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Pre-1987 News Articles

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All news articles pertaining to pre-1987 events will be posted here throughout the following days for players to view as we near the launch of VGS Reset 2.

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1982 - Gorbachev Elected To Succeed Leonid Brezhnev

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At 51, Mikhail Gorbachev becomes the 4th General Secretary and youngest leader of the Soviet Union.


On November 10, 1982, General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Leonid Brezhnev passed away, ending an eighteen year period at the helm of the USSR. Reports indicated that the Politburo was divided over his successor, with two factions forming around Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko. Andropov, a former Ambassador to Hungary and Chair of the KGB is largely an unknown quantity for the West, although many are apprehensive due to his reputation as the Butcher of Budapest and his role in Soviet Intelligence. Soon after a Third candidate emerged with Mikhail Gorbachev. Gorbachev was widely considered Andropov's man, and his youth appealed to the leaders of the party.


After three weeks since the death of Leonid Brezhnev, Communist Party Leaders elected Mikhail Gorbachev to take the helm of the Party, and with it, their hopes of continuing the Communist Ideology. Gorbachev has been noted as an up and comer by Western pundits, but his accession to the leadership was largely a surprise, attributed to the inability to make a decision between the aged Andropov and Chernenko. 


Immediately, Gorbachev has initiated economic reforms based upon the Chinese Economic reforms of 1978 begun by Deng Xiaoping, calling it 'socialism with Soviet characteristics.' Such reforms involved the decollectivization of agriculture, similarly to Deng's policies, and forced workers to sell a certain percentage of shares to the government. While similar to China, Gorbachev kept a greater control with the Communist Party so as not to completely alienate hardliners. 


Gorbachev also ensured increased cooperation with private citizens and state-owned industries similarly to the Chinese model and ensured that these reforms were enacted in all the Soviet Satellite states as well. 


As the Soviet economy began to grow, internal support among the satellite states began to grow, and Communist hardliners who were wary of the reforms were satisfied with the flow of wealth coming into the country and the support for Communism internally. 

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President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan Celebrate Election Triumph in Los Angeles.


1984 - In the largest landslide since Richard Nixon in 1972, President Ronald Reagan has been reelected for a second term. In what can only be described as an electoral triumph for President Reagan, the incumbent has bested former Vice President Walter Mondale with 525 electoral votes and 58% of the popular vote. President Reagan has won the statewide vote of 49 states across the nation with Minnesota being the only state to reward its electoral votes to Mr. Reagan's challenger along with Washington D.C.


President Reagan will return to Washington with a renewed mandate to continue expanding what has been dubbed "Reaganomics" by supporters and critics alike while also continuing to advocate for the conservative movement from the Oval Office. The victory for Mr. Reagan was a direct repudiation of the calls made by Mr. Mondale for higher taxes as voters rejected the policy proposal by a ration of nearly 2 to 1. The President's triumph on election night can be attributed to polls indicating that voters strongly approved of Mr. Reagan's handling of the economy and the economy was consistently ranked as a top issue throughout the campaign. 


As the Reagans and their allies celebrated their resounding victory in Los Angeles, the mood at the headquarters of the Mondale Campaign in St. Paul was somber as he announced his concession of the presidential election to the President. Mr. Mondale thanked campaign supporters and his historic running mate, Geraldine Ferraro, for their support throughout the campaign. Mondale's electoral defeat is yet another painful loss for the Democratic Party after being booted out of the White House by Mr. Reagan in 1980. Democrats can find a silver lining in the fact that the House of Representatives remains under their control despite moderate gains from the GOP but Democrats fell short taking the Senate despite a net gain of two seats in the chamber. 


President Reagan will have to contend with shifting trends within the Soviet Union as polling indicates that internal support for the Soviet leadership is on the rise due to economic growth as a result of reform. White House insiders indicate that diplomatic relations between the President and General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev will be a priority of his administration. Reports have already come in that western leaders, including the likes of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and French President François Mitterrand, have called President Reagan to congratulate him on his reelection. 


As Ronald Reagan begins preparations for his second term as President of the United States and Walter Mondale bows out of the national stage, both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party find themselves in periods of political realignment. Rising stars like Colorado Senator Gary Hart and Reverend Jesse Jackson both serve as representatives of growing factions within the Democratic Party vying for control of the future of the party itself. Republicans find themselves looking towards the likes of Vice President George Bush and New York Congressman Jack Kemp to serve as the ideological successor to Ronald Reagan. Time will tell who will emerge from their respective parties as major players in 1988 but anything can happen in the next four years as new political figures rise from all corners of the country.


While 1988 remains a mystery to everyone, what we do know is that America will have Ronald Reagan at the helm as we enter the second half of the 1980s. To quote President Reagan on election night, "You ain't seen nothing yet."

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The Challenger Space Shuttle Disintegrates Soon After Launch.


1986 - The United States is in mourning following the disintegration of the space shuttle Challenger upon its launch off the coast of Cape Canaveral. The space shuttle broke apart 73 seconds after the launch in what can only be described as a calamity. All seven astronauts on the space shuttle were killed instantaneously as the shuttle exploded. The exact cause of the catastrophic failure has not been identified at this time but preliminary reports claim failure with the shuttle's boosters.


The particular significance and focus on the Challenger flight prior to the launch revolved around the involvement of New Hampshire high school teacher Christa McAuliffe who was chosen from over 11,000 applicants to President Reagan's Teacher in Space Project. American schoolchildren across the nation tuned in to watch the Challenger space shuttle launch only to witness the horror of its destruction.


President Reagan postponed the scheduled State of the Union to address the American People directly in the aftermath of the tragedy. The President spoke from the Oval Office in a televised response watched by millions where he declared that, "We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and 'slipped the surly bonds of Earth' to 'touch the face of God.'" The President and First Lady are expected to attend an upcoming memorial service at the Johnson Space Center. 


Sympathy has poured into the country from around the world as the tragedy has galvanized international news. The European Parliament held a moment of silence following the disaster and UN Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar expressed his condolences to President Reagan and the United States. General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union offered his own condolences to the United States in the aftermath of the tragedy in a rarely-seen form of solidarity with the United States in the midst of the Cold War.


The Challenger disaster is a significant loss to NASA and has put space exploration in the United States into question. How the Challenger disaster will affect NASA and its ability to conduct future missions remains to be seen but all signs indicate that NASA will be postponing future launches for the foreseeable future. A presidential commission has been launched to investigate the Challenger disaster and determine the cause of the incident. Former U.S. Secretary of State William Rodgers has been assigned to lead the commission that includes the likes of household names such as Neil Armstrong and Sally Ride.


The Challenger disaster has no doubt changed the perception of NASA and the U.S. commitment to space exploration. Congress nor the President have indicated how they will respond to the tragedy but its impact is already being felt as millions continue to mourn the catastrophe.

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1986 Midterms - A Reflection


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Speaker Tip O'Neil (D-MA) opted not to run for reelection as Democrats maintained their majority in the House.


United States - The 1986 midterms have come and gone and there is little doubt that Washington is about to face a shakeup of a scale unheard of in recent history as both major parties find themselves leaderless. Speaker of the House Tip O'Neil (D-MA) announced early last year that he would not stand for reelection in 1986, opening up a Speakership contest that will reshape the House for the next two years. House Majority Leader Jim Wright (D-TX) has already announced that he intends to step away from leadership due to recent health-related issues, leaving no frontrunner for the position. Republicans similarly find themselves leaderless as House Minority Leader Robert Michel (R-IL) announced his desire to step down, making way for a new leader to take the reins of the House GOP. Pundits expect the upcoming leadership contests to bring politicians from both sides out of the woodwork to stake their claim in the futures of their respective parties.


Republicans find themselves on the losing end of the 1986 midterms despite significant gains relatively maintained in the House from the Reagan Landslide in 1984. Republicans will enter the 100th Session of Congress with 197 seats, a net lose of 2 seats from 1984. Democrats have increased their majority in the House to 238 seats following the surprisingly strong showing of House Republicans in 1984. Preliminary reports seem to indicate a larger number of freshman congressmen elected to serve in the upcoming session on both sides of the aisle. 


The most significant event of the night is the Democratic retaking of the Senate, albeit, by a slim margin. Defeats in Florida, Alabama, North Carolina, and North Dakota have given Senate Democrats a 51-49 majority in the Senate. Senate Democrats are expected to be led by Robert Byrd in the upcoming session as Bob Dole returns to his old position as Senate Minority Leader. Republicans across the country faced tough battles due to scandal within the Reagan Administration and discontent with the current state of Congress. The loss of the Senate could be significant for the GOP as there are murmurs of a potential vacancy in the Supreme Court within the next year but those rumors have not been confirmed. All was not completely lost for the GOP in 1986 as they scored a net gain of eight governors mansions while holding key states like California and Illinois under their control. 


House of Representatives - 100th Session of Congress

Democratic Party: 238 Seats

Republican Party: 197 Seas


U.S. Senate - 100th Session of Congress

Democratic Party: 51 Seats

Republican Party: 49 Seats

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The United States enacts anti-apartheid legislation over the veto of President Reagan



The international community is becoming less tolerant of apartheid- but will it be enough?


PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA- The tide of public opinion, around the world, is turning decisively against South Africa. The United States Congress, on October 3rd, 1986, passed the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act, which imposed heavy sanctions on South Africa while they continue their apartheid policies, and continue to imprison political leaders like Nelson Mandela. The legislation, of course, was enacted by overriding the veto of President Ronald Reagan, with very large majorities in both chambers. While the President argued that punitive sanctions only hurt black South Africans, many in Congress rejected that argument. The legislation is beginning to take effect, and many are watching closely to see how this impacts apartheid within South Africa.


In August of 1986, six Commonwealth members- India, Canada, Australia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and the Bahamas all announced stringent economic sanctions on South Africa, and in September of the 1986, the European Community did the same. International efforts have been going on for many years to isolate South Africa in the sporting world for a number of years. South Africa was expelled from the International Olympic Committee in 1970, and haven't participated in a Summer Olympics since 1960. In 1977, members of the British Commonwealth signed the Gleneagles Agreement, to discourage competition between member nations and non-integrated South African athletic teams, though the United Kingdom, most notably under Margaret Thatcher, has not seriously enforced that agreement. 


With the boycott going on in sports for a number of years, it was only a matter of time before the international community began to bite harder- and as is shown, with sanctions from various Commonwealth members, much of the European Community, and even the United States Congress, that effort is starting. However, the support of both British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and President Ronald Reagan of these efforts can only be best described as lukewarm, and most would say that is far too generous a term. And President PW Botha of South Africa, of course, remains as defiant as ever, as opposed to black majority rule and integration now as he has been for his entire political career. We'll have to wait and see what these efforts have on apartheid policies in South Africa.

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