Shoreham-Wading River Class of 1984

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January 3 - First Acid Test at the Fillmore, San Francisco.

The swinging sixties were in full flow but in some corners of the world the peace and love mantra of the flower-power generation could not be heard.  Even as hippies in London and San Francisco were weaving daisies into their hair, in China Mao Tse-Tung launched the Cultural Revolution, a 10-year political campaign aimed at rekindling revolutionary Communist fervor. Brandishing their copies of Mao's Little Red Book of quotations, students of the Communist Party - the so-called Red Guards - pursued an ideological cleansing campaign in which they renounced and attacked anyone suspected of being an intellectual, or a member of the bourgeoisie. Thousands of Chinese citizens were executed, and millions more were yoked into manual labor in the decade that followed.

Meanwhile, the US government, under president Lyndon B Johnson, was escalating its military presence in Vietnam. By the year's end, American troop levels had reached 389,000, with more than 5,000 combat deaths and over 30,000 wounded. The war was a brutal and dirty one, with many US casualties caused by sniper fire, booby traps and mines. The Americans responded by sending B-52 bombers over North Vietnam, and by launching the infamous Search and Destroy policy on the ground.  "To know war," Johnson said in his State of the Union address before Congress, in January 1966, "is to know that there is still madness in this world".

Musically, 1966 was a vintage year. Jim Reeves' Distant Drums knocked the Small Faces' All or Nothing off the top spot. Other number ones in the year included Frank Sinatra's Strangers in the Night, Good Vibrations by the Beach Boys, the Walker Brothers' The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore and The Green, Green Grass of Home by Tom Jones. The Beatles and the Rolling Stones also continued their dominance of the music scene, with Yellow Submarine, Eleanor Rigby, Paperback Writer and Paint it Black all topping the charts.

A Man for all Seasons won Best Picture at the 1966 Oscars, and its star Paul Scofield won Best Actor. Other films released this year included Georgy Girl, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Alfie and the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

On the small screen, viewers were subjected to the rants of Alf Garnet in Till Death us do Part; while US audiences were introduced to the delights of the Monkees and Star Trek. And dynamic duo, Batman and Robin, thwarted lute playing electronics genius the Minstrel as he tried to sabotage the computer systems at the Gotham City Stock Exchange.

Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana "Ron" Karenga as a member of the cultural nationalist organization US.

After murdering both his wife and mother, serial sniper Charles Whitman ascended to the observation deck at Austin's University of Texas tower killing fourteen people and injuring thirty-one others during a ninety-minute shooting spree. He was eventually shot and killed himself after a civilian and two police officers stormed the tower and overpowered him.

Media icon Walt Disney, who turned the whimsical cartoon world of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck into a million dollar a year entertainment empire, died of cancer at the age of sixty-five.

On July 29th, Mickey Mantle hit his four-hundred ninety-fourth homerun off of Chicago White Sox ace Bruce Howard moving himself ahead of fellow Yankee Lou Gehrig for sixth place on the all-time list






Great Britain and China sign an agreement on the future of Hong Kong. On July 1, 1997, when Britain's lease over the colony expires, it will revert to Chinese rule. Hong Kong is to be a special administrative zone with "a high degree of autonomy except in foreign and defense affairs," with a capitalist system until at least 2047.

Prime Minister Indira Ghandi, the dominant figure in Indian politics for over two decades, was assassinated by Sikh separatists. The assassins were two members of her own bodyguard who riddled her body with gunfire as she walked from her home to her office. Other guards killed one assassin and wounded the other. Resolutely pursuing her goal of a united India, Ghandi had ordered the attack on the Sikh's Golden Temple in Punjab, a center for Sikh separatist activities. Her assassination was Sikh retaliation for that attack.

Straphanger Bernhard Goetz shoots four youths on a New York City subway train. He claims they threatened him with screwdrivers and demanded $5. One of the youths was paralyzed from the waist down.

Recording artist Marvin Gaye is shot and killed during a domestic dispute with his father. Investigators say the singer had beaten his father before the shooting, and traces of cocaine are found during an autopsy. A judge places Marvin Gay Sr. (the singer had added an e to his name) on probation.

The Soviet Union announces May 7 it will pull out of the 1984 Summer Olympic Games to be held in Los Angeles. The Soviets cite "undisguised threats" against their athletes and officials. Bulgaria and East Germany also say they will not attend. The United States had boycotted the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

The Indian army stormed the Sikh Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab, in an effort to crush a two-year-old terrorist campaign by Sikh separatists. Three hundred died and hundreds were wounded in the daylong gun battle. The Sikh separatists had been using the temple as a refuge and a fortress. The Sikhs fundamentalist leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was killed. The government of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi used force in its effort to keep the Indian federation together, but the action sparked a violent backlash by militant Sikhs.

Dec. 3, Bhopal, India: toxic gas, methyl isocyanate, seeped from Union Carbide insecticide plant, killed more than 2,000, injured about 150,000.

Apple introduces the user-friendly Macintosh personal computer.

Nobel Prizes:

Chemistry: R. Bruce Merrifield (US), for research that revolutionized the study of proteins.

Physics:  Carlo Rubbia (Italy) and Simon van der Meer (Netherlands), for their role in discovering three subatomic particles, a step toward developing a single theory to account for all natural forces.

Pulitzer Prizes
Fiction: Ironweed, William Kennedy
Music: Canti del Sole, Bernard Rands
Drama: Glengarry Glen Ross, David Mamet

Miss America: Vanessa Williams (NY) / Suzette Charles (NJ)






In 2004, the United States' major preoccupation was the ongoing war in Iraq. Hopes that Saddam Hussein's capture in Dec. 2003 would stem the country's turmoil faded with a dramatic upsurge in violence. In October, U.S. officials estimated there were between 8,000 and 12,000 hardcore insurgents, and a total of more than 20,000 “active sympathizers.” As of mid-December, more than 1,300 U.S. troops had died and 9,000 had been wounded in action. No official tally of Iraqi casualties exists, but most estimates range between 10,000 and 15,000 civilian deaths since the start of the war.

The deteriorating security situation was harshly criticized by Democrats and Republicans alike, who questioned whether the Pentagon had adequately prepared for an insurgency and deployed enough troops. Reconstruction efforts, hampered by bureaucracy and security concerns, had also fallen woefully short of expectations.   Electricity and clean water were still below prewar levels, and half of Iraq's employable population was still without work. As a senior U.S. military officer put it, “We can either put Iraqis back to work, or we can leave them to shoot RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades] at us.”

In 2004, a global nuclear black market was uncovered when A. Q. Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb, was exposed in Feb. 2004 for having sold nuclear secrets to North Korea, Iran, and Libya in the 1980s and 1990s. While much of the world reviled his incalculable damage to global security, President Pervez Musharraf swiftly pardoned him—Khan remains such a national hero in Pakistan that Musharraf did not risk a stronger rebuke. Also convenient for Musharraf was Khan's claim that he alone and not Pakistan's military or government was involved in the selling of these ultra-classified secrets. The claim was met with widespread skepticism outside Pakistan. Khan's nuclear trafficking was revealed after an illegal shipment of centrifuge parts to Libya was intercepted in Oct. 2003. Libya's Qaddafi quickly admitted his clandestine pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and submitted to full UN weapons inspections. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) concluded that Libya had been in the very nascent stages of building a nuclear bomb. Libya's nuclear confession, as well as its admission of guilt and offers of compensation for its sponsorship of terrorist acts, including the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, allowed it to shed its decades-old pariah status—years of international sanctions were lifted.

On March 11, 2004, Spain's most horrific terrorist attack occurred: 202 people were killed and 1,400 were injured in bombings at Madrid's railway station. The government at first blamed ETA, the Basque terrorist organization, but evidence quickly surfaced implicating al-Qaeda. In presidential elections just days later, Prime Minister Aznar's Popular Party suffered a stinging defeat, and José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero of the Socialist Party became the new prime minister. Many Spaniards blamed Aznar's staunch support of the U.S.-led war in Iraq for making Spain an al-Qaeda target.

In April, worldwide outrage followed the release of photos in the American media depicting the appalling physical abuse and sexual degradation of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison, which a U.S. military report described as acts of “purposeless sadism.” A July military report identified 94 more suspected or confirmed cases of abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the deaths of at least 39 prisoners. Further investigations are underway. In August, the Pentagon-sponsored Schlesinger report rejected the idea that the abuse was simply the work of a few aberrant soldiers, and asserted that there were “fundamental failures throughout all levels of command, from the soldiers on the ground to Central Command and to the Pentagon.”

On May 17, same-sex marriages became legal in Massachusetts after the state's supreme court ruled in Nov. 2003 that barring gays and lesbians from marrying violated the state constitution. (San Francisco and New Paltz, N.Y. also performed same-sex marriages for a brief time, but these were later nullified.) A strong backlash around the country followed, with conservatives vowing to undo the work of “activist judges.” Although there was little support for a proposed federal constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, all 11 state referendums banning gay marriage passed in November elections.  Most states already had Defense of Marriage laws in place.

The controversial decision to classify detainees in the war in Afghanistan as enemy combatants, and not as prisoners of war subject to the Geneva Conventions, meant the U.S. could employ more coercive interrogation techniques, indefinitely detain prisoners, and deny them the rights to due process. White House Council Alberto Gonzales maintained that terrorism was “a new kind of war” that rendered portions of the Geneva Conventions “quaint.” In June, the Supreme Court rejected the Bush administration's claim that the executive branch has unreviewable authority in time of war, ruling that detainees were legally entitled to challenge their imprisonment. By December, of the roughly 560 enemy combatants who had been held for three years at the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, only four had been formally charged.

On July 9, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a unanimous, bipartisan “Report on Pre-War Intelligence on Iraq,” evaluating the intelligence assessments that formed the basis for the Bush administration's justifications for the war. It strongly criticized the CIA and other intelligence agencies, concluding that “most of the major key judgments” on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were either “overstated, or were not supported by the underlying intelligence report.”  It disputed the CIA's assertions that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs. It also concluded that there were “no operational links” between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, another casus belli put forth by the Bush administration. In October, the Iraq Survey Group's final report confirmed that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction nor a formal plan to revive its WMD program.  In response, President Bush began emphasizing that the removal of Iraq's repressive dictatorship was grounds enough for waging war, and contended that “America is safer today with Saddam Hussein in prison.”

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the federal budget deficit reached a record $413 billion in 2004.  The nonpartisan CBO also estimated that two-thirds of the 2004 deficit were the result of tax cuts. The Bush administration countered that the president's tax cuts had in fact kept the country's recession shallow and brief and were now stimulating the economy. In September, Congress renewed its faith in tax cuts by approving the extension of several cuts due to expire by 2006. Critics, including fiscally conservative Republicans, argued that it was unsound to offer tax cuts while the country was in the midst of an expensive war, a jobless recovery, and an unprecedented deficit.

In August, the Census Bureau reported that the number of Americans living in poverty had increased by 1.3 million in 2003, while the ranks of those without health insurance had increased by 1.4 million, the third straight annual increase in both categories.

In November, Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader for more than four decades, died. In recent years he had been largely viewed by the international community as an impediment to Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, and the prospect of new Palestinian leadership was viewed by some as a fresh opportunity for the peace process.

On Dec. 26, 2004, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake—the largest earthquake in 40 years—occurred in the Indian Ocean, off the northwest coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The earthquake triggered the deadliest tsunami in world history, so powerful that the waves caused loss of life on the coast of Africa and were even detected on the East Coast of the United States. More than 226,000 people have died from the disaster, a half a million have been injured, thousands still remain missing, and millions were left homeless.

Eleven countries bordering the Indian Ocean—all relatively poor and vulnerable—suffered devastation. Hardest hit were Indonesia (particularly the province of Aceh), Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, and the Maldives. The catastrophic damage includes the destruction of entire cities, the contamination of farmland and forests, and the depletion of fishing stocks. Some areas are facing the prospect of epidemics and starvation. Even countries with relatively low death tolls have suffered enormous damage—the Maldives, for example, had less than 100 deaths, yet the tsunami left 14 of the archipelago's islands uninhabitable, requiring its inhabitants to be permanently evacuated, and another 79 islands without safe drinking water.
















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