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Timeline: 1984

Jan 1  Brunei, on the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia, becomes fully independent from British rule.

Jan 4  The Reverend Jesse Jackson has traveled to Syria and won the release of US Navy pilot Lieutenant Robert Goodman, in captivity for days after being shot down over the country while on a reconnaissance mission. In a ceremony at the White House, President Reagan greets both Goodman and Jackson.

Jan 16  Speaking of the Soviet Union, President Reagan says "The fact that neither of us likes the other system is no reason to refuse to talk. Living in this nuclear age makes it imperative."

Jan 29  Chinese officials announce plans to buy technology from the West worth $1 billion to reduce bureaucratic delays and to encourage foreign companies to do business and to invest in China.

Feb 7  President Reagan orders US Marines "redeployed" from shore to US Navy ships offshore in Lebanon. He describes the bombing of the Marine barracks that killed 241 Marines "Syrian sponsored."

Feb 8  In Lebanon, for nine hours US warships shell pro-Syrian militia positions.

Feb 13  Yuri Andropov has died. Konstantin Chernenko succeeds him as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

Mar 5  During their continuing war, Iran accuses Iraq of using chemical weapons.

Virginia McMartin

Virginia McMartin

Mar 5  Armed Sikh militants who have been seeking independence for the Sikh's have been occupying the Golden Temple at Amritsar. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi orders Indian troops to storm the temple. Nearly 300 people are killed.

Mar 16  The CIA station chief in Beirut, William Francis Buckley, is kidnapped by Islamic Jihad.

Mar 22  Teachers at the McMartin Preschool in Manhattan Beach, one of the most affluent areas in Los Angeles County, are charged with Satanic ritual and sexual abuse of the schoolchildren that were in their care. The authorities responsible for the charges are incompetent and naive as are the local journalists excited by the event.

Mar 30  The UN has learned that Iraq has used mustard gas laced with a nerve agent against Iranian soldiers. It condemns their use.

Apr 4  President Ronald Reagan calls for an international ban on chemical weapons.

Apr 9  Nicaragua files an application with the UN's International Court of Justice (also known as the World Court) against the US, accusing it of aggression through its support of military and paramilitary forces – the Contras. The court will make a decision in 1986.

Apr 12  Palestinian gunmen hijack a bus carrying Israeli passengers. Israeli special forces storm the bus, freeing the hostages. One hostage and two hijackers are killed. Two other hijackers will die in captivity, causing a scandal in Israel.

May 9  In a televised speech, Reagan urges helping the Contra "freedom fighters" against the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua.

Jun 9  In socialist Algeria the government appeals to an increase in Islamic conservatism. A family code law is passed, drawn largely from Islam's shari'a. A woman must obtain a father's approval to marry. Muslim women are prohibited from marrying non-Muslims, but Muslim men may marry non-Muslim women. Women are to be wards of their families before marriage and of their husbands after marriage.

Jul 12  In San Francisco, the Democratic National Convention has nominated Walter Mondale for US President.

Aug 21  Half a million people in Manila demonstrate against the regime of Ferdinand Marcos.

Aug 30  The Space Shuttle Discovery takes off on its maiden voyage.

Sep 5  The Space Shuttle Discovery lands after its maiden voyage.

Jerzy Popieluszko

Jerzy Popieluszko

Sep 26  Britain and China sign an agreement that Hong Kong will revert to China in 1997.

Oct 7  In running for re-election, President Reagan is benefiting from economic recovery and in his debate with Mondale conveys confidence in more improvement of the economy. To Mondale's complaint about Reagan's neglecting the poor he adds that "We are spending now 37 percent more on food for the hungry in all the various types of programs than was spent in 1980. We're spending a third more on all the programs of human service."

Oct 12  The Provisional Irish Republican Army in the person of Patrick Magee leaves a bomb in a room in the Brighton Hotel, where Britain's Conservative Party is holding a conference. Five people die and many more are injured. The blast cuts through Prime Minister Thatcher's bathroom two minutes after she has left. She carries on with her conference speech, on schedule, a few hours later.

Oct 19  In Poland, secret police have arrested a Catholic priest, Jerzy Popieluszko, a supporter of the Solidarity movement and famous throughout the country.

Oct 28  In another debate with Mondale, President Reagan says, "... I also recognize that as the two great superpowers in the world, we have to live with each other. And I told Mr. Gromyko we don't like their system. They don't like ours. And we're not gonna change their system and they sure better not try to change ours."

Oct 30  After two days of searching the bottom of a reservoir, divers find Jerzy Popieluszko's body. The Polish nation mourns. The three who abducted the priest and one of their superiors will be convicted of the crime. Nevertheless, the Communist Party in Poland will remain near collapse.

Oct 31  Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is assassinated by two Sikh security guards. Riots erupt and some 2,700 Sikhs are killed.

Nov 6  In the US the Republicans have successfully portrayed Mondale as favoring spending, big government and taxation. Reagan wins all but Mondale's home state and 59 percent of the popular vote.

Dec 3  In Bhopal India, a Union Carbide pesticide plant leaks methyl isocyanate, killing more than 2,000 people outright and injuring from 150,000 to 600,000 others, some 6,000 of whom will later die from their injuries.

Dec 22  Prime Minister Thatcher tells President Reagan that the number two man in the Kremlin, Mikhail Gorbachev, is an unusual Russian in that he is less constrained, more charming and more open to discussion and debate.

Dec 31  Orwell's novel, Nineteen Eight-Four, it turns out, failed to describe the year – however much it was intended as a satire on Stalinism. Stalin was gone and he had been denounced by his successor Nikita Khrushchev. There were some in the United States still saying Communism would not change. Some with Communist leanings were optimistic about the Soviet Union becoming more liberal. Since 1979 the Soviet Union's politburo had as one of his members a Marxist-Leninist by the name of Mikhail Gorbachev. He would become General Secretary of the Communist Party in March and would try.

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