30 years ago today, President Mikhail Gorbachev announced that the Soviet Union would unilaterally reduce armed forces by half a million men and withdraw thousands of troops and tanks from Eastern Europe. The dramatic move, articulated in front of a hushed United Nations General Assembly in New York, jumpstarted long-stalled arms negotiations with the U.S. Soviet officials said the troop reduction of 10% is unilateral and unconditional, meant to demonstrate readiness to reach an agreement with NATO on major reductions in conventional forces and armaments in Europe. It was the first time a Soviet head of state had addressed the U.N. body, and the first time one had ever been cheered by crowds on Wall St. (1988)

The troops, tanks, and fighter planes that Gorbachev vowed to pull out were soon removed from Czechoslovakia, East Germany and Hungary… Retired from politics, he wrote a memoir and several books about how he sparked the fall of the U.S.S.R. with his policy of Perestroika. (Photo by Vladimir Vyatkin / RIA Archive, CC license)

MORE Good News on This Day:

  • Apollo 17, the final Apollo moon mission, was launched, and its crew shot the photo known as The Blue Marble (1972)
  • The Palestinian Liberation Organization leader, Yasser Arafat, recognized the right of Israel to exist (1988)
  • The Galileo spacecraft arrived at Jupiter, a little more than six years after it was launched by Space Shuttle Atlantis (1995)
  • Afghanistan inaugurated its first popularly elected president, Hamid Karzai  (2004)

On this day in 1967, Otis Redding went into the studio to record “Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay,” 72 hours before he was to die in a plane crash.

He wrote the song on a houseboat in Sausalito, California a short time after his appearance at The Monterey pop festival. He never saw its release or its rise to #1. Otis Redding also wrote “Respect”, the song most associated with Aretha Franklin; and recorded a famous cover of “Try a Little Tenderness”.

Happy 68th Birthday to Raspy-voiced singer-songwriter, composer and actor Tom Waits.

Tom Waits CC-Theplatypus
By Theplatypus, CC license

Listening to Bob Dylan, Louis Armstrong, and Howlin’ Wolf, he developed a distinctive growl and style that earned him Grammy Awards and a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. (1949)

And, on this day in 1891, James Naismith, a Canadian YMCA sports coach living in America who was looking for a new winter indoor activity, nailed two peach buckets on opposite ends of a Springfield, Massachusetts College gym and instructed his students to toss soccer balls into them. He invented the game of basketball.

james-naismith-inventor-of-basketball

Naismith wrote the original basketball rulebook and founded the University of Kansas basketball program. He lived to see basketball adopted as an Olympic demonstration sport in 1904.

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