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20th June

 

1947 'Bugsy' Siegel Is Killed

Organized crime supremo, Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, had just finished talking to his associate, Allen Smiley, when three shots were fired at him through a window on this day. He died instantly.

By the late 1930's, Siegel had set up his "business" on the West Coast of the USA and became a high roller amongst the Hollywood gliterati of the time. His all-night parties became legendary.

But his demise seems to have been related to an investment he made with money from a New York crime syndicate. He built the Flamingo Hotel in what was then just a sleepy little town of Las Vegas in 1945, with $6mn from his New York colleagues. Las Vegas was not the bustling metropolis that it is today, and the hotel was not immediately profitable. The New York syndicate may have been taking measures to get their money back...

 

1976: Westerners evacuated from Beirut

Nearly 300 Westerners, mostly Americans and Britons, have been moved from Beirut and taken to safety in Syria by the US military.

An American navy ship rescued about 270 people, including 97 Britons, from the war-torn Lebanese city after attempts to move them by road were ruled out as too dangerous.

Most of the refugees on the beach were Americans responding to their government's call to leave Beirut following the murder of the American ambassador Francis Meloy.

The operation was originally planned to take the form of a road convoy to Damascus, organised by the UK.

The British embassy in Beirut had been the assembly point for Britons, Americans and other foreigners wanting to get out of Lebanon after 14 months of civil war.

But on two occasions the convoy was held up by the British Charge d'Affaires, Geoffrey Hancock.

He said: "We have heard from the escort element the conditions along the route today are insufficiently secure for the journey to be made safely".

When the convoy was postponed for a second day after the Beirut perimeter came under heavy fire overnight, the American navy took control of the operation.

As the tourists waited for the American landing ship to arrive, some completed necessary paperwork for the trip while others went searching for food and water, having been told they needed enough to last 40 hours at sea.

When the ship finally came the US military appeared anxious to keep a low profile. People began embarking, surrounded by armed Palestinians and Lebanese leftists, but their spirits remained high.


Watch/Listen
British Charge d'Affaires Geoffrey Hancock
Spirits remained high throughout

Westerners and Lebanese escape Beirut

1995: Shell makes dramatic U-turn
Oil giant Shell has given in to international pressure and abandoned plans to dump its Brent Spar oil rig at sea.

But the company's decision, which came just hours before the 14,500-tonne structure was due to be submerged under the sea off the west coast of Scotland, has left the government in an embarrassing situation.

Just yesterday in the House of Commons, Prime Minister John Major was defending the plans to dispose of the structure 6,000ft (1,828m) under the sea.

But a spokesperson for environment group Greenpeace, which has been campaigning against the proposals for several weeks, hailed Shell's decision a victory.

"It is a victory for us but more importantly it is a victory for all the people who campaigned against the dumping," she said.

Marine pollution

Greenpeace activists claim that dumping the structure under the sea would release highly toxic chemicals into the water and cause widespread marine pollution.

Its ship, the Altair, has been shadowing tugs pulling Brent Spar to its North Atlantic dumping ground since it set off last week.

Just three days ago two activists boarded the installation from a helicopter and vowed to remain "until the death" in an attempt to prevent the deep-sea disposal going ahead.

Thousands of British motorists have also boycotted the company's filling stations in protest and Shell was forced to call off its environmental awards ceremony due to be held on 21 June.

In a statement Shell UK denied that Greenpeace's actions had forced the U-turn, but conceded that the company had found itself in an "untenable position" due to widespread objections from international governments.

The statement said: "Shell UK has decided to abandon deepwater disposal and seek from the UK authorities a licence for onshore disposal.

"Shell UK Ltd still believes that deep water disposal of the Brent Spar is the best practicable environmental option, which was suported by independent studies."

Michael Heseltine, President of the Board of Trade, criticised the company for relenting.

He said: "I think they should have kept their nerve and done what they believed was right."

The fate of the concrete and steel Brent Spar rig which, for 15 years, served as a crude oil storage tank and loading buoy, is now unknown.

But energy minister Tim Eggar warned that the government would not automatically give permission for it to be broken up on land.

He said: "If Shell wishes to propose an alternative course of action the government will consider it.

"That proposal will have to contain solutions to the problems which led to the identification of deep sea disposal as the best practicable environmental option.

"Until solutions acceptable to the government departments concerned have been found, no agreement on abandonment will be available."

1990: Major proposes new Euro currency

British Chancellor John Major is proposing a new European currency which would circulate alongside existing national currencies.

Mr Major's plan, to be announced in a speech to German businessmen later, is a response to European Commission President Jacques DeLores' more radical proposal for a single currency and European bank.

The Conservative Government is sceptical about full monetary union and regards this new proposal as a way of putting forward a genuine alternative.

It is envisaged that the currency, which Mr Major calls the "hard Ecu", would be used initially by businesses and tourists, and managed by a new European monetary fund.

Although the proposal does not rule out the abolition of national currencies, it represents a more cautious substitute to Mr DeLores' plan for economic unity.

Without a doubt it's a victory for common sense
Euro-sceptic Bill Cash MP

Mr Major said: "What we're seeking to do is to provide a currency that those who wish to use it could use, either for business transactions or personal transactions, without going down the route of a single currency across the whole of Europe, which we think has enormous difficulties and enormous dangers too."

The announcement follows Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's comments earlier this week that she did not believe a commitment to a single currency would be made in her lifetime.

Reaction from Conservative MPs was mixed.

From the Euro-sceptic wing of the party, Bill Cash MP said: "Without a doubt it's a victory for common sense, a victory for the prime minister and for the cabinet, and a victory for Britain."

But others were disappointed by the plan's caution, fearing that it might be perceived as another delaying tactic by Britain's European neighbours. Hugh Dykes MP said: "It seems a pity that always when these proposals are coming forward we're always holding back".


Chancellor John Major
John Major calls the currency "hard Ecu"
1984: O-Levels to be replaced by GCSEs
O-Level and CSE exams are to be abolished and replaced by a new examination for 16 year olds, in the biggest exam shake-up for over 10 years.

Education Secretary Sir Keith Joseph said schools would begin teaching the General Certificate for Secondary Education, or GCSE, in autumn 1986, with the first pupils sitting the exam in 1988.

The new system will put all children on the same scale on a range of seven grades from A to G.

The 29 examination boards are to merge into five groups to reduce the large and complex system of assessment which currently operates.

The groups will adhere to an agreed national standard to ensure that the same range of knowledge will be required to attain certain grades throughout the country.

It will be more intelligible to users
Education Secretary Sir Keith Joseph
Sir Keith said: "The system we propose will be tougher, but clearer and fairer.

"It will be more intelligible to users, better than O Levels, and better than CSE.

"It will stretch the able more and stretch the average more."

It was also more intelligible and therefore more useful for employers, he added.

At the higher end of the range there will be scope for a new distinction certificate for those achieving consistently high grades, and in some subjects children will set their own standards and decide which grade to aim at.

GSCEs will also place more emphasis on oral and practical skills where possible, the minister said.

Teachers' unions welcomed the announcement. Fred Jarvis, of the National Union of Teachers, said: "This is one decision of Sir Keith's which will be applauded throughout the teaching profession".

1965: Students protest after Algiers coup
Police in the Algerian capital Algiers have broken up demonstrations by hundreds of people who have taken to the streets chanting slogans in support of deposed President Ben Bella.

The protests began with an orderly march by students but police attempts to disperse the crowds turned them into rioting groups running through the streets.

Ex-president Ahmed Ben Bella is being held prisoner in a remote Sahara outpost. He has been deposed by chief of the armed forces Colonel Houari Boumedienne and his National Revolutionary Council.

Communications cut off

In the early hours of yesterday morning, two tanks moved into position at the presidential villa in Algiers.

Police guards were quietly relieved by soldiers. There was a sound of breaking glass and a light was briefly seen before being turned off again.

By the time dawn broke, tanks had moved into various strategic points throughout the city, the airport was under military control and all communications with the outside world were cut off.

After several hours of military music on the radio, Colonel Boumedienne broadcast a long statement accusing Ahmed Ben Bella of treason and promising him the "fate of all despots".

The statement broadcast in the name of the Revolutionary Council also pledged to work for a "democratic, serious state" and the recovery of the economy.

One of the colonel's first actions has been to order the release of political prisoners held on "arbitrary" grounds.

He has also given assurances no French people or property in the country will be harmed.

The coup has taken place 10 days ahead of an Afro-Asian Conference due to be held in Algiers. There is some speculation it may have been inspired by the Russians to prevent the meeting - from which they were excluded - from taking place.

 


Ben Bella pictured in 1964
Ahmed Ben Bella was the first president of an independent Algeria


In Context
Ahmed Ben Bella was brought to power after leading the struggle for independence from France, which was finally achieved in July 1962. He was dependent on Colonel Boumedienne then chief of staff of Algeria's 60,000-strong army.

He failed to build up a political force to act as a counterweight to the military and took control of many key ministries himself.

After the coup, he was held under house arrest for 15 years. On release, he lived in exile in Switzerland.

He continued to instigate unrest in Algeria and in 1990 returned to stand for the presidency at the head of the Mouvement Democratique Algerien (MDA). The 1991 election was won by an Islamist party but the result was annulled and Ben Bella was sent back into exile. The MDA was one of a number of parties banned in 1997.

In December 1976, Colonel Boumedienne was elected president and served for two years until he died. Under the tight reins of his control, the country did begin to develop its oil resources and industrial sector.

Since his death, various attempts have been made to establish a multi-party democracy, but violence has continued between government and Islamic militants.


Exam hall
GCSEs will start in 1986


In Context
Under the old O Level and CSE system, grades were awarded primarily according to statistical rules which measured each candidate's performance relatively against those of competing candidates.

The introduction of the GCSE meant that, for the first time, grades would be allocated with reference to absolute standards of knowledge, understanding and skill.

Despite concerns about the exams getting easier and of girls outdoing boys, the government is committed to retaining the system.

Speaking after the publication of results in August 2002, Education Minister Margaret Hodge said: "GCSEs remain a vital indication of young people's progress".


Brent Spar rig
Shell ships use water cannons against Greenpeace activists on board the rig


In Context
After its change of mind, Shell towed the Brent Spar to Norway and moored her in a fjord, where she remained until 1998.

In July 1998 all the governments of the north east Atlantic region agreed to ban future dumping of steel-built oil installations.

In November of the same year the company began dismantling the structure.

Brent Spar was broken into five sections in an operation costing £43m, compared to £4.5m cost of dumping the structure under the sea.

The scrap was eventually used to build the foundations of a new ferry terminal.

Whether or not recycling Brent Spar was the right decision, the international public outcry led to a change of management and a revamp of Shell's ethical standards.


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21st June

 

1956 Arthur Miller Refuses To Name Communists

Playwright Arthur Miller refused to placate the McCarthy led investigation by the House Committee on Un-American Activities, by naming suspected communists.

For this he was given a contempt of court, but this was later retracted by the Supreme Court.

The ban stopped him attending the premiere of his play, The Crucible, in Brussels, about the Salem Witch trials.

He famously married Marilyn Monroe after divorcing his wife in 1956.

 

1945: US troops take Okinawa

The Japanese island of Okinawa has finally fallen to the Americans after a long and bloody battle.

The island, situated 340 miles (550km) south of the Japanese mainland, will now provide the Americans with an invaluable air and naval base from which to launch a sustained and forceful attack on the mainland.

It is estimated more than 90,000 Japanese troops were killed in the 82-day conflict.

I personally saw one Kamikaze hit one of (the aircraft carriers) whilst I was operating the plot for incoming bandits
America also suffered heavy losses - at this stage 6,990 servicemen have been reported killed or missing and 25,598 wounded.

Mopping up

In a statement issued today US Fleet Admiral Chester W Nimitz said: "After 82 days of fighting the battle of Okinawa has been won.

"Organised resistance ceased on June 21. Enemy garrisons in two small pockets are being mopped up."

The Japanese fought a desperate battle until the bitter end with many hiding out in caves on the southern-most tip of the island.

As the US forces closed in many threw themselves off 150ft (45.7m)cliffs or waded into the sea to drown rather than be taken prisoner.

More than 4,000 Japanese have so far been captured.

The conflict began on 1 April, when America's newly-formed 10th Army, led by Lieutenant-General Simon Bolivar Buckner, landed on Okinawa's western coast.

By 21 April most of the island had been taken by US troops but a stalemate developed in the south around Okinawa's capital city, Naha. The Japanese were able to secure a strong defensive position in the rugged, cave-riddled terrain and it took several weeks to finally win the battle.


Marines take cover amid wrecked homes and rubble of Okinawa's capital city, Naha
Thousands of US troops have been killed or wounded in the conflict
In Context
The Japanese commander-in-chief on Okinawa, Lieutenant-General Ushijima Mitsuru, committed suicide on 22 June.

Okinawa was the last great amphibious campaign of the war.

America sent 170,000 troops and 1,213 warships and British forces also took part.

The island was defended by nearly 100,000 Japanese troops.

Lt-Gen Ushijima relied on mass kamikaze attacks as his main line of defence against the initial assault. More than 2,000 attacks were launched during the conflict.

The allies suffered unprecedented losses with 36 warships and landing craft being sunk, 763 aircraft lost and more than 12,500 servicemen killed.

Only 7,400 Japanese troops survived the conflict to become prisoners of war.

America returned Okinawa to Japan in 1972.

1978: Four dead in post office shootings
A civilian has been killed in the crossfire between Provisional IRA bombers and British security forces at the Ballysillan post office depot in Belfast.

William Hanna was walking home with friend David Graham shortly after midnight. He was killed instantly when shooting broke out between the British army and IRA gunmen.

Three other men who died - William Mailey, Dennis Brown and James Mulvenna - were all from the Provisional IRA.

Army trap

It is believed the IRA men were challenged as they walked into a trap set up following recent bomb attacks at post office depots.

Four petrol bombs were found by the army after the shootings. Three of them were defused while the other was safely detonated.

Local residents, who say more and more soldiers have been seen around the premises in recent weeks, were moved out during the hour-long shooting and say more than 200 rounds were fired.

The Provisional IRA says its men were not armed. The army has not found any weapons at the scene but reports suggest accomplices carrying guns may have escaped.

Mr Graham, who was not hurt, described how shooting broke out when he and Mr Hanna were half way down the lane by the depot: "We hit the ground. The two of us rolled into the bushes and lay there." Road blocks were immediately set up and a man was shot in the arm when he failed to stop. Police have since said he was not connected with the post office attack.


Watch/Listen
Bodies are put in the back of a van at the scene of the shooting
The Army has been on high alert following recent bomb attacks

Report on the aftermath of the shootings
In Context
An article in Republican News and the recent post office attacks led to increased security at all major post office depots in the Belfast area.

The article warned Provisional IRA bombings would move from commercial premises to "a more selective campaign against prestige, communications and government targets".

1982: Princess Diana gives birth to boy

Diana, Princess of Wales, has given birth to a boy sixteen hours after checking in to St Mary's Hospital, in London.

The boy, who has been named William, was born at 21:03 BST, weighing 7lb 1½oz.

He is second in line to the British throne after his father the Prince of Wales, who accompanied Princess Diana to the hospital at 0500BST this morning and stayed with her throughout the day.

Outside the hospital crowds had gathered to wait for news of the birth, with some saying they would wait through the night if necessary. Flowers arrived all day long and were taken into the hospital.

Thousands also gathered outside Buckingham Palace, where the birth was formally announced.

'Delighted'

The Queen had continued with her scheduled programme, inspecting the RAF regiment on their 40th anniversary at Wittering in Cambridgeshire.

A Palace official said she had looked "absolutely delighted" on hearing that the Princess had gone into labour.

The Princess went into labour earlier than expected, but only by a few days.

Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at St George's Hospital Medical School in London, Geoffrey Chamberlain, told BBC News the long labour period should not present cause for concern.

He said: "Just over half of women expecting their first baby deliver inside 12 hours but another fifth go onto about 18 hours, and another fifth go even longer.

"There is nothing abnormal with a labour going into 24 hours." The Queen's own surgeon gynaecologist, George Pinker, who has looked after the Princess throughout her pregnancy, was in charge of the delivery.


Princess Diana and Prince Charles with Prince William
The princess left hospital later in the evening
In Context
Prince William was the first heir to the British throne to be born in a hospital.

His brother, Prince Harry, was born on 15 September 1984.

Aged eight, William was sent to school in Wokingham, Berkshire, and at 13, he went to Eton, where he gained 12 GCSEs and excelled at a variety of sports.

After attaining A-Levels at grades A, B and C, he began a History of Art degree at Scotland's oldest university, St Andrews. He switched to Geography and achieved a 2:1 honours in his MA degree.

In 2006 the Prince joined the army, entering the officer training academy at Sandhurst.

The prince has had to endure the break up of his parents' marriage and the sudden death of his mother in August 1997.

1991: Anger over chairman's 66% pay rise
The chairman of British Gas has come under fire for accepting a pay rise ten times the rate of inflation.

Robert Evans has been given a 66% increase, taking his salary from £222,000 to £370,000.

The Labour Party condemned the rise as "sheer unbridled greed".

Trade unions for British Gas workers said their members would remember the increase when putting in next year's pay claim.

The company was accused last month of ripping off its customers when it reported a 42% surge in pre-tax profits.

British Gas is a privatised monopoly, and has no competitors.

'Corporate greed'

Labour's energy spokesman, Frank Dobson, said: "It is a symptom of corporate greed.

"They think that now there are no restrictions on them they can do what they like, and in a sense they can".

Defending its decision, British Gas said the chairman's increase was related to the overall performance of the business.

Mr Evans is not the only boss revealed in recent weeks to have been given a huge salary increase.

Prudential's Mick Newmarch enjoyed a 43% boost. Ian Prosser, of Bass, took 45% more, Natwest Bank's Howard MacDonald 60%, and Tesco's Sir Ian McLaurin a massive 330%.

1968: Egg board 'should be scrapped'
The Egg Marketing Board should be scrapped and a free market established, according to a report published today.

The report, compiled by the government-appointed Reorganisation Commission Marketing Board, also said an independent authority should be set up to oversee the industry.

It also said the Little Lion trademark stamped on eggs should be dropped.

But many smaller egg producers fear the move, which also includes the withdrawal of a £22 million subsidy, will put them out of business and free pricing will mean greater market fluctuations.

The report comes in the wake of huge criticism of the Egg Marketing Board's policies during its 12 year existence and a major reorganisation of the entire egg industry is now expected.

The Egg Marketing Board, which was set up in December 1956 to stabilise the egg market in near slump conditions, currently handles 8,280 million eggs every year.

But the commission claims that, not only has the board failed to achieve market stability, it has shielded many producers from a competitive market which, in turn, has led to inefficiency and poor quality.

'Go to work on an egg'

The report says: "Our broad conclusion is that the board has not achieved the objectives defined for the scheme at the time of its promotion and that its operations in recent years have not been in the best interests of producers or consumers generally."

The total expenses of the board, according to the report, has risen from £14.7 million in 1958 to £23.8 million in 1968, but its income fell by several thousand pounds.

During the past decade the board has spent more than £12 million on advertising, which has included famous slogans like "Go to Work on an Egg".

But the lion logo has ultimately been viewed as unsuccessful and has failed to convince consumers of the quality of eggs.

Most housewives, says the report, would prefer to buy "farm-fresh" eggs.

The Minister of Agriculture, Cledwyn Hughes, has given organisations affected by the recommendations in the report until 31 July to submit their views.

 


Eggs on production line


In Context
The British Egg Marketing Board was set up in 1957 to buy all eggs produced in the UK, grade them to a national standard, stamp a "Little Lion" on the egg as a mark of quality, and market those eggs through registered packhouses.

A pool price was paid to producers for all first quality eggs, and second quality and sample eggs were broken out for industrial use.

The Board deducted a levy from producers, based on the number of eggs sent to packhouses, for its administration and to support research, education, PR and advertising.

The Board closed in 1971.

Today the British Egg Industry Council, a voluntary body representing 80% of the country's egg industry, oversees quality, safety and research as well as the promotion of eggs. It reintroduced the lion mark in 1998.

Now three out of every four eggs produced in Britain are stamped with the lion, which means they come from hens vaccinated against disease.


British Gas Chairman Robert Evans
Mr Evans is set to earn £370,000


In Context
In June 2002 Trade Secretary Patricia Hewitt introduced rules to crack down on "fat cat" pay deals in the private sector.

New regulations aimed at curbing excessive boardroom pay gave shareholders the right to vote annually on the level of directors' salaries, and companies were compelled to publish details of how salaries related to performance.

Several surveys showed that boardroom pay had risen much faster than that of ordinary workers, spurred on by the increasing use of share options.

In July 2002 the TUC opened a campaign against excessive pay packages and argued that employers as well as shareholders should be given a say in determining directors' pay.


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22nd June

 

1981 John Lennon's Murderer Pleads Guilty

Mark Chapman told a court on this day that God had told him to kill the singer.

This shocked his defense team who were prepared for a not guilty plea. The defense team immediately moved to the get the judge to examine Chapman's mental state.

The 40 year-old ex-Beatle, Lennon, had been shot several times as he entered his apartment building on Manhattan's Upper West Side, opposite Central Park, on 8th December 1980.

 

1941: Hitler invades the Soviet Union

German forces have invaded the Soviet Union.

In a pre-dawn offensive, German troops pushed into the USSR from the south and west, with a third force making their way from the north towards Leningrad.

At 0500 GMT, an hour after the invasion began, the Nazi Minister for Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, went on national radio to read a proclamation by Adolf Hitler promising that the mobilisation of the German army would be the "greatest the world has ever seen".

He was in a complete state of shock and walked without reason on streets and through woods
The invasion breaks the non-aggression pact signed by Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939.

The pact has since been described by the German leader, Adolf Hitler, as a stain on Germany's record.

Initial reports suggest that the German troops have made rapid progress.

A correspondent with the German Army on the northern front reported the Soviet Army opened fire immediately at the German advance, but German soldiers overran the first of the Soviet positions and within a few minutes had captured the frontier posts.

Germany is thought to have committed a massive force of more than three million men, supported by more than 3,000 tanks, 7,000 guns and nearly 3,000 aircraft.

They are nonetheless vastly outnumbered by the Red Army which has about nine million men under arms with another 500,000 in reserve.

Soviet arms and ability, however, are considered vastly inferior to the Germans.

The Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin, appears to have been taken completely by surprise.

Despite warnings from Britain and secret intelligence reports that war was imminent, Stalin has refused to prepare for an invasion, insisting that it would not happen until next summer.

In London the War Cabinet met early this morning to discuss the implications.

The Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, condemned the invasion in a broadcast on BBC radio, in which he said it marked a turning point in the war.

Calling Hitler a "bloodthirsty guttersnipe", he said his own outspoken opposition to communism had "faded away" in the light of today's events, and pledged Britain's help for the Soviet Union in any way possible. "The Russian danger is... our danger," he said, "and the danger of the United States, just as the cause of any Russian fighting for his hearth and home is the cause of free men and free peoples in every quarter of the globe."


Watch/Listen
Joseph Stalin
The Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin, has been taken completely by surprise

Winston Churchill reacts to the Soviet invasion
In Context
In the next six months of Operation Barbarossa, as the invasion was known, Germany occupied what is now Belarus and most of Ukraine, and surrounded Leningrad (now St Petersburg).

The German Army, though vastly superior to the Red Army, met a courageous resistance which made its advance far slower than expected.

At the same time, the retreating Soviet troops destroyed crops and burnt entire villages under Stalin's "scorched earth" policy to prevent supplies falling into German hands.

Hitler had counted on taking Moscow before Russia's punishing winter set in, but the half-starved German army didn't even arrive on the outskirts until September.

They were finally driven back by a surprise counterattack by the Red Army on 6 December 1941.

In 1942, a second major push, this time in the south, ended in the surrender of the German Sixth Army at the bloody Battle of Stalingrad in early 1943.

The siege of Leningrad to the north also ended in German defeat in 1944, after 900 terrible days of starvation and bombardment in which about one million people died.

The failure of Operation Barbarossa was Hitler's first major defeat on land, and marked the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany.

2004: Child killer Dutroux jailed for life
Convicted paedophile and child killer Marc Dutroux has been sentenced to life in prison for the kidnap, rape and murder of young girls.

A court in Arlon, Belgium, sentenced his ex-wife Michelle Martin to 30 years in prison for kidnapping and rape.

Co-accused Michel Lelievre got 25 years for kidnapping and drug-dealing. Michel Nihoul was jailed for five years for drug-dealing and counts of fraud.

This marks the end of a case which became the scourge of the Belgian establishment and notorious around the world.

Grisly crimes

Dutroux was found guilty last week of leading a gang that kidnapped and raped six girls in the mid-1990s, leading to the deaths of four of them.

Prosecutors had called for 30-year jail terms for Martin and Lelievre, and at least 10 years for Nihoul, a businessman.

Nihoul was acquitted of kidnapping, but convicted of smuggling drugs and people into Belgium.

The grisly crimes came to light in the summer of 1996. Two young girls, Sabine Dardenne and Laetitia Delhez, aged 12 and 14 respectively were found at one of Dutroux's houses on 15 August 1996.

They had been abducted and kept in a purpose-built dungeon in Dutroux's basement and repeatedly raped.

A couple of days later the bodies of two eight-year-olds, Melissa Russo and Julie Lejeune, were found in the garden of another property belonging to Dutroux.

They had been repeatedly raped before dying of starvation, post-mortem reports showed.

The bodies of An Marchal, 17, and Eefje Lambrecks, 19, were found in 1996 in the garden of a house in the suburbs of the city of Charleroi owned by Dutroux.

Post-mortem reports showed they had been raped and beaten before being drugged and buried alive.

But we are still the biggest losers because I lost a daughter and I'll never get her back
Jean Lambrecks, one victim's father

Prosecution witness Ms Dardenne, who gave evidence at the trial, was said to be "delighted" by the sentencing.

"A good piece of justice has finally been done," said her lawyer, Celine Parisse.

Jean Lambrecks, father of Eefje, said he was "content" with the sentence. "But we are still the biggest losers because I lost a daughter and I'll never get her back," he added.

Some said they were alarmed that those implicated in the crimes - such as Nihoul - could be out of jail within a few years.

"It's scary that he didn't get the maximum," said Paul Marchal, father of An.

1979: Thorpe cleared of murder charges
Former Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe has walked out of the Old Bailey a free man, after a jury cleared him of the attempted murder of Norman Scott.

Mr Thorpe, who resigned as leader in 1976 amid allegations that he had had a homosexual affair with Mr Scott, hailed his acquittal as "a complete vindication".

Mr Thorpe and three other men were charged with conspiracy to murder, after the bungled assassination attempt of Mr Scott on a deserted moor in Southern England.

All were found not guilty. It took the jury 15 hours of deliberation spread over three days to reach its verdict. Mr Thorpe was also acquitted on a charge of inciting one of his co-defendants, David Holmes, to murder Mr Scott.

I have always maintained that I was innocent
Jeremy Thorpe

The trial lasted 31 days but Mr Thorpe's ordeal began when he was charged last August.

Although he was found not guilty, the case has probably ruined Mr Thorpe's political career.

As the verdict was read out he sat motionless. Afterwards he leant over to give his wife a long kiss.

Speaking later he said: "I have always maintained that I was innocent of the charges brought against me and the verdict of the jury, after a prolonged and careful investigation by them, I regard as totally fair and a complete vindication."

He added that he would be taking "a short period of rest" away from the glare of publicity.

2001: Bulger killers to be released

The killers of toddler James Bulger will be released, eight years after they were jailed for a crime which shocked the nation.

Home Secretary David Blunkett confirmed to the House of Commons that Jon Venables and Robert Thompson would be allowed to go free on a "life licence".

Both the boys were 10-years-old when they led James Bulger away from a shopping centre in Bootle, Merseyside, tortured and murdered him.

The toddler's mother, Denise Fergus - who has remarried after separating from the child's father, Ralph - reacted angrily to the decision and said the killers could never escape vengeance.

The Parole Board ruled the 18-year-olds were no longer a danger and should be freed as soon as possible.

But the terms of their licence means they will be supervised for the rest of their lives and could be rearrested at any time if thought to be a risk to the public.

Venables and Thompson are also forbidden from contacting each other or any members of the Bulger family, and are not allowed to enter Merseyside without permission.

Public funds will be used for their further education and to protect their identities, but National Probation Service Director Eithne Wallis told the BBC the pair would "never be completely free".

In a statement read out by a friend, Mrs Fergus said the government and the Parole Board had been deceived by two devious killers.

"The murderers have walked away with a life of luxury, a bought home, a bank account and 24-hour protection," she said.

But Venables' lawyer, John Dickinson, said his client had expressed remorse and was ready to be released.

"I think he would give a great deal to put the clock back, but unfortunately of course, he can't," he said.


James Bulger
James Bulger was abudcted from the Strand shopping centre in Bootle, Merseyside

In Context
Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss had ruled in January 2001 the identities of Venables and Thompson should remain secret as there was a "real possibility of serious physical harm and possibly death" to them.

There were threats by protesters to publish a recent photo of one of the teenagers on the internet, which could have been out of the jurisdiction of UK law.

The Manchester Evening News was found guilty of contempt of court over an article about the young men's whereabouts published just hours after the parole board ruled they could be released.

The court order prohibiting publication of any information likely to lead to their identification will probably remain in place indefinitely.

1959: Harrods in £34m merger talks
Directors of leading London store Harrods are urging shareholders to vote for a merger with the Debenhams department chain.

The directors have been meeting to consider two merger proposals - one from Debenhams and another, as yet unofficial, proposal from Hugh Fraser, head of House of Fraser.

Debenhams and Harrods have been linked together informally for years. The proposed formal merger of interests is seen as a way of cutting costs through pooling resources on buying goods and internal administration.

The Debenhams offer is worth £34m - the House of Fraser proposal about £1.5m less and it also comes with fewer voting rights on the new board.

Benefit the shopping public

Under the terms of the Debenhams deal, Harrods would continue to operate under its own name and Sir Richard Burbidge would continue as chairman.

He and one other Harrods director would join the board of Debenhams. In return, two Debenhams directors would join the Harrods board.

A statement published in today's Times newspaper said: "This proposed merger of interests should improve the services of the businesses in both groups to the benefit of the shopping public."

The House of Fraser offer - which has yet to be made formally - would give Harrods bosses a far smaller say in the running of the newly merged company.

Harrods Knightsbridge store has been one of the biggest and most prestigious department stores in London since the 1920s.

The House of Fraser group, which expanded rapidly in Scotland in the late 1940s, has already got a foothold in London. In 1957, it bought the Kensington-based John Barker store group.

 


Contemporary view of Harrods
Harrods was returned to private ownership under Mohammed al Fayed


In Context
A third group, United Drapery Stores, entered the bidding war with an offer of £36m but later withdrew.

The battle was won by House of Fraser, which raised its final price to £37m. It acquired enough shares on 24 August 1959 to beat off the competition from Debenhams.

Harrods was started by Charles Henry Harrod as a family grocery business in 1849.

In 1861 Harrod's son, Charles Digby Harrod, took over the business and began selling a much wider range of products including furniture, china and perfumes.

The company was floated in 1889 and began a massive expansion programme.

The store returned to private ownership in 1985 when Mohammed al Fayed and his brother bought the House of Fraser for £615m.

In 1994 all 56 House of Fraser stores, except Harrods, were floated on the stock market. The firm has been the subject of several takeover approaches in recent years.


Watch/Listen
Jeremy Thorpe
Mr Thorpe always said he was innocent

Thorpe and co-defendants leave court


In Context
Jeremy Thorpe's political career was indeed ruined by the case.

Mr Thorpe had risen to prominence in 1967 when he became leader of the Liberal Party, but stepped down in 1976 as Norman Scott's allegations about their relationship surfaced.

At the May general election, shortly before the trial began, the voters of north Devon threw him out of the Parliamentary seat he had held for 20 years.

In 1999, two decades after disappearing from public life, Mr Thorpe published his memoirs in which he asserted that he never had any doubt about the acquittal of all the defendants on trial.

Mr Thorpe, who now suffers from Parkinson's Disease, is president of the North Devon Liberal Association.


Marc Dutroux shortly after his arrest in 1996
Dutroux led a gang that kidnapped and raped young girls


In Context
The case had kept Belgium on tenterhooks since 1996 after years of delays and blunders.

There was public outrage, and a mass demonstration of 300,000 people in October 1996 called on reform of the police and justice system.

In 1998 Dutroux even managed to escape custody during a court visit but was swiftly recaptured. As a result Belgium's police chief, justice minister and interior minister were forced to resign.

The case took nearly eight years to come to trial, partly because police were investigating claims by some victims' parents and by Dutroux himself that he was part of a wider paedophile ring that included prominent Belgians.

This claim was not proven and in an interview to the press in 2003 Sabine Dardenne, one of two surviving victims, said she believed he had acted alone.

Dutroux lost his appeal against a life sentence in December 2004. Nihoul was released on parole in April 2006.


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22nd June

 

1981 John Lennon's Murderer Pleads Guilty

Mark Chapman told a court on this day that God had told him to kill the singer.

This shocked his defense team who were prepared for a not guilty plea. The defense team immediately moved to the get the judge to examine Chapman's mental state.

The 40 year-old ex-Beatle, Lennon, had been shot several times as he entered his apartment building on Manhattan's Upper West Side, opposite Central Park, on 8th December 1980.

 

1941: Hitler invades the Soviet Union

German forces have invaded the Soviet Union.

In a pre-dawn offensive, German troops pushed into the USSR from the south and west, with a third force making their way from the north towards Leningrad.

At 0500 GMT, an hour after the invasion began, the Nazi Minister for Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, went on national radio to read a proclamation by Adolf Hitler promising that the mobilisation of the German army would be the "greatest the world has ever seen".

He was in a complete state of shock and walked without reason on streets and through woods
The invasion breaks the non-aggression pact signed by Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939.

The pact has since been described by the German leader, Adolf Hitler, as a stain on Germany's record.

Initial reports suggest that the German troops have made rapid progress.

A correspondent with the German Army on the northern front reported the Soviet Army opened fire immediately at the German advance, but German soldiers overran the first of the Soviet positions and within a few minutes had captured the frontier posts.

Germany is thought to have committed a massive force of more than three million men, supported by more than 3,000 tanks, 7,000 guns and nearly 3,000 aircraft.

They are nonetheless vastly outnumbered by the Red Army which has about nine million men under arms with another 500,000 in reserve.

Soviet arms and ability, however, are considered vastly inferior to the Germans.

The Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin, appears to have been taken completely by surprise.

Despite warnings from Britain and secret intelligence reports that war was imminent, Stalin has refused to prepare for an invasion, insisting that it would not happen until next summer.

In London the War Cabinet met early this morning to discuss the implications.

The Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, condemned the invasion in a broadcast on BBC radio, in which he said it marked a turning point in the war.

Calling Hitler a "bloodthirsty guttersnipe", he said his own outspoken opposition to communism had "faded away" in the light of today's events, and pledged Britain's help for the Soviet Union in any way possible. "The Russian danger is... our danger," he said, "and the danger of the United States, just as the cause of any Russian fighting for his hearth and home is the cause of free men and free peoples in every quarter of the globe."


Watch/Listen
Joseph Stalin
The Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin, has been taken completely by surprise

Winston Churchill reacts to the Soviet invasion
In Context
In the next six months of Operation Barbarossa, as the invasion was known, Germany occupied what is now Belarus and most of Ukraine, and surrounded Leningrad (now St Petersburg).

The German Army, though vastly superior to the Red Army, met a courageous resistance which made its advance far slower than expected.

At the same time, the retreating Soviet troops destroyed crops and burnt entire villages under Stalin's "scorched earth" policy to prevent supplies falling into German hands.

Hitler had counted on taking Moscow before Russia's punishing winter set in, but the half-starved German army didn't even arrive on the outskirts until September.

They were finally driven back by a surprise counterattack by the Red Army on 6 December 1941.

In 1942, a second major push, this time in the south, ended in the surrender of the German Sixth Army at the bloody Battle of Stalingrad in early 1943.

The siege of Leningrad to the north also ended in German defeat in 1944, after 900 terrible days of starvation and bombardment in which about one million people died.

The failure of Operation Barbarossa was Hitler's first major defeat on land, and marked the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany.

2004: Child killer Dutroux jailed for life
Convicted paedophile and child killer Marc Dutroux has been sentenced to life in prison for the kidnap, rape and murder of young girls.

A court in Arlon, Belgium, sentenced his ex-wife Michelle Martin to 30 years in prison for kidnapping and rape.

Co-accused Michel Lelievre got 25 years for kidnapping and drug-dealing. Michel Nihoul was jailed for five years for drug-dealing and counts of fraud.

This marks the end of a case which became the scourge of the Belgian establishment and notorious around the world.

Grisly crimes

Dutroux was found guilty last week of leading a gang that kidnapped and raped six girls in the mid-1990s, leading to the deaths of four of them.

Prosecutors had called for 30-year jail terms for Martin and Lelievre, and at least 10 years for Nihoul, a businessman.

Nihoul was acquitted of kidnapping, but convicted of smuggling drugs and people into Belgium.

The grisly crimes came to light in the summer of 1996. Two young girls, Sabine Dardenne and Laetitia Delhez, aged 12 and 14 respectively were found at one of Dutroux's houses on 15 August 1996.

They had been abducted and kept in a purpose-built dungeon in Dutroux's basement and repeatedly raped.

A couple of days later the bodies of two eight-year-olds, Melissa Russo and Julie Lejeune, were found in the garden of another property belonging to Dutroux.

They had been repeatedly raped before dying of starvation, post-mortem reports showed.

The bodies of An Marchal, 17, and Eefje Lambrecks, 19, were found in 1996 in the garden of a house in the suburbs of the city of Charleroi owned by Dutroux.

Post-mortem reports showed they had been raped and beaten before being drugged and buried alive.

But we are still the biggest losers because I lost a daughter and I'll never get her back
Jean Lambrecks, one victim's father

Prosecution witness Ms Dardenne, who gave evidence at the trial, was said to be "delighted" by the sentencing.

"A good piece of justice has finally been done," said her lawyer, Celine Parisse.

Jean Lambrecks, father of Eefje, said he was "content" with the sentence. "But we are still the biggest losers because I lost a daughter and I'll never get her back," he added.

Some said they were alarmed that those implicated in the crimes - such as Nihoul - could be out of jail within a few years.

"It's scary that he didn't get the maximum," said Paul Marchal, father of An.

1979: Thorpe cleared of murder charges
Former Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe has walked out of the Old Bailey a free man, after a jury cleared him of the attempted murder of Norman Scott.

Mr Thorpe, who resigned as leader in 1976 amid allegations that he had had a homosexual affair with Mr Scott, hailed his acquittal as "a complete vindication".

Mr Thorpe and three other men were charged with conspiracy to murder, after the bungled assassination attempt of Mr Scott on a deserted moor in Southern England.

All were found not guilty. It took the jury 15 hours of deliberation spread over three days to reach its verdict. Mr Thorpe was also acquitted on a charge of inciting one of his co-defendants, David Holmes, to murder Mr Scott.

I have always maintained that I was innocent
Jeremy Thorpe

The trial lasted 31 days but Mr Thorpe's ordeal began when he was charged last August.

Although he was found not guilty, the case has probably ruined Mr Thorpe's political career.

As the verdict was read out he sat motionless. Afterwards he leant over to give his wife a long kiss.

Speaking later he said: "I have always maintained that I was innocent of the charges brought against me and the verdict of the jury, after a prolonged and careful investigation by them, I regard as totally fair and a complete vindication."

He added that he would be taking "a short period of rest" away from the glare of publicity.

2001: Bulger killers to be released

The killers of toddler James Bulger will be released, eight years after they were jailed for a crime which shocked the nation.

Home Secretary David Blunkett confirmed to the House of Commons that Jon Venables and Robert Thompson would be allowed to go free on a "life licence".

Both the boys were 10-years-old when they led James Bulger away from a shopping centre in Bootle, Merseyside, tortured and murdered him.

The toddler's mother, Denise Fergus - who has remarried after separating from the child's father, Ralph - reacted angrily to the decision and said the killers could never escape vengeance.

The Parole Board ruled the 18-year-olds were no longer a danger and should be freed as soon as possible.

But the terms of their licence means they will be supervised for the rest of their lives and could be rearrested at any time if thought to be a risk to the public.

Venables and Thompson are also forbidden from contacting each other or any members of the Bulger family, and are not allowed to enter Merseyside without permission.

Public funds will be used for their further education and to protect their identities, but National Probation Service Director Eithne Wallis told the BBC the pair would "never be completely free".

In a statement read out by a friend, Mrs Fergus said the government and the Parole Board had been deceived by two devious killers.

"The murderers have walked away with a life of luxury, a bought home, a bank account and 24-hour protection," she said.

But Venables' lawyer, John Dickinson, said his client had expressed remorse and was ready to be released.

"I think he would give a great deal to put the clock back, but unfortunately of course, he can't," he said.


James Bulger
James Bulger was abudcted from the Strand shopping centre in Bootle, Merseyside

In Context
Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss had ruled in January 2001 the identities of Venables and Thompson should remain secret as there was a "real possibility of serious physical harm and possibly death" to them.

There were threats by protesters to publish a recent photo of one of the teenagers on the internet, which could have been out of the jurisdiction of UK law.

The Manchester Evening News was found guilty of contempt of court over an article about the young men's whereabouts published just hours after the parole board ruled they could be released.

The court order prohibiting publication of any information likely to lead to their identification will probably remain in place indefinitely.

1959: Harrods in £34m merger talks
Directors of leading London store Harrods are urging shareholders to vote for a merger with the Debenhams department chain.

The directors have been meeting to consider two merger proposals - one from Debenhams and another, as yet unofficial, proposal from Hugh Fraser, head of House of Fraser.

Debenhams and Harrods have been linked together informally for years. The proposed formal merger of interests is seen as a way of cutting costs through pooling resources on buying goods and internal administration.

The Debenhams offer is worth £34m - the House of Fraser proposal about £1.5m less and it also comes with fewer voting rights on the new board.

Benefit the shopping public

Under the terms of the Debenhams deal, Harrods would continue to operate under its own name and Sir Richard Burbidge would continue as chairman.

He and one other Harrods director would join the board of Debenhams. In return, two Debenhams directors would join the Harrods board.

A statement published in today's Times newspaper said: "This proposed merger of interests should improve the services of the businesses in both groups to the benefit of the shopping public."

The House of Fraser offer - which has yet to be made formally - would give Harrods bosses a far smaller say in the running of the newly merged company.

Harrods Knightsbridge store has been one of the biggest and most prestigious department stores in London since the 1920s.

The House of Fraser group, which expanded rapidly in Scotland in the late 1940s, has already got a foothold in London. In 1957, it bought the Kensington-based John Barker store group.

 


Contemporary view of Harrods
Harrods was returned to private ownership under Mohammed al Fayed


In Context
A third group, United Drapery Stores, entered the bidding war with an offer of £36m but later withdrew.

The battle was won by House of Fraser, which raised its final price to £37m. It acquired enough shares on 24 August 1959 to beat off the competition from Debenhams.

Harrods was started by Charles Henry Harrod as a family grocery business in 1849.

In 1861 Harrod's son, Charles Digby Harrod, took over the business and began selling a much wider range of products including furniture, china and perfumes.

The company was floated in 1889 and began a massive expansion programme.

The store returned to private ownership in 1985 when Mohammed al Fayed and his brother bought the House of Fraser for £615m.

In 1994 all 56 House of Fraser stores, except Harrods, were floated on the stock market. The firm has been the subject of several takeover approaches in recent years.


Watch/Listen
Jeremy Thorpe
Mr Thorpe always said he was innocent

Thorpe and co-defendants leave court


In Context
Jeremy Thorpe's political career was indeed ruined by the case.

Mr Thorpe had risen to prominence in 1967 when he became leader of the Liberal Party, but stepped down in 1976 as Norman Scott's allegations about their relationship surfaced.

At the May general election, shortly before the trial began, the voters of north Devon threw him out of the Parliamentary seat he had held for 20 years.

In 1999, two decades after disappearing from public life, Mr Thorpe published his memoirs in which he asserted that he never had any doubt about the acquittal of all the defendants on trial.

Mr Thorpe, who now suffers from Parkinson's Disease, is president of the North Devon Liberal Association.


Marc Dutroux shortly after his arrest in 1996
Dutroux led a gang that kidnapped and raped young girls


In Context
The case had kept Belgium on tenterhooks since 1996 after years of delays and blunders.

There was public outrage, and a mass demonstration of 300,000 people in October 1996 called on reform of the police and justice system.

In 1998 Dutroux even managed to escape custody during a court visit but was swiftly recaptured. As a result Belgium's police chief, justice minister and interior minister were forced to resign.

The case took nearly eight years to come to trial, partly because police were investigating claims by some victims' parents and by Dutroux himself that he was part of a wider paedophile ring that included prominent Belgians.

This claim was not proven and in an interview to the press in 2003 Sabine Dardenne, one of two surviving victims, said she believed he had acted alone.

Dutroux lost his appeal against a life sentence in December 2004. Nihoul was released on parole in April 2006.


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23rd June

 

1934 New Zealand Murderer Convicted Thanks To New Fangled Police Technology: Forensics

The case involved the disappearance of a couple, Sam and Christobel Lakey, who went missing from their farm in Ruawaro, New Zealand, in October 1933.

William Bayly owned the farm adjacent to the Lakey's. He was initially a suspect, but when Christobel was discovered dead in a pond, and police couldn't find her husband, the focus of the investigation went into finding him.

However, investigators later found gruesome evidence of of a cremation in one of Bayly's outhouses... Bayly was charged with murder.

At trial, 250 small pieces of Sam Lakey were presented to the jury, along with human hair and bone fragments.

It was seen as a breakthrough for forensics.

 

1985: Air India jet crashes killing 329

A passenger jet has disintegrated in mid-air off the coast of Ireland, killing all 329 people on board.

The Air India flight was only 45 minutes from London Heathrow when it suddenly disappeared from radar screens at 0816 BST.

Airline officials said they do not know the cause of the crash, but suspected it was caused by a bomb planted by Sikh extremists.

The Boeing 747 plunged into the sea from 30,000 ft (9,144 m) and rescue officials said they did not expect to find survivors. The pilot had no time to issue a mayday message, according to the coastguard.

Flight AI 182 was flying from Toronto to London with a stopover at Montreal. Most of the passengers were of Indian origin and intending to fly on to Bombay or Delhi.

There is a large slick of fuel about 4.5 miles long and a lot of wreckage on the surface
RAF pilot Paul Redfern
The plane had already been delayed at Mirabel Airport, Montreal, where Canadian Mounties removed three suspicious packages.

The rescue operation is being co-ordinated by the coastguard in Plymouth and Falmouth, and four RAF helicopters are being used to search for bodies.

"There is a large slick of fuel about 4.5 miles [7.2km] long and a lot of wreckage on the surface," pilot Paul Redfern said.

He confirmed some bodies had been recovered and taken to a temporary mortuary at Cork Airport.

A coastguard spokesman told the BBC he thought it very unlikely there would be any survivors. "I think we have to face the facts. The chances can't be very good - nevertheless if there is a possibility then we will explore it as far as we can," he said.


Rescue operation
Flight AI 182 was flying from Toronto to London
In Context
Five months later, Talwinder Singh Parmar and Inderjit Singh Reyat were arrested on weapons, explosives and conspiracy charges connected with the bombing.

Reyat was fined on a minor explosive charge, but the case against Mr Parmar was dropped - though Canadian police believed him to be the leader of the Air India conspiracy. He was killed by police in India in 1992.

In 1991, Reyat was sentenced to 10 years in prison for making a bomb destined for another Air India flight, but which exploded at Tokyo's Narita airport, killing two baggage handlers.

Two years after his release, the Sikh electrician pleaded guilty to manslaughter in connection with the Air India bombing and was sentenced to five years.

Two further suspects - Vancouver businessman Ripudaman Singh Malik and millworker Ajaib Singh Bagri - were acquitted of involvement with the attack in March 2005.

1992: 'Teflon Don' jailed for life
New York crime boss John Gotti has been sentenced to life imprisonment with no chance of parole.

The head of the city's largest Mafia family was convicted on 2 April for racketeering and five counts of murder - including the former head of the Gambino clan, Paul Castellano.

Gotti's deputy, Frank Locascio, was also sentenced to life after being found guilty of similar charges. Both men were fined $250,000 (£134,500).

Several hundred Gotti-supporters had gathered outside the Brooklyn courtroom and an angry mob attempted to storm the building when the decision was announced.

Judge Leo Glasser's sentencing brought to a close the long quest to convict the man nicknamed the "Teflon Don".

Gotti, 51, had escaped repeated attempts by federal prosecutors throughout the 1980s to get charges to stick to him.

But police finally persuaded Salvatore Gravano - his former ally and right hand man - to testify against his boss in return for leniency.

If there were more people like John Gotti on this earth, we would have a better country
Gotti's deputy, Frank Locascio

"Sammy The Bull" told the court how Gotti had ordered the Castellano murder in 1985 and then watched the killing with him from a limousine on the opposite side of the street.

The case was secured when the prosecution played tapes of secretly recorded conversations between the Gambino godfather and his Mafia associates to the jury.

Gotti declined to respond after being sentenced but Locascio told the packed courtroom he was innocent of all charges.

"I am guilty, though, of being a good friend of John Gotti - and if there were more people like John Gotti on this earth, we would have a better country," he said.

 


Watch/Listen
Mafia boss John Gotti
Gotti is head of the biggest Mafia family

Outrage from Gotti supporters over life sentence


In Context
John Gotti died of throat cancer in prison on 10 June 2002. He was 61.

Salvatore Gravano was released after five years, but was later convicted of peddling drugs in Arizona on the evidence of an informant in his own organisation.

The Teflon Don's son, John Gotti Jnr, took over the running of the Gambino family but was jailed in 1999 for bribery, extortion, gambling and fraud, and remains behind bars.

1983: Pope meets banned union leader Walesa
Pope John Paul II has held a private meeting with Lech Walesa, the founder and leader of Solidarity, Poland's independent trade union movement.

Solidarity has been banned since December 1981 when martial law was declared following social tensions in Poland.

It is the second time Pope John Paul II - who was formerly Archbishop of Krakow - has returned to his native Poland since he became head of the Roman Catholic Church in 1978.

Mr Walesa met the Pope in the Tatra Mountains in the south of the country towards the end of his eight-day visit to Poland.

This right is not given to us by the state...It is a right given by the Creator
Pope John Paul II
Solidarity sources say the Pope told Mr Walesa that he should rely on the advice of the Catholic Church, rather than organising street demonstrations as part of the trade union movement's campaign to bring about political reforms in Poland.

As Archbishop, Karol Wojtyla took an uncompromising stand against the Communist regime.

But the Pope has urged the country to try to resolve its differences through dialogue and not confrontation.

Officials close to Mr Walesa say the Pope also told the Solidarity leader that martial law could be lifted by the autumn.

This, they say, was indicated to the Pope by Prime Minister General Wojciech Jaruzelski during talks just hours before he met Mr Walesa.

Mr Walesa has said he was "moved and enthusiastic" about his meeting with the Pope, and is willing to take a "back seat" as a focus for opposition to the government in ending martial law.

The Pope has also addressed a congregation of two million worshippers in Katowice, Poland's industrial heartland in the south, and told them that workers should be able to join free trade unions.

He said: "This right is not given to us by the state. It is a right given by the Creator."

During his visit the Pope blessed the widows of workers killed when martial law was imposed.

The Polish Government has said it will cooperate closely with the Catholic Church in the future, and it is well known the Pope would like the church to be involved in any reconciliation process.

President Henryk Jablonski, who said goodbye to the Pope at Krakow airport, told reporters that "dialogue is possible and inevitable".

Before returning to the Vatican in Rome, the Pope made a televised address to the Polish people from the airport. He said: "The nation must develop by its own means and resources."


Pope John Paul II and Lech Walesa
The Pope met Lech Walesa in private for around 40 minutes
In Context
Lech Walesa, who won the Nobel peace price in 1983, was a devout Catholic and his rise to prominence came about at the same time as Pope John Paul II began his term in office.

The Pope served as an inspiration for many Catholics in Poland who wanted religious, political and economic freedoms.

Martial law was lifted a month after the Pope's visit - which also led to a government amnesty for political prisoners.

During the next five years gradual steps were taken to create a civil society in Poland.

In 1988 a grave economic crisis, coupled with the era of "glasnost" and "perestroika" under reformist Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, forced the Polish government to negotiate with Solidarity.

Elections were held in 1989 when Solidarity won a landslide victory and formed a coalition government.

The following year Lech Walesa was elected as Poland's president, transforming the country into a market economy.

The Pope died at 2137 (1937 GMT) on Saturday 2 April 2005 after he failed to recover from a throat operation.

1955: Queen Elizabeth sails on schedule
Striking seamen have failed to delay the sailing of the Queen Elizabeth ocean liner which left Southampton on schedule this afternoon.

The 83,673 ton Cunard liner set sail for New York at 1358BST with a full crew and 1,300 passengers despite last minute attempts to persuade her staff to join the industrial action.

The unofficial strike, which began on 31 May in Liverpool, has seen sailings cancelled from Southampton and Liverpool, leaving thousands of passengers stranded.

The dissatisfied seamen are demanding improved working conditions, including reduced working hours from 70 per week to 44, better accommodation and "shop stewards" on their ships.

The National Union of Seamen is opposed to the action.

Passengers stranded

Participation by crew members from the Queen Elizabeth, which has the largest number of staff of all the ships, has been seen as crucial to the dispute.

It was thought that many of the 1,275 staff would stage a walk-off when the liner docked at Southampton in the early hours of Tuesday morning (21/06/55) but this failed to materialise.

Efforts have continued in vain to gain the support of the QE's crew, including the staging of a full-scale strike meeting, attended by more than 500 strikers, in close proximity to the vessel.

Cunard insists the Queen Elizabeth is a "happy" ship.

More than 2,000 passengers were left stranded at the start of the action when the Ascania, the Britannic and the Saxonia cancelled their scheduled sailings from Liverpool.

The sailing of the Mauretania was then cancelled from Southampton. On June 16 the departure of the Queen Elizabeth's sister ship the Queen Mary, had to be cancelled at the last minute when 49 members of her crew refused to sail.


Queen Elizabeth I
The Queen Elizabeth I came out of public service in 1968
In Context
The failure to prevent the Queen Elizabeth's departure on 23 June was seen as a strong sign that the strike would come to an end.

In the following days seamen, disillusioned with the action, did indeed begin returning to work. The strike officially came to an end on 1 July.

Cunard initiated legal proceedings against the 49 crew members of the Queen Mary which saw each of them being given a conditional discharge.

None of them was re-employed on the Cunard liner.

1972: Chancellor orders pound flotation
The Chancellor, Anthony Barber, has announced his decision to temporarily float the pound.

The news comes only a day after the bank lending rate was increased by 1% - and four days after an interview on the BBC's Panorama programme in which he denied Britain was in danger of devaluation.

Labour MPs will see his decision to float the pound - rather than trade within a broad band linked to other currencies - as a first step towards devaluation.

Mr Barber told MPs the trade balance had deteriorated in the past couple of months and it had become necessary to shore up sterling by using the Bank of England's reserves.

To curb inflation remains our first priority
Chancellor Anthony Barber
He told MPs he was determined not to "allow ourselves to slide into a situation where we would have to borrow substantial sums".

"One of our underlying causes of this situation has undoubtedly been the concern about inflation... To curb inflation remains our first priority," he added.

The immediate crisis was sparked by heavy selling of the pound on the markets, which began on 16 June.

Investors' unease about high inflation in Britain has been exacerbated by recent highly publicised pay settlements for coal miners and railway workers, taking the average public sector wage increase to 9%. The Government has also become locked in two disputes over its industrial relations act, further damaging its image abroad.

Conservative jeers

The Chancellor accused his shadow Denis Healey of adding to pressure on the pound by speculating about a possible devaluation in a speech on Monday evening. In it, Mr Healey said there would be a devaluation by July or August.

Amid Conservative jeers, leader of the opposition Harold Wilson denied his shadow chancellor's remarks had anything to do with the pressure on the pound.

Labour front benchers also claimed the decision to float was in direct contradiction of the Government's agreement to keep the pound's exchange rate within a narrow band as a first step towards economic and monetary union with the other Common Market countries. Mr Barber insisted the flotation would be temporary. The foreign exchange market will be closed today (Friday) and Monday in order to prepare for the new arrangements.


Chancellor Anthony Barber
The floatation will only be temporary
In Context
The Chancellor went to Luxembourg on 26 June to explain his decision to float the pound to the finance ministers of the six Common Market countries.

He assured them the pound would return to operating within fixed trading bands in time for Britain to join its European partners in 1973.

Britain did join the Common Market, but the economy went from bad to worse. Mr Barber imposed a 90 day price freeze from 6 November.

1973 saw more industrial action and petrol rationing as a result of a Middle East oil embargo.

Prime Minister Edward Heath was finally forced to call a snap election in February 1974 - which he lost to Harold Wilson.


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24th June

 

1901 Pablo Picaso's First Major Exhibition

Picaso was to become one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, but in 1901 he was a virtually unknown 19 year old from Barcelona, Spain.

His first major exhibition took place on this day at a gallery in the rue Lafitte, in Paris, France.

By this time he had already painted about 100 works, by the end of his career that figure would rise to over 50,000 works of art which also included drawings, engravings, sculptures, and ceramics.


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25th June

 

1876 Battle of The Little Big Horn

Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse led their fellow Indians in a victorious attack against the US army, led by Lieutenant Colonel George Custer. It would be the Indian's biggest victory, and the US army's worst defeat, in the Plains Indian War.

Custer had ignored warnings from scouts about the size of the Indian forces (which could have been as many as 11,000) and attempted a mid day attack, choosing not to wait for reinforcements. Custer had about 600 men which he divided up into 4 units.

Custer himself headed a unit of about 215 men. When the attack seemed overwhelming (possibly 3,000 Indian Braves attacked them) his calls for reinforcements could not be met as the other units were equally under attack.

All of 215 under Custer and the Lieutenant himself were killed.

 

1950: UN condemns North Korean invasion

North Korea has invaded South Korea at several points along the two countries' joint border.

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has denounced North Korea's actions as a breach of the peace and has called for an immediate ceasefire.

The United States President Harry S Truman has gone a step further and urged western nations to go out to Korea and help repel the communist invasion.

"By their actions in Korea, communist leaders have demonstrated their contempt for the basic moral principles on which the United Nations is founded," he said.

Surprise attack

The invasion took the international community by surprise, even though the American Economic Co-operation Administration has its biggest mission - about 2,000 staff - in South Korea.

The seven-power commission of the United Nations in Korea (Uncok) confirmed North Korean troops crossed the border - known as the 38th parallel - in 11 places after artillery bombardments were reported in South Korea at 0400 local time.

Uncok has identified northern forces in the Ongjin peninsula and the north-western town of Kaesong and northerly town of Chunchon and landings on the east coast around Skagnung, almost 40 miles from the border.

Their statement also contained details of machine-gun attacks by four 'Yak' aircraft on military and civilian airfields outside the South Korean capital Seoul, destroying aircraft and jeeps and setting fire to petrol tanks.

President Syngman Rhee of South Korea - who denied early rumours of war - told Uncok at least 36 North Korean tanks and armoured cars had been counted on their way to Seoul by the shortest routes.

The North Korean wireless station, in the capital Pyongyang, justified the invasion saying communist forces were counter-attacking against border incursions by the South Koreans in the early hours of the morning and reported a state of war shortly after noon local time.

After an emergency meeting with his cabinet South Korea's foreign minister Ben Limb urged the people of the republic to resist the "dastardly attack".

The UN Security Council met at Lake Success, Detroit after the Korean Ambassador John Myung Changan sent an urgent petition to the State Department in Washington. Korea has been divided since the Japanese withdrawal at the end of World War II left the USSR occupying the area north of the 38th parallel and the US to the south.


Watch/Listen
Syngman Rhee
S Korean President Syngman Rhee said N Korean tanks were heading for Seoul

President Truman reacts to the invasion
In Context
For the first time the UN asked broadcasters - including the BBC and Voice of America - to transmit the UN ceasefire resolution to North Korea.

The republican government fled Seoul and the following day America offered military aid - including air and sea support - to South Korea.

On 28 June North Korean troops entered the capital and took control. The UN invoked military sanctions shortly afterwards.

President Truman and his government interpreted the invasion as Russian-backed communist aggression.

The USSR and North Korean authorities claimed they were responding to attacks from the republican south.

The war cost about two million lives.

Fighting did not stop until 1953 with the signing of the armistice on 27 July.

But a peace deal has never been reached. American troops remain stationed in the de-militarized zone on and around the 38th parallel separating North and South Korea.

1953: Christie to hang for wife's murder
John Christie has been sentenced to hang for murdering his wife and then hiding her body under the floorboards of their Notting Hill home in London.

Christie, 54, had admitted murder but pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. It took the jury an hour and 22 minutes to reject his defence and declare him guilty.

In his final speech to the court, defence lawyer Derek Curtis-Bennett QC argued that Christie was suffering from "a defect of reason" - although he knew what he was doing, he did not know that it was wrong.

Mr Curtis-Bennett told the jury Christie had begun showing signs of hysteria as long ago as 1918. During World War I he had served in the army and lost the ability to speak for three-and-a-half years after being caught up in a mustard gas shell explosion.

It was, he concluded, no exaggeration to say Christie was "as mad as a March hare".

Earlier, the court had been told that eight female bodies, including that of a baby girl, had been found at Christie's home at 10 Rillington Place. They had all been strangled.

The bodies also included Christie's wife, Ethel. Mr Curtis-Bennett said her killing was the most insane of all and the best example of a "motiveless, purposeless killing of the one person he liked".

The court was told Christie had forged his wife's signature to take money out of her bank account and buried her body under the floorboards. His defence counsel said these were the actions of a man desperate to cover his tracks after belatedly realising what he had done.

Two of the other bodies belonged to the wife and child of Christie's former neighbour Timothy Evans.

Evans was executed in 1950 for killing his baby daughter, Geraldine. Although he was also charged with murdering his wife, Beryl, that charge was not pursued after the first conviction and Christie was subsequently charged with her murder.

Attorney-General Sir Lionel Heald QC, acting for the prosecution, pointed out that Christie had a habit of remembering details of the case only when it suited him and at other times he appeared very forgetful.

He said Christie's motives were sexual. Several of his victims were prostitutes and there was evidence he had had sex with them shortly before he killed them.

In his summing-up, Mr Justice Finnemore said: "I do not know whether any jury before in this country or perhaps in the world has seen and heard a man charged with murder go into the witness box and say, 'Yes I did kill this victim, I killed six others as well over a period of 10 years.'"

He said the defence's claim that Christie was insane required careful consideration. But he cautioned against declaring him insane on the basis of evidence of his sexual perversion, that by itself was not necessarily insanity, he said.

2005: Iran hardliner sweeps to victory

The ultra-conservative mayor of Tehran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has won a landslide victory in Iran's presidential poll.

Mr Ahmadinejad won 62% of votes, defying predictions of a close race, to defeat the more moderate ex-President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

After his win, Mr Ahmadinejad said he planned to create a "modern, advanced and Islamic" role model for the world.

His victory means all the organs of the Iranian state are now in the hands of conservative hardliners.

Mr Ahmadinejad, 49, who campaigned on a conservative Islamic platform, had surprised observers by beating five other candidates in the first round to reach the run-off. The BBC's correspondent in Iran says it was Mr Ahmadinejad's appeal to the poor that seems to be the secret to his success. Despite Iran's huge oil wealth the country has high unemployment and a big gap between rich and poor.


Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Ahmadinejad's victory cements conservative control of the country


Watch/Listen
John Christie
John Christie's motive for murder was said to be sexual perversion

Timothy Evans' mother claims her son is innocent


In Context
Christie was hanged at Pentonville prison on 15 July 1953. According to newspaper reports, there were 200 people waiting outside the gates to see the notice of execution posted.

A private inquiry, published shortly before Christie's execution, concluded Evans had killed his wife and daughter. There was some criticism of the report which was seen as a whitewash to protect police handling of the Christie case.

A later inquiry concluded Evans had probably not killed his daughter and he was granted a posthumous pardon in 1966.

In March 2004, the Criminal Cases Review Commission concluded that it would not refer his conviction for review on the basis that even if the conviction were quashed it would bring no tangible benefit to the family.

Christie's Notting Hill home was torn down and the whole decrepit street was rebuilt in the 1970s as Bartle Road.

1970: New peace plan for Middle East
The United States has launched its latest plan to bring peace to the Middle East.

US Secretary of State William Rogers announced his initiative to encourage the Arabs and Israelis to stop shooting and start talking at a news conference in Washington.

Mr Rogers said he hoped the plan would be carried out under the guidance of United Nations mediator Dr Gunnar Jarring and in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions.

The peace effort will attempt to resolve the so-called "war of attrition" which has been raging between Israel and Egypt along the Suez Canal since the Six Day War in 1967.

'Lasting peace'

Recent strategies by the US Secretary of State to end conflict in the region have been rejected by all sides.

Mr Rogers said the objective of the initiative was "to encourage the parties to move to a just and lasting peace".

He refused to give details of any military assistance which might be offered to Israel or to divulge any further details of the plan.

But the US later confirmed it was pressing for a cessation of hostilities for at least three months and wished negotiations to be based on the UN resolution 242 - passed at the end of the Six Day War.

Under this declaration, Egypt and Jordan should acknowledge Israel's right to a secure existence behind recognised borders.

In return, Israel should accept the principle of withdrawing from occupied territory. The Israeli authorities have not commented on the proposals, but Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser is reported to have been scathing of the plans.


Israeli soldiers man an artillery installation, 1969
The US is pressing for a cessation of hostilities for at least three months
In Context
The "war of attrition" halted on 7 August 1970, but guerrilla action by Palestinian activists opposing the peace initiative continued along the Suez Canal.

These actions - including the hijacking of five planes in September 1970 - contributed to the Rogers plan failing.

Egypt and Syria were not able to regain territory they had lost in the 1967 six-day war by diplomatic means and in 1973 launched a major offensive against Israel.

They initially retook key positions lost in 1967, but the Arabs eventually buckled under a sustained Israeli counter-attack.

Most hostilities ceased on 22 October. Both sides suffered very heavy losses.

2001: Race violence erupts in Burnley
The ring leaders of a weekend of racial clashes in Burnley, Lancashire, are being hunted by the police as the clear up in the town begins.

Up to 200 white and Asian youths were involved in a series of overnight attacks on pubs, shops and restaurants. Many vehicles were also damaged or destroyed.

Community leaders have expressed surprise at the sudden eruption of racial hostility and said relations between different ethnic groups in the town had previously been good.

Officers investigating the riots said they have not yet made a connection with recent disturbances in Bradford, Oldham and Leeds.

During violence stretching over several hours one Asian family was trapped on a first floor flat when the shop below them was firebombed.

I'm appalled really at what's gone on
Burnley Councillor Peter Kenyon

They were eventually led to safety by neighbours.

Elsewhere in Burnley, an Asian gang firebombed the Duke of York pub and threw bricks at neighbouring shops and offices.

Newsagent Colin Dawber, whose shop is opposite the pub, said he was puzzled why race violence had flared up in the town.

"We bought this shop 10 years ago and we've had no problems at all - we have customers from right across the ethnic mix and age groups," he said.

But Burnley Councillor Peter Kenyon said he thought tensions had been simmering for some time.

"The last concrete evidence was the size of the vote for the BNP in the local elections. "I'm appalled really at what's gone on here over the weekend," he said.


Watch/Listen
Aftermath of the riots in Burnley
Police were in full riot gear

Footage of aftermath and interviews with locals
In Context
Police investigations concluded the disturbances in Burnley started when two gangs of Asian and white youths were involved in a fight. Four Asian men were found guilty of violent disorder in October 2002.

The government commissioned the "Community Cohesion Review", chaired by Ted Cantle, after a summer of racial violence in towns across the north-west of England.

The report found the Burnley disturbances had been sparked by a war between Asian and white drug gangs - rather than being "race riots" - and were exacerbated by "grinding poverty".

But it also said the clashes had been exploited by organised white racists.

1985: Police hunt IRA resort bombs
Thirteen people have been arrested in connection with a suspected IRA mainland bombing campaign uncovered by police two days ago.

The men - who are being held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act - include a 33-year-old from Belfast, suspected of carrying out the attack on the Conservative Cabinet in the Brighton Grand Hotel last year.

It is feared the IRA may have planted devices in a dozen seaside resorts around the UK - timed to go off at the height of the summer season - and a massive police hunt has been launched.

A controlled explosion was carried out on a suspect package in Brighton and a hotel in Hull was evacuated, but both incidents proved to be false alarms.

The only bomb discovered so far was found in the Rubens Hotel, London, where civil dignitaries and mayors were expected to stay for three Buckingham Palace garden parties next month.

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher congratulated the police on their prompt action and said the eight forces involved in the bomb hunt had averted a disaster "calculated to maim and kill many innocent people". Home Secretary Leon Brittan told the BBC he had given Metropolitan Commissioner Sir Kenneth Newman three weeks to make safe the resorts named in the IRA plot.


Rubens Hotel, London where one bomb was found
The IRA may have planted several devices in resorts around the UK
In Context
The alleged IRA summer bombing campaign was successfully averted.

One of the 13 men arrested, Patrick Magee, was charged on 29 June 1985 for the murder of the five people killed in the Brighton bombing the previous October.

He was sentenced to 35 years imprisonment for that attack and the seaside resort conspiracy, but released in 1999 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.


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26th June

 

1963 John F Kennedy: "I am a donut" or "Ich bin ein Berliner"

It was the most memorable point of John F Kennedy's presidency to that point, and occurred soon after the East German authorities erected the Berlin Wall to stop immigration between East and West Berlin. Unfortunately, a Berliner in Western Germany is a brand of donut, but his heart was in the right place...

The speech was delivered to 120,000 of the people of West Berlin in front of the Schöneberg Rathaus or City Hall.

Kennedy had walked from Checkpoint Charlie, the famous crossing point between East and Western Germany, to deliver the speech.

Highlights from the historic speech:

"Two thousand years ago, the proudest boast in the world was 'civis Romanus sum'. "Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is 'Ich bin ein Berliner.'"

"Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect. But we never had to put up a wall to keep our people in."

"All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words, 'Ich bin ein Berliner'"

An audience formed on the other side of the Berlin Wall in East Berlin, but they weren't allowed to fly flags because they were being watched by the East German police...

 

1970: Violence flares as Devlin is arrested

Riots have broken out in Londonderry after it was revealed Bernadette Devlin had been arrested.

The Mid-Ulster MP was to address a meeting in Bogside before handing herself in to police after she lost an appeal against her December conviction.

Miss Devlin, 23, was sentenced to six-months in jail for her part in the Bogside riots in 1969. She appealed against the decision but the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal rejected her application earlier today.

Speaking just before her arrest Miss Devlin said: "I was involved with people in defending their area. They were justified in defending themselves and I believe I was justified in assisting their defence."

"If the same circumstances rose again I would have no problems helping them again" she added.

Things are going backwards again instead of going forwards
Brigadier Alan Cowan
The police decided to arrest Miss Devlin at a roadblock just outside Londonderry in the hope it would prevent any violent protests.

But the plan backfired when news of the arrest reached the waiting crowds at Bogside.

Violence flared as youths threw stones and quickly escalated to the use of petrol bombs. Soldiers responded with CS gas.

More than 20 soldiers are reported to have been injured. Four have been taken to hospital.

Brigadier Alan Cowan, Commander of the Eighth Infantry Brigade said: "It is very sad indeed. There have been many weeks of quiet and now things are going backwards again instead of going forwards."

The area around Bogside has now been sealed off to prevent further trouble.

Miss Devlin was convicted on three charges of incitement to riot and one of rioting. She has now been taken to Armagh jail to start her sentence.


Bernadette Devlin MP
Miss Devlin said people were justified in defending themselves
In Context
Bernadette Devlin was released from prison on 21 October having served four months of her sentence for rioting.

Miss Devlin was the youngest-ever woman MP when she was elected at the age of 21 in 1969. She served as the Independent Unity member for Mid Ulster from 1969-73.

Having married in 1974, Mrs McAliskey, as she was then known, was shot and wounded when gunmen broke into her house. She survived the attack and continued to champion the cause of Catholics.

In October 1993, she gave evidence to a court in San Francisco on behalf of James Smyth, who escaped from the Maze in 1983. He was fighting the British Government's attempts to extradite him.

2000: IRA weapons dump inspected
International inspectors say they have seen a large number of IRA weapons "safely and adequately stored" in bunkers.

After the first inspection of its kind, former president of Finland, Martti Ahtisaari, and former ANC general secretary, Cyril Ramaphosa, said they were satisfied the guns and explosives could not be used.

The two men met Prime Minister Tony Blair in Downing Street to update him on what they had seen.

After their meeting Mr Blair said the inspections represented "a very substantial further step along the road to a lasting peace".

He added that although there was still a long way to go in the political process, Northern Ireland "has never had a better prospect than it has today".

Genuine effort

The IRA agreed in May to allow the two international inspectors to verify that some of their arms dumps were secure as part of the package of proposals to reinstate Northern Ireland devolution and the power-sharing executive.

The inspectors plan to re-inspect the arms dumps on a regular basis to ensure the weapons remain secure.

In a statement, the men said they believed the move was "a genuine effort by the IRA to advance the peace process."

It is believed three dumps were inspected.

But the main unionist party opposed to the Good Friday Agreement remains deeply sceptical about the arrangement.

Democratic Unionist assembly member Peter Robinson said the IRA's move was nothing of substance. He said: "It's an attempt by the IRA to give the pretence that they are doing something."


Tony Blair with Martti Ahtisaari (c) and Cyril Ramaphosa (r) who inspected the weapons
The inspections are a big step forward for peace
In Context
The successful inspection followed the IRA's offer, made in May 2000, to begin a process that would "completely and verifiably" put its arms beyond use.

Further inspections took place in October 2000 and May 2001, both verifying the weapons remained out of use.

In October 2001 the Independent International Decommissioning Commission confirmed that it had witnessed the IRA disposing of arms, and in April 2002 the IRA put a second tranche of its arsenal "beyond use".

But doubts remained and the issue of decommissioning was one of the major stumbling blocks in talks between all parties seeking to restore devolution after the Northern Ireland Assembly was suspended in October 2002.

Five years of direct rule ended in May 2007 when DUP leader Ian Paisley became first minister and Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness took office as his deputy for the return of devoution.

1986: Branson on course for Blue Riband
Entrepreneur Richard Branson has set off on his second attempt to claim the transatlantic crossing record for Britain.

Mr Branson and his team left New York at dawn on their 72 ft powerboat Virgin Challenger II for the 3,000 mile (4,828 km) voyage.

If they reach Bishop's Rock, off the Isles of Scilly, by 2100 BST on 29 June they will recapture the Blue Riband for the UK - held by liner SS United States since 1952 for a crossing in three days and 10 hours.

The millionaire businessmen tried to break the record last year, but his boat sank just 138 miles (222 km) from the British coast.

Mr Branson told the BBC he was confident they would succeed this year.

"The boat's ready, the crew are ready and the weather forecast is reasonable - hopefully we'll be there for Sunday lunch," he said.

A spokesman at the Virgin Challenger London headquarters said the team had almost reached Nova Scotia for the first of three refuelling stops at 2100 BST and was two hours ahead of schedule.

After taking on more fuel, the £1.5m boat will head across the ocean on the "great circle" route - the quickest course across the Atlantic.

BBC Tomorrow's World presenter Peter Macann is on the Challenger and said conditions had been perfect for the first stage of the voyage.

"The only point of excitement was when I was driving and a whale surfaced about 50 m (164 ft) from the boat - I just managed to swerve to avoid it," he said.

1959: Queen and Eisenhower open seaway

The Queen and US President Dwight D Eisenhower have inaugurated the 2,300-mile St Lawrence Seaway in Canada that links the Atlantic with the Great Lakes in North America.

Crowds cheered and waved flags, church bells rang out, sirens wailed and bands played as the Royal Yacht Britannia began the first leg of the journey from Montreal harbour to the Atlantic Ocean.

On board were the Queen, representing Canada, and President Eisenhower who could be seen chatting together on deck and waving to the crowds.

Balloons and fireworks were released when the ship's bow passed a symbolic gate at St Lambert Lock made of old timbers from the lock of the Lachine canal which was built to bypass the Lachine rapids. The seaway takes a different route avoiding the rapids and rendering the Lachine canal obsolete.

Then all the whistles and sirens of ships in Montreal harbour went off.

'In love with the Queen'

At one point an American congressman called to the president from the lock side: "We have all fallen in love with the Queen, Ike!"

Earlier, the Queen as head of the Commonwealth welcomed President Eisenhower to Canada at Montreal airport.

After inspecting a Royal Canadian Air Force guard of honour they took an open-top car to the St Lawrence River.

There the two heads of state were each presented with a commemorative book with the names of the men who built the seaway.

The Queen then made a speech welcoming the president and his wife to Canada to mark the inauguration of a "great joint enterprise between our two countries". She acknowledged the project would open up the centre of America to world trade and enhance Canadian commerce in the process.


Watch/Listen
Royal Yacht Britannia
The Queen and President were on the Royal Yacht Britannia for the opening ceremony

Footage of the Queen and Eisenhower (mute)

In Context
The ambitious joint project between Canada and the USA cost $470m to build of which £336.2m was paid by Canada and $133.8m by the US.

Construction began in 1954 after 250 years of planning and setbacks, dating back to French attempts to bypass rapids near Montreal with a canal in the 17th century.

About 100 square miles (259 sq km) were flooded and at least 6,500 people resettled before the seaway was completed in April 1959.

By the end of the year, the massive system of canals, locks and dredged waterways had seen more than 6,500 ships pass through.

On average the St Lawrence Seaway handles 50 million tons of cargo, mainly grain, iron ore, coal and steel.

The Queen is still Canada's head of state represented by the governor-general. In 1982 Canada adopted a new constitution free from the United Kingdom.


Watch/Listen
Richard Branson
The team left New York at dawn

The Virgin Challenger II sets off


In Context
The Blue Riband was established by shipping magnates in 1838 as an informal competition.

Richard Branson broke the record, but the Hales' trustees refused to award him the trophy because his boat did not have a commercial maritime purpose and he had stopped to refuel.

The SS United States' record was not broken until 1990, when the 74m (243ft) catamaran Hoverspeed Great Britain completed the crossing with an average speed of 36.65 knots.

In 1987 Mr Branson abandoned the sea and took to the air. His Virgin Atlantic Flyer hot air balloon was the first to cross the Atlantic that year, and in 1991, he broke the Pacific record by crossing from Japan to Arctic Canada.


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27th June

 

1844 Joseph Smith, Founder of The Mormons, is Murdered

Carthage, Illinois: Joseph, and his brother, Hyrum Smith, were murdered by an anti- Mormon mob who broke into a jail where they were being held.

Joseph Smith claimed that, in 1823, a Christian angel, called Moroni, spoke to him and told him of a 1500 year old Hebrew text which had been engraved on gold plates by a Native American historian in the fourth century. It was the tale of how Israelites had populated areas of America in ancient times.

Smith dictated an English translation of the text over the next six years, and published a book, in 1830, called "The Book of Mormon". The same year he founded the 'Church of Christ', later known as the 'Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints'.

The Mormon community gained enemies for their, what was seen as unorthodox practices, such as polygamy. In 1844 Smith was charged with treason, for which he was being held in prison (with his brother) at the time he was murdered.

He was succeeded as leader by Brigham Young who would lead his, some 148 believers, to Salt Lake City where they decided to settle.

 

1991: Yugoslav troops move against Slovenia

Yugoslav tanks, troops and aircraft have swept into the small republic of Slovenia, 48 hours after it declared independence.

Federal forces moved to seize control of border crossing points with Italy, Austria and Hungary and launched an assault on the airport near the province's capital, Ljubljana.

More government tanks rolled into a town in neighbouring Croatia, which is also seeking independence. At least seven people have died and 100 have been reported injured in the clashes so far.

The Slovene administration has rejected a call by the Yugoslav prime minister for a three-month truce to allow negotiations to take place, demanding troops be withdrawn first.

All resistance will be broken
General Konrad Kolsek
Road access to the capital has been blocked by police and paramilitary forces from the self-declared state. The government in Ljubljana said they had seized or destroyed 15 tanks and shot down six helicopters.

"There is war in Slovenia - there are conflicts in at least 20 places," said Defence Minister Janez Jansa.

The British Government condemned the use of force in the country and called for dialogue between the two sides.

But a spokesman for the Yugoslav defence ministry warned the federal army would "carry out its obligations to the end, regardless of the type of resistance".

A message from the military commander of the district, General Konrad Kolsek, to Ljubljana stated clearly his mission was to re-establish federal control over the province. "The order will be executed unconditionally - we shall proceed according to the rules of combat... All resistance will be broken," it said.


Federal Yugoslav army armoured personnel carriers near Ljubljana (27/06/91)
Federal forces have seized control of crossing points
In Context
Communist Yugoslavia was formed by Marshall Tito in 1945.

He dealt with nationalist aspirations by creating a federation of six republics: Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia.

But ethnic tensions where never far from the surface. Although the federation held together for 10 years after Tito's death in 1980, it fell apart rapidly after Slovenia's declaration of independence.

Croatia and Bosnia followed soon after, but at the cost of a renewed battle with the Serbs - who wanted to build a greater Serbia.

A bitter conflict developed, characterised by huge numbers of refugees, ethnic hatred and atrocities committed by all sides.

An uneasy peace was only achieved in December 1995 with the Dayton Accord.

The state union of Serbia and Montenegro was all that remained of the federation of six republics that made up former Yugoslavia - but in a referendum on 21 May 2006, Montenegro narrowly voted for independence from Serbia.

1963: Warm welcome for JFK in Ireland
The US President John F Kennedy has received a rapturous welcome on an emotional visit to his ancestral homeland in County Wexford, Ireland.

On the second day of his four-day trip to Ireland, the president travelled by helicopter this morning to County Wexford.

Hundreds of wellwishers cheered and waved flags on his arrival at Wexford town and a choir of 300 boys greeted him singing "The Boys of Wexford", a ballad about an insurrection in 1798.

The president left his bodyguards to join them in the second chorus, prompting one American photographer to burst into tears.

Once the singing was over, Mr Kennedy shook hands with as many schoolchildren as he could reach.

He was then driven to the nearby port of New Ross from where Patrick Kennedy, his great-grandfather, had set sail for a better life in America back in 1848 during the potato famine.

In a speech at the quayside he said: "When my great-grandfather left here to become a cooper in East Boston he carried nothing with him except two things - a strong religious faith and a strong desire for liberty.

"I am glad to say that all of his grandchildren have valued that inheritance."

'Welcome home, Mr President'

At Dunganstown, five miles (8kms) south of New Ross, President Kennedy visited his ancestral homestead, a small croft building and farm.

The president and two of his sisters who accompanied him on this trip met 15 of their cousins, including the current owner of the homestead, Mary Ryan who welcomed him with a kiss on the cheek.

Tea had been laid out on trestle tables in the yard and a banner declared "Welcome home, Mr President".

America's first Catholic president spent about an hour chatting with his Irish family, cut a large cake and with teacup in hand said: "I want to drink a cup of tea to all those Kennedys who went and all those Kennedys who stayed." He was then driven to Wexford town where he made much of Ireland's subjugation and religious persecution by the British.


President greets wellwishers in Galway - June 29 1963
President Kennedy made an emotional visit to his ancestral homeland
In Context
In Dublin the following day, President John F Kennedy made a point of acknowledging Ireland's struggle for freedom from the British during a speech to the joint sessions of the Irish Parliament.

He received the freedom of the cities of Limerick and Galway before leaving for Britain and a meeting with the British Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan.

Four months later, in October 1963 Irish PM Sean Lemass made a state visit to the United States to strengthen ties with America, where some 38 million citizens claim to be of Irish descent.

On 22 November 1963, John F Kennedy was assassinated, shot in the head as he drove through Dallas, Texas, on his way to a political festival.

His ancestral homestead in Dunganstown was turned into a museum in 1999.

1957: Smoking 'causes lung cancer'
The link between smoking and lung cancer is one of 'direct cause and effect', a special report by the Medical Research Council has found.

The report, published today, studied the dramatic increase in deaths from lung cancer over the past 25 years and concluded the main cause was smoking.

But tobacco firms have rejected the findings saying they are merely a 'matter of opinion'.

The government has indicated that an educational campaign to raise awareness on the dangers of smoking will be launched via local health authorities.

Shares unaffected

The report states that in 1945 the mortality rate from lung cancer was 188 deaths in every million. Ten years later the figure had almost doubled to 388 in every million.

The report, which looked at evidence from 21 investigations in six countries, found cigarette smoking to be the predominant cause for this rise.

Mr Vaughan-Morgan, Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health said: "The government feels that it is right to ensure that this latest authoritative opinion is brought effectively to public notice, so that everyone may know the risks involved."

But he made it clear that people, armed with the facts, would be able to make up their own minds and smoking would not be banned.

The prohibition of smoking in theatres, cinemas and public transport is not on the agenda, he added.

It is estimated that between £600m and £620m in revenue is generated by the sale of cigarettes.

The Conservatives have questioned what alternative taxes the government would introduce to cover that figure should cigarette smoking now be eliminated.

Members of the general public, asked by the BBC for their reaction to the findings, appeared unphased.

One smoker said that, although he was not considering giving up smoking himself, he thought the younger generation would be well advised not to start.

Another man said he was "not frightened at all" by the findings and may even consider increasing the number of cigarettes he smokes each day.

These views were reflected on the stock market where shares in leading tobacco companies remained largely unaffected by the news.

1986: US guilty of backing Contras
The United States has been found guilty of violating international law by supporting armed Contra rebels in Nicaragua.

The International Court of Justice ruled that the US should compensate the country, although it has not yet fixed an amount.

But the Reagan administration has boycotted the case and says it will ignore the verdict of the United Nations court.

In the US there have been demonstrations against a vote by Congress in favour of aid to the Contras.

About 40 people were arrested during a protest in Minneapolis, and in Cleveland a group of demonstrators lay on the pavement to block the entrance to the federal building.

The UN court found the US guilty of contravening law by training, arming and financing paramilitary activities in and against Nicaragua.

These activities included the laying of mines in Nicaraguan waters in early 1984, as well as attacking a naval base and patrol boats.

The court held, by 12 votes to three, that the US was "in breach of its obligations under customary international law not to use force against another State, not to intervene in its affairs, not to violate its sovereignty and not to interrupt peaceful maritime commerce".

It ruled the US was under an obligation "to make reparation to the Republic of Nicaragua for all injury caused" by the breaches.

1977: Home Secretary jeered on picket line
Home Secretary Merlyn Rees has appealed for calm following two weeks of violent clashes outside the Grunwick film processing factory in north London.

Mr Rees was visiting the factory in Willesden where between 500 and 600 pickets were gathered at the two entrance gates watched over by a similar number of police.

Inside the factory, Managing Director George Ward has admitted for the first time that the refusal of local postal workers to accept outgoing mail from the company is beginning to bite.

The pickets have complained of police violence and antagonism and say they have been prevented from speaking to workers being driven into the plant by bus.

They are demanding recognition for their union, APEX - the Association of Professional, Executive, Clerical and Computer Staffs.

The protest began last August led by an Asian worker Jayaben Desai. Her son was claiming unfair dismissal from the factory and she had just walked out of her own job in a dispute with the management.

Mrs Desai took advice from Brent Trades Council, which encouraged her to fight for union recognition at the factory.

Mr Rees arrived at the main gate in Chapter Road to angry shouts of "police out" from the waiting crowd.

He insisted the heavy police presence was necessary.

"All the police want to do is provide the circumstances where this lady can talk to the people going in and if they don't want to listen, they have the right to go in. That's the law," he added.

Mr Rees said mediation was the only way forward.

Strike leaders have said they will reduce the pickets while talks take place between Mr Ward and Employment Secretary Albert Booth, but if common ground cannot be achieved, they will return to mass picketing.

 


Home Secretary Merlyn Rees
The Home Secretary says mediation is the only way forward


In Context
The Grunwick dispute lasted for almost two years.

On a particularly brutal day in November 1977, when 8,000 people turned out to protest, 243 pickets were treated for injuries, 12 had broken bones and 113 were arrested.

Jayaben Desai and three other workers went on hunger strike.

The conciliation and arbitration service ACAS was eventually forced to withdraw from the dispute faced with lack of co-operation from the management.

The strikers called off the dispute on 14 July 1978. None of the 130 or so workers sacked during the strike was reinstated.

Trade union analysts say the strike was important in raising the profile of women and Asian workers. They also credit Grunwick with putting industrial action back on the map.


Watch/Listen
Contra conscripts - The Contras have been fighting civil war against the elected Sandinista government
The US administration has disregarded the UN verdict

Washington ignores court's decision


In Context
The US persisted with its refusal to recognise the court's judgement until it was announced in 1991 that, at Nicaragua's request, proceedings for compensation would be dropped.

America's illegal paramilitary campaign of the 1980s was aimed at overthrowing Nicaragua's left-wing government.

The Sandinistas had begun redistributing property and made notable progress in the sphere of education.

But the US regarded them with suspicion, fearing their policies were hostile to American interests.

Former Secretary of State George Schultz is reported to have warned, in March 1986, that if the Sandinistas "succeed in consolidating their power," then "all the countries in Latin America, who all face serious internal economic problems, will see radical forces emboldened to exploit these problems".


Smoker, 1957
This smoker said the findings "didn't frighten him at all"


In Context
Since the 1957 report suggested a link between smoking and lung cancer, the connection has been firmly established.

Lung cancer now kills 20,000 people every year and health experts predict that life-time smokers have a 50% chance of dying of a smoking-related illness in middle-age.

It is also been established that tobacco smoking causes 25 different diseases including heart disease and strokes.

By 2020, the World Health Organisation expects the worldwide death toll to reach 10 million, causing 17.7% of all deaths in developed countries.

There are believed to be 1.1 billion smokers in the world, 800 million of them in developing countries.


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28th June

 

1914 World War One Is Triggered

The event that would lead to the outbreak of World War 1 a month later, occurred on this day. Gavrilo Princip, a Serb nationalist, assassinated Austrian archduke Francis Ferdinand.

Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, setting into train the Great War as the other powers in Europe met their complex, and sometimes secret, defense treaty obligations.

It was on this day...
1919 World War One Ends, Keynes Predicts Dire Consequences For The Sanctions Against Germany

John Maynard Keynes made one of the most foresightful predictions in modern economic history, on this day, when he predicted that the punitive sanctions meted out to Germany as WW1 ends would lead to problems later on for Central Europe.

The German economy would eventually collapse with the country unable to pay the imposed war reparations.

Germany was being bled dry by the allies and, in 1923, France and Belgium invaded the industrial Ruhr region as a means of forcing payment.

Hitler would use this dissatisfaction at home to gain power and ultimately lead to World War 2.

 

1960: Welsh pit blast kills miners

At least 37 men have been killed in a gas explosion at a coal mine in Monmouthshire, Wales.

Another eight miners are trapped, feared dead, after the accident at Six Bells Colliery, 1,000 ft (305 m) below the surface. They include two fathers, each with their two sons.

Six teams of rescuers were quickly assembled after the alarm was raised, but their progress was hampered by roof falls triggered by the explosion and the large amount of gas still present in the mine.

A spokesman for the National Coal Board said there was "little hope" of finding survivors in the Abertillery colliery, but the search for missing men would continue.

There were 700 people underground in the 70-year-old pit at the time of the blast.

'Terrific flash'

Miner Harold Legge told reporters he was about half a mile from the coal face when he heard a roar and saw a "terrific flash" at about 1045 BST.

"I had a job to breathe and I stumbled to pit bottom through the dust - afterwards I discovered there was a young man killed 20 yards [18 m] away," he said.

As reports of the accident spread, crowds of local people gathered at the pithead, anxious for more news about friends and relatives.

Six Bells Colliery is one of the largest in Monmouthshire and employs 1,450 people - many of them from Abertillery.

"A great many of them lived in the town and several more lived in one small street," said one woman.


2004: US transfers power back to Iraq
The United States has handed power back to the Iraqi people at a low-key ceremony in Baghdad.

US administrator Paul Bremer transferred sovereignty to an Iraqi judge at a handover brought forward two days in an attempt to prevent the occasion being marked by bloodshed.

Mr Bremer flew out of the country shortly after. His departure ends 15 months of US control in Iraq.

Iraq's interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, who attended the handover in the city's heavily-guarded "Green Zone", said it was an "historic day" for Iraq.

Mr Allawi's cabinet were sworn in at a later ceremony, also held in secret.

Anybody who has seen those things that I have will know that Iraq is a much better place
Paul Bremer
The new prime minister made a televised address after formally taking office.

He told Iraqis: "I call on our people to stand united to expel the foreign terrorists who are killing our children and destroying our country."

Although power is back in Iraqi hands, US President George Bush said American troops would remain in the country as long as they were needed.

The president added that US presence would also be at the request of the newly-formed interim government.

Mr Bremer defended his country's reasons for being in Iraq, referring to recently discovered graves where thousands victims of Saddam Hussein's regime are believed to be buried.

The former Coalition Provisional Authority administrator said: "Anybody who has any doubt about whether Iraq is a better place today than it was 14 months ago should go down and see the mass graves in Hilla.

"Anybody who has seen those things that I have will know that Iraq is a much better place."

The power handover was welcomed by world leaders. The European Union and Nato alliance both pledged their support for Mr Allawi's government.

Mr Bush and Mr Blair were apparently the only leaders at the current Nato summit who knew the transfer of sovereignty would take place early. The news was revealed by Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari, speaking after talks with the UK prime minister.


Chief Justice Midhat Al-Mahmodi, Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and Paul Bremer
US administrator Paul Bremer handed power to Chief Justice Midhat Al-Mahmodi
In Context
Bringing the handover forward and holding it in secret meant the transfer of power was not marked by attacks by insurgents.

But frequent attacks on US and UK forces as well as on Iraqi civilians have continued to take place in the country.

Neither the US nor Britain have yet committed to a date when troops will be removed.

Iraq held its first multi-party elections in 50 years in January 2005. An interim democratically elected government was sworn in on 3 May 2005 with Shia Ibrahim Jaafari as prime minister.

But finding an acceptable balance of power in the government between Iraq's national groups has proved difficult.

In December 2005 Iraqis voted for the first full-term government since the American-led invasion.

In January 2006 the Shia-led United Iraqi Alliance emerged as winners of the elections but without an absolute majority.

After four months of deadlock, President Talabani asked Shia compromise candidate Jawad al-Maliki to form a new government.

1976: Death sentence for mercenaries
Three Britons and an American have been sentenced to death by firing squad for their mercenary roles during the Angolan civil war.

A further nine men were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 16 to 30 years at the People's Revolutionary Tribunal in Luanda.

Ernesto Teixeira da Silva, one of five judges presiding over the case, said: "Africa feels mercenaries are a danger to the people, the children and to the security of the state. They spread fear, shame and hatred in Angola."

Costas Georgiou and Andrew McKenzie, who both served in the British army, were given the death sentence for participating in the killing of two Angolan citizens and fellow mercenaries.

American Daniel Gearhart was sentenced to death for advertising himself as a mercenary in an American newspaper.

I don't feel sorry for them
Recruiter John Banks
John Derek Barker's role as a leader of mercenaries in Northern Angola led the judges to send him to face the firing squad.

The sentences have now been referred to the Angolan President Agostinho Neto. He must approve the sentences before any actions can be carried out.

British Prime Minister James Callaghan has reportedly asked the Angolan President to show clemency towards the men sentenced to death.

Lawyers acting on behalf of the defendants are appealing against the decision saying: "In our view there is no crime of mercenary nor was there disclosed such crime in Angolan law."

In Britain the man who recruited the British mercenaries, John Banks, said: "I don't feel sorry for them. They are soldiers, they knew what they were doing. I would do it again."

The 13 men were hired to fight in the civil war that broke out when Angola gained independence from Portugal in 1975.

1958: Algeria prisoners freed to win Muslim support

France has ordered the release of 30 Algerian political prisoners in a move aimed at winning Muslim support over French plans for the colony's future.

General Charles de Gaulle has already unveiled proposals for local elections in Algeria - and for a referendum of all French citizens on changes to the constitution which would give him far-reaching powers as president.

He was invited back as French prime minister on 1 June to deal with the civil war in Algeria which was threatening to spill over into France. General de Gaulle was viewed as the only man capable of ensuring the obedience of French generals in Algeria.

The crisis in Algeria reached a head on 13 May when an army junta seized control of Algiers and General Raoul Salan announced that the army was in charge of the country's destiny.

Equal rights

There have been a growing number of casualties in the war between those who wish to see Algeria remain a French colony and the Muslim nationalists who want the colony to break its ties with France.

At a meeting of the Council of Ministers in Paris today plans were discussed for limiting the powers of the French military authorities in Algeria.

It is understood the leader of the insurrection, General Salan, will remain in control but only temporarily. A new military commander in chief is to be appointed to replace him and he is to be relieved of his civil powers.

During a visit to Algeria earlier this month, the General spoke of giving equal rights to all Algerians whatever their race or creed, whether they were French settlers or Muslims.

He referred to the Muslim rebel forces who had put up "a brave fight" and had to be brought back "within the French fold".

He also promised everyone would have a vote in the local elections. Until recently, pressure from the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN) would have made it impossible for Muslims to express their opinions freely.

The General is returning to Algeria later this week.

Reports from Algiers suggest General Salan and his ruling Committee of Public Safety are making a number of demands. There are also claims that 100 or so "undesirables", members of political parties and civilian officials, have been expelled.

A statement issued by the group made clear the insurrection was only suspended and "the spirit of 13 May" would spread to mainland France unless General de Gaulle pushed ahead with Algerian integration.


Prisoners wave goodbye from back of a truck
The release of Muslim prisoners is aimed at winning support for French plans
In Context
General de Gaulle went on to become the first president of the fifth republic in December 1958.

His initial plan to end the civil war and create an Algeria closely linked to France in which Europeans and Muslims would join as partners met fierce opposition.

In September 1959 General de Gaulle dramatically reversed his stand and used the term "self-determination" for the first time. He envisioned majority rule in an Algeria formally associated with France.

In 1961 Mr de Gaulle began talks at Evian which led to an agreement for Algerian independence.

In July 1962 the country was declared independent.

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.

1991: Thatcher to retire from Commons
Margaret Thatcher is to give up her seat in the House of Commons at the general election.

The former prime minister, who has held her Finchley seat for more than 30 years, said she intended to remain in politics and wanted to go to the House of Lords.

Mrs Thatcher's announcement comes seven months after she was ousted from Number 10 by Conservative Party colleagues.

"Making this decision now as far as national politics is concerned makes it quite clear that I have no desire or expectation to go back into Number 10," she said.

She said her decision to leave the Commons would give her more freedom to speak her mind, and made it clear she would fight any European integration that would threaten British sovereignty.

One of her wiser judgements
Labour leader Neil Kinnock
But she was careful to pledge her loyalty to Prime Minister John Major and his government.

Mrs Thatcher insisted there was no lingering bitterness over her departure from Downing Street, and said: "I had the marvellous privilege of being there for 11½, nearly 12 years.

"That's nearly half as long again as any American president can be president of the United States."

Labour leader Neil Kinnock described Mrs Thatcher's decision to step down as "one of her wiser judgements".

Predicting a Labour victory at the general election, he said the former prime minister was leaving the Commons because "she doesn't want to face losing her seat or at best going on the opposition benches". Mr Major said Mrs Thatcher's departure would be a sad loss to the Commons, but added he was sure it would not be the end of her contribution to political life.


Margaret Thatcher
Leaving the Commons will give her more freedom to "speak her mind", she says
In Context
Margaret Thatcher was elected MP for Finchley in 1959 and succeeded Edward Heath as leader of the Conservative party in 1975.

She became Britain's first woman prime minister in 1979, and by the time she was ousted by her own party in 1990 she was the longest serving premier of the 20th century.

Mrs Thatcher was awarded a seat in the House of Lords, where she continued to make herself heard, particularly on European issues.

Ill health forced her to abandon her regular public speaking engagements in 2002.


One of the accused men, Costas Georgiou
The men's lawyers have started appeals


In Context
The four mercenaries sentenced to death by firing squad were shot on 10 July 1976.

Costas Georgiou was the only mercenary to admit to being involved in "an organised group on the fringe of the law".

The men had been hired to fight against the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) in the civil war that broke out after Angola gained independence from Portugal in 1975.

In April 2002 the Angolan army and Unita signed a formal ceasefire in Luanda to end the 27-year conflict.


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29th June

 

1933 Death of Fatty Arbuckle

At the height of his powers, Fatty Arbuckle was one of the most popular movie stars of his time. He was a prominent member of the Keystone Cops, made films with Charlie Chaplin, and discovered Buster Keaton who was to become one of the most popular movie stars of the 1920's and 30's.

However Arbuckle's career was ended after he was banned following a charge of manslaughter.

He was accused after the death of Virginia Rappe who died after an alleged sexual assault from the 350 lb star.

Two juries could not decide on his guilt, however, and he was eventually acquitted in 1922, but by this time his career was finished. He managed to start directing again under the pseudonym William Goodrich.

He was 46.

[pdcomedy.com has a selection of public domain comedy which includes black and white silent clips.]

 

1995: US shuttle docks with Russian space station

American and Russian spacecraft have successfully docked in orbit for the first time in 20 years.

The US shuttle Atlantis delivered a relief crew of two cosmonauts to the Russian Mir space station, signalling a new era of space co-operation between the two former Cold War rivals.

The operation to link the craft was led by the commander of the Atlantis, Robert Gibson. Flying over the Mediterranean at 17,500mph, he lined up the Mir in his sights and with barely a shudder the two craft touched.

"We have capture," he said.

After the safety of the spacecraft was confirmed with the pressure between them equalised, Gibson opened the hatch separating them.

Propelling himself through to the Russian craft he stretched out his arm to shake hands with his counterpart.

It seems hard to believe we're actually there
Atlantis commander Robert Gibson

The symbolic gesture was watched live from Moscow by US Vice President Al Gore, and by the head of NASA Dan Goldin at the Russian control centre.

The crew of the US shuttle moved into the Mir for group photos, before presenting the cosmonauts with gifts of chocolate, fruit and flowers. The Russians gave the Americans gifts of bread and salt, the traditional symbols of welcome.

Mr Gibson said: "After all the training and the preparation it seems hard to believe we're actually there but indeed we are."

The two spacecraft will remain attached for five days, giving the Mir crew time to stock up on fresh water, oxygen and nitrogen. The crews will carry out a range of scientific experiments. A further six link-ups between the shuttle and Mir are planned, before work on the assembly of an international space station begins in orbit in two years' time.


Watch/Listen
The crews shake hands as they dock
There are more link-ups planned between Mir and the shuttle

Footage of the docking
In Context
After 15 years in space, the Mir space station returned to Earth in March 2001.

Over the years, Mir has circled the Earth about 88,000 times, travelling 3.6bn km (2.2bn miles).

In many ways, the platform has been humankind's first real home in space, as well as being the pride of the Russian space programme.

1974: First female president for Argentina
Maria Estela Isabel Martinez de Peron has been sworn in as interim leader of the Argentine Republic.

Her husband President Juan Peron delegated responsibility after doctors said he required 24-hour medical attention and rest.

Mrs Peron, a former cabaret dancer, is now Argentina's first female president and at 43 the youngest Latin American head of state.

Her 78-year-old husband has not been seen in public for two weeks and is reported to be seriously ill with bronchitis and influenza.

In a state broadcast, Mrs Peron said her husband was "conscious that his state of health prevents him from directly attending to government affairs until his recovery".

Mrs Peron, known to the Argentine public as 'Isabelita', is Juan Peron's third wife and became vice-president after his return to power in September 1973.

The couple met in a night club in Panama during Juan Peron's years of exile after being ousted from power in a military coup in 1955.

Argentina's main power groups, including the armed forces and labour unions, are understood to have pledged Mrs Peron their support.

But regional experts say Isabelita will be inheriting a weak economy in a country suffering from political violence and civil unrest.

 


Isabel Peron returns to Argentina from a foreign visit
The former cabaret dancer is now Latin America's youngest head of state


In Context
Juan Peron died on 1 July 1974. He had helped restore some stability to Argentina after winning a landslide presidential election upon his return from exile.

Isabel Peron's presidency lasted until 1976 when she was deposed by a military junta led by Jorge Rafael Videla.

During her term in office the country was racked by labour strikes and political violence including hundreds of political murders.

Isabelita failed to win the hearts of the Argentine public. She lived in the shadow of Eva Peron, Juan Peron's second wife.

'Evita' was adored by a majority of Argentines but she never became president and died of cancer in 1952.


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30th June

 

1985: Beirut ordeal ends for US hostages

All 39 Americans being held captive by the Shia Muslim Amal militia in Lebanon have been released, after almost three weeks in captivity.

Their freedom was secured after intervention by the Syrian President Hafiz al-Assad. The White House said no deal had been done with the captors.

The hostages were driven in a Red Cross convoy from Beirut to Syrian capital Damascus, 17 days after the plane they were on was hijacked by two members of the extremist Islamic Jihad group.

Most of the passengers were freed hours after the Lebanese gunmen diverted the TWA Rome - Athens flight to Beirut on 14 June, demanding the release of 766 Shia Muslims imprisoned in Israel.

But 40 Americans were forced to remain on the plane. One of their number - US Navy diver Robert Stethem - was killed on the first day of the crisis and his body dumped on the airport tarmac.

Thirty-five of the Americans were imprisoned in various Beirut safe-houses by the Amal militia for most of their ordeal, but four were being held by the radical Hezbollah group.

The freedom of these men is reported to have been obtained by President Assad, who contacted two of the most extreme Shia leaders to order their release.

We thank you from the bottom of our hearts
Hostage Allyn Conwell
The group finally left for Damascus at 1545 (1245 GMT) after 24 hours of confusion and uncertainty about whether they would be freed.

Some of the hostages praised their treatment by the Amal militia, saying it had guaranteed the group's safety and looked after their welfare.

The hostages' spokesman, Allyn Conwell, told reporters at a news conference they were all very relieved to be free. "For anyone and everyone who has prayed for us, talked for us, waited for us or hoped for us - we thank you from the bottom of our hearts," he said.


Watch/Listen
The hostages
The hostages are all relieved to be free

Interviews with hostages and terrorists
In Context
The hostages were safely transferred to Frankfurt and then to the US after their release.

The White House said it knew the identity of the two original hijackers, but the men have never been brought to justice.

The American Diplomatic Security Service is still offering a reward of $5m (£3.17m) for information leading to their capture.

The US Navy named the warship USS Stethem after the sailor killed by the gunmen during the hijack.

1971: Space mission ends in tragedy
Three Russian cosmonauts have been found dead in their space capsule after it made what looked like a perfect landing in Kazakhstan.

Lieutenant-Colonel Georgi Dobrovolsky, Vladislav Volkov and Viktor Patsayev were found dead in their seats on the Soyuz 11 but did not appear to have suffered any physical injuries.

Post mortem examinations are being carried out and the Soviet Government has ordered an immediate inquiry into the tragedy.

The most likely causes are oxygen failure on re-entry into the atmosphere or unknown side-effects of their lengthy stay in space.

The crew had spent a record 24 days in space, the longest period anyone has yet remained "weightless" and experts believe this could be linked to their deaths.

The cosmonauts had become the first men to stay at a space station when they docked with the Soviet Salyut 1. They were conducting scientific experiments and observations during their trip which started when they launched on 6 June.

The tragedy follows a number of problems involving Soyuz craft and could seriously damage the future of the Soviet space programme.

In 1967 Vladimir Komarov became the first man to die in space when the parachute on his Soyuz 1 developed trouble on landing and, after several other troubled missions, the flight by Soyuz 10 was abandoned before any of the crew boarded the space station due to technical difficulties.

The men will be buried at the Kremlin wall alongside Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space. To acknowledge the magnitude of what the crew undertook they were immediately named Heroes of the Soviet Union. Mr Volkov has been given a Gold Star medal as he was previously named a hero of Soviet Union.

1969: Nigeria bans Red Cross aid to Biafra
Millions of people face starvation because Nigeria has banned night flights of food aid to Biafra, a breakaway state at war with federal Nigeria.

The Nigerian Federal Government has taken charge of relief operations on both sides of the front line and in doing so has stopped the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) from co-ordinating aid to starving civilians.

General Yakubu Gowon, leader of Federal Nigeria, refuses to recognise Biafra which declared independence in May 1967.

His forces have managed to shrink the rebel state to one-tenth of its original size, cutting it off from seaports and other supply lines. Food aid can only brought in from the air.

Nigerian Information Commissioner Chief Anthony Enaharo told representatives of relief organisations in Nigeria's capital, Lagos, that only "authorised relief operators" would be allowed to take in "permissible relief items" for fear of any supplies getting into the hands of Biafran troops.

This means all relief supplies will be inspected by armed forces before being allowed on to Biafra and then only between 0800 and 1700 local time.

There are three million people who are going to starve to death in the next few weeks unless something is done.
Jeremy Thorpe, Liberal Party leader
Acting president of the ICRC, Jacques Freymond, said the world must put pressure on Nigeria to allow his organisation to carry out its humanitarian mission.

In London, more than 80 backbench MPs signed an all-party motion urging the British Government to take action towards resuming the relief operation and to stop selling arms to Nigeria.

The Foreign Secretary, Michael Stewart, said representatives in Lagos would try to mediate between the ICRC and the Nigerian Government.

Yesterday, Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe said he had written to the head of the United Nations, U Thant, asking him to organise a major relief effort with the Red Cross.

He said he was making his appeal independently of the British Government whose involvement in the Nigerian civil war was "immoral".

He told the Times newspaper: "There are three million people who are going to starve to death in the next few weeks unless something is done."

Biafra, under Lieutenant-Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu, is made up of the former Eastern Region of Nigeria mainly inhabited by Igbo, or Ibo, people.

In September 1966 thousands of the Igbo minority in the Northern Region were massacred by the majority Hausa who resented their relative prosperity.

As a result, a million Igbo refugees settled in the Eastern Region and expelled non-Igbos.

1954: Three continents see eclipse of sun
Millions of people have witnessed a total eclipse of the sun as the moon cast its shadow from America through Europe and on to Asia.

For people in Britain it was the first time they could see this natural phenomenon since 1927.

From Greenwich to Glasgow, thousands of skywatchers using smoked glass or overexposed film could see at least 75% of the sun obscured.

But the view from the most northerly island of Britain - the Shetland isle of Unst, and the only point of totality in Britain - was largely obscured by cloud and drizzle.

When the sun was totally eclipsed by the moon, the skies turned dark for a few seconds, the temperature dropped and birds flew back to their nests.

There will not be another total eclipse visible from Britain until August 1999.

Shadow across the world

The shadow was first spotted in Nebraska, North America, at 1208 BST today. It then passed over Labrador and across the Atlantic at a speed of about 1,800 mph (2,897 km/h).

The eclipse was seen in Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

In India, 400,000 Hindu pilgrims bathed in holy water at Kurukhestan in the Punjab. They believe that the eclipse is caused by two gods, Rahu and Ketu, trying to swallow the Sun and Moon.

The longest duration of totality was two minutes 35 seconds.

In Sweden about 400 scientists from all over the world gathered to observe the eclipse which cast an 80-mile (128-km) shadow across the country.

It is hoped data from observing the corona - the outer atmosphere of the sun, that is highlighted by such an eclipse - will teach us more about the shape of the Earth, positions of the moon and the rays of the sun.


1992: Thatcher takes her place in Lords

Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has taken her place in the House of Lords as Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven.

She is expected to take part in her first debate in two days time, speaking out against the government on the Maastricht Treaty.

Although the quieter, more reflective House of Lords is not regarded as the natural battleground of the aggressive former prime minister, her allies hope she will use the Lords to keep her policies on the agenda.

During her acceptance ceremony she said: "I, Margaret Baroness Thatcher, so swear by almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors according to law, so help me God."

Freedom

She announced her decision to leave the Commons seven months after being ousted from Number 10 by her own party.

At the time the former prime minister indicated she wanted to remain in politics.

She said her decision to leave the Commons would give her more freedom to speak her mind, and made it clear she would fight any proposal for European integration that would threaten British sovereignty.

But she was careful to pledge her loyalty to Prime Minister John Major, whose government is now occupied with managing splits within the party over European policy.

Anticipating Baroness Thatcher's expected intervention on Maastricht, Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd today strongly defended the treaty, saying this was not the moment to turn "timid and sour" on Europe. He said: "It is not sensible when you are beginning to win the arguments to back off into some massive and destructive isolation by seeking to destroy the Treaty of Maastricht."


Watch/Listen
Baroness Thatcher
The longest serving prime minister of the 20th century

Report from the House of Lords


Watch/Listen
People peering through squares of glass at the sun
Eclipse watchers in Sweden had a good view of totality

The eclipse as it happened


In Context
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon is between the Earth and sun and the moon casts a shadow on the Earth's surface. This can only happen at New Moon.

There are between two and five solar eclipses each year but each one is visible only from a specific area.

The 1999 total eclipse was the first to be seen from England since 1927 - the next total eclipse to be seen there will occur in 2090.

The first total solar eclipse of the 21st century took place on 21 June 2001.

It was visible from a much smaller area than the 1999 eclipse with the best views in southern Africa.

In Context
Margaret Thatcher was elected MP for Finchley in 1959 and succeeded Edward Heath as leader of the Conservative party in 1975.

She became Britain's first woman prime minister in 1979, and by the time she was ousted by her own party in 1990 she was the longest serving prime minister of the 20th century.

Mrs Thatcher used her appointment to the House of Lords to continue to make her views heard, particularly on European issues.

Ill health forced her to abandon her regular public speaking engagements in 2002.


Biafran troops
Biafran troops have been fighting federal Nigerians for more than two years


In Context
Two weeks later the Nigerian leader, General Gowon, bowed to international pressure and allowed the Red Cross to airlift urgent medical supplies to Biafra. But they still refused to allow food to be airlifted in unless it was on their terms.

Biafran forces were finally beaten by the federal troops and in January 1970 the state of Biafra ceased to exist.

Rebel leader Ojukwu fled to the Ivory Coast.

There were reports that federal troops went on the rampage in Biafra, killing and raping en masse.

Lord Hunt, Britain's special envoy to the territory said those accounts were exaggerated and that thousands of refugees were coming home looking "in no way undernourished".

Pictures of starving children shown in the Western media told a different story and it is estimated at least 500,000 - possibly millions - of people died of starvation and disease as a result of the war in Biafra.

Rebel leader General Odumegwu Ojukwu returned to Nigeria in 1983.

Since 1999 when civilian rule was re-established, Nigeria is once more in danger of breaking apart along ethnic and religious lines as militant groups are allowed to express their frustrations more freely - and with increasing violence.


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1st July

 

1941 First Official TV Commercial Airs

It would change the face of television in the USA forever. The first ever advert, which was sanctioned by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), was broadcast on NBC on this day.

The historic ad was screened during a Dodgers-Phillies game and cost Bulova, the watch maker, $9.

Whilst this was the first officially sanctioned ad, other stations had already started broadcasting unofficial adverts by this time. Before 1941, all broadcasting was licensed on the basis that it was noncommercial.

It has to be said that the audience for the $9 ad was quite small. The development of television was slow during the end of World War 2. Television only started to become widespread at the end of the 1940's.


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2nd July

 

1881 Crazed Assassin Shoots US President Garfield

President James Garfield was shot at the Baltimore & Potomac train station, by a Charles Guiteau, who was promptly arrested.

The president died, on 18th September 1881, of blood poisoning.

The White House didn't seem to have any security to speak of at this time in history. Guiteau had made frequent visits to the White House, and had actually met the president at the White House one time.

In the weeks leading up to the assassination, Guiteau would talk to the Secretary of State most days and demanded the ambassadorship to France - when this was rejected he became agitated and began stalking the president. On one occasion, it is alleged, he sat directly behind the president in church.

Guiteau defended himself at his trial and, despite claiming that 'God told me to do it', and plenty of evidence he was insane, he was convicted of the assassination. When he heard the jury's verdict he shouted at them:

"You are all low, consummate jackasses!"

He was hanged on June 30, 1882.

At his hanging he recited, in a high, childlike, voice:

"I am going to the Lordy, I am so glad."

 

1964: President Johnson signs Civil Rights Bill

The Civil Rights Bill - one of the most important piece of legislation in American history - has become law.

US President Lyndon B Johnson signed the bill creating equal rights in voting, education, public accommodations, union membership and in federally assisted programmes - regardless of race, colour, religion or national origin.

The bill has caused much controversy since it was introduced last year by President John F Kennedy.

It was signed tonight in the White House five hours after the House of Representatives passed it by 289 to 126 votes.

After the signing, President Johnson shook hands with civil rights leader Dr Martin Luther King.

In a television address to the nation he called on US citizens to "eliminate the last vestiges of injustice in America".

"Let us close the springs of racial poison," he said.

'Monstrous oppression'

Parts of the bill take immediate effect, including the "public accommodations" element which means black people can no longer be excluded from restaurants, hotels, bars, cinemas, sports stadia and other public facilities.

Sections on voting rights and desegregation of schools are also enforceable from now and give the Attorney General more power to intervene where necessary.

The section on equal opportunity in employment will not begin to operate for another year and will not be fully effective for five years.

During the debate on the bill, segregationist politicians from America's deep south expressed their disappointment and anger.

Congressman Howard Smith of Virginia called it a "monstrous oppression of the people".

Civil rights activists have welcomed the new law. Roy Wilkins, secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People described it as "the Magna Carta of human rights".

He applauded the appointment of former governor of Florida Leroy Collins as director of the new Community Relations Service, set up to deal with issues arising from the desegregation of public facilities and institutions.

The Civil Rights Commission has announced a campaign to implement the law. And Dr King said he would be seeking commitments from businesses and community leaders all over the south to respect the new law under a campaign called Operation Dialogue.


Watch/Listen
President Lyndon B Johnson
President Johnson: "Let us close the springs of racial poison"

President Johnson addresses the nation: "Let us set aside irrelevant differences"
In Context
Extra civil rights measures were introduced in the following years.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 aimed at removing the rights of states to introduce restrictions to stop certain people voting.

The 1968 Civil Rights Act outlaws discrimination in the sale or rental of housing.

Many states acted quickly to circumvent the law which led to a great feeling of injustice and resentment in the inner cities and the rest of the decade was marred by race riots and assassinations.

Black leader Malcolm X was shot in 1965 and Martin Luther King was killed in 1968.

The black ghetto riots between 1964 and 1968 marked the most prolonged period of unrest in the United States since the American Civil War. They were finally suppressed when tens of thousands of National Guardsmen were sent in to quell them.

Black people continued to remain at a disadvantage when looking for work, and programmes of "affirmative action" were introduced during the 1970s under President Nixon.

The Civil Rights Act of 1991 encouraged positive discrimation and allowed lawsuits against employers if their hiring had a "disparate impact" on women or minorities, even if there was no proof of discriminatory intent.

2001: Dando killer jailed for life

After an eight week trial Barry George has been sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of television presenter Jill Dando.

George, 41, was found guilty of shooting Miss Dando through the head with a single bullet on the doorstep of her home in Fulham, west London, on 26 April 1999.

The jury deliberated for 32 hours before giving their majority verdict at 1613 BST (1513 GMT) at the Old Bailey in London.

Summing up, Mr Justice Gage said: "You are unpredictable and dangerous. There can be no doubt that it was premeditated. Why you did it will never be known."

Much of the evidence that guided the jury of six women and five men was circumstantial, supported by witness accounts.

Why you did it will never be known<br>
Mr Justice Gage <br>

Forensic officers also found a single particle from the gun used to kill Miss Dando in George's pocket and a fibre from his trousers was found at the crime scene. Police were so overwhelmed by the response to the killing that they did not follow leads about George for almost a year.

An unemployed loner, he maintained his innocence throughout the trial.

Outside the court afterwards his solicitor, Marilyn Etienne, said her client was "devastated" and announced that there would be an appeal.

The court was told about George's psychological problems and fascination with guns and celebrities.

During their investigation - Operation Oxborough - police found thousands of undeveloped photographs of local and famous women in George's flat on Crookham Road, Fulham. Among these were copies of the BBC in-house magazine - Ariel- with Miss Dando's face on the cover after her murder.

After the trial it emerged that George has served two years for attempted rape and that in 1983 he was arrested - then released without charge - outside Kensington Palace in combat clothing carrying a knife and some rope.

Defending barrister, Michael Mansfield, QC, has 28 days to lodge an appeal against today's sentence.


Barry George
Barry George faces life behind bars
1987: Brady to help search for Moors victims
Moors murderer Ian Brady has offered to assist police searches of Saddleworth Moor for the first time since his conviction 21 years ago.

In 1966 Brady and his accomplice Myra Hindley were given life sentences for the murders of Lesley Ann Downey, John Kilbride and Edward Evans, but police kept files open on two other missing children, Pauline Reade and Keith Bennett.

When news of the body found at Saddleworth yesterday reached Brady at Park Lane Mental Hospital in Liverpool he told his solicitor that he was prepared to return to the Manchester moors.

Police were directed to the shallow grave at Hollin Brow Knoll by Hindley.

She began to co-operate with the police in November 1986 after she received a letter from the mother of Keith Bennett who disappeared in 1964.

Hindley had also been visited twice by the head of Manchester CID, Peter Topping, in Cookham Wood prison, Kent.

Under heavy police guard she returned to the moor twice last autumn as Detective Chief Superintendent Topping and his squad of eight officers had sealed off the area for further investigation.

On her second visit in February Hindley confessed that she and Brady had committed two other murders.

We want to bring peace to parents
Det Chief Supt Peter Topping
Pathologists cannot confirm the identity of the body recovered yesterday but there is a strong possibility that it is that of 16-year-old Pauline Reade, missing since the 1960s.

The remains were well preserved in peat and were unearthed close to where Moors murder victim, Lesley Ann Downey, was found 23 years ago.

Police visited the house of Pauline Reade's parents in Oldham late last night.

"We want to bring some peace to parents who have waited so long," said Det Chief Supt Topping. Brady's assistance might finally bring that wait to an end.


Moors murderers Myra Hindley and Ian Brady
Hindley and Brady are serving life sentences for the murders
In Context
Days later pathologists confirmed that the body was that of Pauline Reade.

The inquiry was re-opened by Det Supt Topping in April 1986 despite criticisms from some members of the public and Parliament that the renewed investigations were macabre and expensive.

The body of Keith Bennett has never been found and the police do not have plans to search the Moors again.

Myra Hindley died in prison on 15 November 2002 from a serious chest infection. She had battled since her original 30 year sentence expired in 1996 to win her freedom, but successive home secretaries ruled that "life should mean life".

Ian Brady went on hunger strike at high-security Ashworth psychiatric hospital in October 1999. The High Court in London rejected his appeal for the right to die in April 2001. Later that year American publishers controversially released a book by Brady analysing serial killers.

1992: IRA murders 'informers'
The IRA has admitted killing the three men found by the army at different roadsides in South Armagh last night.

They claim the men were informers for MI5 and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) Special Branch and they had been tried and killed by the IRA.

The victims were from Portadown, County Armagh and have been identified as Gregory Burns, 33, John Dignam, 32, and Aidan Starrs, 29.

In a style typical of IRA ritual killings the bodies were found in ditches, naked and hooded with evidence of beatings and single bullets through the backs of the heads.

The IRA tried to justify the murders in an unusually detailed statement, outlining the intelligence work of the three and linking them to the murder of civil servant Margaret Perry, 26.

Her body was found on Tuesday in a shallow grave over the border in Mullaghmore, County Sligo after she disappeared on her way to work in Portadown over a year ago.

The IRA's actions demonstrate the true nature of terrorism.
Prime Minister John Major
The IRA claim that Ms Perry was having an affair with one of the dead men, Mr Burns, but says she had threatened to expose the group's intelligence links to the IRA, so they had kidnapped and murdered her.

All three men disappeared from their homes a few days ago and their bodies were dumped close to the border within 10 miles of each other, at Newtownhamilton, Bessbrook and Crossmaglen.

The army left them overnight in case they had been booby trapped.

These are the first killings in Northern Ireland in eight weeks, and come in the wake of recent progress at talks in Stormont, Belfast and London. Speaking in the House of Commons, Prime Minister John Major said, "The IRA's actions demonstrate yet again the true nature of terrorism".


Watch/Listen
The scene of the IRA killings
The bodies were discovered by a roadside in South Armagh

Killings condemed by local priest
In Context
The three men were buried within days of their discovery, along with Margaret Perry, in Portadown.

The exact truth behind their activities and deaths remains unclear, but letters written by the men shortly before their disappearances suggest that they knew they were going to die.

Some evidence suggests that at least one of them was involved in the recovery of Ms Perry's body.

Peace talks at Stormont continued until December 1993 when Irish Prime Minister Albert Reynolds and British Prime Minister John Major agreed The Downing Street Declaration.

It laid the foundations for future multi-party talks and aimed to achieve self-determination based on consensus in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

1970: Police snatch London gun cache
Police have seized a large cache of arms in west London in one of the biggest raids in Britain for years.

At least 15 officers with search warrants entered three premises early this morning.

They removed a total of 35 weapons and over 20,000 rounds of ammunition from two addresses in Rainville Road, Fulham and one flat above shops a mile away in Hammersmith Grove.

Among the haul were sub-machine guns, rifles and pistols.

The raids were prompted by a tip-off given to Scotland Yard about a plot to smuggle arms to Northern Ireland, possibly through the Irish Republic.

The arms were taken to Fulham, then Chelsea police stations for finger-printing and further examination.

I saw what might have been gun webbing
Neighbour
Three people - from the adjacent family homes in Rainville Road - have been detained at Fulham police station and another four men haven been taken in for questioning.

Police and forensic officers spent several hours examining the unoccupied flat in Hammersmith Grove after the arms were removed.

A neighbour said: "About two weeks ago a Land Rover drew up at the door and two men began carrying heavy cartons into the flat. I saw what might have been gun webbing hanging from one of the boxes."

Two months ago an Irishman - described by locals as "a real gentleman" - lived in the flat but it has been empty since then.

Special Branch detectives are reluctant to give details but they are investigating the possibility the weapons were bound for Northern Ireland.

A spokesman for Scotland Yard said: "Further police inquiries are being made and publicity of further details would seriously hamper investigations at this stage." Home Secretary Reginald Maudling has just returned from a fact-finding trip to Northern Ireland and has been told of today's raids.


Photograph of the Hammersmith Grove shops where the weapons were found
Dozens of weapons were found in a flat above this Hammersmith chemist's shop


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3rd July

 

1988 US Warship Shoots Down Iranian Airliner

Almost 300 died on the Iranian Airbus 300, a passenger airliner. The USS Vincennes, a warship, believed it was an F-14 fighter.

The plane was flying from Bandar Abbas, in Iran, to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

The USS Vincennes claims to have sent a warning message to the jet telling it to change course, before launching two surface-to-air missiles, one of which hit the target.

President Reagan told the Iranians that the Vincennes had taken "a proper defensive action", although he regretted the loss of life.

Admiral William J Crowe junior, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Airbus was 4 miles west of the usual commercial airline route and had not responded to requests by the Vincennes to change course.

An hour earlier, the Vincennes had been engaged in a gun battle with three Iranian gunboats, after a helicopter from the Vincennes was fired on.

US warships were tasked to keep the Straits of Hormuz open during the Iran-Iraq war and was escorting Kuwaiti tankers at the time.

 

1988: US warship shoots down Iranian airliner

An American naval warship patrolling in the Persian Gulf has shot down an Iranian passenger jet after apparently mistaking it for an F-14 fighter.

All those on board the airliner - almost 300 people - are believed dead.

The plane, an Airbus A300, was making a routine flight from Bandar Abbas, in Iran, to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

The USS Vincennes had tracked the plane electronically and warned it to keep away. When it did not the ship fired two surface-to-air missiles, at least one of which hit the airliner.

Navy officials said the Vincennes' crew believed they were firing at an Iranian F14 jet fighter, although they had not confirmed this visually.

No survivors

The plane blew up six miles from the Vincennes, the wreckage falling in Iranian territorial waters.

Iranian ships and helicopters have been searching for survivors but none have so far been found. Iranian television broadcast scenes of bodies floating amid scattered debris.

Iran has reacted with outrage, accusing the United States of a "barbaric massacre" and vowed to "avenge the blood of our martyrs".

President Reagan said the Vincennes had taken "a proper defensive action" and called the incident an "understandable accident", although he said he regretted the loss of life.

'Deep regret'

Admiral William J Crowe, Jr, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a Pentagon news conference that the US government deeply regretted the incident.

However, he said, the Airbus was four miles west of the usual commercial airline route and the pilot ignored repeated radio warnings from the Vincennes to change course.

Less than an hour before the shooting down of the passenger jet, he added, the Vincennes was engaged in a gun battle with three Iranian gunboats after a helicopter from the Vincennes was fired on.

The president promised a full investigation into how a passenger jet came to be mistaken for a fighter jet, which is two-thirds smaller.

US warships have been escorting Kuwaiti tankers in and out of the Persian Gulf since last July as part of its controversial undertaking to keep the Straits of Hormuz open during the eight-year-old Iran-Iraq War.

Pentagon officials acknowledged at the time that increased US military presence would risk provoking confrontations with Iran. Last May the patrol frigate USS Stark was almost sunk by an Iraqi fighter-bomber, killing 37 sailors. Vigilance was tightened after the incident.


Will Rogers
The captain of the USS Vincennes, Will Rogers, mistook the airliner for an F-14
In Context
Most of those on board the Iranian Airbus were Iranians on their way to Mecca. The victims also included 66 children and 38 foreign nationals.

An official inquiry carried out by the US attributed the mistake to human error.

However, the Iranian government has always disputed the American version of events.

It took four years for the US administration to admit officially that the USS Vincennes was in Iranian waters when the skirmish took place with the Iranian gunboats.

Subsequent investigations have accused the US military of waging a covert war against Iran in support of Iraq.

The US government has never admitted responsibility or apologised for the tragedy.

Some believe the Lockerbie bombing, carried out six months later in December 1988, was masterminded by Iranians in revenge for the Airbus tragedy, although a Libyan man was convicted and jailed in 2001.

In February 1996 the US agreed to pay Iran $61.8 million in compensation for the 248 Iranians killed, plus the cost of the aircraft and legal expenses.

It had already paid a further $40 million to the other countries whose nationals were killed.

1987: Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie gets life
The former Gestapo chief in Lyon, Klaus Barbie, has been sentenced to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity.

Nine jurors and three judges found Barbie - also known as the Butcher of Lyon - guilty of the 341 separate charges that were brought against him at the court in Lyon.

The 73-year-old was accused of deporting 842 people - mainly Jews - to concentration camps in Germany during the Second World War.

In one incident 44 children were rounded up from a farmhouse east of Lyon, at Izieu, and sent to their deaths.

A total of 373 of the people transported under Barbie's command died.

Surviving relatives of the victims filled the courtroom and heard Barbie's last-minute plea of innocence.

France can try and shed its own responsibility
Defence lawyer, Jacques Verges

"Barbie has been promoted to the rank of an expiatory victim, a scapegoat so that France can try and shed its own responsibility", argued defence lawyer, Jacques Verges.

Coverage of the trial in France has been exhaustive and crowds of people waited outside the court to hear the judgement.

The editor of Le Monde newspaper, Andre Fontaine, said: "It's a time in France where people are more and more conscious of the necessity of knowing something about history and especially about recent history."

The man they call the Butcher of Lyon has already been condemned to death twice for his war crimes. Both of these sentences lapsed as Barbie was living under an assumed name in Bolivia.

He was found by barrister Serge Klarsfeld in 1972, but it was not until over 10 years later, in 1983, that the Bolivian government agreed to extradite him.

Barbie's trial began on 11 May this year with Mr Klarsfeld as chief prosecutor. It took the judges and jury six-and-a-half hours to reach their final verdict after they retired at 0530 BST (0430 GMT) today.


Watch/Listen
Photo of Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie
Barbie was known as the Butcher of Lyon

France gripped by the trial of the Nazi, Klaus Barbie
In Context
Born on 25 October 1913 in Germany, Barbie was a member of the Hitler Youth. In 1935 he joined a special branch of the SS.

After serving with the German army in the Netherlands he was made chief of Gestapo Department IV in Lyon from 1942 to 1944.

There is evidence that he personally tortured prisoners whom he interrogated and he is blamed for 4000 deaths and a further 7,500 deportations during the war.

After the war the USA used him for counter-intelligence work (1947-51), for which they later apologised.

He died in prison in Lyon on 25 September 1991.

1970: Holiday jet goes missing over Spain
A charter flight from Manchester has gone missing with 105 holiday-makers and seven crew on board.

The Dan-Air Comet jet left Manchester Airport at 1700 BST (1600 GMT) to make the short flight to Barcelona with passengers on a Clarkson tour and seven crew.

Most of the people on board are from the Greater Manchester area.

Air-traffic controllers at Prat de Llobregt airport were last in contact with the plane at 1900 BST (1800 GMT).

It was due to land at that time but was 12 miles north-west of Barcelona flying 6,000 ft over Sabadell.

There was nothing to indicate any trouble
Dan-Air spokesman
The managing director of Dan-Air, Alan Snudden, has refused to speculate about what might have happened until there is definite news.

Another spokesman for the British-owned airline said: "The weather at Barcelona at the time was quite clear. There was nothing to indicate any trouble."

The plane was routed to fly over western France and the Pyrenees.

Dan-Air owns 12 similar Comet-4 airliners and flies this route five or six times a week.

The airline, formed in 1953, also flies out of Gatwick, Teeside, Glasgow and Berlin and ranked highly in an air safety survey published recently.

London-based Clarksons is the largest package holiday company in Britain and has a five year contract with Dan-Air to use three Comets.

Together they flew 250,000 people abroad last year.

Since Comets appeared in 1953 as the world's first passenger jet aircraft they have been beset by tragedy. They have been involved in half a dozen crashes claiming over 200 lives.


Dan-Air De Havilland Comet
Dan-Air has a good air safety record
In Context
The wreckage of the plane was found the next day.

It had crashed into the Montseny mountains in Northern Spain, claiming the lives of all on board.

The victims were buried in a mass grave in the nearby village of Arbucias on 6 July.

At the same time memorial services were held across Greater Manchester.

No relatives were able to attend the funeral and the Spanish authorities insisted the remains be buried within 48 hours for "hygienic reasons".

Confusion surrounded the location of the wreckage because it was 32 miles north of where it was supposed to have been.

The Spanish Air Ministry report published in November 1970 said it was impossible to pinpoint blame, but the aircraft was off-course owing to navigation errors made by the crew.

1951: Ridgway agrees to ceasefire talks
Talks to end the Korean war will begin later in July after terms were accepted by General Matthew Ridgway, supreme commander to the United Nations in the Far East.

Original proposals for the ceasefire talks were made by General Ridgway to the Communists who requested changes which have today been agreed to.

In his original message to the North Korean commander Kim Il-Sung and the Commander of the Chinese Communist forces General Peng Tuh-huai, General Ridgway stated:

"Since agreement on armistice terms has to precede the cessation of hostilities, delay in initiating the meeting and reaching agreement will prolong the fighting and increase tension."

But, at the request of the Chinese and North Koreans, the talks will be delayed by 10 to 15 days.

The delay is thought to be because of difficulties in reaching Kaesong due to transport problems although there is speculation the delay is to allow a finalisation of tactics.

Truce negotiations

The talks are to be held in Kaesong, a no-man's land just south of the 38th Parallel.

Liaison officers from all sides are due to arrive in Kaesong on 5 July for preliminary talks and General Ridgway has asked for "positive assurances of safe conduct for this personnel" for when the officers travel to the conference.

They are expected to co-ordinate details of the truce negotiations to end the war. The war began in June 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea at several points along the joint border - the 38th parallel.


Kaesong where the talks will take place
The talks will take place in Kaesong
In Context
The first substantial talks, between Vice Admiral Turner Joy of the US Navy and General Nam Il of the North Korean army, began on 26 July.

Arrangements for a demarcation line, a demilitarised zone, the way the truce would be supervised and the issue of prisoners of war were all discussed.

Talks at Kaesong broke down and the war reached stalemate.

Fighting did not stop until 1953 with the signing of the armistice on 27 July.

But a peace deal has never been reached. American troops remain stationed in the demilitarized zone on and around the 38th parallel separating North and South Korea.

1971: Doors' singer Jim Morrison found dead
Jim Morrison, the lead singer of American rock group The Doors has died in Paris aged 27.

He was found in a bathtub at his apartment at 17 Rue Beautraillis by his girlfriend, Pamela Courson.

A doctor's report stated the cause of death was heart failure aggravated by heavy drinking.

The rest of the band - keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robbie Krieger and drummer John Densmore - are currently in the United States.

Morrison, also known as the Lizard King, was born in Florida in 1943, his father Stephen was in the US Navy and rose to the rank of admiral.

He formed The Doors with Ray Manzarek in 1965 in Los Angeles.

Morrison had come up with the name after reading Aldous Huxley's account of drug experiences, The Doors Of Perception.

The group became the first popular "new wave" band. Their first album, The Doors, released by Elektra Records in 1967, was a number one hit in the US, though only just scraped into the British charts.

Their following albums, Strange Days and Waiting For The Sun, provided further American hits and, in Hello I love You, a British number 15.

Arrested for lewd behaviour

But with its ever growing fame, the band lost some of its credibility in the rock underground.

Morrison's behaviour, fuelled by drink and drugs, became more outrageous and in 1969 he was arrested for "indecent exposure, lewd conduct and public intoxication" after a concert in Miami's Dinner Key auditorium.

Though some of the charges were later dropped, the scandal made it hard for the band to perform live for some time.

Morrison used the crisis as a spur to creativity and produced one of the group's most critically acclaimed albums, Morrison Hotel, in 1970.

Over the past year he has made clear he wanted to drop music altogether to become a writer.

He has already published two volumes of poetry, The Lords and The New Creatures, and planned to begin a literary career once his contractual obligations to Elektra were fulfilled.

 


Watch/Listen
Jim Morrison
Jim Morrison was found dead in a bath in an apartment in Paris

Jim Morrison talks of "rebellion, chaos, disorder"


In Context
Jim Morrison is buried at Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, where his grave has become a shrine for successive generations of fans.

In 1991, the 20th anniversary of his death, the cemetery had to hire extra security after police used tear gas to disperse rowdy fans.

Since Morrison's death his records have never been out of print and Hollywood, too, has found The Doors music attractive.

The End was used in Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now, and in 1991 Oliver Stone helped cement the Morrison legend with his film biography The Doors, starring Val Kilmer. The film created a whole new generation of fans.

The three surviving members of the group released a new album, Doors Box Set, in 1997. It included three CDs of previously unreleased songs.


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