8 January 1940

Britain introduces food rationing during World War II.

During World War II, the United Kingdom faced significant challenges, including the threat of German bombings, shortages of essential resources, and the need to allocate limited supplies to support the war effort. One of the measures implemented by the British government to address these challenges was the introduction of food rationing.

Food rationing in the UK officially began on January 8, 1940, and continued throughout the war until it was gradually phased out in the post-war years, finally ending in 1954. The system was introduced to ensure fair distribution of limited food supplies and to prevent hoarding. It was also seen as a way to guarantee that everyone had access to essential nutrition during a time of scarcity.

Under the rationing system, each person was allocated a certain amount of food, known as rationed items, on a weekly basis. The rationing program covered a wide range of food items, including meat, butter, sugar, milk, eggs, and more. The amounts varied over time as the war progressed and as the availability of certain goods changed.

To enforce rationing, individuals were required to register with local shops and present their ration books when purchasing goods. Ration books contained coupons that were used to obtain the allocated quantities of different food items. Families had to carefully plan their meals based on the available rationed supplies.

The British public generally accepted food rationing as a necessary sacrifice for the war effort, and it became a shared experience across the population. People embraced a sense of community spirit and resilience, finding creative ways to make nutritious meals with the limited resources available. Additionally, victory gardens became popular, allowing individuals to grow their own fruits and vegetables to supplement their rations.

Food rationing played a crucial role in ensuring that resources were distributed equitably and that the country could sustain itself during a time of conflict. It also had a lasting impact on British eating habits and attitudes toward food, influencing post-war consumption patterns and contributing to a more efficient and centralized food distribution system in the years that followed.

8 January 2010

Gunmen from an offshoot the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda attack a bus carrying the Togo national football team on its way to the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations, killing three.

[rdp-wiki-embed url=’https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Togo_national_football_team_attack’]

8 January 1973

The Soviet space mission Luna 21 is launched.

Forty-five years after the Soviet Lunokhod-2 robot explored the lifeless surface of the moon, a declassified document sheds new light on the legendary project.

The 125-page technical report published this week was written in the months immediately following the 1973 mission by members of the Lunokhod communications team, who were responsible for controlling cameras and radios aboard the eight-wheeled rover and monitoring its health.

The second, and what turned out to be the last, Soviet rover to operate on the lunar surface blasted off on January 8, 1973, and landed on the moon eight days later. Officially dubbed Luna-21, it came down inside a 34-mile-wide crater called Le Monnier, a little over 100 miles north of where NASA’s Apollo 17 astronauts had explored just a month earlier.

After rolling off its landing platform, Lunokhod-2 traveled for 23 miles, beaming 69,000 TV images back to Earth and producing 86 panoramas of the surrounding landscape. It also probed the strength of the lunar surface in numerous locations and received laser beams fired from Earth.

To the people who worked on Lunokhod-2, the lander was known as Article E8 No. 204. The newly released document details the months of painstaking preparations that led up to launch, including a series of failures in the rover’s programming timer during tests at the launch site in September and October 1972. Engineers had to remove the entire unit from the rover and take apart its components. The problem was eventually traced to a massive short-circuit in an avionics box, due to mechanical damage that resulted from its being forced into position in its holding compartment. After replacing the unit, engineers repeated the entire test routine for the communications system, which seriously shortened its lifespan during the actual mission. This finally explains why Lunokhod-2 survived only around four months on the moon, as compared to 10 months for its predecessor, Lunokhod-1.

The rover’s Earth-based drivers compensated for this shortened lifespan with much faster driving, which produced its own drama. According to the report, the first lunar day of Lunokhod-2’s journey went smoothly, with only a few minor glitches. But when driving resumed on February 11 after a period of hibernation, the operators experienced their first serious problem. Lunokhod-2 refused to immediately stop when the team spotted a crater ahead and issued a stop command. “The motion of the rover was observed based on the shifting of the images on the VKU screen of the MKTV system,” the report says.

Only after repeating the stop command three times did the stubborn vehicle finally come to a halt. The problem was traced to a signal scrambler in the radio system, which led mission controllers to switch to a secondary scrambler.

Harsh temperatures on the moon also forced them to reduce the number of panoramic images taken by the rover. Still, Lunokhod-2 successfully completed its second lunar day on February 22, and hibernated until March 9.

Problems with the secondary radio scrambler got worse during the third lunar day, however, and the engineers switched to another radio channel operating on a different frequency.

By May 10, during the 503rd communications session, engineers discovered that the temperature inside Lunokhod-2 had soared as high as 47 degrees C. Flight controllers immediately turned off onboard systems and ended the communications session, but all subsequent attempts to talk to Lunokhod-2 proved fruitless, according to the report. The document gives the exact time of Lunokhod’s death as May 10, 1973, at 15:25.

Previous accounts of the mission appeared to blame the rover’s demise on a May 9 incident in which its solar panel scraped a particularly steep crater wall and became covered with dust. However, the newly declassified report stresses that by the time Lunokhod-2 stopped talking to mission control, its transmitters were already well past their warranty date—which appears to attribute the rover’s end to the communications system failure.

At the time Lunokhod-2 died, the team was still hoping to apply its engineering lessons to Lunokhod-3 and -4. One drawback they wanted to fix was the inability to rotate the cameras independently of the rover’s body. The authors of the report also recommended installing the cameras at least six feet above the surface to provide a better view for the drivers.

That somebody listened to their recommendations is evident from the flightworthy model of Lunokhod-3 now displayed in a museum at the NPO Lavochkin company near Moscow. Unfortunately, the Soviet lunar program had lost momentum by that time, and Lunokhod-3 never had a chance to fly.

8 January 1982

AT&T agrees to divest itself of twenty-two subdivisions.

The breakup of the Bell System was mandated on January 8, 1982, by an agreed consent decree providing that AT&T Corporation would, as had been initially proposed by AT&T, relinquish control of the Bell Operating Companies that had provided local telephone service in the United States and Canada up until that point. This effectively took the monopoly that was the Bell System and split it into entirely separate companies that would continue to provide telephone service. AT&T would continue to be a provider of long distance service, while the now independent Regional Bell Operating Companies would provide local service, and would no longer be directly supplied with equipment from AT&T subsidiary Western Electric.

This divestiture was initiated by the filing in 1974 by the United States Department of Justice of an antitrust lawsuit against AT&T. AT&T was, at the time, the sole provider of telephone service throughout most of the United States. Furthermore, most telephonic equipment in the United States was produced by its subsidiary, Western Electric. This vertical integration led AT&T to have almost total control over communication technology in the country, which led to the antitrust case, United States v. AT&T. The plaintiff in the court complaint asked the court to order AT&T to divest ownership of Western Electric.

Feeling that it was about to lose the suit, AT&T proposed an alternative — the breakup of the biggest corporation in American history. It proposed that it retain control of Western Electric, Yellow Pages, the Bell trademark, Bell Labs, and AT&T Long Distance. It also proposed that it be freed from a 1956 anti-trust consent decree, then administered by Judge Vincent Pasquale Biunno in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, that barred it from participating in the general sale of computers. In return, it proposed to give up ownership of the local operating companies. This last concession, it argued, would achieve the Government’s goal of creating competition in supplying telephone equipment and supplies to the operative companies. The settlement was finalized on January 8, 1982, with some changes ordered by the decree court: the regional holding companies got the Bell trademark, Yellow Pages, and about half of Bell Labs.

Effective January 1, 1984, the Bell System’s many member-companies were variously merged into seven independent “Regional Holding Companies”, also known as Regional Bell Operating Companies, or “Baby Bells”. This divestiture reduced the book value of AT&T by approximately 70%.

8 January 1962

A train crash in Harmelen, Netherlands killed 93 people.

The Harmelen train disaster was the worst railway accident in the history of the Netherlands on 8 January 1962. Harmelen, in the central Netherlands, is the location of a railway junction where a branch to Amsterdam leaves the Rotterdam to Utrecht line. It is common at high-speed junctions to avoid the use of diamond crossings wherever possible — instead a ladder crossing is employed where trains destined for the branch line cross over to the track normally employed for trains travelling in the opposite direction for a short distance before taking the branch line.The accident spurred the installation on Dutch railways of the system of automatic train protection known as Automatische treinbeïnvloeding (ATB) which automatically overrides the driver in such a “signal passed at danger” situation. The junction itself was later rebuilt as a flying junction.The accident happened 1.5 year after the Woerden train accident, the derailment of a British furlough train nearby.