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CNN goes on the air for the first time in June 1980, with Jimmy Carter in the White House and the United States reeling from a protracted hostage drama involving Iran. Carter loses re-election after a failed hostage rescue attempt, and a huge volcanic explosion and the death of a former Beatle also mark the year.

  • U.S. boycotts the Olympics
  • Iran hostage crisis
  • Mount St. Helens
  • Emergency at Love Canal
  • CNN is born
  • Cuba halts 'freedom flotilla'
  • John Lennon assassinated


  • U.S. boycotts Moscow Olympics -- March 21, 1980

    Citing the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, President Carter tells a group of American athletes that the U.S. won't be sending a team to the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. Later in the month, President Carter orders the U.S. secretary of commerce to ban all exports to the Soviet Union "of any goods or technology" related to the games, further encouraging other nations to join a U.S.-led boycott.

    Carter announces:
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    Iranian hostage crisis -- April 24, 1980

    As the Iranian hostage crisis drags into its second year, 52 Americans are still held captive by the new regime in Tehran, with no resolution in sight. President Carter's threats and sanctions fail to bring them home, and in April 1980 the administration calls on the military. An airborne commando raid is launched, but ends in disaster when a rescue plane and a helicopter collide in the Iranian desert. There aren't enough spare helicopters to continue, so the mission is called off amid doubts that it ever could have succeeded in the first place. The result: eight Americans dead, and the hostages no closer to freedom.

    Hostages
    The failed mission:
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    Volcano erupts -- May 18, 1980

    Following a weeklong series of earthquakes and smaller explosions of ash and smoke, long-dormant Mount St. Helens erupts in Washington state, hurling ash 15,000 feet into the air and setting off mudslides and avalanches. The eruptions cause minimal damage in the sparsely populated area, but about 400 people -- mostly loggers and forest rangers -- are evacuated.

    Mount St. Helens:
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    1980 -- 1981 -- 1982 -- 1983 -- 1984 -- 1985 -- 1986 -- 1987 -- 1988 -- 1989 -- 1990 -- 1991 -- 1992 -- 1993 -- 1994 -- 1995 -- 1996 -- 1997

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