INTRODUCTION 1976 has slipped into the past, and now a brand new year for economists politicians and peace-makers to work on.
INTRODUCTION 1976 has slipped into the past, and now a brand new year for economists politicians and peace-makers to work on. In the cities of London and Beirut, people looked forward to the new year for very different reasons.
SYNOPSIS: Big Ben heralded midnight in London. With, Londoners hope. the promise of an economic recovery in 1977.
Trafalgar Square, London's focal point for public New Year celebrations, was packed as usual. Falling rain went almost unnoticed by the revellers who were in high spirits and generally well behaved.
With all thoughts of the country's economy aside, at least for the moment, the Keynote was 'elation not inflation'. But when the spirit of new year wears off the realities of more expensive cigarettes, beer and groceries all made in a recent mini-budget will still be there. In his New Year message to Britons, where the annual inflation rate is 15 per cent, the Prime Minister, Mr Callaghan, gave no promise of an easy year in 1977. He said there would be no gimmicks or short cuts to see Britain through.Mr Callaghan plans to urge other countries to expand their economies this year and increase international trade.
Lebanon, with equally enthusiastic celebrations faces vastly different problems this year. After 19 months of civil war the people are looking towards re-building a normal way of life.
Although the underlying causes of the war in Lebanon have not been resolved, peace keeping forces are holding the country under control. It's estimated that 60,000 people lost their lives during the war. Most of the victims were civilians, killed in their homes or on the streets as thousands of shells rained on residential districts. About three quarters of the Lebanon capital's commercial centre needs rebuilding. Port facilities are also undergoing major re-construction and 1977 clearly represents a challenge for the Lebanese.
Gunshots were still evident in Beirut as the old year came to an end, but most of them were fired in celebration. But as well as the light gunfire there was also the rattle of heavier machine guns..... and indication that surrender of heavy weapons under the Arab League peace package has not been implemented. Although the Lebanese are not entirely free to go about their celebrations, it's a far calmer scene than New Year's eve 1975.