#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

#AtoZ 1968 – “O” is for Oliver!


“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.

Oliver

The 1968 film, based on the stage musical, which, of course, is based on the Charles Dickens novel, Oliver Twist, won six Academy awards, including Best Picture in 1968. It starred British actors Ron Moody and Oliver Reed, and introduced Jack Wild as the Artful Dodger and Mark Lester as Oliver.

The film earned $10.5 million North American box office and took in $77,402,877 worldwide, making it the seventh highest-grossing film of 1968.

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BONUS MUSIC!

Here’s the #22 song from Billboard’s Year-End Top 100 Singles of 1968

“I Wish It Would Rain” by The Temptations

#AtoZ 1968 – “N” is for Nixon/Agnew


“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.

Nixon

After his defeat to John F. Kennedy in the 1960 presidential election, and another loss in the 1962 California gubernatorial election, Richard Nixon regrouped and reorganized. In 1968, Nixon was ready to try again. Winning the Republican nomination didn’t come easy, though – Nixon faced challenges from Michigan Governor George Romney, New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, and California Governor Ronald Reagan. At the Republican National Convention, Nixon named Maryland Governor Spiro Agnew as his running mate.

Nixon’s theme during the campaign was “law and order.” He ran well ahead of his opponent, Hubert Humphrey, but he refused to participate in presidential debates. In the end, Nixon was the winner, and was inaugurated the 36th President of the United States.

Nixon_&_Agnew

In his speech at the Republican National Convention, Nixon blamed the Democrats for the Vietnam debacle. “Never has so much military and economic and diplomatic power been used so ineffectively,” he declared. “The time has come for the American people to turn to new leadership not tied to the mistakes and policies of the past.” He pledged that he’d seek “an honorable end to the war in Vietnam.”

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BONUS MUSIC!

Here’s the #27 song from Billboard’s Year-End Top 100 Singles of 1968

“Love Child” by The Supremes

#AtoZ 1968 – “M” is for Miss America


“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.

Miss America

The contest to find Miss America 1969 was held in September 1968. The protest, also known as ‘No More Miss America!’ was attended by hundreds of feminists and civil rights advocates. The organizers of the protest set up a “Freedom Trash Can” on the Atlantic City boardwalk and tossed in such items as mops and brushes, pots and pans, high heels, curlers, and false eyelashes, as well as the restrictive undergarments so many women wore (girdles, corsets, and bras). They unfurled a large banner that read “Women’s Liberation” and that movement suddenly received worldwide attention.

The feminists marched with signs, passed out pamphlets, and crowned a live sheep. They decried its emphasis on an arbitrary standard of beauty.

Note: On the same day, and also in Atlantic City, African Americans and civil rights activists gathered to crown the first Miss Black America. The winner was nineteen-year-old Philadelphia native Saundra Williams, who had been active on the civil rights scene prior to the competition.

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BONUS MUSIC!

Here’s the #30 song from Billboard’s Year-End Top 100 Singles of 1968

“Those Were the Days” by Mary Hopkin

#AtoZ 1968 – “L” is for Laugh-In


“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.

Laugh-In
image from Wikipedia

After a successful one-time special in September 1967, “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” (its official title) debuted in January 1968. It ran for 140 episodes, to 1973.

The title of the show derived from popular phrases of the day, including “love-ins,” “sit-ins,” and “be-ins.” Dan Rowan (pictured above on the left) played straight man to Dick Martin, and many of their gags were reminiscent of old vaudeville shows, but with sexual innuendo or political overtones. It introduced us to some memorable comedians, including Lily Tomlin, Ruth Buzzi, Arte Johnson, and Goldie Hawn.

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BONUS MUSIC!

Here’s the #35 song from Billboard’s Year-End Top 100 Singles of 1968

“A Beautiful Morning” by The Rascals

#AtoZ 1968 – “K” is for King and Kennedy


“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.

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” ~ MLK

“Every generation inherits a world it never made; and as it does so, it automatically becomes the trustee of that world for those who come after.  In due course, each generation makes its own accounting to its children.” ~ RFK

Dr. King was shot while he stood on the second-floor balcony of a hotel in Memphis. He was 39 years old.
Just two months later, Kennedy was gunned down shortly after he had finished making a speech in Los Angeles. He was 42.

It’s possible to say that assassinations defined the Sixties – President John F. Kennedy in 1963, and Rev. Dr. King and Sen. Kennedy within two months of each other in 1968. Charismatic icons of the decade, MLK and RFK both championing the cause of civil rights (although they never worked together directly).

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BONUS MUSIC!

Here’s the #46 song from Billboard’s Year-End Top 100 Singles of 1968

“(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone” by Aretha Franklin