Illustration by Mahgul Farooqui

Today's Old News

October 6th in History: Cherry-flavored vaccines, funerals, arms races, and declarations. Read more of yesterday’s old news today.

Oct 5, 2019

If You’re Going to San Francisco ...
In 1967, the Summer of Love – a cultural movement based around Rock music, ideas of free love and social justice – swept across the United States. No place in the country was more emblematic of its pervasive hippie ideals than the Haight-Ashbury neighbourhood in San Francisco. Considered the heart of the movement, Haight-Ashubry was host to all manner of artists and performers, including but not limited to the likes of Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. Yet, it was not to last. Realizing that it was best to end things with a bang rather than letting them simply fizzle out into obscurity, the residents of the Haight decided to hold a funeral for “Hippie.” After three days of partying to celebrate all that was sacred about the summer, a procession carrying an empty casket made its way through the streets of San Francisco on Oct. 6.
Most people remember Dr. Jonas Salk as having discovered the Polio Vaccine. As fantastic as it may have been, Salk’s vaccine was only partially effective. It required a booster shot every three years and did not prevent new strains from developing. Thus, when Dr. Albert Sabin announced that he had produced an advanced vaccine to supplant Salk’s on Oct. 6, 1956, he finally found a way to both easily administer the vaccine and make it stick. It was cheap to manufacture, had been tested and could even take the form of a cherry flavoured sugar cube. Sabin’s version of the vaccine would be the one sent to all parts of the world, and thus, help greatly reduce global rates of polio.
General Secretary Stalin or: How I Learned to Start Worrying and Fear the Bomb
The shadow of the atomic bomb has been a looming presence ever since the United States dropped the first bomb, Little Boy, on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. This shadow grew noticeably larger on Oct. 6, 1951, when the Soviet Union publicly announced to its citizens that it has developed and tested its own bomb. Though the U.S. government had been aware of the Soviet nuclear program for years , the fact that Stalin himself had now publicly acknowledged the existence of a Soviet bomb on a state newspaper meant that it had become a potential operational threat. This would lead the U.S. to invent the Hydrogen bomb and massively escalate the arms race that underlined the Cold War. Almost poignantly, Oct. 6, 1961, ten years after the Soviet announcement, an American announcement from President John F. Kennedy would advise American citizens to begin constructing private fallout shelters..
A War with Many Names, and More Controversies
On Oct. 6, 1973, Egyptian and Syrian forces crossed Israeli borders in an effort to reclaim the territory lost to Israeli invasions during the Six Day War of 1967. This incursion would begin a conflict that the Arab world refers to as the October War, that Israelis call the Yom-Kippur War, and that some alternatively call the 1973 Arab–Israeli War. It would both act as an extension of the larger Arab-Israeli conflict that had been pervasive since 1948. The war lasted until January 1974 when Egypt and Israel reached a ceasefire that resulted in the return of the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt, and in Egypt being the first Arab country to officially recognize Israel. Both of these parties were able to claim victory in the conflict, but the same could not be said for Syria and Palestine. Egypt’s agreement to a ceasefire with Israel enabled it to double its efforts on the Syrian front and annex even more of the Golan heights. Moreover, the promise of mutual political gains at the subsequent 1978 Camp David Accords, led Egypt to not discuss the issue of Palestinian territory, causing it to remain under Israeli occupation.
Undoubtedly, the outcome of the war and Egypt’s contribution to it were controversial. This culminated eight years later on the same day the war began. On Oct. 6, 1981, President Anwar Sadat of Egypt, who was important to brokering the end of the war, was assassinated while attending a military parade by a group of military officers.
A Freer Fiji?
As the clock struck midnight at the end of Oct. 6, 1987, Sitiveni Rabuka issued the “DECLARATION – REPUBLIC OF FIJI DECREE 1987 NO. 8.” This document would lead to the development of a new political system in Fiji, the adoption of a new constitution in 1990, the end to a 113-year political link between Fiji and the United Kingdom and mass Indo-Fijian emigration. While Fiji had officially achieved independence from the U.K. in 1970, it remained a dominion which entitled the U.K. still to maintain some political influence through the Governor General of Fiji. This changed in 1987 when Rabuka, then the commander of the armed forces, led two military coups. The first overthrew the Indo-Fijian coalition government that had been elected that same year and the second abolished the position of Governor General and the Fijian monarchy. Many itaukei, indigenous Fijians, saw these coups as quintessential to help maintain the sovereignty of the native populus and thus see him as a hero. Others, however, saw his coups as being discriminatory towards Indo-Fijians, undemocratic and as encouraging racial conflict. Rabuka would later be elected as the Prime Minister of Fiji and issued a formal apology for his coups. He currently serves as the leader of the opposition party, and remains a divisive figure in his own country.
Toby Le is a columnist and Kaushal Prakash is a contributing writer. Email them at
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