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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

January 6, 1961: Nixon Farewell

In Congress, Vice President Nixon declared John F. Kennedy the next president and made this statement:

"In our campaigns, no matter how hard fought they may be, no matter how close the election may turn out to be, those who lose accept the verdict, and support those who win. And I would like to say that, having served now in government for fourteen years, a period which began in the House just fourteen years ago, almost to the day, which continued with two years in the Senate and eight years as Vice President, as I complete that fourteen-year period it is indeed a very great honor to me to extend to my colleagues in the House and Senate on both sides of the aisle who have been elected; to extend to John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, who have been elected President and Vice President of the United States, my heartfelt best wishes, and to extend you those best wishes as all of you work in a cause that is bigger than any man's ambition, greater than any party. It is the cause of freedom, of justice, and peace for all mankind. It is in that spirit that I now declare that John F. Kennedy has been elected President of the United States and Lyndon B. Johnson Vice President of the United States."

January 5, 1961: US Breaks Relations with Cuba

President Eisenhower, in the waning days of his administrations, broke US diplomatic relations with Cuba. The president said Fidel Castro's behavior had "reached the limit" of what "The United States in self-respect can endure." James Reston wrote that Eisenhower "told off his tormentors and slammed the door on his way out. It was a grand exit which made the pictures dance on the wall and rattled old Fidel's back teeth, and this country obviously loved it."

January 4, 1961: State Department Details Soviet Intervention in Laos, Sulzberger Analyzes Split Response

The State Department had detailed the extent of Soviet aid to rebels in Laos in a new report. Between Dec. 15 and Jan. 2 there were as many as 21 flights a day by the Soviets and North Vietnam over Loas, the report said.

In his column in the New York Times on this day in 1961, C.L. Sulzberger writes: "The real crisis exposed by the Laotian civil war is a crisis in Allied relationships. ONce again we are faced with the uncomfortable fact that Washington, London and Paris have never agreed on a common oriental diplomatic front.

"The Big Three, who dominate SEATO, are in thorough discord on Laos today ... Today ... Britain and France favor compromise and the establishment of a coalition, neutralist government in Laos. They argue that SEATO intervention would formalize guerrilla war. The French and the British have had sad experience with such Asian wars. France lost a disastrous campaign in Vietnam. Britain took ten years to stamp out guerrillas in Malaya, which has no Communist-bloc frontier. British experts reckon formalized guerrilla war in Laos might last another decade....

"London and Paris feel Washington is too inclined to take a tough line without realizing where that line may lead. We, on the other hand, fear that collapse in Laos also would mean ultimate loss of all Southeast Asia and only toughness can prevent this."

January 3, 1961: US Making Preparations to Meet Crisis in Laos

It was reported today that the US is making preparations to meet the crisis in Laos. "President Eisenhower approved the measures to 'increase the readiness' and the 'airlift capability' of United States forces in the Pacific" and held "an unusual New Year's holiday conference at the White House," the New York Times reported in its lead story, which ran under the subhead, "White House Meeting Considers Steps to Bar War."

Other headlines on this day in 1961:

"Laotian Aide Says Chinese Reds Helped Attack by Leftist Force"

"London Bids U.S. Back Laos Panel; Asks Resuming of 3-Nation Control Commission"

"French Warships Going to Algeria; Navy Units Carrying 6,000 Troops Will Sail Tomorrow for Tense Oran Region"

"Belgium Makes Peace Bid As Strikers Set Showdown"

"UN Chief Scores Belgians for Aid To Congo Troops"

"Castro Tells U.S. Staff in Embassy Must Be Slashed"

January 2, 1961: Rebels Advance in Laos, US Shows Off New Portable A-bomb

"Rebels Advancing in Laos; US Urges SEATO Session on Intervention by Reds," was the lead headline in today's New York Times. The story reported that Communist forces had captured Phongsaly and the Central Plain, including a airstrip.

In other news reported today, the UN set a hearing on Cuba's charge that the US planned to attack the island nation imminently. The White House has recently denied similar reports.

Papers also reported today that President-elect Kennedy sent a message of hope to the Soviet Union. The note expressed his hope that "in the coming months relations between our tow great countries will be marked by goodwill and a common desire for peace."

There was also a report today that the Army had a new, portable A-bomb rocket: "the Army made public today details of the Davy Crockett rocket, designed to provide the foot soldier with a highly mobile weapon equal in fire-power to massed heavy artillery.

"It can be fired from a launcher on a Jeep. A smaller version of the Davy Crockett can be carried by one man.

"The army also released the first picture of the rocket, which can hurl nuclear or conventional warheads across battle lines at ranges no greater than those of conventional artillery.

"The picture disclosed a gun barrel roughly five or six feet long topped by a blunt-headed bomb about thrity inches long and equipped with aerodynamic fins.

"The barrel is used as a recoilless rifle. Two explosions are set off simultaneously in the barrel to fire the warhead in one direction and offset the effects of recoil in the other

"Wilber M. Brucker, Secretary of the Army, said that the weapon 'dwarfs in firepower anything we have ever known in the immediate are of the battle line."