March 18, 1981 – another contentious, litigious, misplaced priorities kind of day in history.
Starting with a threatened Coal strike. Contract talks between the Coal industry and the soft-coal miners broke down, paving the way for a nationwide strike when the contract expires on March 27th. Caution against any wildcat walkouts before the end of the current contract echoed around Union halls, while talks were trying to get back on track. even though some have already started.
A Cuban national was being held in Charleston South Carolina on suspicion of attempting to hijack an Air-Florida, New York to Miami flight. He was alleged to have tossed a briefcase in the middle of the aisle of the plane, shouting “I have a bomb”, and then surrendered to Crew members. The plane was diverted to Charleston where the man was arrested.
Warsaw Pact Military maneuvers were starting on this day. The exercises were taking place on Polish territory as well as East Germany, Czechoslovakia and in the Soviet Union. They were described as joint Command and Control land and sea exercises under the codename Soyuz 81 (meaning; Alliance 81). The Soviets weren’t saying just how many soldiers or units were involved, but Soviet Officials informed the U.S. Embassy in Moscow that the number of troops would not exceed 25,000 and won’t involve border crossings by large numbers of troops into Poland. The number of 25,000 was the cut-off maximum number of troops allowed in the 1975 Helsinki Agreement. It allayed fears the maneuvers were being used as a ruse for a Soviet intervention in Poland, as some 30,000 Soviet troops are permanently based in Poland. Polish news sources the concentration of Soviet troops was the largest since the Russian intervention in Czechoslovakia in 1968.
And in Los Angeles, testimony continued this day for the Carol Burnett vs. National Enquirer Trial, with emotional, angry testimony by Carol Burnett, who was accused by the Enquirer of being drunk, loud, rue and obnoxious in a Washington Restaurant and who had filed a lawsuit against the tabloid for some $10 million, claiming the unfounded accusations had damaged her life and career. Lawyers for the Enquirer tried to show that Burnett had suffered no real damage and that the tabloid was immune because it was a newspaper and not a magazine and had published a retraction to the story after receiving complaints from Burnett.
And that’s a small slice of what went on, this fractured day in history – as presented by The CBS World News Roundup, Newsbreak and CBS hourly news.