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Monday, October 02, 2006

October 2, 1960: Bomb in Times Square, Laos to Block Reds, Khrushchev 'Spectacle', Soviets Squandering Space Lead, Letterwriting and a News Roundup

A bomb exploded in New York city's Times Square on this day in 1960. Six people were hurt. The blast could be heard a half mile away.

In Laos, Premier Souvanna Phouma said he would not let the communists take control of the country. "I assure you that I shall not allow communism to rule our country. And I am sure the Lao people do not need communism either."

In today's New York Times an analysis of the "extraordinary conclave" at the United Nations says that "Implicit in the spectacle were the questions it raised about the direction of the cold war and the contest for the neutrals. ... [Soviet] Premier [Nikita] Khrushchev's conduct continued to perplex most of the delegates as they sought for clues as to whether he was genuinely prepared to negotiate, or was still in the mood that had blistered Paris last May....

"The gist of his comments seemed to be that he wanted a meeting with President Eisenhower. ... Twice during [British Prime Minister] Mr. [Harold] Macmillan's speech on Thursday, [Soviet Premier] Mr. Khrushchev stunned the chamber with shouted interruptions. For one of the interruptions he leapt to his feet and gestured violently with his right arm. He also waved his arms like an orchestra conductor to lead the applause for Dr. Castro; pounded his desk to express disapproval of [UN Secretary] Mr. [Dag] Hammarskjold's speech; and alternately beamed and scowled as he led the Communist claque in response to the words from the rostrum."

The United States has "no chance of winning the man-in-space race" with the Soviet Union, according to an another article, this one marking the second anniversary of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Soviet advantage comes from an earlier start in developing space rockets, according to the analysis. Yet the Soviets are seen to be squandering their lead.

"For reasons that United States officials cannot fathom, the Soviet Union seems to have abandoned a program of systematic scientific exploration of space in favor of sporadic shots keyed more to their psychological impact upon world opinion than discovering the secrets of the universe."

An opinion piece in today's New York times marking National Letter-Writting Week predicts that despite advances in electronics that permit letter writers to send missives over the wires [Cf. This Day in the 1960s, Aug. 31, 1960], people will always prefer handwritten correspondence: "... the absence of mechanical contrivances between the letter writer between the writer and reader of personal letters is one of the indispensable charms of correspondence. That the process recently in the news may, when finally made available to the public, have application in the business world seems pretty much agreed.

"But it is quite another matter to think that the telephone bill will ever replace the 4-cent stamp, at least in the area of person correspondence. By its very definition, personal correspondence is, and always will be, predicated on the handwritten letter, with all of its warmth, intimacy and expressiveness."

In other news:

President Eisenhower has rejected the proposal of the neutral bloc of nations at the UN and will not meet with Soviet Premier Khrushchev. In a related development, the State Department called Khrushchev's statements at the U.N. "strident and bellicose." Khrushchev plans to address the General Assembly again today.

If no agreement is reached with the Soviets by June to ban nuclear testing, the U.S. should end the current moratorium and resume testing, Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey (D-Minn.) said.

In news from the presidential race, Vice President Richard Nixon said that, if elected, he would propose financial assistance be provided to half of all medical students. A survey shows the vice president with a slim lead in electoral votes for the presidential election. But neither Nixon or his Democratic rival, Sen. John F. Kennedy, has the 269 votes needed for election, according to the 50-state poll.

President Eisenhower, who is 69, is on the verge of setting a record as the oldest man to serve as president. Whoever wins the November election, Eisenhower will be succeeded by a much younger man. Sen. John F. Kennedy is 43 and Vice President Nixon is 47. If Nixon is elected he will be 48 when he is sworn in.

Sen. Kennedy today backed off from his earlier criticism of President Eisenhower. "I don't quarrel with the president of the United States. The question is the future. The question is not President Eisenhower but President Nixon. That is the question the American people have to contend with in the next six weeks. Do they want to move in the direction of Mr. Nixon? Do they want to move in the direction of the Republican party? Or do they want to move with progress."

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