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December 17, 1981: The world was taking a wait-and-see with the goings-on in Poland. Fears of mass demonstrations on the anniversary of the Gdansk Food Riots in 1970 brought a swift preemptive crackdown and proclamation of Martial law by Communist leader Wojciech Jaruzelski, with the hope of heading off a confrontation between the police and the population. Police stormed the Lenin Shipyards in Gdansk earlier in the day and evicted Solidarity strikers who had threatened to blow up the yards. As a result, with the martial law crackdown, it was announced and broadcast via government radio the previous night and this morning that threats of severe punishment would be handed out to anyone taking part in mass meetings scheduled in the Warsaw region. Ironically, the food riots of 1970 formed the basis for Solidarity, which the government was now trying to eradicate.
News sources were cut off, aside from the State-run agency in Warsaw, so it was difficult to get an assessment of what was happening on the ground – but most suspected a showdown was in the midst. Christmas, it seemed, was destined to be a cliffhanger.
In other news, in other crises – The Middle East, was once again an object of concern. With Syria complaining to the UN Security Council over Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights, wanting to make the 1967 occupation null and void. Israel responded by building up its military presence in the region. And on and on it goes.
And on Capitol Hill, the 97th Congress ended its first session the previous night with a flurry of passed measures, including a $7.6 billion Foreign Aid Bill, reinstatement of the minimum Social Security benefit and an $11 billion 4-year Farm bill.
All that, and a lot more for this December 17th in 1981 as presented by CBS Radio News-On-The-Hour.