New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - January 1, 1987, New Braunfels, Texas
HmwM-Zettung, New Braunfels, Texas Thursday, January 1,1987 Pag»7AEpitath for a scary year: ‘Uh-Oh’
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
“Uh-oh.” Those were the last words recorded from the crew of space shuttle Challenger. It was 73 seconds into the flight, and pilot Michael J. Smith had noticed something.
An instant later the rocket blew apart, leaving a Jagged “Y” of vapor trails against the deep blue Florida sky.
Perhaps that was the thought, if not the phrase, at the Chernobyl nuclear plant Just before a hydrogen explosion shattered the No 4 reactor Our peril from our own inventions was hauntingly evident in 1986. The dangers had been too often forgotten
— shuttle flights had become so routine that congressmen went along
— and the greatest danger proved to be the human factor.
Machines weren’t the whole story. Thousands died from an earthquake in El Salvador and a poison gas cloud in Cameroon; hundreds of people around the world were slain by terrorists, and 14 people were gunned down in the post office In Edmond, Okla. Democrats regained control of Congress, and the White House became tangled in a strange plan to ship arms to Iran and money to Nicaraguan rebels America still knew how to party, though, and kept it up through a long weekend honoring the newly repaired Statue of Liberty The restoration was a model for recognizing problems, finding solutions, get ting them done.
There was much to set right.
The defect that killed the seven aboard Challenger was a seal in the booster rocket that had been troublesome for a long time, especially in cold weather Challenger was launched after a rare icy night.
That was the last mistake, but the chain of error started in 1973 from the simple impulse to save money, an investigative committee concluded At Chernobyl, someone had tried an unauthorized experiment: How long would the generator turbine spin after the steam from the reactor was shut off? The answer was lo seconds. Then all hell broke loose “The defect of the system was that the designers did not foresee the awkward and silly actions by the operators,” said Valery A. Legasov, Soviet represenative to an interna tional conference on the disaster Kit it was more complicated titan that, and the Soviets shut down similar reactors for modifications “The lesson of < Ballenger, of Cher nobyl and of 'Three Mile Island is a hard one,” NASA adminstrator James C. Fletcher reflected. “We are living in an age where the single biggest factor affecting productivity may be our ability to properly manage technical risks. ”
Soviet mismanagement of the disaster caused outrage in Europe, where the radiation was detected long before the Kremlin would admit anything had happened As the days went along, Moscow became uncom moldy candid about its problems and sought help from Western experts.
The management of technical risks was at the core of superpower relations. A summit in Iceland foundered on President Reagan’s enthusiasm, and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's antipathy, for the technological dream of “Star Wars " Gorbachev had offered to remove missiles from Europe and reduce long-range missiles by so percent, if Reagan would give on “Star Wars.” Reagan declined. Whether he had muffed an historic opportunity for arms control, or evaded a Soviet trap, was debated intensely afterwards.
Nuclear deterrence held for another year, without accident or incident, but U.S.-Soviet relations were bumpy. Reagan ordered dozens of Soviets old of the country in a crackdown on espionage, but the ar rest of one suspected spy provoked the arrest of American reporter ' Nicholas Handoff in Moscow
Reagan’s biggest disaster had nothing to do with technology, but apparently involved the machinations of underlings.
Hie administration that had vowed never to deal with terrorists, the administration that had condemned Iran as a ringleader of an international “Murder Inc.,” was caught shipping arms to Tehran as a gesture of good faith to gain freedom for Americans held hostage in Lebanon.
Even more stunning, the profits from the arms sales were going into a Swiss bank account to help finance the Nicaraguan Contras.
“I'm not firing anybody,” Reagan said Nov. “I didn’t make a
four killed by a bomb on a TWA plane; 22 killed in a raid on a synagogue in Istanbul; 32 killed by a car tomb in Beirut; 38 killed by Sikh extremists in two bus hijackings in India; 20 people killed in a shootout aboard at Pan Am plane in Karachi, Pakistan.
The tombing of a West German discotheque frequented by U.S. soldiers provoked a U.S. air strike against Libya. The administration said it had evidence that Col. Moam-mar Gadhafi’s government was involved in the discotheque attack.
“You’ve had it, pal,” Secretary of State George Shultz said in a most undiplomatic warning to the Libyan
But Libya, too, became an embarrassment for Reagan. The administration was caught plotting a campaign of “disinformation” about Gadhafi. State Department spokesman Bernard Kalb resigned in protest.
It was a tough year for the president, who saw the Democrats win control of the Senate in November despite his cross-country campaigning.
Even the Republican-controlled Senate had parted company with Reagan on the issue of sanctions against South Africa, and forced the president to impose them. Kodak and
other multinational businesses pulled out of South Africa, but the white-mlnority government dug its heels in deeper, restricting press coverage of events it could not control.
Congress and the president cooperated, however, to enact a major revision of the tax code and sharply increasing funding for the battle against drugs.
Drugs captured national attention after the deaths of college basketball star Len Bias and football pro Don Rogers, both from cocaine
There was a new emphasis on the user, instead of the pusher, and Reagan and his top aides submitted to urinalysis as an example to others.
“Just say no,” Nancy Reagan urged in her anti-drug lectures, and that’s what some people said to drug testing.
The year’s major natural disasters included 1,734 deaths in Cameroon from poisonous gas from a volcanic lake and 1,500 died in an earthquake in El Salvador. A prolonged drought in the southeastern United States caused 83 billion in damage.
Two autocrats lost power: Ferdinand Marcos was unseated by the yellow-clad backers of Corazon Aquino in the Philippines after winning a tainted election, and Pfesldent-for-Life Jean-Claude Duval ier fled from Haiti. Their countries were left
to deal with the legacy of misrule.
Former United Nations Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim was elected president of Austria despite fresh charges he had been involved in Nazi atrocities, but later found himself unwelcome in many world capitals.
At home, the economy’s expansion slowed, unemployment stayed above 7 percent, the stock market went up and the dollar went down. The federal government overspent its income by $221 billion.
In Boston, the Red Sox chafed through a year of speculation about when they would collapse. It happened in Game 6 of the World Series with the Sox leading S-3.
Within days, he reassigned Vice Adm- John Poindexter, his National Security Adviser, and sacked Poindexter's aide, Marine LL Col. Oliver North, who was accused of e^toeertng the Iran-Cbntra connec-Congress geared up to in
the White House claimed Iran had moderated Us support for terrorism. Deputy Secretary of State John Whitehead told a oongroartoiiai
don’t like to have to
my president, but I believe there is some evidence of Ira alan involvement with terrorists.” Terrorism’s toll in 1986 includedWest Point Pepperell M#tKmTtoySunday IO a.m. - 6 p.m.1-35, Exit 189
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