Rifts, Mania And Witch Hunts – June 19, 1990

Nelson Mandela's North American Tour - the Mania part.

Nelson Mandela’s North American Tour – the Mania part.

. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – CBS World News Roundup – June 19, 1990 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection.

A day full of contrasts, like every other day, only this one was from June 19, 1990.

An Airline hi-jacking ended In Helsinki Finland with all passengers aboard the Soviet Jet released and the hi-jacker taken into custody. Apparently the hi-jacker, a 20 year old Russian commandeered the Aeroflot jet, with 55 passengers and 5 crew members en route from Moscow in an attempt to fly to the U.S. – initial reports said the plane was heading to Sweden, but Finnish air force jets intercepted the plane and brought it to land in Helsinki.

And on the subject of the Soviet Union – the issue of breakaway republics and the Russian Communist Party was headed towards either dissolving or going its own way was stirring up all sorts of controversy. Mikhail Gorbachev appealed for calm while newcomer Boris Yeltsin was poised to take over leadership of the party. Cooler heads and conciliatory moods were called for during this pivotal and uncertain time.

And rifts were widening in Poland between Solidarity Founder Lech Walesa and Polish Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki, longtime aid to Walesa who headed up to Solidarity government. Mazowiecki was coming under criticism from Walesa because reforms Walesa had pledged as basis for the Solidarity Movement weren’t coming fast enough under the intellectual-based Mazowiecki government and weren’t protecting workers interests. So Walesa threatened to run for President in order to shape Polish reforms to his liking. The threat caused further rifts because opinions were divided over whether Walesa was earnestly seeking to implement those reforms, or if he was angling to set up a post-Communist Monarchy, with himself as head. And the rift continued.

The state of Arkansas used its Electric Chair for the first time in 26 years in the execution of John Edwards Swindler, a 46 year old convicted murderer was put to death in the 1976 murder of an Arkansas police officer. He was the first Arkansas inmate to be put to death since 1964.

Jury selection was complete and opening statements were being readied in the criminal trial of Washington D.C. Mayor Marion Berry. The Jury consisting of 15 women and 3 men; 13 blacks and 5 whites were to be sequestered until the trial was over, estimated at some 6-8 weeks from the start. The case itself has cause a lot of controversy in Washington, particularly in the Black community where many felt it was the White Government out to “get” the powerful Black Mayor. Berry was charged with drug possession, conspiracy and lying to a Federal Grand jury. Supporters accused government prosecutors of luring the Mayor into a sting by pressuring one of Berry’s former girlfriends who had legal troubles of her own. Berry was subsequently videotaped allegedly smoking Crack Cocaine. Despite persistent rumors of a plea bargain, opening argument were set to begin shortly on this day.

And South African Leader Nelson Mandela was mobbed by fans and admirers during his tour of North America. Stopping in Toronto, Canada, Mandela told a crowd his country was on the threshold of major change, but he said the last hurdles would be the most difficult. The Canadian audience was delighted – although the message wasn’t heard at home because of heavy censorship in South Africa. Virtually none of the news regarding Mandela’s tour was being reported in the Johannesburg press.

And so went the world on this June 19th in 1990, as reported by the CBS World News Roundup.

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