- Briton Clive Ponting is acquitted when tried for leaking documents that revealed the political motives for sinking the Argentine cruiser Belgrano in the Falklands war.
- Israeli general election: Alignment recives 34.9% of the vote to 31.99% for Likud.
- The British Court of Appeal rules in Gillick v. West Norfolk Health Authority that a physician acted lawfully in offering contraceptives to a girl under 16 years old.
- Famine in Ethiopia is the "closest thing to hell on Earth."
- China's population is 1,043.57 million.
- January 1: The Bell System telephone monopoly breaks up.
- January 5: Japanese Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro visits Yasukuni Shrine.
- January: Apple Computer introduces the Macintosh.
- February: Shi'a Hezbollah takes control of West Beirut. Multi-National Force (MNF) withdraws from Lebanon.
- February 12: Darwin Day
- March 6: Reagan administration's U.S. State Department publicly acknowledges that it knows that Iraq has been using chemical weapons in its war with Iran.
- March 16: Nkomati Pact is signed.
- March 24: U.S. envoy Donald Rumsfeld returns to Iraq to offer finanial support.
- March 29: The United Nations Security Concil issues a presidential statement condemning the Iraqi government for using chemical weapons against Iran.
- April 21: Japanese Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro visits Yasukuni Shrine.
- May 8: In retaliation for the 1980 Moscow Olympics boycott, the Soviet Union announces a boycott of the Summer Olympic Games to be held in Los Angeles. Many communist nations of Eastern Europe follow suit.
- July: Mass Shooting in Ysidro, California: James Huberty kills 21 and wounds 19 others in a McDonalds.
- July 12: South African commandoes destroy 200 meters of oil pipeline in Cabinda. For some reason that does not save South African apartheid.
- August 15: Japanese Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro visits Yasukuni Shrine.
- September 12: Tanjung Priok Massacre.
- September 20: U.S. Embassy temporary site in beirut is bombed.
- October 18: Japanese Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro visits Yasukuni Shrine.
- October 31: India's Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is assassinatedby her own Sikh bodguards. Mobs in India respond by attacking Sikhs, killing some 2,733 innocent men, women and children over the next four days.
- November 6: Ronald Reagan defeats Walter Mondale to win a second term as President of the United States.
- November 26: The United States reestablishes full diplomatic relations with Iraq, which had been severed since 1967.
- December 3: The Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India leaks toxic gas, killing thousands and injuring tens of thousands.
- December 22: "Subway Vigilante" Bernard Goetz shoots and wounds 4 young men on a New York subway car, one of whom asked him for money. His postol is unlicensed and some of the ammuniciton consists of dumdum or hoolow point bullets. One young man is paralyzed for life. Goetz is later acquitted.
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