December 18, 1980 – 411 Days Of To-Ing And Fro-Ing.
December 18, 1980. If you, like many Americans, were payiing attention to the American hostage Crisis in Tehran, you would know today was 411. Four-hundred eleven days since the Embassy was taken over – endless negotiations, non-stop changes – promises made, promises broken. One set of demands seemingly met, up popped another one. The circus-like atmosphere was dotted with copious amounts of to-ing and fro-ing and nothing seemed to produced the hoped-for results.
Meanwhile, Iran had their hands full with another situation; a war with neighbor Iraq. This was shaping up to being bloody and on this day with reports of some 50 Iranian troops killed during clashes with Iraqi troops near the refinery city of Abadan. Baghdad Radio referred to the Iranian troop movements as “attacks and counter attacks”. And in each case Baghdad claimed success. The war was dragging on and Baghdad was not expecting it to end anytime soon.
Anxiety was on the rise in Northern Ireland over the prolonged hunger strike going on in Belfast’s Maize Prison by members of the IRA. The British government described 27 year old Sean McKenna’s health as “rapidly deteriorating”. The Provisional IRA claimed McKenna could no long hold down the Salt Water on which he had survived for 53 days. His fellow Hunger-Striker outside the Maize Prison in Belfast, convicted IRA man Tommy McKierney was reportedly losing his eyesight. And still, they refused to eat the Prison food, three times a day. Seven other IRA members had not eaten since October 27. 33 more IRA prisoners had since joined in the hunger strike, all demanding that the British government grant them status as political prisoners and not just common criminals. But that was a demand Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said she would not consider. Political status for the hunger-strikers implied political status for the IRA itself. And as of this day, there was no sign of a compromise.
And that’s a small slice of what went on, this busy December 18, 1980 as reported by The CBS World News Rounup.