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The Soviet Response to the Moon Landing? Denial There Was a Moon Race at All

July 11, 2019 in History

By Becky Little

You’ve probably heard of conspiracy theories that the moon landing was a hoax ( arguing, “Many of the same elements that characterized preparations for the Apollo moon landings also showed up in the Soviet program.” He also noted that Soviet cosmonauts during the 1960s spoke as though they were in a race with the U.S. to the moon.

“I can positively state that the Soviet Union will not be beaten by the United States in the race for a human being to go to the moon,” said cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov in 1966, a year before his tragic death during reentry. “The U.S. has a timetable of ‘1969 plus X,’ but our timetable is ‘1969 plus X minus one’!”—i.e., the Soviets would make it the moon a year before the Americans.

Yet some conspiracy-minded Americans were swayed by the Soviet Union’s propaganda, and began to suspect the U.S. government had invented the competition in order to rationalize the enormous financial investment in NASA’s moon mission.

Unlike modern moon-landing deniers, many prominent moon-race deniers held influential positions in politics and media. Senator J. William Fulbright said in 1963 that “the probable truth is that we are in a race not with the Russians, but with ourselves.” And in a 1964 editorial titled “Debating the Moon Race,” The New York Times wrote, “There is still time to call off what has become a one-nation race.” On the moon landing’s fifth anniversary in July 1974, CBS anchor Walter Cronkite told America, “it turned out that the Russians were never in the race at all.”

Did the US Go to the Moon to Beat the Soviets? (TV-PG; 4:51)

In truth, the Soviets were in a moon race with the U.S. during the 1960s, and they were fairly confident they could beat the Americans because “they’d had all the firsts,” Oberg says: they had the first satellite, the first probe to land on the moon and the first man and woman in space. In fact, the Soviets thought the U.S. timetable for reaching the moon was just propaganda because it seemed too ambitious.

When Apollo 11 really did land there in 1969, just eight years after JFK’s announcement of the country’s intentions, Oberg says the Soviets “slowly came to realize they’d woken the sleeping giant; that they had driven the U.S. government insane enough to spend absolutely crazy amounts of money …read more

Source: HISTORY

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President Carter calls for Olympics to be moved from Moscow

July 11, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

On January 20, 1980, in a letter to the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and a television interview, U.S. President Jimmy Carter proposes that the 1980 Summer Olympics be moved from the planned host city, Moscow, if the Soviet Union failed to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan within a month.

“It’s very important for the world to realize how serious a threat the Soviets’ invasion of Afghanistan is,” Carter declared. He argued that continued aggressive action by the Soviets would endanger athletes and spectators who traveled to Moscow for the games, and declared that if the International Olympic Committee (IOC) declined to move the competition, American athletes should boycott the games. Lord Killanin, president of the IOC, reacted quickly to Carter’s statement, saying it was impossible to move the games from Moscow.

After the IOC denied Carter’s request, the USOC later voted to boycott the Moscow games, a decision that Carter announced on March 21, 1980. The boycott devastated the hopes of many U.S. athletes, especially after Carter backed it up with the law, promising to revoke the passports of American athletes who traveled to the games in violation of the boycott. For his part, Killanin called the U.S. boycott a violation of the Olympic charter, pointing out that Moscow had been awarded the games in the mid-1970s as part of a binding contract–one that could only be broken if the Soviets breached their own responsibilities first.

The United States was one of some 60 countries that eventually boycotted the Moscow Olympics, though some countries that didn’t officially send teams took no action against individual athletes who chose to go. Among U.S. allies, Great Britain, Sweden, France and Italy sent teams. The Soviet Union dominated the other 80 participating nations, winning 195 medals (80 gold) in 1980, in one of the most lopsided Olympics ever. Four years later, the Soviets returned the slight with a boycott of the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles, saying they were worried about the safety of their athletes given the strongly anti-Communist environment that existed in the United States. In an interesting contrast, Communist-led China decided to attend the games for the first time in 32 years, bringing the total number of participating countries to a record high 140.

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Source: HISTORY

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Deng Xiaoping and Jimmy Carter sign accords

July 11, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

On January 29, 1979, Deng Xiaoping, deputy premier of China, meets President Jimmy Carter, and together they sign historic new accords that reverse decades of U.S. opposition to the People’s Republic of China.

Deng Xiaoping lived out a full and complete transformation of China. The son of a landowner, he joined the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1920 and participated in Mao Zedong’s Long March in 1934. In 1945, he was appointed to the Party Central Committee and, with the 1949 victory of the communists in the Chinese Civil War, became the regional party leader of southwestern China. Called to Beijing as deputy premier in 1952, he rose rapidly, became general secretary of the CCP in 1954, and a member of the ruling Political Bureau in 1955.

A major policy maker, he advocated individualism and material incentives in China’s attempt to modernize its economy, which often brought him into conflict with Mao and his orthodox communist beliefs. With the launch of the Cultural Revolution in 1966, Deng was attacked as a capitalist and removed from high party and government posts. He disappeared from public view and worked in a tractor factory, but in 1973 was reinstated by Premier Zhou Enlai, who again made him deputy premier. When Zhou fell ill in 1975, Deng became the effective leader of China.

In January 1976, Zhou died, and in the subsequent power struggle Deng was purged by the “Gang of Four”–strict Maoists who had come to power in the Cultural Revolution. In September, however, Mao Zedong died, and Deng was rehabilitated after the Gang of Four fell from power. He resumed his post as deputy premier, often overshadowing Premier Hua Guofeng.

Deng sought to open China to foreign investment and create closer ties with the West. In January 1979, he signed accords with President Jimmy Carter, and later that year the United States granted full diplomatic recognition to the People’s Republic of China.

In 1981, Deng strengthened his position by replacing Hua Guofeng with his protege, Hu Yaobang, and together the men instituted widespread economic reforms in China. The reforms were based on capitalist models, such as the decentralization of various industries, material incentives as the reward for economic success, and the creation of a skilled and well-educated financial elite. As chief adviser to a series of successors, he continued to be the main policy maker in China during the 1980s.

Under …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Carter agrees to transfer Panama Canal to Panama

July 11, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

On this day in 1977, President Jimmy Carter signs a treaty that will give Panama control over the Panama Canal beginning in the year 2000. The treaty ended an agreement signed in 1904 between then-President Theodore Roosevelt and Panama, which gave the U.S. the right to build the canal and a renewable lease to control five miles of land along either side of it.

The desire for a shorter route between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans had a long history, beginning with the Spanish explorers of the 16th century. Before the canal was built, ships were required to travel around the treacherous Cape Horn of South America, a journey that frequently resulted in great loss of life and cargo. From 1869 to 1877, U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant authorized no less than seven feasibility studies of a canal across the thin Panamanian isthmus. In 1881, a French consortium of investors hired Suez Canal designer Ferdinand deLesseps to build a canal through Panama. The French project was called off in 1888, however, after workers died by the thousands from disease and construction accidents.

In 1904, building a canal across Panama became a pet project of President Theodore Roosevelt; the effort was led by American engineer John Stevens. Although death from jungle diseases decreased with the implementation of an improved sanitation system, designed by Dr. William Gorgas, the project dragged on so long that Stevens quit in despair. In November 1906, in an attempt to boost flagging morale and dwindling Congressional support for the project, Roosevelt visited and posed for photographs at the site, sitting at the controls of an enormous earth-moving tractor.

In 1914, after 10 years, Roosevelt’s perseverance paid off; the 51-mile-long canal opened on August 15. The engineer who took over for Stevens quipped at the opening of the canal that “the real builder of the Panama Canal was Theodore Roosevelt.” The canal facilitated increased passenger travel and cargo shipments between nations around the world and U.S. control over the canal helped guarantee America’s status as an international power.

Transfer of ownership of the Panama Canal occurred peacefully as planned on December 31, 1999.

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Source: HISTORY

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Why Civil Rights Activists Protested the Moon Landing

July 11, 2019 in History

By Eric Niiler

In 1969, NASA was spending millions on the Apollo space program. Some argued that money could be better spent.

More than a million people gathered along Florida’s Space Coast to watch the Apollo 11 lift off from Launchpad 39A on the sunny afternoon of July 16, 1969. The event was the culmination of a technological race started by President John F. Kennedy in 1963 with the goal of beating the Soviet Union to the moon.

But not everyone was cheering that summer day.

A group of 500 mostly African-American protesters led by civil rights leader Ralph Abernathy arrived outside the gates of the Kennedy Space Center a few days before the launch. They brought with them two mules and a wooden wagon to illustrate the contrast between the gleaming white Saturn V rocket and families who couldn’t afford food or a decent place to live.

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Poor People’s marchers line up mules near the gates to the Kennedy Space Center on July 15, 1969.

Abernathy was one of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s closest aides. After King’s assassination in April 1968, Abernathy led the Poor People’s March on Washington that summer. A year later, as NASA prepared to launch Apollo 11, the Alabama preacher led a group of mostly black Americans to show NASA and the assembled media that all was not well in America’s cities.

“There was a debate about what America was at the time,” says Neil Maher, author of 2017’s Apollo in the Age of Aquarius, and a professor of history at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Maher says the Apollo space program divided Americans among supporters who thought it would energize a country that had gotten lost, and those who believed that it represented a huge waste of money that instead should go to solving societal problems.

“Was it a country to spend $20 billion to land two men on a dead rock in space or try to solve some of the problems closer to home on Earth?” Maher says. “A lot of grass roots movements argued to use the [NASA] money to solve problems here.”

The protest began peacefully with Abernathy and the others gathered in front of the NASA gates for a candlelight vigil on the evening of July 14 followed by a march on July 15. As NASA administrator Thomas Paine came out to the …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Going Around Trump and Xi to Save U.S.-China Relations

July 11, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

For the seventh time now, I am spending a week in July at a
Chinese university with several other Americans to speak about
economics to Chinese students. And every visit, I learn more about
the growing communist giant across the Pacific.

However, these experiences have gotten more difficult as
Washington and Beijing clash over issues large and small. More
important, though, has been the internal crackdown in the People’s
Republic of China. My first trip to the PRC was in 1992: it was a
vastly different country, one finally exiting the Maoist era’s
intermittent lunacy. In the succeeding years, there was increasing
liberalization — most obviously in economic policy, but also
in terms of personal autonomy.

The Tiananmen Square massacre likely closed off any prospect of
serious regime reform, but political controls remained loose at the
edges. Academic exchanges flourished, freedom-minded NGOs operated,
and the Great Firewall was penetrated. Independent-minded Chinese
journalists, though unable to challenge the Communist Party’s
monopoly of power, had space to expose government misdeeds. These
all fueled hopes that economic reform and market transformation
would encourage a freer Chinese society.

Alas, President Xi Jinping seems to have killed that
possibility, at least for the present.

Academic exchanges have become more difficult; NGOs have been
shut down, churches destroyed. Human rights lawyers have been
arrested, internet controls tightened, and a totalitarian “social
credit” system developed. Foreign policy, too, has become more
aggressive: pressure on both Taiwan and Hong Kong has increased,
and, perhaps most notably, Uighurs have been incarcerated en
masse
.

These and other related changes have significantly accelerated a
decline in Sino-American governmental relations.

This increasingly restrictive political climate has also created
greater uncertainty in nonpolitical relationships. A couple months
ago, I arrived in China for a conference scheduled for the next day
only to be told that I (and other foreign invitees) could not
participate. The local party had decreed that they required
Beijing’s approval if we were to attend. I had spoken at the same
event two years before and wouldn’t have said anything particularly
controversial. But no matter: this was an old requirement, I was
told, which until recently hadn’t been enforced.

Americans involved in politically sensitive research —
regarding Tibet or Xinjiang, for instance — have long risked
being denied entry into the PRC. But recently the U.S. and China
have engaged in a new variant of “visa wars,” with Washington the
aggressor, revoking permission for Chinese university professors
and others to visit America. Beijing has retaliated against those
with connections to the Trump administration.

Even more informal personal contact is subject to greater
scrutiny. Though I had done so in the past, a company that prepares
Chinese students for …read more

Source: OP-EDS