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A world of unease, this December 15th in 1981. Starting with news of a purported calm descending over Poland in wake of the latest and growing set of strikes sweeping the country. The State News agency also took steps to cut off all communications between Warsaw and the rest of the world, making it difficult to get an accurate picture of what was really going on. Reports of the goings-on were relegated to passengers of the Chopin Express, pulling into Vienna from Warsaw, giving eyewitness accounts of food shortages and crackdowns and a ban on gatherings. Solidarity leader Lech Walesa was reported to be detained by authorities and not in any position to negotiate with the government.
Meanwhile – explosions rocked Beirut with many casualties reported. The Iraqi Embassy was hit and leveled by several blasts, killing some 60 and wounding an unknown number. The explosions could be felt miles away and shattered windows for blocks. Iraqi Security guards rushing to the destroyed building threatened to shoot news crews covering the scene.
Not a good day to be a news gathering organization, it would appear.
Israeli troops in the Golan Heights were issued warnings to be “ready for any development”, following the Begin government’s surprise decision to annex the region.
From The Vatican came word that Pope John Paul II issued a booklet on family life, condemning government attempts to limit the freedom of couples in deciding about children and affirmed the Vatican‘s position on birth control, abortion, divorce and pre-marital sex. The Pope rebuffed a request from Bishops in the U.S. to reappraise the Vatican policy on contraception, in which the Bishops cited a study that put 3 out of every 4 American Catholic women using some form of artificial birth control. The Pope responded that “truth was not always the same as the majority opinion”.
And at the Freeway Killer Trial in Los Angeles, TV news reporter Dave Lopez who once refused to testify under California’s Shield Law for Journalists, decided his civic duty outweighed his obligations as a reporter to come forth and testify that, during a jail interview with defendant William Bonin, he confessed to 21 out of 22 murders and claimed he would still be killing if he wasn’t caught.
And that’s a little of what went on this December 15th in 1981 as viewed by CBS Radio News On The Hour.