Timeline: 1986

Jan 1 Spain and Portugal become members of the European Economic Community – the future European Union.

Jan 28  Seventy-three seconds after launch, NASA's Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrates, killing its crew of seven. An O-ring seal in one of the rocket boosters fails, allowing flame to reach a fuel tank. NASA managers had warnings from engineers.

Feb 6  In Haiti, after 15 years of repressive rule and looting the treasury, Jean-Claude Duvalier, 34, resigns and goes into exile. Haitians rejoice.

Feb 11  Anatoly Shcharansky (Natan Sharansky), who has spent eleven years in a Soviet prison, is flown to East Germany and is traded for two Russian spies. He is told to walk straight to the Western zone. He is defiant to the end and walks zig-zag.

Feb 19  The Soviet Union launches its Mir (Peace) space station.

Feb 25  Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines goes into exile to Hawaii after having attempted re-election by fraud and after having been opposed by the Catholic Church and what is called the People Power Revolution. Marcos has billions of dollars worth of wealth invested or stashed away in the United States and Europe. His wife, Imelda, will be reported as owning 15 mink coats, 508 gowns, 888 handbags and over 3000 pairs of shoes. Corazon Aquino, wife of the murdered senator, Benigno Aquino, becomes the 11th President of the Philippines.

Feb 25  Egyptian military police, protesting poor pay, enter 4 luxury hotels near the pyramids, loot and set fire to the hotels.

Feb 28  Sweden's leftist Prime Minister, Olof Palme, detested by rightists in Sweden, is shot dead on his way home with his wife from the cinema. The assassin is a mystery.

Mar 8  Japanese spacecraft Suisei flies by Halley's Comet, studying its UV hydrogen corona and solar wind.

Apr 2  A bomb explodes on a TWA flight from Rome to Athens, killing four.

Apr 5  A bomb explodes in a discotheque in West Berlin, killing two US servicemen, a Turkish woman, and injuring 230, some of whom will be permanently disabled. A telex message intercepted from Libya to the Libyan embassy in East Berlin embassy offers congratulations on a job well done.

Apr 13  Pope John Paul II officially visits the Synagogue of Rome, the first time a modern Pope has visited a synagogue.

Apr 15  President Reagan has ordered air strikes against Libya in retaliation for the discoteque bombing. At least 15 Libyans are killed, including leader Gaddafi's 15-month old daughter. More than 100 are injured.

Apr 17  In Beirut, Lebanon, British journalist John McCarthy is kidnapped while on his way to the airport to get out of the country. Three others, believed to be British hostages, are found dead. Terrorists claim responsibility in retaliation for the US bombing of Libya.

Apr 17  Guards at London's Heathrow Airport arrest a pregnant Irishwoman with explosives in her luggage. The explosives were from her Jordanian fiancé, Nizar Hindawi, who intended to blow up an El Al flight bound for Tel Aviv.

Apr 26  In Ukraine, one of the reactors at the Chernobyl nuclear plant explodes, immediately killing 31. In years to come, many more are to die from over-exposure to radiation. Areas in Ukraine and Belarus are rendered uninhabitable.

May 25  At least 5,000,000 people form a human chain from New York City to Long Beach, California, to raise money to fight hunger and homelessness.

Jun 27  The International Court of Justice, by twelve votes to three, decides that the US, "by training, arming, equipping, financing and supplying the Contra forces or otherwise encouraging, supporting and aiding military and paramilitary activities in and against Nicaragua, has acted, against the Republic of Nicaragua, in breach of its obligation under customary international law not to intervene in the affairs of another State." The three judges voting "no" are from the US, Britain and Japan.

Jun 28  The US State Department describes the International Court of Justice as ''not equipped'' to judge complex international military issues. The Reagan administration does not intend to abide by the court's ruling.

Aug 6  In Louisville, Kentucky, William Schroeder, the second person to receive an artificial heart, dies after 620 days.

Aug 20  In Edmond, Oklahoma, Patrick Sherrill is known for his peculiar behavior. He is fired from his job as a part-time United States Postal Service employee. He tries to get even by killing his co-workers. Then he kills himself.

Sep 5  In Karachi, Pakistan, four men belonging to an Abu Nidal organization and posing as security guards fire shots and force their way onto Pan Am Flight 73. The plane is on a stopover from India and scheduled to fly to Frankfurt and New York. The pilot and co-pilot escape out of a cockpit hatch, effectively grounding the plane. Frustrated, the hijackers kill at least 20 of the crew and passengers and wound 127 before commandos enter the plane and arrest them. The hijackers intended to fly the plane into the Israeli defence ministry, "using the aircraft as a missile," a claim that would be made by the highjackers during their trial in 1988.

Sep 6  In Istanbul, two Abu Nidal terrorists kill 22 and wound 6 inside the Neve Shalom synagogue during Sabbath services.

Sep 7  Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet survives an assassination attempt. Five of his bodyguards are killed.

Sep 17  Terrorist bombings have plagued Paris for the last nine months. Two men in a passing car throw a bomb at a crowded, cut-rate clothing and textile store, killing five.

Oct 5  A cargo plane is shot down over Nicaragua while delivering supplies to the Nicaraguan "Contras" considered by the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua to be a terrorist group. Three US citizens aboard the plane die. A survivor, Eugene Hasenfus, is captured by Nicaraguan government forces.

Oct 9  President Reagan states that the downed cargo plane had "absolutely" no connection to the US government. Eugene Hasenfus, imprisoned in Managua, describes his mission as having been supervised by the CIA.

Oct 11  At Reykjavik, Iceland, Reagan and Gorbachev get close to an agreement on arms reduction, but the talks stall over Reagan's Star Wars (SDI) plan. The conference ends without an agreement. Another meeting is planned but with no fixed date.

Oct 22  The US Congress passes the Tax Reform Act of 1986, designed to simplify the income tax code, broaden the tax base and eliminate many tax shelters and other preferences. It is a bi-partisan bill and will be signed by President Reagan and referred to as Reagan's second tax cut. The highest income tax rate (for the more wealthy) is lowered again, from 50 percent, established in 1981, to 28 percent. Those at the bottom of the tax rate, who have been paying 11 percent, will be paying 15 percent. Benefit is expected from money going from tax shelters to more productive investments.

Oct 25 Britain's Thatcher government breaks ties with Syria regarding evidence of Syria's tie with Nezar Hindawi's involvement in the April 17 attempt to blow up an Israeli airliner at Britain's Heathrow airport. Syria breaks relations with Britain. Hindawi has described his ties to Syria but later will change his story and blame Israeli agents.

Nov 4  Democrats gain eight seats in the US Senate, regaining control of that body for the first time in six years. In the House of Representatives the Democrats gain four seats for a 258 to 177 majority.

Nov 17  In France, the industrialist, Georges Besse, is assassinated outside his home by members of "Maoist" revolutionaries – members of Action Directe. Besse was in charge of Renault, a company in financial trouble and he had recently laid off many workers.

Nov 21  National Security Council member Oliver North and his secretary, Fawn Hall, begin shredding documents that implicate them in weapons sales to Iran.

Nov 25  Congress has declared Iran a terrorist nation and has outlawed the sale of arms to the Iranian government. US Attorney General Edwin Meese announces that profits from weapons sales to Iran have been illegally diverted to "Contra" forces fighting the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua.

Dec 19  The Soviet Union's leading dissident, Andrei Sakharov, is given freedom to return to Moscow from Gorky.

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