4 November 1980

Ronald Reagan is elected the 40th President of The United States.

The United States presidential election of 1980 was the 49th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on November 4, 1980. Republican nominee Ronald Reagan defeated incumbent Democrat Jimmy Carter. Due to the rise of conservativism following Reagan’s victory, some historians consider the election to be a realigning election that marked the start of the “Reagan Era”.

Carter’s unpopularity and poor relations with Democratic leaders encouraged an intra-party challenge by Senator Ted Kennedy, a younger brother of former President John F. Kennedy. Carter defeated Kennedy in the majority of the Democratic primaries, but Kennedy remained in the race until Carter was officially nominated at the 1980 Democratic National Convention. The Republican primaries were contested between Reagan, who had previously served as the Governor of California, former Congressman George H. W. Bush of Texas, Congressman John B. Anderson of Illinois, and several other candidates. All of Reagan’s opponents had dropped out by the end of the primaries, and the 1980 Republican National Convention nominated a ticket consisting of Reagan and Bush. Anderson entered the race as an independent candidate, and convinced former Wisconsin Governor Patrick Lucey, a Democrat, to serve as his running mate.

Reagan campaigned for increased defense spending, implementation of supply-side economic policies, and a balanced budget. His campaign was aided by Democratic dissatisfaction with Carter, the Iran hostage crisis, and a worsening economy at home marked by high unemployment and inflation. Carter attacked Reagan as a dangerous right-wing extremist and warned that Reagan would cut Medicare and Social Security.

Reagan won the election by a landslide, taking a large majority of the electoral vote and 50.7% of the popular vote. Reagan received the highest number of electoral votes ever won by a non-incumbent presidential candidate. In the simultaneous Congressional elections, Republicans won control of the United States Senate for the first time since 1955. Carter won 41% of the vote but carried just six states and Washington, D.C. Anderson won 6.6% of the popular vote, and he performed best among liberal Republican voters dissatisfied with Reagan. Reagan, then 69, was at the time the oldest person to ever be inaugurated as president.

Throughout the 1970s, the United States underwent a wrenching period of low economic growth, high inflation and interest rates, and intermittent energy crises. By October 1978, Iran—a major oil supplier to the United States at the time—was experiencing a major uprising that severely damaged its oil infrastructure and greatly weakened its capability to produce oil. In January 1979, shortly after Iran’s leader Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi fled the country, Iranian opposition figure Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini ended his 14-year exile in France and returned to Iran to establish an Islamic Republic, largely hostile to American interests and influence in the country. In the spring and summer of 1979 inflation was on the rise and various parts of the United States were experiencing energy shortages.

Carter was widely blamed for the return of the long gas lines in the summer of 1979 that were last seen just after the 1973 Yom Kippur War. He planned on delivering his fifth major speech on energy, but he felt that the American people were no longer listening. Carter left for the presidential retreat of Camp David. “For more than a week, a veil of secrecy enveloped the proceedings. Dozens of prominent Democratic Party leaders—members of Congress, governors, labor leaders, academics and clergy—were summoned to the mountaintop retreat to confer with the beleaguered president.” His pollster, Pat Caddell, told him that the American people simply faced a crisis of confidence because of the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.; the Vietnam War; and Watergate. On July 15, 1979, Carter gave a nationally televised address in which he identified what he believed to be a “crisis of confidence” among the American people. This came to be known as his “malaise” speech, although Carter never used the word in the speech.

Many expected Senator Ted Kennedy to successfully challenge Carter in the upcoming Democratic Primary. Kennedy’s official announcement was scheduled for early November. A television interview with Roger Mudd of CBS a few days before the announcement went badly, however. Kennedy gave an “incoherent and repetitive” answer to the question of why he was running, and the polls, which showed him leading the President by 58-25 in August now had him ahead 49–39.

Meanwhile, Carter was given an opportunity for political redemption when the Khomeini regime again gained public attention and allowed the taking of 52 American hostages by a group of Islamist students and militants at the U.S. embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979. Carter’s calm approach towards the handling of this crisis resulted in his approval ratings jump in the 60-percent range in some polls, due to a “rally round the flag” effect.

By the beginning of the election campaign, the prolonged Iran hostage crisis had sharpened public perceptions of a national crisis. On April 25, 1980, Carter’s ability to use the hostage crisis to regain public acceptance eroded when his high risk attempt to rescue the hostages ended in disaster when eight servicemen were killed. The unsuccessful rescue attempt drew further skepticism towards his leadership skills.

Following the failed rescue attempt, Carter took overwhelming blame for the Iran hostage crisis, in which the followers of the Ayatollah Khomeini burned American flags and chanted anti-American slogans, paraded the captured American hostages in public, and burned Carter in effigy. Carter’s critics saw him as an inept leader who had failed to solve the worsening economic problems at home. His supporters defended the president as a decent, well-intentioned man being unfairly criticized for problems that had been escalating for years.

Another event that polarized the electorate was the U.S.-led 1980 Summer Olympics boycott. Shortly following the Soviet Union’s December 1979 invasion of Afghanistan, Carter demanded that the USSR withdraw from Afghanistan or the U.S. would boycott the 1980 Summer Olympics, set to be staged in Moscow. The USSR did not withdraw . Carter’s stance was controversial—he was both praised for his moral stand and criticized for politicizing the Olympics. With many allied countries joining the U.S. in the boycott, the contrasting spirits of competitive goodwill and campaign animosity, a feature of most presidential campaign years, was absent and the press had additional time to devote to national and international strife.

1 June 1980

CNN (Cable News Network) begins broadcasting.

On this day in 1 June 1980, CNN Cable News Network, the world’s first 24-hour television news network, makes its debut. The network signed on at 6 p.m. EST from its headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, with a lead story about the attempted assassination of civil rights leader Vernon Jordan. CNN went on to change the notion that news could only be reported at fixed times throughout the day. At the time of CNN’s launch, TV news was dominated by three major networks–ABC, CBS and NBC–and their nightly 30-minute broadcasts. Initially available in less than two million U.S. homes, today CNN is seen in more than 89 million American households and over 160 million homes internationally.

CNN was the brainchild of Robert “Ted” Turner, a colorful, outspoken businessman dubbed the “Mouth of the South.” Turner was born on November 19, 1938, in Cincinnati, Ohio, and as a child moved with his family to Georgia, where his father ran a successful billboard advertising company. After his father committed suicide in 1963, Turner took over the business and expanded it. In 1970, he bought a failing Atlanta TV station that broadcast old movies and network reruns and within a few years Turner had transformed it into a “superstation,” a concept he pioneered, in which the station was beamed by satellite into homes across the country. Turner later bought the Atlanta Braves baseball team and the Atlanta Hawks basketball team and aired their games on his network, Turner Broadcasting System. In 1977, Turner gained international fame when he sailed his yacht to victory in the prestigious America’s Cup race.

In its first years of operation, CNN lost money and was ridiculed as the Chicken Noodle Network. However, Turner continued to invest in building up the network’s news bureaus around the world and in 1983, he bought Satellite News Channel, owned in part by ABC, and thereby eliminated CNN’s main competitor. CNN eventually came to be known for covering live events around the world as they happened, often beating the major networks to the punch. The network gained significant traction with its live coverage of the Persian Gulf War in 1991 and the network’s audience grew along with the increasing popularity of cable television during the 1990s.

In 1996, CNN merged with Time Warner, which merged with America Online four years later. Today, Ted Turner is an environmentalist and peace activist whose philanthropic efforts include a 1997 gift of $1 billion to the United Nations.

25 January 1980

Mother Teresa is honored with the Bharat Ratna which is India’s highest civilian award,

Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian award instituted in 1954, is given in recognition of exceptional service, performance of the highest order in any field of human endeavour. Any person without distinction of race, occupation, position or sex is eligible for this award.

The recommendations for Bharat Ratna are made by the Prime Minister to the President. The number of annual awards is restricted to a maximum of three in a particular year.

On conferment of the award, the recipient receives a Sanad signed by the President and a medallion.

The award does not carry any monetary grant. The award cannot be used as a prefix or suffix to the recipient’s name.

However, should an award winner consider it necessary, he or she may use the following expression in their biodata or letterhead or visiting card etc. to indicate that he or she is a recipient of the award: ‘Awarded Bharat Ratna by the President’ or ‘Recipient of Bharat Ratna Award’.

Educationist Madan Mohan Malviya and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee are the 44th and 45th distinguished personalities who have been conferred with country’s highest civilian award.

Mother Teresa was awarded India’s highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna, on January 25, 1980, for her humanitarian work. Born to an Albanian family in Macedonia, her original name was Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu. She left home at the age of 18 and came to India the following year. She founded a Roman Catholic religious congregation, Missionaries of Charity, in 1950.

23 September 1980

Bob Marley plays his last concert in Pittsburgh.

Bob-Marley-backstage

On September 23, 1980 Bob Marley held a show in Pittsburgh at what was then known as The Stanley Theatre as part of the Uprising Tour in support of the album of the same name. The concert with his band The Wailers held at the venue currently called The Benedum Center for the Performing Arts 36 years ago today turned out to be last scheduled public concert performed by the reggae legend.

In town for shows at Madison Square Garden, Marley was jogging in New York City’s Central Park on September 21, 1980 when he collapsed, likely due to complications from the malignant melanoma cancer he was diagnosed with in 1977. Despite his apparent ill health just two days prior, Marley still performed in Pittsburgh on September 23rd with his band featuring bassist Aston Barrett, drummer Carlton Barrett, percussionist Alvin Patterson, keyboardists Earl Lindo and Tyrone Downie, guitarists Al Anderson and Junior Marvin and vocalists the I Threes – Judy Mowatt, Marcia Griffiths and Rita Marley.

Songs from Uprising including “Coming in from the Cold,” “Work,” “Could You Be Loved,” “Redemption Song” and “Zion Train” featured prominently that night, alongside such Marley classics as “Positive Vibration,” “No Woman, No Cry,” “Jamming,” “Exodus” and “Is This Love.” A recording of The Stanley Theatre concert was officially released as Live Forever: The Stanley Theatre, Pittsburgh, PA, September 23, 1980.

21 May 1980

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is released in theaters.

The Empire Strikes Back is a 1980 American epic space opera film directed by Irvin Kershner. Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan wrote the screenplay, with George Lucas writing the film’s story and serving as executive producer. The second installment in the original Star Wars trilogy, it was produced by Gary Kurtz for Lucasfilm Ltd. and stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew and Frank Oz.

The film is set three years after Star Wars. The Galactic Empire, under the leadership of the villainous Darth Vader and the Emperor, is in pursuit of Luke Skywalker and the rest of the Rebel Alliance. While Vader chases a small band of Luke’s friends—Han Solo, Princess Leia Organa, and others—across the galaxy, Luke studies the Force under Jedi Master Yoda. When Vader captures Luke’s friends, Luke must decide whether to complete his training and become a full Jedi Knight or to confront Vader and save them.

Following a difficult production, The Empire Strikes Back was released on May 21, 1980. It received mixed reviews from critics initially but has since grown in esteem, becoming the most critically acclaimed chapter in the Star Wars saga; it is now widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time.The film ranks #3 on Empire’s 2008 list of the 500 greatest movies of all time. It became the highest-grossing film of 1980 and, to date, has earned more than $538 million worldwide from its original run and several re-releases. When adjusted for inflation, it is the second-highest-grossing sequel of all time and the 13th-highest-grossing film in North America. The film was followed by a sequel, titled Return of the Jedi, which was released in 1983.

In 2010, the film was selected for preservation in the United States’ National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant.”

30 April 1980

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The Iranian Embassy siege starts in London.

On the 30th April 1980, six armed men entered the Iranian embassy in London. Its inhabitants were taken hostage – staff and guests who included the ambassador, British journalists and PC Trevor Lock, the policeman guarding the embassy. The terrorists were members of the Democratic Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of Arabistan, a group fighting for independence from Iran for their home region. They demanded the release of prisoners held by the Iranian government. Tense and protracted negotiations followed. These were complicated by Britain’s poor relationship with Iran, covert Iraqi support for the terrorists and international treaties around terrorists and the rights of embassies.

From the start, the British authorities decided that they would storm the embassy if any hostages were killed. It was also clear that they could not let the terrorists go. And so, while negotiations continued, preparations were made for that attack. The SAS were tasked with storming the embassy. Some of Britain’s best troops, the SAS was first founded in World War Two as a highly trained unit whose members relied on their own initiative rather than rigid command structures. Since the terrorist massacre at the 1972 Munich games, they had developed a group specially trained to deal with terrorist incidents – the Counter-Revolutionary Warfare wing, or Special Projects Team. These men were experts in difficult close quarters fighting and hostage rescues. At the start of the embassy siege, the SAS had a relatively low public profile. That was about to change.

The assault teams would burst into the embassy by as many different routes as they could, using stun grenades and tear gas to disorient the terrorists.They would move quickly and decisively to prevent the terrorists regrouping or killing their hostages. Still, high casualties were likely in an assault – it was estimated that 40% of the hostages would die, and the SAS would also lose men.

Understanding the situation was vital. The SAS had advised on security for the embassy when it was run by the previous Iranian regime, so they had knowledge of the building’s layout and potentially out-dated security information. Tiny microphones and video cameras were inserted through holes drilled in the walls, to give insight into the developing situation. The soldiers who would carry out the assault had reconnoitred entry points on the roof. The release of three hostages had given them further information.

23 September 1980

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Bob Marley plays his last concert in Pittsburgh.

Live Forever: The Stanley Theatre, Pittsburgh, PA, September 23, 1980 is a live album by Bob Marley & The Wailers released on 1 February 2011. The live album was recorded at Pittsburgh’s Stanley Theatre during the Uprising Tour to support their then latest album of the same name. This was Marley’s last concert before his death in 1981. Get Up Stand Up, Bob Marley’s last recorded song, was not found until 2000 by Bob Marley Archivists James Wilson and Jack Low. Two days before this concert, Marley collapsed while jogging in Central Park, New York. He had just played his biggest concerts ever, two sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden while nearly fainting. He was taken to the hospital where he was told he had a month to live because of a brain tumor and still despite his condition, he soldiered on to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for what would turn out to be his last show.