#AtoZ 1968 – “U” is for USS Pueblo


“You’re going to get a concept that maybe this really is one world and why the hell can’t we learn to live together like decent people.” ~ Astronaut Frank Borman, on seeing the entire earth from outer space as he and the crew of the Apollo 8 returned from orbiting the moon.

USS Pueblo.jpg

On January 23, 1968, the USS Pueblo, a Navy intelligence vessel, was engaged in a routine surveillance of the North Korean coast when it was intercepted by North Korean patrol boats. According to US reports, the Pueblo was in international waters almost 16 miles from shore, but the North Koreans turned their guns on the lightly armed vessel and demanded its surrender. The Americans attempted to escape, and the North Koreans opened fire, wounding the commander and two others. With capture inevitable, the Americans stalled for time, destroying the classified information aboard while taking further fire. Several more crew members were wounded.

Finally, the Pueblo was boarded and taken to a naval base in North Korea. There, the 83-man crew was bound and blindfolded and transported to Pyongyang, where they were charged with spying within North Korea’s 12-mile territorial limit and imprisoned. It was the biggest crisis in two years of increased tension and minor skirmishes between the US and North Korea.

The United States maintained that the Pueblo had been in international waters and demanded the release of the captive sailors. With the Tet Offensive raging 2,000 miles to the south in Vietnam, President Lyndon Johnson ordered no direct retaliation, but the United States began a military buildup in the area. North Korean authorities, meanwhile, coerced a confession and apology out of Pueblo commander Lloyd M. Bucher, in which he stated, “I will never again be a party to any disgraceful act of aggression of this type.” The rest of the crew also signed a confession under threat of torture.

The prisoners were beaten for straying from the compound’s strict rules. In August, the North Koreans staged a phony news conference in which the prisoners were to praise their humane treatment, but the Americans thwarted the Koreans by inserting innuendos and sarcastic language into their statements. Some prisoners also rebelled in photo shoots by casually sticking out their middle finger, a gesture that their captors didn’t understand. Later, the North Koreans caught on and beat the Americans for a week.

On December 23, 1968, exactly 11 months after the Pueblo‘s capture, US and North Korean negotiators reached a settlement to resolve the crisis. Under the settlement’s terms, the United States admitted the ship’s intrusion into North Korean territory, apologized for the action, and pledged to cease any future such action. That day, the surviving 82 crewmen walked one by one across the “Bridge of No Return” at Panmunjon to freedom in South Korea. They were hailed as heroes and returned home to the United States in time for Christmas.

(Source: History.com) 
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BONUS MUSIC!
Here’s the #7 song from Billboard’s Year-End Top 100 Singles of 1968
“This Guy’s in Love With You” by Herb Alpert

#AtoZ 1968 – “T” is for The Troubles


“You’re going to get a concept that maybe this really is one world and why the hell can’t we learn to live together like decent people.” ~ Astronaut Frank Borman, on seeing the entire earth from outer space as he and the crew of the Apollo 8 returned from orbiting the moon.

Troubles

In 1968, protests were seemingly everywhere, and Northern Ireland took note. A civil rights movement was started, and protests called for greater equality for the Catholic minority. The previous year, activists in Belfast drew inspiration from Martin Luther King and his civil rights movement.

The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association demanded equal voting rights, fairer public housing, an end to ‘gerrymandering,’ and an end to discrimination in employment.

By 1968, the civil rights movement was beginning to gather support, and in August 1968, they were invited to hold a march in early October. A Protestant group announced plans to march the same day, and subsequently, all marches were banned.

troubles 3

On the day of the march, a few hundred civil rights protesters planned to walk from the predominantly Protestant area of Derry to the center of the city. Marchers were confronted by rows of police officers. The police used batons and a water cannon in an attempt to disperse the marchers and violent skirmishes broke out. “The Troubles” would last another thirty years, ending (most would agree) with the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.

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BONUS MUSIC!

Here’s the #13 song from Billboard’s Year-End Top 100 Singles of 1968

“Mony Mony” by Tommy James and The Shondells

Sunday Music Bonus 1968


There’s no blog post today, but I’ll be back tomorrow with the letter “T.”

Meanwhile, I’m featuring some of the Grammy Award winners of 1968.

The winner of Best Contemporary Pop Performance, as well as Record of the Year, went to “Mrs. Robinson” by Simon & Garfunkel. Here’s what might be the best version of that song, sung by the duo at The Concert in Central Park in September 1981:

 

#AtoZ 1968 – “S” is for Skull Valley (Dugway sheep incident)


“You’re going to get a concept that maybe this really is one world and why the hell can’t we learn to live together like decent people.” ~ Astronaut Frank Borman, on seeing the entire earth from outer space as he and the crew of the Apollo 8 returned from orbiting the moon.

DNEWS TOXIC UTAH DEAD SHEEP
dead sheep in Skull Valley, 1968

The Skull Valley sheep kill, also referred to as the Dugway sheep incident, has been connected to the US Army chemical and biological warfare programs at the Dugway Proving Ground in Skull Valley, Utah. Six thousand sheep were killed on ranches near the base, and the popular explanation blamed the incident on Army testing of chemical weapons. A report first made public in 1998 was called the “first documented admission” from the Army that a nerve agent killed the sheep at Skull Valley.

Since its founding in 1941, much of the activity at Dugway Proving Ground has been a closely guarded secret. According to reports, Dugway was still producing small quantities of non-infectious anthrax as late as 1998, 30 years after the United States renounced biological weapons. There were at least 1,100 other chemical tests at Dugway during the time period of the sheep incident. In total, almost 500,000 lbs. of nerve agent were dispersed during open-air tests. There were also other tests, including 332 open-air tests of biological weapons, 74 dirty bomb tests, and eight furnace heatings of nuclear material under open air conditions to simulate the dispersal of fallout in the case of a meltdown of nuclear reactors.

The incident log at Dugway Proving Ground indicated that the sheep incident began with a phone call on March 17, 1968, at 12:30 a.m. The director of the University of Utah’s ecological and epidemiological contact with Dugway, a Dr. Bode, phoned Keith Smart, the chief of the ecology and epidemiology branch at Dugway to report that 3,000 sheep were dead in the Skull Valley area. The initial report of the incident came to Bode from the manager of a Skull Valley livestock company. The sheep were grazing in an area about 27 miles from the proving ground; total sheep deaths of 6,000–6,400 were reported over the next several days as a result of the incident. The Dugway Safety Office’s attempt to count the dead sheep compiled a total of 3,843.

(Source: Wikipedia)

 

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BONUS MUSIC!

Here’s the #11 song from Billboard’s Year-End Top 100 Singles of 1968

“Harper Valley PTA” by Jeannie C. Riley

#AtoZ 1968 – “R” is for Rivers of Blood speech


“You’re going to get a concept that maybe this really is one world and why the hell can’t we learn to live together like decent people.” ~ Astronaut Frank Borman, on seeing the entire earth from outer space as he and the crew of the Apollo 8 returned from orbiting the moon.

Rivers of Blood
Enoch Powell

On April 20, 1968, British member of Parliament Enoch Powell addressed a meeting of the Conservative Political Center in Birmingham, England. His speech strongly criticized mass immigration, especially immigration to the United Kingdom. His speech became known as the “Rivers of Blood” speech (although Powell always referred to it as “the Birmingham speech”).

The phrase “rivers of blood” is an allusion to a line from Virgil’s Aeneid which was quoted by Powell: “As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding; like the Roman, I seem to see the River Tiber foaming with much blood.”

The speech caused a political storm and led to Powell’s controversial dismissal from the Shadow Cabinet by Conservative Party leader Edward Heath. In his speech, Powell stated, “We must be mad, literally mad, as a nation to be permitting the annual inflow of some 50,000 dependents, who are for the most part the material of the future growth of the immigrant descended population. So insane are we that we actually permit unmarried persons to immigrate for the purpose of founding a family with spouses whom they have never seen.” The Times newspaper declared it ‘an evil speech,’ stating, “This is the first time that a serious British politician has appealed to racial hatred in this direct way in our postwar history.” The Times went on to record incidents of racial attacks in the immediate aftermath of Powell’s speech. One such incident took place on April 30: it involved a slashing incident with 14 white youths chanting “Powell” and “Why don’t you go back to your own country?” at patrons of a West Indian christening party.

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BONUS MUSIC!
Here’s the #17 song from Billboard’s Year-End Top 100 Singles of 1968
“Stoned Soul Picnic” by The Fifth Dimension

#AtoZ 1968 – “Q” is for Mary Quant


“You’re going to get a concept that maybe this really is one world and why the hell can’t we learn to live together like decent people.” ~ Astronaut Frank Borman, on seeing the entire earth from outer space as he and the crew of the Apollo 8 returned from orbiting the moon.

Mary Quant

If you’ve watched “Mad Men,” you’re aware of how drastically women’s fashion changed through the decade. From bullet bras and girdles to hats and white gloves (even on the hottest summer days), women endured restrictive clothing because it’s what was expected. Mary Quant changed that, designing minis, baby dolls, and shiny boots from her King’s Road boutique in the Chelsea neighborhood of London.

As culture changed dramatically during the Sixties, Mary Quant understood. “It was the girls on King’s Road who invented the mini. I was making easy, youthful, simple clothes, in which you could move, in which you could run and jump and we would make them the length the customer wanted. I wore them very short and the customers would say, ‘Shorter, shorter.'” She gave the miniskirt its name, after her favorite make of car, the Mini.

Quant 2

And it wasn’t just clothes – Mary Quant designed new boots. She created “paintbox” makeup palettes. All of this happened prior to 1968 (by 1966 there were plenty of mini-skirted women on King’s Road), but Mary Quant certainly was at her pinnacle in 1968.

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BONUS MUSIC!

Here’s the #19 song from Billboard’s Year-End Top 100 Singles of 1968

“Midnight Confession” by The Grass Roots

#AtoZ 1968 – “P” is for Phoenix Program


“You’re going to get a concept that maybe this really is one world and why the hell can’t we learn to live together like decent people.” ~ Astronaut Frank Borman, on seeing the entire earth from outer space as he and the crew of the Apollo 8 returned from orbiting the moon.

Phoenix_Program_(edit)

What you see above is the Vietnamese Phụng Hoàng, a word related to fenghuang, the Chinese phoenix. The Phoenix Program was designed and carried out by the US Central Intelligence Agency, with assistance from other governmental agencies and units.

The program was designed to identify and destroy the Viet Cong by means of infiltration, capture, interrogation, and assassination. The CIA described it as “a set of programs that sought to attack and destroy the political infrastructure of the Viet Cong.” Regional units within the program would capture suspected Viet Cong, as well as civilians who were thought to have information on Viet Cong activities. Many of these people who were captured were tortured in an attempt to gain intelligence. By 1972, Phoenix operatives had “neutralized” 81,740 suspected Viet Cong operatives, informants, and supporters. David Valentine wrote a book about the Phoenix Program, after gaining the confidence of former CIA Director William Colby and getting access to former agents. But when Valentine’s book was published, and the CIA learned that Valentine was not sympathetic to their crimes in Vietnam, the CIA used its influence with the New York Times to effectively kill the book. Valentine’s book is available at Amazon

“For it seems now more certain than ever, that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate. To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past.” —Walter Cronkite in an editorial at the close of the CBS Evening News broadcast on February 27, 1968 reporting on what he had learned on a trip to Vietnam in the aftermath of the Tet Offensive.

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BONUS MUSIC!

Here’s the #21 song from Billboard’s Year-End Top 100 Singles of 1968

“The Horse” by Cliff Nobles