlanta Arts group killed

    Most of the 122 passengers were American - members of the Atlanta Art Association on their way home after a trip of a lifetime to visit the art treasures of Europe.

    Eyewitnesses said the plane, known as the Chateau de Sully, was travelling at about 200 mph (321 km/h) and seemed unable to take off, barely rising above seven feet (two metres).

    Its right wing dipped and hit the ground and the plane crashed into gardens and an empty house, then exploded about 50 yards (45 m) from the end of the runway.

    Only the tail section of the aircraft remained intact - which is where the two survivors were found.

    The intense heat of the burning wreckage prevented local residents from helping the rescue effort, and it was one and a half hours before firefighters could reach the victims.

    Air France has launched an immediate inquiry into the accident.

    Initial investigations revealed brake marks running for about 1,500 ft (457 m) at the end of the runway, proof that the pilot had tried desperately to abort take-off. President Kennedy has sent a message of sympathy to the Atlanta Art Association and victims' families.


    Wreckage of Air France Boeing at Orly airport
    Air France has begun to investigate the world's worst air crash
    In Context
    The Orly air crash of June 1962 left the city of Atlanta stunned.

    An arts complex was built in memory of the dead, among them some of the city's most prominent figures in the arts world.

    It was called the Atlanta Memorial Arts Center, later renamed the Woodruff Arts Center, and opened on 5 October 1968.

    The accident itself was caused by a technical fault but by the time the pilot realised there was a problem the plane was past the point of no return.

    The US courts granted the largest settlement from a single accident at the time.

    1991: IRA men shot dead by British army
    Three IRA gunmen have been shot dead by the army in Northern Ireland.

    Soldiers opened fire on their car as it drove through the village of Coagh in County Tyrone.

    It was hit by a hail of about 200 bullets, before crashing and bursting into flames.

    The attack is believed to have been carried out by a specialist covert team acting on intelligence.

    Police said the men were on their way to mount an ambush on Protestant workmen.

    The men shot were Peter Ryan - who had been on the run for 10 years after escaping from prison in Belfast - Lawrence McNally and Anthony Dorris.

    The IRA has admitted that the men belonged to its organisation and were in "active service".

    After the shooting, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Peter Brooke insisted that talks to find a political settlement in Ulster would not be thrown off course.

    The MP for the area welcomed the army's "effective operation".

    Democratic Unionist Rev William McCrea said: "Innocent life has been spared and I think we have got to be thankful for that.

    "No-one gloats over the fact of death but I would rather have dead terrorists than dead innocent people in this community."

    But the leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, Seamus Mallon MP, expressed the concerns of some in the nationalist community. He said: "We should always be vigilant that those who are charged with enforcing the law do it within the law and...in a way which will allow people to answer for their crimes, if there are crimes, in a proper court of law".


    Car wrecks after the shooting
    The IRA men had been under observation
    In Context
    The three gunmen died close to the spot where three Protestants were murdered by the IRA two years earlier.

    Army regulations allow soldiers to open fire without warning if by not doing so they would increase the risk of death or injury to themselves or anyone else.

    The case contained echoes of a previous ambush in Gibraltar in March 1988, when three unarmed members of the IRA were shot and killed by members of British special forces.

    The government later failed to prevent the transmission of a controversial TV documentary which cast doubt on the legality of the Gibraltar killings.

    1982: Israeli ambassador shot in London
    The Israeli ambassador to Britain is critically ill in hospital after being shot on a London street.

    Shlomo Argov, 52, was leaving a diplomatic function at the Dorchester Hotel in Mayfair when a young man who had been seen loitering outside the building attacked him.

    The gunman fired two shots with a machine pistol - one narrowly missing Mr Argov's police protection officer and the other hitting the envoy in the head.

    The assailant was shot by the bodyguard and also has serious head injuries. Two other men fled the scene in a car but were later stopped and arrested by police in Brixton.

    Witnesses

    Pergamon Press chairman Robert Maxwell was in the hotel when the shooting occurred.

    "It happened so suddenly and so unexpectedly that we really only noticed the consequences after it was over - we came out, there were shots and a man fell," he said.

    Assistant Commissioner Gilbert Kelland - a senior police officer also at the party - said Mr Argov's protection officer had then pursued the assailant into nearby South Street and shot him.

    Both the injured men were taken to Westminster Hospital and a witness told BBC correspondent Peter Snow they were in a "very serious state". Mr Argov - a career diplomat who is married with two daughters - was later transferred to a specialist unit at the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases, Bloomsbury, for an emergency operation.


    Watch/Listen
    Forensics check the scene
    Two shots were fired at Mr Argov

    Reaction to the ambassador's shooting
    In Context
    Shlomo Argov survived the attack but was permanently paralysed.

    Two Jordanians and an Iraqi linked to Palestinian extremist Abu Nidal were convicted of the attempted murder of the envoy in March 1983.

    Israeli Prime Minister Menachen Begin retaliated with "Operation Peace for Galilee", a full-scale invasion of Lebanon.

    The war lasted for 11 months and Israeli forces did not begin to withdraw from the country until June 1985.

    1972: Protestant march ends in battle
    A Protestant march against the creation of "no-go" areas in Londonderry has ended in a bloody battle on the Craigavon Bridge.

    Soldiers used rubber bullets and water cannon to control the crowd when the so-called "Tartan gangs" at the tail end of the march began to throw bottles and stones at the Army.

    The bridge was the centre of the trouble as it joins the Protestant side of the town to the "no-go" Roman Catholic areas of Bogside and Creggan.

    Despite pleas from march organisers for the violence to stop it did not end until the Ulster Defence Association stepped in. They formed a human barrier between the protesters and the Army.

    The confrontation lasted an hour and resulted in one man being injured but no arrests.

    We are no longer protesting - we are demanding action
    William Craig, Vanguard Movement
    A spokesman for the Army said: "Naturally it is regretted that we have to fire rubber bullets but there we are. The only alternative is the Bogside would be invaded by the Protestant marchers."

    The biggest security operation since the start of the Troubles had been set up for the march with soldiers on every corner.

    Despite the violence William Craig the leader of the Vanguard Movement, who organised the march, said the marches would go on.

    "We are no longer protesting - we are demanding action" he said. The 10,000 strong march set off from Irish Street at 1500GMT to call for an end to the 'no-go' areas on the east bank side of the River Foyle.


    Watch/Listen
    Army uses water canon against protestors
    Organisers had hoped for a peaceful march

    Images from the security operation
    In Context
    1972 became the bloodiest year of The Troubles. Some 470 people were killed that year, the overwhelming majority of them civilians.

    On 31 July 1972 the then Northern Ireland Secretary William Whitelaw ordered 20,000 soldiers to dismantle IRA barricades in the no-go areas of Derry and Belfast.

    The "no-go" areas, known as Free Derry, were areas where both the IRA and Provisional IRA could openly patrol, train and open offices with widespread support and without involvement of security services.

    Bogside, Creggan and Brandywell made up the area Free Derry, and it is still known by that name despite the barricades no longer being there.

    1957: Noel Coward comes home
    Noel Coward has returned to Britain from the West Indies amid criticism that he is living abroad to avoid paying income tax.

    He arrived at Southampton on the Queen Elizabeth liner dressed in a black tweed jacket with a white diamond pattern, dark trousers and a black and white check bow tie.

    He brushed off questions about tax evasion saying he was "disgusted but entirely unworried" by talk of him being a tax exile.

    Earlier in the French port of Cherbourg, he told one reporter he found the whole issue embarrassing and the talk of money "rather vulgar".

    "I am an artist and am delighted to talk about the my plays and my acting and my work generally but not about my money affairs," he said.

    In love with Jamaica

    He told the BBC he had spent the last winter in Jamaica working on his new book and some songs, but he would not go into any detail.

    "I never like discussing anything I'm writing while I'm doing it because it might put me off."

    He would only say it was a novel about people.

    He plans to stay in Britain for three weeks. He will catch with friends and go to see his play "Nude with Violin" starring Michael Wilding who takes over from Sir John Gielgud.

    He will then travel to Paris and the South of France.

    Mr Coward has made a name for himself with his plays offering bitter sweet portrayals of the pre-war years and as a composer of witty ditties.

    His most famous songs include Mad Dogs and Englishmen and Mad About the Boy.

    He first fell in love with Jamaica in 1943 where he went to recover from flu while on a trip to the US.

    He returned in 1948 when he bought land to build a property.

     


    Writer Noel Coward
    Noel Coward has been working on a new novel and some songs


    In Context

    In the 1950s Noel Coward's career was on the wane and it was at this point that he developed a cabaret act that revived his fortunes.

    Although principally revered as a playwright - he was responsible for more than 60 productions - Coward was also an actor, composer and songwriter.

    In his last years, Coward lived with his companion Graham Payn in Jamaica where he built a small retreat called Firefly Hill.

    The house is a museum to Coward and one of Jamaica's top tourist attractions.

    He was knighted in 1970 and died in 1973.


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    4th June

     

    1876 A Passenger Train Travels from New York to San Francisco In 83 Hours, A Record

    The 83 hour journey was completed by the Transcontinental Express train, however even the slowest train could do the journey in little more than 10 days, which was a vast improvement on a coast-to-coast stagecoach journey.

    Only 75 years earlier it had taken 10 days to travel 225 miles via horse and stagecoach. To cross the entire USA would take about 6 months on the Oregon Trail.

    Those who could afford it traveled in great luxury, but those who couldn't tolerated the cramped uncomfortable conditions hoping for a new life in the West.

     

    1940 The rescue of British troops from Dunkirk is completed.

    2003 Martha Stewart is indicted for obstruction of justice and securities fraud.



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    5th June

     

    1968 Senator Robert F Kennedy Is Shot Today, He Died 24 Hours Later

    It happened at 12:50 a.m. PDT, in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. He was shot 3 times, 5 other people were wounded. He had just delivered a speech in which he celebrated winning the California presidential primary. He was 42 years old.

    He was shot by Sirhan Sirhan, a Palestinian, with a .22 Revolver. Sirhan's motives have always been unclear, but conspiracy watchers say he could have been part of a wider conspiracy to stop Kennedy who was intent on stopping the Vietnam War.

    Sirhan Sirhan was sentenced to die, but California suspended the death penalty. He has been in jail since, denied parole as a threat to public safety.

     

     

    1967: Israel launches attack on Egypt

    Israeli forces have launched a pre-emptive attack on Egypt and destroyed nearly 400 Egypt-based military aircraft.

    Fighting broke out on the Israel-Egypt border but then quickly spread to involve other neighbouring Arab states with ground and air troops becoming embroiled in battle.

    Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol said in a statement that the Egyptian Air Force had taken a great beating and Jordanian and Syrian air forces had been largely destroyed.

    The attack follows a build-up of Arab military forces along the Israeli border.

    The Arab states had been preparing to go to war against Israel with Egypt, Jordan and Syria being aided by Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Algeria.

    On 27 May the President of Egypt, Abdel Nasser, declared: "Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight."

    Egypt signed a pact with Jordan at the end of May declaring an attack on one was an attack on both. This was seen by Israel as a clear sign of preparation for all-out war.

    Fleeing

    Israel took decisive action today claiming the element of surprise was the only way it could stand any chance of defending itself against the increasing threat from neighbouring states.

    Israeli troops claim to have captured the key town of El Arish in north Sinai and are now advancing towards Abu Gela.

    Hundreds of thousands of Arabs are said to be fleeing the crossfire in Jordan's West Bank.

    So far the US state department has announced, "Our position is neutral in thought, word and deed." This follows its recent stance declaring Israel would not be alone unless it decided to go it alone.

    The path for war was cleared on 16 May when President Nasser ordered the withdrawal of the United Nations Emergency Forces from the Egyptian-Israeli border.


    Watch/Listen
    Israeli soldiers celebrate
    Israeli forces are said to be jubilant

    Report from the Gaza Strip
    In Context
    After a period of relative peace in the Middle East, Palestinian guerrilla groups, supported by Egypt and Syria, started a series of attacks on the Israeli border in 1965.

    These were followed by Israeli reprisals and a gradual build-up of Arab military forces around Israel's border.

    The Second Arab-Israeli war that began on 5 June 1967 ended on 10 June and became known as the six-day war - it changed the face of the Middle East conflict.

    At the end of the war Israel had succeeded in almost doubling the amount of territory it controlled.

    Israel seized Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt in the south and the Golan Heights from Syria in the north. It also pushed Jordanian forces out of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

    Israeli forces evicted Jewish settlers from the Gaza strip in August 2005 and began to demolish some settlements on the West Bank as well.

    Egypt and Jordan are the only Arab nations that have made peace with Israel since 1967.

    1944: Celebrations as Rome is liberated
    The people of Rome have crowded onto the streets to welcome the victorious Allied troops.

    The first American soldiers, members of the 5th Army, reached the centre of Rome late last night after encountering dogged resistance from German forces on the outskirts of the city.

    Early this morning it was announced the German troops had been ordered to withdraw.

    Rome is the first of the three Axis powers' capitals to be taken and its recapture will be seen as a significant victory for the Allies and the American commanding officer who led the final offensive, Lieutenant General Mark Clark.

    He offered me his papal ring, and as I knelt down to kiss it he asked me, 'Are you English or American?'
    In a broadcast in the United States this evening, President Franklin D Roosevelt welcomed the fall of Rome with the words, "One up, two to go." But he gave a warning that Germany had not yet suffered enough losses to cause her to collapse.

    In Rome itself, the people have been celebrating. Shops have closed and huge crowds have taken to the streets, cheering, waving and hurling bunches of flowers at the passing army vehicles.

    First reports from the city say it has been left largely undamaged by the occupying German forces.

    The city's water supply is still intact and there is even electricity - recent blackouts are reported to have been caused by engineers reluctant to restore power for the occupiers.

    Most Romans remained in the city during the occupation and many refugees also fled here. Food supplies are now extremely short with bread rationed to 100g per person per day.

    A report from Hitler's headquarters said he had ordered the withdrawal of the German troops to the north-west of Rome in order to prevent its destruction.

    The statement said: "The struggle in Italy will be continued with unshakable determination with the aim of breaking the enemy attacks and to forge final victory for Germany and her allies."

    The Pope appeared on the balcony of St Peter's this evening and addressed the thousands of Italians who had gathered in the square.

    He said: "In recent days we trembled for the fate of the city. Today we rejoiced because, thanks to the joint goodwill of both sides, Rome has been saved from the horrors of war."

    The American military authorities in London have broadcast a tribute to the British General Sir Harold Alexander, who has been in overall command of Allied forces in Italy. It described the campaign as "daring, unconventional and brilliant" and said his methods had compelled the enemy to evacuate Rome without destructive fighting within the city itself.


    Allied tanks with Coliseum in background
    Allied tanks roll into Rome to be greeted by cheering crowds
    In Context
    The American commander of the 5th Army, Lieutenant General Mark Clark, chose to strike for Rome from the Anzio beachhead, after the fall of Monte Cassino, rather than chase after the retreating German forces as he had been ordered by the British officer in overall charge, General Sir Harold Alexander.

    This decision has since been described by eminent American military historian Carlo D'Este as "as militarily stupid as it was insubordinate". Although Rome was liberated, the Germans were not decisively defeated.

    After the fall of Rome German forces fell back to the so-called Gothic Line of defence, running across Italy just north of Florence.

    The Allies did not breach this line until September 1944. The Allied front then stalled again until a breakthrough in April 1945 when their final assault broke German resistance and led to capitulation on 2 May.

    The Italian campaign had tied down more than 20 German divisions - while the Allies concentrated on the battle on the western front. Although some have argued it was the Germans tying down the Allies.

    But the Italian campaign was not in itself decisive and in the end victory in Europe was won only through direct attacks on Germany itself.

    1972: Duke of Windsor laid to rest
    The Duke of Windsor, who died last week, has been laid to rest at the royal burial ground near Windsor Castle.

    The burial followed a funeral service at St George's Chapel attended by political leaders, statesmen and diplomats.

    World leaders and ordinary people alike laid wreaths on the lawns to pay their respects to the former King, who caused a constitutional crisis in 1936 by abdicating the throne to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson.

    Flags throughout Windsor were at half mast. The castle itself was closed to the public but hundreds gathered quietly outside.

    Inside St George's Chapel a procession of eight soldiers from the first battalion the Welsh Guards carried the coffin, draped in the Duke's personal standard.

    It was followed by the Duke of Edinburgh, King Olaf of Norway - a cousin of the Duke - the Prince of Wales and other male members of the royal family.

    Apart from the Duke's only surviving brother the Duke of Gloucester, who was not well enough to attend, all other adult members of the royal family were there.

    The former King was described by the Garter King of Arms as "sometime the most high, most mighty and most excellent monarch Edward VIII."

    The half hour service, conducted by the dean of Windsor, ended with a blessing by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Duke was later buried next to his brother the Duke of Kent, at the royal burial ground at Frogmore, half a mile from the castle.


    Watch/Listen
    Duke of Windsor
    The Duke was buried near Windsor

    Footage of the Duke's funeral procession
    In Context
    Edward, Duke of Windsor, was born on 23 June 1894.

    Following the death of his father, George V, in January 1936 Edward became King.

    But Edward had fallen in love with American divorcee Wallis Simpson and was determined that he would marry her.

    Opposition from his family and the government effectively forced him to choose between Mrs Simpson and the office of King.

    He chose to abdicate, announcing his decision on radio, and on 10 December, just 11 months after becoming King, he left England under his new title the Duke of Windsor.

    He married Mrs Simpson the following year.

    1989: Election boost for Solidarity
    Solidarity, Poland's anti-communist party, looks set to claim a remarkable success in the country's elections, with initial results suggesting it has done much better than predicted.

    The results, if confirmed, will be even more notable because this is the first election in which the Solidarity movement has been permitted by the Soviet-controlled government to campaign against the Communist Party.

    But however large its success, the communists will remain in control, as the opposition has been allowed to contest only one third of the seats.

    The best Solidarity can hope for is a majority in the senate.

    Incomplete results suggest the government will be disappointed by its performance.

    The electorate simply showed that we need reforms
    Solidarity spokesman
    Despite a low turnout, Solidarity candidates appear to have exceeded their expectations.

    A Solidarity spokesman said: "The electorate simply showed that we need reforms, the party should reform itself too and the whole result of the election is a big boost to go on."

    Polling stations have been closed for more than 12 hours, but a final announcement will have to wait until all 2000 electoral districts have completed their counts and delivered their results.

    The likelihood of Poland experiencing institutionalised opposition for the first time under communism has excited many Poles, who regard the contest as a test for freedom.

    One man said: "It's one step in our escape from serfdom and communism." A woman described Solidarity's expected victory as "enormous".


    Watch/Listen
    Solidarity party
    Solidarity is poised for success

    Poles hear initial election results
    In Context
    The first-round result saw Solidarity, led by shipyard worker Lech Walesa, win between 70 and 80 per cent of the vote in most of the country.

    Solidarity began as a trade union organisation in 1980, but soon evolved into an effective political movement.

    Following its shock landslide win over the ruling communists in 1989, the Solidarity movement splintered into various groups.

    But the effects of the election on Poland were lasting, and soon demands for reform and democratisation became overwhelming.

    Following the dissolution of the communist party, Walesa was elected Poland's first non-communist President in 1990.

    1992: Huge rise in water disconnections
    The number of people having their water supplies cut off for failing to pay their bills has almost trebled in a year, new figures show.

    The dramatic rise saw more than 20,000 homes disconnected - an increase of 177% on the previous financial year, according to industry watchdog Ofwat.

    Water companies have now been warned they must take into account their customers' ability to pay before cutting off supplies.

    South Staffordshire Water had the highest proportion of disconnections in the country, with seven times the national average.

    The company defended itself, saying it had detailed rules to deal with non-payers.

    Tony Woodward, from South Staffordshire Water, said there was a five month time period from the initial billing to disconnection.

    "During that period we attempt to contact the customer at least seven times, even including a personal visit," he said.

    But the Labour Party said charges were too high and water companies too quick to penalise people who were struggling to pay their bills.

    Four of the largest water companies have just announced annual profits ranging from £90m at South West Water to £236m at Thames Water.

    The companies insist they are reinvesting a large part of their profits into improving supplies and preventing pollution, and say water bills have risen for the same reason.

    But Ofwat said the companies' monopoly of water supplies carried a responsibility to do everything possible to help those who struggled to pay their bills.

    Ofwat Director-General Ian Byatt also stressed that those customers who were paying their bills should not be penalised through price increases to cover those failing to pay.

    And he called on water companies to "deal sympathetically and effectively with those who have difficulty in paying."

     


    Taps with running water
    Water companies are being accused of failing those people struggling to pay their bills


    In Context
    The water industry was privatised in 1989, creating a series of regional monopolies.

    Following privatisation there was a significant rise in the number of households having their water supplies cut off.

    The rate tripled in the first five years, with 18,636 households cut off in 1994. This practice was attacked on social and health grounds.

    The increased use of pre-payment meters has also been criticised, and Ofwat has noted "a startling increase in the number of hidden disconnections associated with these meters."


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