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Saturday, December 16, 2006

December 16, 1960: Airliners Collide over New York City, Man Held in 'Human-Bomb Plot to Kill Kennedy

Two airliners collided over New York City on this day in 1960. One fell on Staten Island, the other in Brooklyn, killing 127 passengers and crew and five on the ground.

In Laos, pro-West forces took the administrative capital of Vietiane, following a 76-hour battle for the city.

In Havana it was disclosed that Cuba and the Soviet Union have agreed to expand trade.

In Florida a man was held in a plot to kill President-elect Kennedy. The 73-year-old retired postal clerk from New Hampshire, upset at the way Kennedy had won the election, planned to make himself into a "human bomb." He was found with seven sticks of dynamite, blasting caps, wiring and other equipment. He was picked up in a routine traffic stop. Richard

"If any further proof was needed that the reach of American scientists into space still exceeds the grasp of their rockets, it was provided by the explosive failure of the moon shot at Cape Canaveral early this morning," John Finney writes in a news analysis in the New York Times on this day in 1960. "Aside from being another psychological setback to a space program that had just seemed to be hitting an impressive stride, the failure demonstrated once again that the United states was still a long way from perfecting reliable, heavy-duty launching rockets for space missions.

"Eight times now the United States -- first the Air Force and Army and then the civilian space agency -- have tried, with what in retrospect seems undue haste to send a payload to the vicinity of the moon and thus perhaps match or offset the spectacular lunar feats of the Soviet Union. Only one, the 134-pound Pioneer IV that passed within 37,300 miles of the moon in March, 1959, was partly successful.

"The national embarrassment provided by these necessarily public failures was only heightened by the fact that the Soviet Union, which can conceal its failures, was sending a payload within 5,000 miles of the moon, then landing a payload on the moon itself and finally sending a satellite around to photograph the backside of the moon during 1959."

Also in today's paper it was reported that the US will aid the anti-Communist Government in Laos in resisting Red aggression.

A headline in today's Chicago Daily Tribune reads, "Tenth of 1% of Vote Puts Kennedy In." Kennedy had a margin of 112,801 votes out of 68,832,670.

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