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NBC News – May 18, 1970 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection
With protests against U.S. involvement in Cambodia still fresh, and continuing, the situation in Cambodia on this May 18th, 1970 was unfolding. North Vietnamese and Vietcong troops were gaining footholds in Cambodia, coming within 25 miles of the capital of Phnom Penh. Some 10,000 South Vietnamese with 200 U.S.troops were coming up from the South, heading to Phnom Penh.
The situation in Cambodia was the only thing being discussed on Capitol Hill this day. President Nixon reiterated his promise to get out of Cambodia by June 30th, and members of the Senate were pledged to hold Nixon to that promise. Meanwhile, reports came in of South Vietnamese troops heading into Laos, and The Pentagon disclosed that U.S. advisers were crossing the border into Laos to accompany the South Vietnamese. Defense Secretary Melvin Laird told a Senate Committee that these border crossings by American troops did not violate the Congressional prohibition against the use of American ground forces in Laos. However, the use of American ground forces, however limited, was likely to heat up debate on resolutions to curb and to end the War. Supporters of the White House threatened a filibuster, although Senator Dole was quick to add that it wasn’t a Filibuster they were threatening, but merely “extended debate” on the subject. Whatever was going to happen, Secretary Laird reiterated that all U.S. ground forces would be out of Cambodia by June 30. The White House was quick to add that, recent polls showed some 65% of Americans were backing the Presidential decision to invade Cambodia – however, even that was up for debate.
Meanwhile, the Economy was getting gloomy prospects with reports that the government would probably have to borrow $11 billion in 1970, double the previous years amount. And that, Federal Reserve Board member Andrew Brimmer said, would make tight money even tighter.
Divisions over race weren’t easing any, as President Nixon was scheduled to meet with members of the Urban Affairs Council over the subject of Black Disillusionment. Members of the Black Caucus chimed in, saying they have tried for three months in vain to see the President on the racial crisis, with many saying Nixon had created an alienation as deep as it was dangerous.
Attorney General Mitchell flew to Jackson, Mississippi to investigate the recent killing of Black students protesting at Jackson State College. Tensions were still high, with talk of revenge and meeting violence with violence as memorial rallies were being held for the two students killed by Police. Even Mississippi Civil Rights leader Charles Evers, a strong advocate of non-violence, was reported to have said that the shooting of the two students caused him to question his faith in non-violence.
Some 2 government million workers in Italy were expected to go on strike at midnight, joining those workers already protesting, demanding reforms in government who had been on strike for some two weeks.
And reports that the Alaska State government sold oil rights in the Prudho Bay area for almost $1 billion. The oil companies who bought the rights wanted to build a pipeline more than 500 miles long to take oil south to Valdez, Alaska. Conservationists were opposed to the pipeline. In Valdez, people were hoping for a boom. In 1964 the city was destroyed in the Alaska earthquake of that year. In the six years after the earthquake, the town was mostly vacant. But a recent campaign to rebuild the town was taking place, with many hoping the proposed pipeline would bring business and money to the small town. And 19 years later, Valdez would become a prominent name on a lot of people’s minds, but not for the reason they had hoped in 1970.
And that’s a small slice of what went on, this May 18th 1970, as reported by The NBC Nightly News.