1998 (The People's Chronology)
Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr's office receives a telephone call January 12 from Jersey City, N.J.-born Pentagon employee Linda Rose Tripp (née Carotenuto), 48, claiming that President Clinton had an improper sexual relationship with a 21-year-old White House intern (Starr has spent nearly $40 million investigating various charges against the president and come up with little or nothing). Tripp secretly tapes hours of conversations with Monica S. Lewinsky, now 24; Starr's people take the San Francisco-born Lewinsky to a room at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel at Pentagon City in suburban Virginia January 16 and intimidate her; New York literary agent Lucianne Goldberg, 62, receives a telephone call January 17 from a 31-year-old Maryland-born Internet gossip reporter with the Dickensian name Matt Drudge; he wants her to confirm a report that Newsweek magazine is suppressing a story about Lewinsky and President Clinton having had a relationship beginning in November 1995. Goldberg tells Drudge she spoke to Newsweek reporter Michael Isakoff only hours earlier, she confirms the report, Drudge wastes no time in putting the story out on the Internet, and Goldberg does her best to keep the story about Lewinsky and the president alive, feeding salacious items to Rupert Murdoch's New York Post, for which she works; the ensuing furor dominates the news all year. Allegations of sexual misconduct have dogged President Clinton, but his approval rating remains near or above 70 percent as Americans shrug off "the character issue" in light of the nation's continuing prosperity and reduced national debt. Clinton visits China beginning June 25, but the Supreme Court rules 6 to 3 the same day that the line-item veto power granted by Congress to the chief executive 2 years ago violates the Constitution. Clinton denies January 26 that he had an affair with Lewinsky but admits August 17 that he did have an "improper relationship" with her (it was she who initiated the affair; it was never actually consummated). Starr submits a 445-page report to Congress September 11, it is full of erotic details (made public on the Internet and in the press), but while Starr's staff says it contains about a dozen "possible impeachable" offenses the report contains no evidence of wrongdoing outside of Clinton's private life, and polls show that despite a clamor in some quarters for his resignation the president still enjoys the overwhelming support of the American people.
MoveOn draws up a petition asking Congress to "Censure President Clinton and Move On to Pressing Issues Facing the Nation." The organization has been founded by Berkeley, Calif., computer whiz Wes Boyd, 37, and his wife, Joan Blades, who have become concerned that the Clinton impeachment debates are distracting the nation from more substantive matters. Boyd and Blades last year sold their 10-year-old entertainment software company Berkeley Systems (known for its flying toaster screen saver and online game show You Don't Know Jack), they pay $89 to acquire the Web address MoveOn.org, use their technical savvy to put the petition online September 18, collect more than 250,000 signatures within 4 weeks, raise $13 million in pledges (mostly in amounts of $60 and less) to lawmakers who support impeachment, and give Internet users information on how to reach their elected representatives. MoveOn will gain support from advocates of political campaign finance reform, educators, environmental groups, gun-control advocates, labor unions, the NAACP, and others as it grows to have a membership of more than 2 million.
Democrats stun Republicans in the November elections, actually picking up five congressional seats (they had been expected to lose about 20); House Speaker Newt Gingrich announces that he will step down and resign from Congress (see 1997). Speaker-elect Robert L. Livingston, 55, of Louisiana admits under pressure December 17 that he has had extra-marital affairs, he announces in a speech in the House December 19 that he will not stand for the office of speaker and will resign his seat, asking the president to follow his example; Clinton urges him to reconsider; acrimonious debate continues with sanctimonious speeches by Republicans, and the House votes on narrow, partisan lines December 19 to approve two articles of impeachment. The religious right exerts power over the Republican majority in the House (evangelicals in scores of districts often determine the outcome of primary elections); many in the Congress who vote for impeachment acknowledge that Clinton's reprehensible behavior hardly rises to the level of treason or bribery and expect that the Senate, as in 1868, will fail to marshal the two-thirds majority needed to remove a president from office (see 1999).
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan visits Baghdad February 22 and obtains Saddam Hussein's agreement to permit UN inspectors to resume their work (see 1997). They had stopped for some weeks following Saddam's objection to having an American head the inspection team, world anxiety has risen that Iraq may have stepped up her development of weapons of mass destruction, but President Clinton has been unable to gain Allied or domestic support for an aerial attack. Iraq has admitted making 3.9 tons of the VX nerve gas, but Saddam halts inspections again in August, defying UN efforts to restart them, and announces October 31 that no inspections will be allowed until sanctions are lifted. The Iraq Liberation Act signed into law by President Clinton October 31 charges the Saddam regime with crimes that include invading Iran in September 1980, using chemical weapons against Iranian troops, forcibly relocating Kurdish civilians from their homes, and killing between 50,000 and 180,000 Kurds. Iraq has ceased cooperation with the United Nations Special Commission, the House of Representatives has adopted the resolution by a vote of 360 to 38 October 5, the Senate gave unanimous approval 2 days later. Saddam backs down at the last moment, averting air strikes November 14, UN weapons inspections resume in late November, Saddam's people interfere once again with the inspections, U.S. and British missiles and aircraft attack Iraqi targets for 70 hours beginning December 16. President Clinton and Republican congressional leaders have received open letters from the Project for the New American Century calling for "the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime from power" and a shift toward a more assertive U.S. policy in the Middle East. Members of the Project include former cabinet officers Richard Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, Pentagon official Paul D. Wolfowitz, and former assistant secretary of defense Richard Perle (see 2002).
Iran tests a medium-range missile July 22; built with technology obtained from North Korea, the Shabab-3 missile blows up before it can land, but its 800-mile range creates concern throughout the Middle East. Teheran's mayor Gholamhossein Karabaschi is convicted of corruption July 23 in a setback for the government of President Mohammed Khatami (see 1997). Karabaschi is ordered to pay a fine of about $530,000 and return about $6 million in what the court says are misappropriated funds; he is barred from holding public office until 2018. Former labor minister and veteran opposition leader Dariush Forouhar, 70, and his wife, Parvaneh, 58, are found stabbed to death at their Teheran home November 22 (several prominent opponents of the regime have been assassinated in exile in recent years) (see 1999).
The almost simultaneous bombings of the U.S. embassies at Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, August 7 kill nearly 300 people and injure some 5,000. U.S. and Israeli rescue teams and investigators rush to help survivors and search for the perpetrators. No one claims responsibility for the terrorist acts, but U.S. intelligence find evidence linking them to exiled Saudi millionaire Osama bin Laden, now 41, who has been implicated in attempts on Egypt's president Hosni Mubarak and on the pope. A federal jury at New York issues a 238-count indictment against bin Laden, charging him with the bombings. U.S. ships in the Arabian and Red Seas launch about 75 cruise missiles August 20 in a pre-emptive attack on complexes 94 miles south of Kabul, Afghanistan, and the Ashifa chemical factory in northern Khartoum believed to be used for making a deadly nerve agent (Sudan protests that the plant produces only pharmaceuticals and agricultural chemicals; some outside experts agree). The missile attack is the largest U.S. military assault ever made against a private sponsor of terrorism, but Afghans claim that the missiles struck a mosque and a school, with the result that the hitherto obscure Osama bin Laden becomes a hero to millions of Muslims in Indonesia, Pakistan, and the Middle East.
PLO leader Yasir Arafat and Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu sign a peace accord at Washington, D.C., October 23 (see 1997); worked out at the Wye River Plantation outside Washington, it calls for withdrawal of Israeli troops from another 13 percent of the West Bank, the release of 750 jailed Palestinians, permission for the construction of a Palestinian airport in Gaza, and other concessions in return for a Palestinian crackdown on terrorism and removal of language in the Palestinian Charter calling for Israel's destruction, but although a majority of Israelis support the Wye River agreement, which has been negotiated with U.S. help, extremists on both sides oppose it, and it unravels in early December (see 1999).
Lebanon's pro-Syrian National Assembly elects a new president by unanimous vote to succeed Elias Hrawi, who has held office since 1990 (see 1992): Gen. Emile Lahoud, 62, has been military chief of staff and is a puppet of Damascus. Prime Minister Rafik Hariri declines Lahoud's invitation to form his fourth consecutive government and resigns November 30; Selim al-Hoss, 68, succeeds him, says he will appoint a commission to oversee the end of sectarianism, and vows to continue Hariri's $60 billion reconstruction program.
The Good Friday accord signed by Irish Catholic and Protestant antagonists April 10 promises to end 3 decades of bloodshed in which more than 3,200 people have been killed (see 1997). Former U.S. Senator George J. Mitchell, 54 (D. Me.), has mediated 21 months of talks at Belfast's Stormont Castle Buildings, Britain's prime minister Tony Blair and Ireland's prime minister Bertie Ahern have worked with representatives of eight participating Northern Ireland political parties, disputes between Sinn Fein chief negotiator Martin McGuinness and Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble have threatened to derail the agreement, its final wording is approved after a midnight deadline, and it provides for three institutions that will seek to balance competing needs: a democratically elected assembly with a power-sharing format at Belfast; a cross-border ministerial council to link people "with executive responsibilities" in the two Irish governments, and a consultative council that will meet twice each year, bringing together representatives of the new assemblies in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales with the parliaments of Britain and Ireland. The accord wins overwhelming voter approval May 23 despite vehement opposition from longtime Ulster loyalist Rev. Ian Paisley, now 72, but violence erupts again in July as Orangemen stage marches in Catholic neighborhoods, and many Britons are outraged when former IRA member Thomas McMahon, now 50, is released August 6 along with other prisoners as part of the peace agreement (McMahon was responsible for the assassination of Lord Mountbatten in 1979). A truck bomb explodes August 15 at the town of Omagh, 55 miles west of Belfast, killing 29 Saturday afternoon shoppers and injuring more than 250 in the worst single act of terrorist violence seen in Ireland since 1969. A group calling itself the Real IRA claims responsibility (critics will accuse the police of impropriety and a bungled investigation, a Dublin court will convict a middle-aged building contractor in January 2002 but only on charges of having helped the conspirators). Prime Minister Blair becomes the first British PM to address the Irish Parliament November 26; speaking to a joint session of the Dail and the Senate, he says it is "time for the gun and the threat of the gun to be taken out of politics," the parties agree December 18 on a new governmental structure for Northern Ireland, the Protestant guerrilla group Loyalist Volunteer Force surrenders a small cache of arms December 18 in the first such move by any group, but the release December 23 of some 170 inmates on a 10-day Christmas leave from the Maze prison outside Belfast draws angry protests. All have been implicated in acts of sectarian violence, and some have been serving consecutive life sentences for murder (see 1999).
Bosnia's fragile 1995 peace accord holds under the administration of Spanish diplomat Carlos Westendorp, 61, who rules the three partitioned entities by fiat while Croatian, Muslim, and Serbian nationalists agitate against his draconian measures. As High Representative, Westendorp works to erode the partitioning and restore a measure of harmony among the country's various ethnic groups, but Serbs murder ethnic Albanians in Serbia's Kosovo Province beginning in late February in what many call a revival of "ethnic cleansing" (see 1992). By June they have killed at least 250 and driven upwards of 10,000 into Albania. The Yugoslav Army seeds the 75-mile border with land mines to prevent their return (and stop Kosovo rebels from crossing back into Kosovo over the Shkelzen Mountains). The U.S. Government joins a European ban on investments in Serbia June 8, freezes Serbian and Yugoslav assets in America, and announces that it will support a NATO action to halt the Serb attacks. NATO forces conduct large-scale military maneuvers to warn off President Milosevic, and fears rise that Albanians in Macedonia will join the Kosovo Liberation Army (see 1999).
Russia's president Boris Yeltsin dismisses his entire cabinet in late March for not moving swiftly enough on economic reforms and forces the Duma to replace Prime Minister Victor S. Chernomyrdin with former banker Sergei N. Kiryenko, 35, despite objections that Kiryenko is too young and inexperienced (he has been minister of fuel and energy). The remains of Czar Nicholas II and most of his family are buried at St. Petersburg July 17he 80th anniversary of their murder. President Yeltsin calls it "a historic day . . . By burying the remains of innocent victims, we want to atone for the sins of our ancestors . . . We all bear responsibility for the historical memory of our nation." It was 21 years ago that Yeltsin, then Communist Party boss in Sverdlovsk, issued an order that the house be razed in whose cellar the executions were carried out. Yeltsin dismisses Kiryenko in August as the nation's economy collapses and tries to restore Chernomyrdin, the Duma refuses to approve this choice, Yeltsin gains its approval in early September for former foreign minister and onetime KGB head Yevgeny M. Primikov, now 68, but the new prime minister faces a daunting economic situation. Parliamentary deputy Galina V. Starovoitova, 52, is shot to death at the entrance to her St. Petersburg apartment house November 20, shocking President Yeltsin and the entire nation. Starovoitova had been a spirited exponent of democratic values (see 1999).
Former Bulgarian leader Todor Zhivkov dies of a respiratory ailment at Sofia August 5 at age 86.
German voters reject Chancellor Helmut Kohl's bid for a fifth term in elections held September 27. Now 68, Kohl and his Christian Democratic Party lose to the more leftist Social Democrat Gerhard Schröder, 54, who has campaigned on promises to improve the world's third largest economy and address the problem of joblessness (Germany's unemployment rate is 11 percent). But Schröder's Social Democrats do not have a majority in the Bundestag and must make an alliance with the Green Party, which controls about 8 percent of that body's seats; the Greens have dogmatically opposed nuclear energy, favor raising the price of gasoline to the equivalent of $12 per gallon, and want to discourage tourism by permitting a personal airline trip only once every 5 years (see 2000).
Khmer Rouge founder Pol Pot dies in his sleep of a heart attack in northern Cambodia April 15 at age 73 as government troops and renegade guerrillas close in on him (see 1997). The international community has been pressing for his capture and trial on charges of crimes against humanity, and Washington has offered assistance April 9 in any effort to bring Pol Pot to justice. Prime Minister Hun Sen's party wins in elections July 26 amidst charges of voter fraud and intimidation, a new parliament is seated November 25, and the last few remaining Khmer Rouge fighters defect to the government December 5; former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan, now 67, and the Khmer Rouge's chief ideologue, Nuon Chea, now 71, walk into Pnomh Penh December 25 and receive an official welcome 4 days later, although Hun Sen will quickly reverse his initial announcement that the men be spared any trial.
India's new Hindu nationalist government takes power in March, having promised to make the country a nuclear power; Pakistan launches an intermediate-range ballistic missile (the Ghauri) in Kahuta April 6, Bhopal-born Pakistani metallurgist Abdul Qadeer Khan, 62, appropriated some technology while working in the Netherlands says his country now has the ability to hit 26 Indian cities, but it will turn out that Khan has been selling nuclear technology to Iran, Libya, and North Korea since 1989 (see 2003). China sold Pakistan ring magnets for gas centrifuges in 1994 and M-11 missiles in 1995, and Chinese scientists have reportedly been present at the Pakistani test site. India conducts five underground nuclear weapons tests in her western desert May 11 and 13 (one is a hydrogen bomb). Polls show that 90 percent of India's population supports the testing, but critics say the nationalists have betrayed the country's 350 million citizens who live in dire poverty. The CIA has failed to notice preparations for the Indian tests. President Clinton acts under 1994 legislation to impose economic sanctions on the country and urges Pakistan not to follow India's example, but Pakistan conducts her own nuclear tests with long-range missiles in the Baluchistan desert in late May. The two sub-continent powers have been rattling swords over Kashmir and other issues, and the prospect of a nuclear confrontation prompts not only the United States but also Japan, the World Bank, and others to cut off all but the most urgent humanitarian aid, damaging the economies of both countries. India's Congress Party regains a degree of power in important state elections November 29, ousting the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) by landslide margins in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan under the leadership of Italian-born widow Sonia Gandhi as escalating prices of onions, potatoes, and tomatoes fuel the anti-incumbent drive, but although India has always had a secular government the BJP will control the central government until the spring of 2004.
Vietnam's former Communist Party leader Nguyen Van Linh (Nguyen Van Cuc) dies at Ho Chi Minh City April 27 at age 82; former Thai prime minister Chatichai Choonhavan of liver cancer at London May 6 at age 76.
Filipino voters elect Manila-born former B-movie star Joseph "Erap" Estrada (originally Joseph Ejercito), 61, president May 11. Elected vice president in 1992, Estrada has promised to crack down on crime, fight corruption, develop agriculture, and be "president of the masses;" backed by former Ferdinand Marcos crony Eduardo Cojuangco (who has recovered his fortune), he wins nearly 40 percent of the popular vote despite lack of support from outgoing president Fidel Ramos, the business community, or the Catholic Church (see 2001).
Indonesia's president Suharto resigns May 21 and retires to his home in downtown Jakarta after a 32-year dictatorship that brought the country great prosperity before crony capitalism and corruption brought it to economic disaster; now 76 and one of the world's six richest men (his estimated net worth is about $16 billion; his family has a similar fortune), he has stepped down after weeks of demonstrations initiated by students, some 1,200 rioters have been killed, and Suharto is succeeded by Vice President B. J. (Bacharuddin Jusuf) Habibie, 61, who enjoys the support of Gen. Wiranto, 52, but many question whether the new president can revive the economy of a nation whose 210 million people are struggling to survive while Suharto supporters have grown immensely rich.
South Korea's new president Kim Dae-jung visits Washington June 9 and calls upon the U.S. Government to join him in seeking a rapprochement with North Korea by ending its 48-year-old trade sanctions against that country and taking a less confrontational approach (see Kim, 1997). North Korea officially installs Kim Jong Il, now 56, as "Great Leader" September 5, becoming the first communist country to transfer power within a family dynasty (see 1994), but the country's economy has largely collapsed as a result of energy shortages, mismanagement, and natural disasters (see 2000).
Japan's prime minister Ryutaro Hashimoto resigns July 13 following parliamentary elections in which his ruling Liberal Democratic Party lost seats in a reaction to the worst recession since World War II in what has now become the world's second largest economy. "The [election] results are attributable to my lack of ability," Hashimoto says. "We could not live up to the people's expectations, and it is all my responsibility." He is succeeded by Foreign Minister Keizo Obuchi, 61, who has a reputation for deferring crucial decisions to career bureaucrats but calls the Diet into special session to address the nation's economic woes.
Nigerian peacekeeping forces gain control of Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown, in February and oust the military junta that took power last year. More than 440,000 of Sierra Leone's people (about 10 percent of the population) have taken refuge in neighboring countries, and the legitimate government has relied for its defense on a ragtag militia of drug-using men and boys who in many cases wear mirrors on their chests in the belief that they will deflect bullets. President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah returns in triumph March 10 after 10 months in exile and declares, "We will make this a new beginning." Former junta leader Foday Sankoh is convicted of treason in October and imprisoned at a secret location (see 1999).
Ethiopia and Eritrea go to war in May after growing economic, political, and territorial tensions; Ethiopia buys tanks, Su-27 fighter jets, helicopter gunships, and missiles in the world market, Eritrea buys small arms and MiG-29 fighter planes (see 1999).
Nigerian dictator Gen. Sani Abacha dies of a heart attack at Abuja June 8 at age 54 after a brutally repressive 5-year rule in which he and his aides have stolen as much as $3 billion. His henchmen select Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar, 55, to succeed to the leadership of the oil-rich country of 115 million, Africa's most populous nation; Gen. Abubakar has no known connections to the corruption that has marked the Abacha regime and promises to return the nation to civilian rule, but Abacha's repression continues and Social Democratic Party leader Moshood Abiola, who was elected president in 1993 and has been in solitary confinement ever since, remains imprisoned. Abiola dies of an apparent heart attack July 7 at age 60 after meeting with U.S. officials at Abuja (supporters say he was poisoned and riot in the streets, as many as 20 are killed, but an autopsy by Western physicians finds no evidence of poisoning) (see 1999).
Rebellious Congolese troops seize two large eastern cities August 3 and threaten to topple the 14-month-old government of President Laurent Kabila, who has proved authoritarian and inept. Angola, Rwanda, and Uganda had supported Kabila, but have withdrawn that support as he has blocked UN efforts to investigate alleged tribal massacres. Both sides fund their operations in large part by legal and illegal sales of columbite-tantalite ore, basis of the element tantalum that was discovered in 1802 and is now widely used in capacitorshe components that maintain an electrical charge in a computer chip (tantalum has uses also in manufacturing advanced mobile phones, jet engines, night-vision goggles, and fiber optics).
Lawyer Telford Taylor of 1946 Nuremberg war crimes trial fame dies at New York May 24 at age 90; former U.S. senator (and 1964 presidential candidate) Barry Goldwater at his native Phoenix, Ariz., May 29 at age 89. Credited (or blamed) by many with having almost single-handedly set the Republican Party on its right-wing path of extremism in the 1960s, he has fought the influence of the Religious Right, saying, "Every woman has a right to an abortion" and "Every good Christian should line up and kick Jerry Falwell's ass"; former Alabama governor George Wallace dies at Montgomery September 13 at age 79; former Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley of a heart attack at West Los Angeles September 29 at age 80; Quebec separatist Pierre Vallières of heart disease at Montreal December 22 at age 60.
Guyana bans street demonstrations January 13 following weeks of protests that President Janet Jagan's victory in the December 1997 elections was obtained by fraud, some 10,000 supporters of Desmond Hoyte defy the ban January 13 and take to the streets of Georgetown, an audit team from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) releases a report June 2 concluding that the election was fair, but 25 legislators who refused to take their seats in the National Assembly after the election are expelled, rioting erupts at Georgetown beginning June 17, bombs and fires set by the rioters damage public buildings the night of June 22, and the Guyanese army is is called out June 29 to help police quell the disturbances.
Pope John Paul II makes his first visit to Cuba beginning January 21, criticizes Fidel Castro for not releasing political prisoners, but calls for a lifting of U.S. sanctions against the island nation, kindling hopes that the trade embargo will be at least modified and U.S.-Cuban relations improved. President Clinton acts in March to loosen travel and humanitarian aid restrictions to Cuba, gaining some bipartisan support. Canada's prime minister Jean Chrétien visits Cuba in April, and the United Nations votes 157 to 2 in a nonbinding October 14 referendum to end the 35-year-old U.S. embargo (only Israel joins the United States in opposition; 12 nations abstain). Election-year politics put a damper on any expectations of a major change in U.S. policy toward Cuba (see 1999).
Colombian politician Andres Pastrana Arango, 43, wins election to the presidency June 21, having discredited his predecessor 4 years ago by making public audiotapes linking him with payoffs from the Cali drug cartel. Son of the late president Misael Pastrana Borrero, the president-elect was elected to Colombia's Senate in 1991.
Venezuela moves to the left December 6 as voters elect former army lieutenant Hugo (Rafael) Chávez Frias, 44, president by an overwhelming margin. A believer in direct democracy as opposed to representative democracy, Chávez tried to stage a coup in 1992, visited Cuba 2 years later, and has made demagogic promises to win support from the poor (see 1999).
Human Rights, Social Justice
The Canadian government issues a formal apology January 7 to its 1.3 million indigenous people for 150 years of what Cree, Inuit, and other tribespeople have called paternalistic assistance and racist residential schools. Ottawa promises to establish a $245 million "healing fund" for the thousands of Aboriginal people and Métis who were taken from their homes and forced to attend the schools, where they were sometimes physically and sexually abused. Prime Minister Jean Chrétien is a former minister of Indian affairs but has not given priority to matters concerning the tribes. The apology pledges his government to "look for ways of affirming the contributions of the Métis people . . . and of reflecting Louis Riel's proper place in Canada's history" but does not revoke the treason charge against Riel, who was hanged in 1885. A landmark treaty signed August 4 at New Aiyansh, British Columbia, gives a group of West Coast tribes self-government, granting rights comparable to those enjoyed by tribes in the United States, but the treaty requires a lengthy ratification process; some Canadians object that it fundamentally alters the nation's constitution and may fuel new demands for self-government by French-speaking Québecois (see politics [Nunavut], 1999).
Lawyer and human-rights advocate Hisham Mubarak dies of a heart attack at Cairo January 12 at age 35, having recently defended hundreds of Egyptians who were rounded up in the wake of November's massacre at Luxor, where six Islamic militants shot down more than 60 tourists.
South Korea agrees April 14 to pay the equivalent of $27,000 to each of 152 women who were forced to work as slaves in Japanese Army brothels during World War II.
Chinese dissident Wang Dan is released from prison April 20 and flies to America. Now 29, he has been in custody for all but 2 years since the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989. Dissident Xu Wenli is arrested suddenly November 30 along with several colleagues on suspicion of trying to start an opposition party. Nearly 200 dissidents sign a letter protesting the arrest of Xu and of Qin Yongmin, who is seized by authorities at his home in Wuhan.
Indonesians vent their anger in May on ethnic Chinesehe usual scapegoats in times of trouble (see 1965). About 150 women are raped at Jakarta alone, mobs ransack business establishments while government troops stand by, many merchants flee for their lives, and shop windows are painted with signs reading, "Real Javan," "Muslim Pribumi" (indigenous Indonesian), and the like. Tens of thousands of Chinese demonstrate at Beijing and Hong Kong August 17 to protest the ethnic violence.
Violence Against Women in War-Network, Japan is founded by journalist Yayori Matsui (see 1976). Now 64, she has led efforts to make textbooks used in Japanese schools deal more openly with the realities of World War II.
South Korea's president Kim Dae Jung visits Japan in October, receives a forthright apology for Japan's treatment of Koreans between 1910 and 1945, and offers what amounts to absolution, but when China's president Jiang Zemin flies to Japan November 25 for a 6-day visithe first visit that any Chinese head of state has ever made to Japane does not obtain the formal, written apology that he seeks for Japanese behavior towards his people before and during World War II. Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi offers merely a traditional statement of "deep remorse" for Japan's wartime conduct.
Vice President Albert Gore stands in for President Clinton at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum at Kuala Lumpur November 16 and rebukes the Malaysian government. "Democracies have done better in coping with economic crises than nations where freedom is suppressed," he says, and calls protesters who have rallied against Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad "brave people." Mahathir has imprisoned his deputy Anwar Ibrahim on trumped-up charges of corruption and sex-related offenses.
Guatemalan Bishop Juan Gerardi Conedera, 75, is bludgeoned to death in his garage April 26 at Guatemala City days after releasing a report on atrocities in the 36-year civil war that ended in 1996. Former rebel leader Ricardo Ramírez dies of a heart attack at Guatemala City September 10 at age 67.
Police arrest former Chilean president Augusto Pinochet, now 83, at a London clinic October 16 following surgery and hold him for a hearing on a Spanish petition for his extradition to Madrid to face charges of genocide, terrorism, and torture in connection with the killings and "disappearances" of 3,178 people (see politics, 1989). Families of Pinochet's victims dance in the streets of Santiago, but the Chilean government lodges a protest at the outside interference.
Argentine human rights champion Emilio Fermin Mignone dies of cancer at Buenos Aires December 21 at age 76.
The torso of East Texas prison parolee James Byrd Jr., 49, is discovered June 7 outside the town of Jasper, and his head and arm turn up in a ditch a mile away. The area is notorious for racist feelings and Ku Klux Klan activities; police charge three men with having taken Byrd into some woods, beating him, chaining him to the back of a pickup truck, and dragging him for two miles.
The U.S. Supreme Court rules 5 to 4 June 25 that the Americans with Disabilities Act bars discrimination against people with the HIV infection that produces AIDS. The Court rules 7 to 2 June 26 that an employee need not have suffered a tangible job detriment in order to pursue a sexual harassment suit against a company, but such a suit cannot succeed if the company has an anti-harassment policy with an effective complaint procedure in place and the employee has failed unreasonably to use that procedure. Former Supreme Court justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. dies of pneumonia at his Richmond, Va., home August 25 at age 90, having retired in 1987.
A Mississippi jury of six blacks, five whites, and one Asian-American convicts former Ku Klux Klan Imperial Wizard Sam H. Bowers of murder August 21 in the 1966 firebombing that killed Hattiesburg grocer and civil-rights activist Vernon Dahmer. Now 73, Bowers is sentenced to life imprisonment.
Former civil rights leader Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture) dies of prostate cancer at Conakry, Guinea, November 15 at age 57. Coiner of the phrase black power, he has spent most of the last 30 years in Guinea advocating Pan-Africanism.
Swiss commercial banks agree August 12 to pay $1.25 billion in restitution to settle tens of thousands of claims by Holocaust survivors and their families whose assets were lost in the 1940s.
Colorado college student Matthew Shepard, 21, dies at Fort Collins October 12 after having been beaten and lashed to a Wyoming fence in what was a homophobic hate crime. The incident sparks gay rights demonstrations in cities across the country.
The Miami-Dade County Commission votes 7 to 6 December 1 to amend the county's antidiscrimination law, thereby prohibiting unequal treatment of homosexuals in housing, employment, credit and finance, and public accommodations (see 1977). Gay-rights opponent Anita Bryant, now 58, and her husband filed for bankruptcy in May of last year, 40-year-old accountant Carlos Hazday has headed the activist group Safeguarding American Values for Everyone, or SAVE Dade, and he hails the commission's decision, declaring, "It says that we've grown up. We're not perfect, we still have differences, but we're learning from our mistakes." The Christian Coalition blocked efforts to amend the ordinance last year and vows to reverse the commission's narrow decision, but the Roman Catholic archdiocese says it will not oppose the newly amended ordinance since it exempts religious organizations from compliance. Other major Florida cities and counties have non-discrimination ordinances, as do 27 counties and 136 cities nationwide.
Young women in many African nations undergo genital mutilation in traditional biennial circumcision rites, but the Sabiny Elders Association in eastern Uganda supports women who refuse to undergo the painful rite of passage and works to develop a written language for the tribe, which numbers about 130,000.
South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission issues its final report on apartheid-era atrocities October 29. Running to more than 3,500 pages, the five-volume report is critical of the African National Congress as well as of institutionalized violence on the part of government authorities.
U.S. and allied forces in Bosnia arrest Bosnian Serb Gen. Radislav Krstic December 2 on charges of genocide in connection with events during and after the fall of Srebrenica from July 11 to November 1, 1995. Krstic is the highest-ranking official to be seized thus far and the first active military officer.
Americans donate a record $175 billion to charitable, cultural, educational, medical, and philanthropic institutions.
The U.S. space shuttle Endeavor docks with Russia's Mir space station January 24, carrying the last of seven U.S. astronauts to spend time on Mir. The Discovery space shuttle docks in June, scientific equipment is removed, and Mir is abandoned later in the year after its orbit is changed to make the 120-ton space station burn up in the atmosphere after 12 years in space.
Astronaut Alan B. Shepard Jr. dies of leukemia at Monterey, Calif., July 21 at age 74. Sen. John Glenn, now 77, returns to orbit October 29 as a member of the space shuttle Discovery crew.
France's unemployment rate reaches 12.8 percent in February, its highest level since World War II. Political agitators scapegoat alien workers.
President Clinton permits U.S. firms to trade with Vietnam March 10, waiving the 1973 Jackson-Vanik Amendment rule limiting trade with communist countries that restrict emigration.
Japan's Management and Coordination Agency announces April 28 that unemployment reached a record 3.9 percent in March, up from the previous record of 3.6 percent in February and the largest monthly increase since 1968. The nation's economic problems have forced employees to dismiss workers, and those hurt worst are women and older and younger men (the unemployment rate among men aged 45 to 54 is only 2.7 percent). Figures released in June confirm that the world's second-largest economy is in its worst recession since 1974, and the value of the yen plummets to a level 43 percent below its 1995 high. The Diet completes passage October 16 of a plan to commit more than $500 billion of taxpayers' money to rescue the nation's tottering banking system and get money flowing through the crippled economy.
Russia has a financial panic May 27 as investors fear that Asia's economic problems will be duplicated in a country whose government cannot collect its taxes and whose new prime minister Sergei Kiriyenko may lack the clout to implement his proposed reforms, which include spending cuts to reduce the budget deficit. A drop in oil prices, a flight of foreign capital, and criminal siphoning off of government funds have contributed to the crisis, miners stage strikes demanding back pay, the Central Bank's reserves have dwindled, and it triples its refinancing rate to 150 percent to discourage investors from converting rubles to dollars. The ruble is effectively devalued by 34 percent August 17, Russia's nascent stock market collapses, and President Yeltsin dismisses his economic minister. A 3-year moratorium is declared on foreign-debt repayment.
Economist Julian L. Simon dies of a heart attack at his Chevy Chase, Md., home February 8 at age 65; British business tycoon Roland "Tiny" Rowland of skin cancer at London July 25 at age 80.
Britain's Royal Mint releases its first circulating £2 coin in June; U.S. vending machine makers have urged minting of $1 coins, Congress authorized such coins last year, and Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin announces in July that a new $1 coin is in the works (see 2000).
The Federal Reserve System releases new $20 bills in September. Like the $100 bills used since 1996 and the $50 bills released last year, the new notes are designed to frustrate counterfeiters, having enlarged numerals, a watermark, a color-shifting ink, and an off-center portrait (of Andrew Jackson).
The U.S. fiscal year ends September 30 with a surplus of about $70 billionhe first surplus since 1969 and the largest on records the American economy continues strong while economies of many other countries remain depressed. Republicans push for tax reductions, Democrats urge that the money be used to pay down the national debt and help put Social Security on a sounder basis.
Wall Street's Dow Jones Industrial Average closes at 9333.97 July 17, having closed at 9033.23 April 6 to cross the 9000 mark for the first time. It drops nearly 2,000 points in the 6 weeks after mid-July, falls a record 512 points August 31, and drops nearly 1,500 points more in the next 4 weeks.
The Dow roars back to set a new high of 9374.27 November 23, and closes the year at 9181.43, up from 7908.25 at the end of 1997 (the NASDAQ closes at a record 2192.70, helped in large part by gains in stocks of Internet-related companies); but while 45 percent of U.S. households are invested in the stock market (mostly through retirement plans), up from 27 percent in 1971, and although that represents an increase from 32 percent in 1989 and 37 percent in 1992, the gap between rich and poor is widening. America has 102.5 million households, up from 66.7 million in 1972, and the average household has a net worth of $358,297, up from $65,517; the median household income is $37,005 per year, up from $9,129, but 66 percent of households now have two or more earners, up from 59 percent. Most stock ownership is through mutual funds, which have net assets of $10.8 trillion, up from $1 trillion in 1972, but the U.S. savings rate has declined to 0.5 percent or less, down from 7.6 percent (although some economists argue that moneys withheld for Social Security contributions represent savings, as do the appreciated value of homes and other investments, so the 0.5 percent figure drastically understates the savings rate).
Russia's Yukos and Sibneft oil companies announce January 19 that they will merge to create AO Yuksi, displacing AO Lukoil as the nation's largest oil producer and the world's 11th largest (see 1996). Yukos chairman Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky has agreed to merge his interests with those of Boris A. Berezovsky, who gained control of Sibneft at a deep discount 3 years ago through his Logovaz group, but the $11 billion merger will be aborted in November 2003 (see Khodorkovsky, 2003).
The Riyadh Pact signed in March pledges Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Mexico to cut back production in a world awash with oil. Producing countries continue to pump 73 million barrels per day despite fall-off in demand from Asia, the glut has lowered prices, and Mexico, which is not a member of OPEC, has initiated the talks that have led to the agreement. Oil prices will double by the fall of next year and triple by early 2000.
Exxon and Mobil announce an $80 billion stock merger December 1 that they say will create the world's largest company of any kind. Oil prices have dropped to their lowest levels since 1986, and industry consolidations aim to reduce costs by eliminating thousands of jobs.
California deregulates its electric utility companies April 1, opening up a market for wholesale electricity, but the plan approved by state and federal authorities will have disastrous effects 2 years hence as energy supplies tighten and wholesale prices reach $750 per megawatt hour.
Malaysia's $2.5 billion Kuala Lumpur International Airport opens June 29 with a tropical arboretum, the world's tallest control tower, and a costly "total airport management system" that employs 434 miles of fiber-optic cable, but the system is overloaded on opening day, boarding passes have to be filled out in pen and ink, relief crews carry bags from the tarmac to baggage carriers, and flights are delayed for hours.
Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok International Airport opens July 2 on a man-made island that has required 20,000 workers and half the world's dredging fleet to create (see bridge, 1997). Designed by architect Sir Norman Foster, the airport replaces the centrally-located Kai Tak facility that opened in 1924; it has taken 6 years to build and has cost $6.3 billion, plus $13.7 billion for highways, railroads, tunnels, and bridges (it is 21 miles from town), its 45-acre terminal building is the world's largest, but Asia's financial woes have reduced demand for air travel and the new facility has major computer problems that create chaos.
A China Airlines jet crashes while trying to land at Taipei February 16, killing 203, including some on the ground; a Geneva-bound Swissair wide-bodied MD-11 takes off from New York September 2 and plunges into the Atlantic off Peggy's Cove, Newfoundland, killing all 229 aboard. A $39 million investigation will reveal that the electrical insulation in the McDonell Douglas-built plane was not fire resistant, and manufacturers will continue to use such insulation well into the 21st century, but U.S. air carriers fly 615 million passengers without a single fatality for the first time since the National Transportation Safety Board started keeping records in 1967.
Gaza International Airport opens November 24 in the Gaza Strip; an EgyptAir Airbus arrives from Cairo at 8:30 in the morning to inaugurate the new Palestinian facility.
The 109,353-ton Princess Line cruise ship Grand Princess casts off May 12 to begin a 12-day maiden voyage. Built for the Peninsular & Orient Steam Navigation Co., manned by a crew of 1,100, and able to carry 2,600 passengers, the 951-foot-long, 118-foot-wide, $450 million ship is more than twice the size of the Titanic that sank in 1912 and cannot pass through the Panama Canal. She has five swimming pools, nine hot tubs, three theaters, three large dining rooms with assigned seating, two smaller restaurants that require reservations, a 24-hour buffet, a glassed-in disco suspended over her rear deck, a library, a gym, a jogging track, and a teak deck for long walks.
Daimler-Benz and Chrysler Corp. announce at London's Dorchester Hotel May 6 that they will merge to create DaimlerChrysler in a stock swap estimated to be worth $38 billion. Daimler-Benz has 300,168 employees and revenues of $68.92 billion, Chrysler 121,000 employees and revenues of $61.15 billion (but much higher net profits). Both companies promise significant savings without layoffs. Daimler's two-seat Smart car with a plastic body is introduced in Europe October 2; priced at the equivalent of $8,500, it is the product of a joint partnership with Societé Suisse de Microelectronique et d'Horologerie, goes 100 kilometers on 4.5 liters of gasoline (about 59 miles per gallon), is intended for commuters, and is nicknamed the "Swatchmobile."
Volkswagen introduces a new model of its Beetle that is far more powerful (115 horsepower instead of the 1967 model's 53, with a top speed of 120 mph instead of 78), safe (front and side air bags), and comfortable; designed in California and assembled at Puebla, Mexico, the front-engine car goes on sale in U.S. markets in the spring and in Europe beginning November 27, scoring a great success despite its high sticker price ($15,200 and up instead of the $1,800 1967 price).
General Motors workers at a Flint, Mich., metal-stamping plant go on strike June 5 to stop GM from moving some production elsewhere and changing work rules in the inefficient plant. GM says it must achieve more productivity to remain competitive in the world marketplace, the shutdown forces GM assembly plants to close, and the dispute continues for 54 days, idling more than 200,000 workers and costing GM as much as $3 billion. Work resumes at the end of July but the main issues remain unresolved. General Motors has sales of $178 billion, up from $30 billion in 1972, but the largest selling car in America is now the Toyota Camry (429,575 of them are sold) while in 1972 it was the Chevrolet Impala.
Bullet train co-designer Hideo Shima dies of a stroke at Tokyo March 19 at age 96.
A 13-car German Inter City Express traveling at 125 miles per hour from Munich to Hamburg crashes into the concrete pillar of an overpass 35 miles north of Hanover June 3, killing more than 100 and leaving hundreds injured. It is the first fatal accident since high-speed rail service began in 1991.
The London-Heathrow Express opened by the British Airport Authority June 23 provides 100-mile-per hour train service between Heathrow and Paddington Station. Built at a cost of $770 million, the new line covers the distance in 15 minutes (taxis take 45 minutes to 1 hour), and the fare is $17 (economy) or $34 (first class), versus $59 to $68 for a taxi.
A new Paris subway line opens October 15 after 6 years of construction (see Métro, 1900). The rubber-tired Météor is the network's fully automated line, has cost $1 billion to build, and runs from the Rue de Tolbiac, near the François Mitterand Library on the Left Bank to the Madeleine stop near the church on the Right Bank, with connections to parallel Métro and RER rapid-transit lines at the Gare de Lyon and Châtelet. Traveling at 50 miles per hour (one-third faster than the city's conventional subway trains), its air-cushioned, six-car trains have no drivers or conductors and take 11 minutes, with stops, to cover the five-mile route.
Portland, Ore., inaugurates a new $963 million light-rail line in November, but the 18-mile West Side MAX line has no pedestrian tunnels or bridges, its electric trains operate at street level, and they are so quiet that pedestrian fatalities are far higher than on other U.S. light-rail lines (although fatalities on Portland's 12-year-old East Side line are far lower).
A Senate committee hearing March 3 impanels Microsoft's Bill Gates, Sun Microsystems' Scott McNealy, Netscape's James L. Barksdale, and other leading computer software moguls (see 1997). Chaired by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R. Utah), the 4-hour hearing addresses the issue of whether Microsoft is monopolizing the Internet and thus gaining a potential monopoly in an array of commercial activities (a Justice Department case is pursuing the same question). Gates's fortune reaches $46 billion in May, making him worth nearly twice as much in real dollars as John D. Rockefeller was worth at his peak but Rockefeller and some earlier business magnates had larger percentages of the national income (Gates's wealth reaches $60 billion by November and equals that of the poorer half of all Americans combined, but he has promised to give away more than 90 percent of it).
Image Pop-UpMicrosoft cofounder Bill Gates made his company's Windows operating system an almost universal computer platform.
The Justice Department and 20 state attorneys general file suit against Microsoft May 18, charging that the company has leveraged its monopoly position to shut out competitors from the Internet, but Microsoft's Windows 98 operating system goes out to computer makers that day and is in stores by June 25. A federal appeals court at Washington, D.C., strikes down a lower court's order requiring Microsoft to change the way it sells its software for navigating the Internet. The case of United States v. Microsoft begins October 19 at the Federal District Courthouse in Washington, D.C. (see 1999).
Personal computers now sell for less than $1,000 new with 333 megahertz processors, 64 million-byte memories, and 4.3 billion-byte hard-drive storage capacity (compare IBM PC of 1981). The Merced microchip under development at Intel contains more than 10 million transistors, is more than twice as fast as the 500 megahertz Pentium chip introduced in 1993, matches or exceeds the speed of reduced instruction self computing (RISC) chips in work stations and servers, can run software designed for Intel x86 chips and Hewlett-Packard RISC chips, shifts the complexity associates with parallel computing from hardware to software, but will not entirely supplant the Pentium chip for some years to come (the Pentium will be speeded up to 550 MHz by May 1999, to 600 MHz by August, to 753 by late October, 800 by late December, and 1,000 by March 2000).
Apple Computer puts its iMac on sale at $1,299 August 3 (it was introduced May 6) and receives 150,000 orders within a week (see 1997). Housed in a translucent green polycarbonate case with an integrated monitor and illuminated mouse, it attracts widespread interest and will soon be available in an assortment of colors.
Computer pioneer Thomas H. Flowers dies at his native London October 28 at age 92, having devised the Colossus computer that broke the most complex German code in World War II. He has been credited with shortening that conflict by 2 years.
Celera Genomics Corp. is founded at Rockville, Md., under the direction of former National Institutes of Health researcher J. Craig Venter, now 51 (see 1995). Perkin Elmer Corp. chief executive officer Tony Lee White, 52, agrees May 10 to form the new company, converting the traditional scientific instrument maker into Celera and PE Biosystems while selling off the instruments and even the Perkin Elmer name. Venter has been persuaded by inventor and PE Applied Biosystems president Michael Hunkapiller, 49, to use his Prism 3700 sequencing machines to sequence the human genome, a task on which the Human Genome Project has been making slow progress since 1990 and which Hunkapiler promises can move much faster and more cheaply. Biologist Hamilton O. Smith, now 66, joins Celera to prepare the libraries of cloned DNA fragments for the sequencing machines to work on; Venter hires computer scientist Eugene W. Myers to write the programs for assembling and analyzing Celera's human genome, and he hires Mark D. Adams, 35, to make sure that Smith's libraries of DNA material, Hunkapiller's sequencing machines, and clone-handling robots produce the range and quality of data needed by Myers for his genome-assembly program. Venter says Celera will complete the work of sequencing within 3 years at a cost of $200 million (see 2000).
The announcement in July that more than 50 mice, all females, have been cloned excites the scientific and medical communities because it has been achieved with a method more easily reproducible than the one used last year to clone a sheep. Japanese-born biologist Ryuzo Yanagimachi, 69, and his colleagues at the University of Hawaii, Honolulu, have earlier found that they could remove the tail from a mouse sperm and inject the sperm head into an egg and fertilize it. Now they have taken a fully developed cumulus cell (the spherical cell that surrounds an egg and nourishes it), put it inside an egg, and seen that the egg has rejuvenated cumulus cell's DNA and enabled it to direct the development of an entire mouse.
The National Human Genome Research Institute announces September 14 that it will move up its anticipated date for completion of the Human Genome Project from 2005 to 2003 (see 1993).
The November issue of the journal Nature Biotechnology reports a Harvard University team's finding that it has isolated neural stem cells from a human fetus. The November 6 issue of Science reports a study by a University of Wisconsin team: Chicago-born University of Wisconsin researcher James Thomson, 39, announces in November that he has succeeded not only in culling human stem cells from "surplus" embryos created at fertility clinics but also in keeping them alive and able to reproduce indefinitely without morphing into different tissues. Thomson has adapted techniques developed by British researchers at Cambridge, who worked with stem cells generated from mouse embryos; the Menlo Park, Calif., biotech company Genron Corp. has funded his research, but the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation owns the key patent covering embryonic stem cells.
The November 10 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports a study by a Johns Hopkins team; the first team took blastocysts (recently fertilized eggs) left over from fertility treatments and developed embryonic stem cells from their inner cell mass; the second team took aborted fetuses and used cells from their embryonic germ mass to develop stem cells, which differ from mature human cells in that they multiply indefinitely in the laboratory (both studies have been funded by Geron Corp.). Scientists believe that efforts to transplant fetal brain cells have failed because the cells were too mature to adapt to a new function, but the new findings suggest that it may be possible to inject neural stem cells into people with brain or spinal-cord injuries and revitalize damaged tissues.
Advanced Cell Technology, Inc., announces November 11 that it has fused a human cell with a cow egg to produce hybrid embryonic stem cells. President Clinton writes to the National Bioethics Advisory Commission November 14, expressing deep concern, but members of the commission meet November 17 and appear united in supporting the procedures (see 2000).
Science magazine publishes a paper December 11 by Japanese scientists at Kinki University in Nara announcing that they have cloned eight identical calves from cells collected at a slaughterhouse, and although half of them have died the work by Yukio Tsunoda and his team suggests to some biologists that cloning cows may be at least as efficient as in vitro fertilization.
St. Louis physician Robert H. Waterston, 54, of Washington University and English biologist John E. Sulston, 56, report in December that they have decoded the genome of the C. elegans worm after a 10-year effort that has involved tracing every cell from the single cell of the egg to the 959 cells of the adult worm. Sulston directs the Sanger Center near Cambridge, the major partner of the U.S. National Institutes of Health Human Genome Project, his center is financed by the Wellcome Trust, the worm's genome is the first animal genome to be decoded, and the two scientists release their genome free each night to researchers worldwide over the Internet.
A team led by paleontologist Ronald Clark of Johannesburg's University of Witwatersrand announces in the December 9 issue of the South African Journal of Science that it has discovered a nearly intact skeleton in a cave at Sterkfontein which it believes to be a member of the genus Australopithecus (see 1995). Estimated to be between 3.2 and 3.6 million years old, it is one of the oldest such remains ever found and the first in which a skull could be matched with limbs.
Nobel chemist Kenichi Fukui dies of cancerous peritonitis at Kyoto January 9 at age 79; Nobel chemist Sir Derek H. Barton of a heart attack at College Station, Texas, March 16 at age 79; mathematician André Weil at Princeton, N.J., August 6 at age 92; Nobel physicist and neutrino discoverer Frederick Reines at Orange, Calif., August 26 at age 80; Nobel physiologist Alan Lloyd Hodgkin at Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, December 20 at age 84; nuclear physicist Raemer E. Schreiber at his Los Alamos, N.M., home December 24 at age 88.
National Insitutes of Health director Harold Varmus announces in early April that the drug tamoxifen can treat breast cancer and prevent it, with no serious side effects among women under age 50. Genentech announces May 17 that its drug Heceptin slows the progression of breast cancer; it is the first evidence that gene-based treatment can be successful against the disease. The July 17 issue of Nature magazine reports a study suggesting that the anticancer agent angiostatin may increase the sensititivity to radiation of the blood vessels that supply tumors (the angiogenesis inhibitors angiostatin and endostatin were discovered in the Children's Hospital, Boston, laboratory of Judah Folkman, who describes enhanced effects of radiation in treating human tumors grafted into mice; other scientists cannot replicate his findings).
The drug Viagra (sildenafil) introduced by Pfizer in April for penile erectile dysfunction quickly becomes the most widely prescribed drug of any kind on the market, despite its high cost ($10 per pill). It was originally developed for angina pain but users found it had other effects. Some leading health maintenance organizations refuse to cover use of it.
U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher warns April 27 that smoking is on the rise among minorities, especially among black teenagers. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals at Richmond, Va., rules 2 to 1 August 14 that the Food and Drug Administration has no authority to regulate cigarettes or smokeless tobacco.
The 12th World AIDS Conference attracts more than 13,000 in late June to Geneva, where it is reported that some people have recently been infected with an HIV virus that is resistant to some of the powerful combination drug therapies developed in the past 2 years; that 30 million people, 21 million of them in Africa, now have the virus; and that in some parts of the world, most notably in certain African countries, one of every four adults is infected, making the epidemic among the worst in human history. Infection rates continue to rise, especially in developing countries where 800 million people have no access to clean water, much less to basic health care, primary-school education, reproductive health and family planning, proper nutrition, or sanitation facilities. The World Health Organization begins in July to discourage breast feeding in order to limit transmission of the HIV virus to infants, but women in much of the world cannot afford infant formula, have no access to pure water, and have little choice but to breast feed.
Science magazine reports July 17 that U.S. biologists have deciphered the genetic code of the syphilis microbe, raising hopes for a vaccine. Incidence of syphilis in the United States has fallen 84 percent since 1991 and reached its lowest level since 1941, when nationwide reporting began, but continues to have a disproportionate incidence among blacks and Southern whites. Health researchers ascribe the decline to partner notification and counseling, AIDS prevention programs, and a fall-off in crack cocaine use.
The Food and Drug Administration gives approval July 17 to the use of thalidomide for treating leprosy (see 1962). An Israeli physician noticed in the mid-1960s that when leprosy patients were given the drug to help them sleep their skin lesions disappeared almost overnight.
A World Health Organization survey finds that drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis have proliferated worldwide and can be found in 35 countries, including many industrial countries; in some places the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacillus is becoming inherently more virulent.
The $1.8 billion Melinda and William H. Gates Foundation announces in early December that it will give the Seattle-based non-profit Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) $100 million to speed the delivery of vaccines against four childhood intestinal, liver, and respiratory diseases that account for 2.5 million deaths per year in developing countries. Set up to improve the health of women and children in the United States and abroad, PATH received $750,000 from the Gates Foundation in 1995 and earlier this year received $2.1 million to support family planning and related activities.
Nobel biochemist George H. Hitchings dies at Chapel Hill, N.C., February 27 at age 92, and it is estimated that his medical discoveries have saved more than 1 million lives; soft contact lens inventor Otto Wichterle dies at his summer home in the Czech Republic August 18 at age 84; medical pioneer Robert Huebner of pneumonia at Coatesville, Pa., August 26 at age 84 (he has had Alzheimer's disease since 1982); organ transplant pioneer Vladimir P. Demikhov dies at Moscow November 22 at age 82; biochemist Martin Rodbell of cardiovascular disease at Chapel Hill, N.C., December 7 at age 73; nuclear and organic chemist Alfred P. Wolf at Port Jefferson, N.Y., December 17 at age 75, having done work that led to the development of positron emission tomography and other advances in medical imaging.
More than 100 Muslim pilgrims and possibly more than 150 are killed in a stampede at Mina, three miles from Mecca, April 9 as they rush to fulfill a religious duty known as "stoning the devil" on the final day of the hajj (see 1997). Tens of thousands have gathered in heat above 100° and most of the victims are elderly people from Indonesia and Malaysia.
The Southern Baptist Convention at Salt Lake City amends its essential statement of beliefs June 9 to include a declaration saying, "The husband and wife are of equal worth before God . . . [but] A Wife is to submit graciously to her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ." The denomination claims nearly 16 million members and is the largest Protestant denomination in America, but no Baptist is required to agree with the belief statement or its amendments.
The 133-year-old Salvation Army holds only 2,900 street meetings in U.S. cities, down from 100,000 in 1887, as it directs its $1.7 billion annual budget to disaster relief, camps for underprivileged children, treatment for alcoholics, and shelters for the homeless.
The Vatican announces June 25 that it will sign a declaration with most of the world's Lutherans affirming that Roman Catholics and Lutherans share a basic understanding of how people receive God's forgiveness and salvation, but the declaration, approved the previous week by the Lutheran World Federation, acknowledges that serious differences remain over the issue of whether "justification" (the action by which a person is made worthy of salvation) comes solely through faith in God, as Martin Luther said, or whether good works play a role.
The papal encyclical Faith and Reason (Fides et Ratio) issued by Pope John Paul II October 15 denounces the "fateful separation" of faith and reason in modern times and sets forth a Christian alternative to post-Enlightenment rationalism, Marxism, and "postmodern" nihilism. "At the end of this century," says the pope, "one of the greatest threats is the temptation to despair."
California voters approve Proposition 227 eliminating bilingual education in public schools. Parents are still able to obtain waivers permitting them to opt for such education, but within 2 years at least 90 percent of classes will be taught only in English, and although results will be acclaimed as proving the wisdom of the voters there will be suggestions that smaller classes, more money, and a stronger phonics program contributed to higher test scores.
Israel Television stirs controversy with Tkuma (Rebirth), a 22-part documentary series that challenges Zionist traditions (and myths) about the nation's founding by heroes who created a vibrant society out of a wasteland. Produced by Israel Broadcasting Authority to mark the country's 50th anniversary, it is sympathetic to the Palestinians; critics say it glorifies the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), supporters insist that the country is now mature enough to face with honesty its history, which includes massacres and indiscriminate killing of Arab civilians by Israeli forces.
The International Telecommunications Union at Geneva adopts a universal standard for 56,000 bits-per-second (56 kbps, or 56K) computer modems, ending the incompatibility between modems that has impeded Internet service providers. U.S. Robotics has developed one type of 56K modem and was acquired last year by 3 Com Corp. Modem pioneer Hayes Corp. files for bankruptcy in October. Conventional analog computer modems still account for 90 percent of the market, telephone, and cable television companies introduce high-speed digital subscriber lines and cable modems for faster Internet-access service in more cities even as the 56K modem becomes standard, and some providers promise speeds up to 125 times faster than 56K; Compaq, Intel, and Microsoft have announced plans in January to develop open standards for digital subscriber lines.
Netscape announces January 22 that it will give away its Internet browser as Microsoft has done and distribute its underlying software code (see 1997); Attorney General Janet Reno and 29 state attorneys general file an antitrust suit against Microsoft May 18, focusing on its practices in the Internet market.
Google Inc. opens September 7 in a Menlo Park, Calif., garage with three employees and $1 million in capital that includes $100,000 invested by Sun Microsystems cofounder Andy Bechtolsheim. Stanford University graduate students Lawrence "Larry" Page, 25, and his Russian-born colleague Sergey Brin, 24, have devised a search algorithm based on a patented page-ranking system for Web pages developed by Cornell University computer scientist Jon Kleinberg (it subordinates pornography sites by using "link analysis" to feature more pertinent sites), maxed out their credit cards to buy a terabyte of memory disks on the cheap, and written up a business plan to attract potential licensees (see InfoSeek, Ask Jeeves, 1996). Encouraged to start their own company, they have come up with a name based on the word googol (coined in 1938 by the 9-year-old nephew of the late U.S. mathematician Edward Kasner) to mean an essentially infinite number represented by a 1 followed by 100 zeros. They use technology licensed from Stanford, their uncluttered search-engine Web site accepts no banner ads or display ads (see Yahoo!, 1994), and Google will soon be a leader in the Internet search-engine industry.
Image Pop-UpA new Internet search-engine company with a funny name was soon receiving far more "hits" than any competitor.
Internet pioneer Jonathan B. Postel dies while undergoing heart surgery at Santa Monica October 16 at age 55.
America Online (AOL) agrees November 24 to acquire Netscape in a stock swap valued at $10 billion, giving it new power in the contest with Microsoft over dominance on the Internet (it will make a deal with Microsoft to have Windows 95 include AOL access while letting Microsoft have Explorer as its primary Web browser). The AOL-Netscape agreement includes an alliance with Sun Microsystems, which will integrate its Java computer language into the Netscape Navigator browser and use Navigator features in its own Java-based Internet Web browser HotJava (Sun has paid about $160 million in July to acquire NetDynamics, whose software allows companies to create Web-based services) (see 1999).
Telecommunications and personal computer technology leaders announce May 20 that they have joined to develop and deliver a new wireless communications standard that will permit cellular telephones and other mobile devices produced by Ericsson, IBM, Intel, Nokia, and Toshiba to connect, enabling users to communicate via various mobile devices in and out of the office without the need for cables (see 1983). Countries in Europe and many other parts of the world have long since settled on a single standard (GSM) for wireless phones, while in America such phones must be made in three varieties; three sets of transmission towers must be built, and large cellular-phone carriers continue to stifle innovation.
The PanAmSat Galaxy IV commercial satellite suffers a computer failure at 6:13 (Eastern Daylight Time) in the evening May 19 and rotates out of position, disrupting U.S. services that range from electronic pagers, gas stations, automatic teller machines, National Public Radio broadcasts, and some small TV station operations. The failure demonstrates how dependent many have become on communications satellites.
Sony introduces its high-definition television (HDTV) sets into the United States, where HDTV broadcasting begins November 1, but although 42 stations transmit the first digital images only a few hundred people are able to view them. Receivers cost upwards of $5,000 and are not widely available (8 million American households receive TV from satellite broadcasters via digital transmission and watch the signals on conventional analog screens).
The Teheran newspaper Jameyah begins publication in February and attracts a large circulation by criticizing President Mohammed Khatami's right-wing opponents, but authorities shut it down July 23 when an appeals court upholds a June ruling that some of its articles were false and defamatory.
U.S. newspapers and other media devote so much space and time to the White House scandal involving the president and Monica Lewinsky that more significant news is often relegated to back pages or ignored.
The New Republic magazine dismisses 25-year-old associate editor Stephen Glass May 8, alleging that he fabricated an article that has appeared in its May 18 issue describing a Bethesda, Md., teenager whom he claimed had been hired by a high-tech company after he penetrated its computer security system (see Janet Cook, 1981).
The Boston Globe announces June 18 that its 42-year-old columnist Patricia Smith has resigned; she has admitted in her final column that "from time to time" she has "attributed quotes to people who didn't exist" in order to "slam home a salient point." The Globe announces August 19 that its Fitchburg, Mass.-born columnist Michael "Mike" Barnicle, 53, has resigned in a dispute over his use without attribution of one-liners by George Carlin andore seriouslyllegations that he fabricated a story about two boys, one black and the other white, who he said had become friends while simultaneously undergoing cancer treatment at Children's Hospital, Boston (fact checkers looked at hospital records and found no evidence that the boys had ever been there). Globe staffers have complained that the management fired Smith (who is black) but not Barnicle (who is white), and management has reacted. Barnicle worked in politics for Ted Kennedy, George McGovern, and Sargent Shriver before turning to journalism late in 1972, has appeared on TV since 1983, become a favorite with Globe readers, and says he has better things to do than retrace his sources on pieces he has written since 1981. He will later move to the New York Daily News (see Jayson Blair, 2003).
More magazine begins publication at Des Moines in September as Meredith Publishing Co. adds a book aimed at women over 40 to its Better Homes & Gardens and Ladies' Home Journal stable.
Cartoonist Reg Smythe dies of cancer at Hartlepool in northern England June 13 at age 81. He has been faxing his 41-year-old "Andy Capp" cartoon strip to London almost to the end; cartoonist Bob Kane of "Batman" fame at Los Angeles November 3 at age 83.
A new British Library opens near London's St. Pancras Station (see 1997). Ground was broken for the structure in 1982, quarrels among government agencies have delayed construction, and the $800 million building designed by architect Sir Colin St. John Wilson is widely criticized as ordinary at best.
The online company Alibris is founded at Emeryville, Calif., with a warehouse at Sparks, Nev., to sell used and out-of-print books worlwide on the Internet in competition with the Victoria, B.C., company Advanced Book Exchange (ABE) which charges book sellers a monthly fee to list its titles, leaving it up to the sellers to fill orders.
Nonfiction: Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge by Edward O. Wilson, who appeals for a reunion of hard science and the humanities; The Warrior's Honor: Ethnic War and the Modern Conscience and Isaiah Berlin: A Life by Michael Ignatieff; The Pity of War: Explaining World War One and The World's Banker: The History of the House of Rothschild by Niall Ferguson (the second volume of his two-volume Rothschild family history will appear next year); All Too Human: A Political Education by former White House aide George Stephanopoulos; You Got to Dance with Them What Brung You: Politics in the Clinton Years by Molly Ivins; Scorpion Tongues: The Irresistible History of Gossip in American Politics by Cincinnati-born New York journalist Gail Collins (née Gleason), 53, who joined the editorial board of the New York Times in 1995 and will become editorial-page head in 2001; High Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Case Against Bill Clinton by New Canaan, Conn.-born journalist Ann Coulter, 36, who was fired last year from her position as an MSNBC commentator. Daughter of a lawyer who specialized in helping clients keep their employees from joining unions, Coulter has worked for right-wing publishing magnate Richard Mellon Scaife in a project aimed at undermining President Clinton; Civility: Manners, Morals, and the Etiquette of Democracy and The Dissent of the Governed: A Meditation on Law, Religion, and Loyalty by Stephen L. Carter; An American Odyssey from the Inner City to the Ivy League by Kingston, N.Y.-born Wall Street Journal reporter Ron (Ronald Steven) Suskind, 38; A Dream Deferred: The Second Betrayal of Black Freedom in America by Shelby Steele; The Children by David Halberstam is about the civil rights struggle in Mississippi in the 1960s; Secrecy by Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who suggests that excessive secrecy beginning in World War I may have led to such things as McCarthyism; We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families by New Yorker magazine writer Philip Gourevitch is about the 1994 genocide in Rwanda; Who Speaks for America? Why Democracy Matters in Foreign Policy by Eric Alterman; Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human by Harold Bloom; Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. by Ron Chernow; Team Rodent: How Disney Devours the World by novelist Carl Hiaasen; Meditations from a Movable Chair (essays) by novelist-short story writer Andre Dubus, now 62, who stopped his car to help a stranded motorist 12 years ago, was struck by a passing car, and has been confined to a wheelchair ever since; A Pirate Looks at Fifty by Jimmy Buffet, now 51.
Historian Sir Harry Hinsley dies at Cambridge February 16 at age 79; author Ernst Jünger at Wilflingen, Germany, February 17 at age 102; Nobel economist-author Theodore W. Schultz at Evanston, Ill., February 26 at age 95; historian Henry Steele Commager at Amherst, Mass., March 2 at age 95; author Cary Reich at New York March 3 at age 48; anthropologist-author Carlos Castaneda of liver cancer at his Los Angeles home April 27 at age 72 (approximate); former Black Panther leader and author Eldridge Cleaver at Pomona, Calif., May 1 at age 62; critic Martin Seymour-Smith of a heart attack at his East Sussex home July 1 at age 70; author-animal rights advocate Cleveland Amory at his New York apartment October 14 at age 81; Quebec separatist writer Pierre Vallières at his native Montreal December 22 at age 60.
Fiction: The Elementary Particles (Les Particules Elémentaires) by Michel Houellebecq; The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto by Mario Vargas Llosa; Identity by Milan Kundera; Charming Billy by Alice McDermott; A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe; I Married a Communist by Philip Roth; Bech at Bay: A Quasi-Novel by John Updike; White Teeth: A Novel by English novelist Zadie (originally Sadie) Smith, 22; Falling Slowly by Anita Brookner; Cloudsplitter by Russell Banks; Damascus Gate by Robert Stone; The Hours by Michael Cunningham; The Magician's Wife by Brian Moore; England, England by Julian Barnes; Paradise by Toni Morrison; The Antelope Wife by Louise Erdrich, whose husband and longtime collaborator, Michael Dorris, committed suicide last year; Le Mariage by Diane Johnson; Cities of the Plain by Cormac McCarthy completes the "Border Trilogy" that he began with All the Pretty Horses in 1992; Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen; The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton by Jane Smiley; A Patchwork Planet by Anne Tyler; A Certain Justice: An Adam Dalgleish Mystery by P. D. James, now 77.
Novelist Walter D. Edmonds dies at his Concord, Mass., home January 24 at age 94; Lawrence Sanders at his Pompano Beach, Fla., home February 7 at age 78; Halldor Laxness at Reykjavik February 8 at age 95; Wright Morris at Mill Valley, Calif., April 28 at age 88; John Hawkes of a stroke at Providence, R.I., May 15 at age 72; Wolf Mankowitz of cancer in County Cork, Ireland, May 20 at age 73; Catherine Cookson at her home in a suburb of her native Newcastle-on-Tyne June 11 at age 91 (her books have earned her a fortune estimated at $23 million); Julian Green dies at his native Paris August 13 at age 97; Dorothy West at Boston August 16 at age 91; Allen Drury of cardiac arrest at San Francisco September 2 at age 80; Robert Lewis Taylor at his Southbury, Conn., home September 30 at age 88; novelist-playwright Jerome Weidman at his New York home October 6 at age 85; Eric Ambler at his London home October 22 at age 89; Rumer Godden at her Dumfrieshire, Scotland, home November 8 at age 90; poet-novelist Margaret Walker (Alexander) of cancer at Chicago November 30 at age 83; novelist William Gaddis of prostate cancer at his East Hampton, N.Y., home December 16 at age 75.
Poetry: The Bounty by Derek Walcott; Elegy by the late Larry Levis; Handwriting: Poems by Michael Ondaatje; Picnic, Lightning by Billy Collins; City of a Hundred Fires by Madrid-born Connecticut poet Richard Blanco, 30; Rembrandt Would Have Loved You by Ruth Padel.
Poet-novelist-critic Alain Bosquet dies of cancer at Paris March 17 at age 78; man of letters and 1990 Nobelist Octavio Paz at Mexico City April 20 at age 84. He is given a state funeral, and President Zedillo says he was a "universal Mexican"; poet-biographer John Malcolm Brinnin dies at his Key West, Fla., home June 26 at age 81; poet Zbigniew Herbert at Warsaw July 28 at age 73; Britain's poet laureate Ted Hughes of cancer at his North Tawton, Devonshire, home October 28 at age 68 (poet-critic Andrew Motion, 47, will be named to replace Hughes next May).
Juvenile: Holes by Louis Sachar; Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling; The King of Dragons by Carol Fenner; No, David and A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon; Stop Those Pants! and The Wild Boy (about the French savage of Aveyron) by Mordichai Gerstein.
Art dealer Frank Lloyd dies at his home at Nassau in the Bahamas April 7 at age 90; archivist Otto L. Bettmann at Boca Raton, Fla., May 1 at age 94, having sold his collection of 5 million cartoons, photographs, posters, prints, and woodcuts in 1981.
The Crazy Horse Memorial dedicated June 3 in South Dakota depicts the Oglala Sioux leader Tashunca-Uitco, who was killed by his captors in 1877. Still incomplete, the world's largest sculpture rises 563 feet high and 641 feet long.
Zürich has a "cow parade" with artists of all kinds painting and otherwise decorating 800 fiberglass cows that are then put in place throughout the city. A Chicago shoe salesman sees the cows, his city will display 340 such cows next year, and New York will follow suit in 2000 with 500 cows (Stamford, Conn., and West Orange, N.J., will also have cow parades).
The Tarot Garden designed by sculptor Niki de Saint Phalle opens in southwestern Tuscany on acreage donated by her rich friends. Now 67, de Saint Phalle has worked for 20 years on the project, whose 22 large sculptures are based on fortune-telling Tarot cards; she has financed it in part through the sale of an eponymous perfume she created for the Jacqueline Cochrane company. Sculptor César (César Baldaccini) dies of cancer at Paris December 6 at age 77.
Theater: The Judas Kiss by David Hare 3/19 at London's Almeida Theatre, with Liam Neeson as Oscar Wilde, Tom Hollander as Lord Alfred Douglas; Our Lady of Sligo by Sebastian Barry 4/9 at London's Royal National Theater, Cottesloe (and later at Dublin's Abbey Theater) with Sinéad Cusack, Catherine Cusack; Copenhagen by Michael Frayn 5/28 at London's Royal National Theatre, Cottesloe, with Matthew Marsh as Werner Heisenberg, David Burke as Niels Bohr (who had a mysterious meeting in 1941), Sara Kestelman as Bohr's wife, Margrethe; Side Man by New York-born playwright Warren Leight, 41, 6/15 at New York's Criterion Center Theater (to John Golden Theater 10/20), 517 perfs.; Corpus Christi by Terence McNally 10/13 at New York's off-Broadway Manhattan Theater Club in the City Center, with Anson Mount, Sean Dugan, Christopher Fitzgerald (the play arouses protest by portraying Jesus and his apostles as modern-day gay men in Corpus Christi, Texas); Killer Joe by Tulsa-born Chicago playwright Tracy Letts, 33, 10/18 at New York's off-Broadway SoHo Playhouse, with Scott Glenn, Amanda Plummer, Mike Shannon; The Old Settler by Brooklyn-born Philadelphia actor-playwright John Henry Redwood, 55, 10/28 at New York's off-Broadway Premier Stages, with Leslie Uggams, Lynda Gravatt.
Actress Dorothy Stickney dies at New York June 2 at age 101; actor Michael Denison of cancer at his Amersham, Buckinghamshire, home July 22 at age 82; Ice Follies founder Eddie Shipstad at his Los Angeles home August 20 at age 91; playwright Robert Marasco of lung cancer at Manhasset, N.Y., December 6 at age 62.
Television: Dawson's Creek 1/20 on Warner Brothers, with James Van der Beek, Katie Holmes, Michelle Williams, Joshua Jackson in a series about sex-obsessed teenagers in a Cape Cod town (to 5/14/2003); Teletubbies debuts on Public Television with soft, bouncy, multi-colored figures in an eerie green world with films repeated immediately after being shown to captivate toddler audiences; The Jerry Springer Show overtakes Oprah Winfrey in February as daytime audiences tune in to watch onetime Cincinnati mayor-turned-talk show host Springer, 54, stage spectacular brawls with cursing, nudity and other displays. Having lost office because he was found to have given a check to a prostitute, Springer started a local show in 1991, it has been syndicated nationwide, and USA Networks Studios executives have allowed things to air that would earlier have been deleted by editors; Ballykissangel 3/1 on BBC with Niall Tobin as Father Frank MacAnally, Deirdre Donnelly (to 4/5/2001); Bob and Margaret 6/22 on the cable channel Comedy Central (and in the fall on Canadian and British TV). Created by British producer Alison Snowden, 40, and her Canadian-born husband, David Fine, 37, the animated show is based on a 12-minute film they made in 1995 and features a middle-aged British urban professional couple; The Hughleys 9/22 on ABC with standup comedian D. L. Hughley, Elise Neal (to 5/20/2002); Encore! Encore! 9/22 on NBC with Nathan Lane as an opera star who returns home to California (to 1/27/1999); Martial Law 9/26 on CBS with Hong Kong film director and martial arts expert Sammo Hung, 44 (to 5/13/2000); Will and Grace 9/28 on NBC with Eric McCormack as Will Truman, Debra Messing as Grace Adler, Sean Hayes as Jack McFarland, Megan Mullally as Karen Walker; King of Queens 9/28 on CBS with Kevin James, Leah Remini, Jerry Stiller, Larry Romano; Felicity 9/29 on WB with former Mouseketeer Keri Russell, now 22, as a California teenager who comes to New York as NYU college freshman Felicity Porter, Julie Emrick, 26, as Amy Jo Johnson, Scott Speedman as Ben Covington, Scott Foley as Noel Crane (to 5/22/2002); Charmed 10/7 of WB with Shannon Doherty, Holly Marie Combs, Alyssa Milano as sisters who find they have "supernatural" powers that they must use to fight "evil."
Former TV actor Jack Lord dies at Honolulu January 21 at age 77; TV comedian Phil Hartman is shot dead at age 49 May 28 at his Encino, Calif., home by his wife, Brynn, 40, who then turns the gun on herself; Howdy Doody creator Buffalo Bob Smith dies of cancer at Flat Rock, N.C., July 30 at age 80; puppeteer Shari Lewis of uterine cancer at Los Angeles August 2 at age 65; comedian Flip Wilson of liver cancer at his Malibu home November 25 at age 64; TV and film impresario Lew Grade at London December 13 at age 91, having worked 10-hour days and smoked seven Monte Cristo cigars per day as recently as November.
Films: Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan with Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore; John Madden's Shakespeare in Love with Joseph Fiennes, Gwyneth Paltrow, Judi Dench. Also: Paul Schrader's Affliction with Nick Nolte, Sissy Spacek, James Coburn, Willem Dafoe; Warren Beatty's Bulworth with Beatty, Halle Berry, Oliver Platt; Neil Jordan's The Butcher Boy with Eamonn Owens; Steve Zaillian's A Civil Action with John Travolta, Robert Duvall; Walter Salles's Central Station (Central do Brasil) with Fernanda Montenegro, Vinicius de Oliveira; Henry Jaglom's Déja Vu with Stephen Dillane, Victoria Foyt, Vanessa Redgrave; Indian director Shakhar Kapur's Elizabeth with Judi Dench, Joseph Fiennes; John Boorman's The General with Brendan Gleeson (as the late Irish thief Martin Cahill), Maria Doyle Kennedy, Angeline Ball; Todd Solondz's Happiness with Justin Elvin, Dylan Baker; Robert Benigni's Life Is Beautiful (La Vita è Bella) with Italian clown Benigni, 45, Nicoletta Braschi; Pedro Almodóvar's Live Flesh (Carne Trémula) with Liberto Rabal, Francesca Neri, Angela Molina; Adrian Lyne's Lolita with Jeremy Irons (as Humbert Humbert), Dominique Swain; Don Roos's The Opposite of Sex with Christina Ricci; Steven Soderbergh's Out of Sight with Jennifer Lopez, George Clooney; Sam Raimi's A Simple Plan with Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton; Peter Howitt's Sliding Doors with Gwyneth Paltrow, John Hannah; Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line with Sean Penn; Robert Towne's Without Limits with Billy Crudup as long-distance runner Steve Prefontaine, Donald Sutherland as his coach.
Actress Maureen O'Sullivan dies at Scottsdale, Ariz., June 23 at age 87; Robert Young at his home in a Los Angeles suburb July 21 at age 91; Eva Bartok of heart disease at London August 1 at age 72; E. G. Marshall at his Bedford, N.Y., home August 24 at age 84; director Akira Kurosawa of a stroke at his Tokyo home September 6 at age 88; actor Marius Goring of cancer at his West Sussex home September 30 at age 86; Roddy McDowall of cancer at his Los Angeles home October 3 at age 70; actor Jean Marais at Cannes November 8 at age 84; Valerie Hobson of a heart attack at London November 13 at age 81; Edwige Feuillère at Paris November 13 at age 91; director Alan J. Pakula in a freak accident on the Long Island Expressway at Melville November 19 at age 70; actor-director Don Taylor of heart failure at Los Angeles December 29 at age 78.
Film musicals: Brenda Chapman, Steve Hickner, and Simon Wells's Prince of Egypt (animated) with music by Hans Zimmer, songs by Stephen Schwartz (the first product of the 4-year-old DreamWorks); Todd Haynes's Velvet Goldmine with Ewen McGregor, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Toni Collette, soundtrack by Roxy Music, T. Rex, Brian Eno, Iggy Pop.
Singer-actress Alice Faye dies at Rancho Mirage, Calif., May 9 at age 84.
Broadway musicals: Ragtime 1/18 at New York's new Ford Center for the Performing Arts with Brian Stokes Mitchell as Coalhouse Walker, Audra McDonald, Peter Friedman, book by Terence McNally, music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, 834 perfs.; Capeman 1/29 at the Marquis Theater, with Ruben Blades, Marc Anthony, Ednita Nazario, music by Paul Simon, book by Simon and poet Derek Walcott based on a 1959 murder in Manhattan's Latino community, 68 perfs. (after 59 previews); Parade 12/16 at the Vivian Beaumont Theater, with Brent Carver as Leo Frank, Carolee Carmelo as his wife, music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, book by Alfred Uhry based on the anti-Semitic 1915 Georgia lynching, 85 perfs.
Fort Worth, Texas, hails the opening May 8 of the Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Performance Hall with performances by pianist Van Cliburn, soprano Frederica von Stade, and comedienne Carol Burnett. Designed by Washington, D.C., and Fort Worth architect David M. Schwartz, the 2,804-seat downtown hall has a design evocative of an earlier architectural era.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra Chorus founder and conductor Margaret Hillis dies at Evanston, Ill., February 4 at age 76; baritone Todd Duncan at Washington, D.C., February 28 at age 95; soprano Leonie Rysanek of bone cancer at her native Vienna March 7 at age 71; baritone Hermann Prey of a heart attack at Munich July 21 at age 69.
Seattle's $118.1 million Benaroya Hall opens at 200 University Street September 12he city's first space designed specifically for concert performances (the regular season begins September 24). Named for real estate developer Jack Benaroya and his wife, who provided $15 million in seed money 5 years ago, it has been designed by Mark Reddington of LMN Architects, occupies an entire city block, and has a 2,500-seat main auditorium and a 540-seat recital hall.
Ballerina Galina Ulanova dies at Moscow March 21 at age 88; choreographer Jerome Robbins following a stroke at New York July 29 at age 79; ballerina Svetlana Beriosova of the Royal Ballet of cancer at London November 11 at age 66; former dancer and Ballet Theater cofounder Vladimir Dokoudovsky of heart failure at New York December 2 at age 79.
"Suzuki Method" violin teacher Shinichi Suzuki dies of a heart attack at Matsumoto, Japan, January 26 at age 99; atonal composer Mel Powell of liver cancer at his Sherman Oaks, Calif., home April 24 at age 75.
Popular songs: ...Baby One More Time (CD) by Kentwood, La.-born singer Britney Spears, 16, whose navel-baring appearances will earn her a fortune; The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (CD) by former Fugees vocalist Hill; Gershwin's World (CD) by Herbie Hancock, now 58; Adore (CD) by The Smashing Pumpkins; Taming the Tiger (CD) by Joni Mitchell, now 54; Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (CD) by Lake Charles, La.-born rock, folk, and country music singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams, 45, includes the single "Still I Long for Your Kiss;" "Sweetest Thing" by U2; Mr. Love Pants (CD) by the British punk rock group The Blockheads, whose vocalist Ian Drury is terminally ill with cancer but tours nevertheless to promote the album; My Love Is Your Love (CD) by Whitney Houston; No Exit (CD) by the newly revived 1970s "New Wave" rock group Blondie includes the hit single "Maria"; Dizzy Up the Girl by the Goo Goo Dolls includes the singles "Iris" and "Slide;" Soul's Core (CD) by Georgia singer-songwriter Shawn Mullins, 29, includes the hit single "Lullaby"; Devil Without a Cause (CD) by Michigan-born Detroit rap artist Kid Rock (Robert Ritchie), 27, who combines rap with rock and country music; Aquemini (CD) by the rap duo OutKast includes the single "Rosa Parks".
Songwriter (and Congressman) Sonny Bono is killed in a skiing accident at South Lake Tahoe, Calif., January 6 at age 62; guitarist-songwriter-rockabilly singer Carl Perkins dies at Jackson, Tenn., January 19 at age 65; Beach Boys cofounder Carl Wilson of lung cancer at Los Angeles February 6 at age 51; songwriter Bob Merrill of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at Beverly Hills February 17 at age 77; country singer banjo player Louis Marshall "Grandpa" Jones at Nashville February 19 at age 84; country singer Tammy Wynette of an aneurism at her Nashville home April 6 at age 55; singer-songwriter Linda Eastman McCartney of breast and liver cancer at the McCartneys' Tucson, Ariz., ranch April 17 at age 56; Frank Sinatra of a heart attack at Los Angeles May 14 at age 82; Brazilian country music star Leandro (José Luiz Costa) of thoracic cancer at São Paulo June 23 at age 36; singing cowboy Roy Rogers of congestive heart failure at his Apple Valley ranch near Victorville, Calif., July 6 at age 86; folksinger-songwriter Jimmy Driftwood (James Corbett Morris) at Fayetteville, Ark., in his native Ozarks July 12 at age 91.
Singer-songwriter Charles Trenet dazzles an audience of 20,000 at Switzerland's Nyon Festival July 25. Now 85, he invites them to join him in singing "La Mer," "Y'a d'la joie," and other Trenet hits.
Jazz saxophonist-clarinetist-arranger Benny Waters dies of cardiac arrest at Columbia, S.C., August 11 at age 96; jazz singer Betty Carter of cancer at New York September 29 at age 69; French-Canadian vocalist Pauline Julien commits suicide at Montreal September 30 at age 70, having championed the causes of feminism and Quebec independence but reportedly been despondent at the erosion of her language skills due to illness; singing cowboy Gene Autry dies at his Los Angeles home October 2 at age 91; polka king Frankie Yankovic at New Port Richey, Fla., October 14 at age 83; rumba singer Celeste Mendoza at Havana November 22 at age 68.
The Denver Broncos win Super Bowl XXXII, defeating the Green Bay Packers 31 to 24 January 25 at San Diego. Former Chicago Bears quarterback Sid Luckman dies at North Miami Beach, Fla., July 5 at age 81.
New England Patriots founder Billy Sullivan dies of colon cancer at Atlantis, Fla., February 23 at age 82; Heisman Trophy (1948) winner Doak Walker at Steamboat Springs, Colo., August 27 at age 71 from complications related to paralysis suffered in a skiing accident January 30.
Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan hits the final shot of his career June 14 with 5.2 seconds left on the clock. Trailing the Utah Jazz by one point in the sixth game of the NBA finals, Jordan scores to give the Bulls their sixth NBA title.
Pete Sampras wins in men's singles at Wimbledon (his fifth title), Jana Novotna, 29 (Fr) in women's; Patrick Rafter wins in U.S. singles play, 6' 2½" Lindsay Davenport, 22, (U.S.) in women's. Onetime tennis champion Helen Wills Moody has died at Carmel, Calif., January 1 at age 92.
France wins her first World Cup in soccer (football), defeating Brazil 2 to 0 at Paris July 12.
St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Mark McGwire, 34, hits his 62nd home run for the season in a game with the Chicago Cubs September 8 at Busch Stadium, beating the record set by the late Roger Maris in 1961. McGwire admits to having used the legal dietary supplement androstenedione, a steroid which is said by its manufacturers to boost testosterone levels, but many doubt whether that has made any difference; Dominican-born slugger Sammy Sosa, 29, of the Cubs hits his 61st and 62nd home runs September 14, both hit their 66th homers September 25, McGwire hits his 70th September 27.
Baltimore Orioles third baseman Cal Ripken Jr. ends a 16-year streak, having played 2,632 consecutive games (he surpassed the late Lou Gehrig's 2,130-game record 3 years ago). The New York Yankees set an American League record by winning 114 of their 160 games.
The New York Yankees win the World Series, defeating the San Diego Padres 4 games to 0. Former Kansas City relief pitcher Dan Quisenberry has died of brain cancer at Leawood, Kansas, September 30 at age 45; former Phillies left fielder Dick Sisler dies of pneumonia at his native Nashville, Tenn., November 20 at age 78.
Onetime fight announcer Don Dunphy dies at Roslyn, N.Y., July 21 at age 90; former Chicago Bears quarterback Sid Luckman at North Miami Beach, Fla., July 5 at age 81; former Manhattan College basketball star Junius Kellogg of respiratory failure at New York September 16 at age 71; Olympic sprinter Florence Griffith Joyner of a heart seizure at her Mission Viejo, Calif., home September 21 at age 38; former light-heavyweight boxing champion Archie Moore at a San Diego hospice December 9 at age 84; bullfighter Antonio Ordóñez of cancer at Seville December 19 at age 66.
A U.S. Marine Corps EA-6B Prowler jet used for electronic surveillance accidentally shears some ski-lift cables near Cavalese in the Italian Dolomites February 3, killing all 20 passengers in a gondola car. Crewmen on the jet from the Aviano air base were training for low-level flying to avoid radar detection; the Italian government protests that the plane was at a recklessly low altitude, a court will acquit pilot Richard J. Ashby, now 30, in early March of next year, and the verdict will outrage the Italians.
Gillette introduces its Mach 3 razor April 15 and has it in stores throughout the United States, Canada, and Israel by July (see Sensor, 1990). Developed in 6 years at a cost of $750 million, the relatively high-priced razor has three blades that pivot on a cartridge in just one direction, the blades have thinner, harder edges created with technology borrowed from the semiconductor industry, and a lubricating strip on the blade cartridge has a blue indicator which fades to alert users that it is time to replace the blades. About 1.2 billion people worldwide use Gillette products, which generally cost more than the competition; Gillette has a 66.6 percent share of the men's shaving market and 70 percent of the women's; the $2.9 billion worth of Gillette razors and blades sold last year produced $1.2 billion in profits. Company scientists at the research and development laboratory (UKRDL) outside Reading, England, have created the new product (code-named Manx during development), which shaves about twice as fast as the Sensor introduced in 1990 and the SensorExcel launched a few years later, although Gillette continues to make those razors and blade cartridges, producing them in house as its scientists work on the next generation of razors and blades.
Animal Kingdom opens April 22 at Walt Disney World outside Orlando, Fla., with 1,000 real animals on what looks like an African savanna. The $700 million theme park also offers live stage shows, costume parades, souvenir shops, and a 14-story "Tree of Life" that resembles a broccoli stem.
Expo '98 opens at Lisbon May 22 to mark the 500th anniversary of Vasco da Gama's opening of a sea route from Europe to India. The theme of the world's fair is "The Oceans: A Heritage for the Future."
Sony introduces PlayStation 2 in Japan in March to maintain its leadership in the video-game market. The console will be launched in the United States in the fall of next year. Nintendo releases the American version of Pokémon September 8 in red and blue versions (see 1995). Children and teenagers fall all over themselves in embracing the new mania, which spawns toys, comic books, trading cards, and no end of other kinds of Pokémon-related merchandise. The Dreamcast video console introduced by Sega Enterprises in September lists for $199 and helps Sega increase its share of the U.S. video-game market from 0.5 percent to about 15 percent, but the company lags far behind Nintendo, which trails the market leader Sony (see 2000). The $70 video game Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time released by Nintendo November 23 features a quest by a warrior named Link to rescue the kidnapped princess Zelda. The first Zelda title since 1992 and the first title of any kind designed for the 64-bit Nintendo player, its sophisticated graphics make it a Christmas season sensation.
Las Vegas welcomes a new hotel-casino in October as Steve A. Wynn's Mirage Resorts opens the 36-story, 3,025-room Bellagio, built at a cost of $1.6 billion opposite Caesar's Palace with 9,000 employees, an eight-acre lake, a flower-filled conservatory that rises 50 feet, a glass-vaulted shopping arcade, a lavish theatrical spectacle created by Montreal's Cirque de Soleil, nine major restaurants, seven smaller eating places, and an art collection (Cézanne, De Kooning, Johns, Kline, Lichtenstein, Picasso, Pollock, Rauschenberg, Van Gogh, and Warhol) worth an estimated $300 million (see Atlantic City, 1980). Now 56 and suffering from a degenerative eye disease, Wynn has changed his mind about operating in New Jersey after persuading that state's officials to put up $220 million of his projected $1 billion Le Jardin casino development in Atlantic City; ground is broken in November for a roadway and tunnel that will lead to the new 175-acre development.
The five-inch Furby gremlin is the toy of the year in America. Created by California designer David Hampton, 47, who lives without electricity in the Tahoe National Forest, Furby is a mechanized ball of synthetic fur containing a microchip that enables it to squeal if the lights go out, snore, sneeze, and speak with a synthesized 200-word vocabulary. By year's end, an estimated 2 million of the interactive dolls have been sold, some of them at 10 times the suggested $30 retail price. Cabbage Patch doll creator Judith F. Albert dies of breast cancer at her Mill Neck, N.Y., home July 20 at age 59.
Interior designer David Nightingale Hicks dies of lung cancer at his Oxfordshire country home March 29 at age 69; Hicks's protégé Mark Hampton Jr. of liver cancer at New York June 23 at age 58; stacking chair designer Verner Panton at his Copenhagen home September 5 at age 72; shoe designer Fiamma di San Giuliano Ferragamo of breast cancer at her native Florence September 28 at age 57; shoe designer Roger Vivier at his Toulouse home October 2 at age 90; Soap Box Derby founder Myron E. Scott at his Kettering, Ohio, home October 4 at age 91; cosmetics pioneer Hazel Bishop at Rye, N.Y., December 5 at age 92; undersea treasure hunter Mel Fisher of complications from cancer at his Key West, Fla., home December 19 at age 76.
The U.S. Senate votes June 17 to reject a bill that would have raised the price of a pack of cigarettes by $1.10 per pack (see 1997). Proponents have argued that a higher price would discourage teenagers from smoking (which causes 418,000 premature deaths each year in America alone), but opposition has come from senators who said that it represented regressive taxation, trying to balance the budget on the backs of low-income workers who cannot stop. The measure would have required tobacco companies to pay $516 billion over the course of 25 years and they have spent $40 million on an advertising campaign to persuade the public that the measure was a big-government tax-and-spend bill. An agreement signed in late November with attorneys general of 46 states and five U.S. territories pledges cigarette producers to pay $206 billion over the course of 25 years to settle lawsuits (Florida, Minnesota, Mississippi, and Texas have previously settled for $40 billion to be paid over 25 years); the deal requires tobacco companies to stop using Joe Camel and other advertising messages that appeal to teenagers, to stop using billboards, buses, and taxis for their ads, to fund campaigns aimed at discouraging kids from smoking and programs aimed at helping smokers to quit, and to accept some restrictions on their sponsorship of sporting events, but although it does not bar further lawsuits against the companies neither does it recognize the FDA's authority to regulate tobacco products, leading critics to call it a weak compromise. Philip Morris and R. J. Reynolds promptly raise prices by 45¢ per pack; Philip Morris launches a $100 million advertising campaign aimed at discouraging teenage smoking (see 1999).
U.S. imports of premium cigars drop 21.7 percent, having risen fourfold from 1991 to 1997.
Jonesboro, Ark., schoolboy Andrew Golden, 11, pulls a fire alarm at Westside Elementary March 24, joins Mitchell Johnson, 13, in the woods outside, and when students and teachers file out of the building they open fire from 100 yards away, using three rifles and seven handguns to get off 22 shots in a 4-minute shooting spree that leaves four girls and a 32-year-old pregnant teacher dead.
Mexico advises the United States June 1 that it will prosecute U.S. customs agents and informers on charges of entrapment, money-laundering, and usurping Mexican law enforcement in connection with a 3-year undercover anti-drug sting operation that violates Mexican law.
The Italian army begins pulling units out of Sicily June 25 after a 6-year operation aimed at restoring order to an area controlled by the Mafia (see 1992; politics, 1993). About 150,000 men have been rotated through Sicily, usually 4,000 at a time, but many of the most dangerous criminals are now behind bars (Salvatore Riina was sentenced last year to life imprisonment), and the military commitment has been costly. Police arrest scores of suspected mobsters June 26 on charges that range from drug trafficking and gunrunning to murder and theft; included are 22 suspected members of the Corleone crime family.
New York's mayor Rudolf Giuliani attacks methadone treatment for heroin addicts July 20, calling it an exchange of one chemical dependency for another (see 1964); he proposes a plan in August to wean former heroin addicts from methadone. Most experts protest the idea, noting that 20 to 45 patients in methadone-to-abstinence programs typically relapse within 1 year, even when highly motivated, and that little research exists to show who might benefit from such programs. Retired Rockefeller University professor Vincent P. Dole, now 85, calls the plan "a radical experiment with no research or background and certainly not with the informed consent of any of the subjects." White House drug czar Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, 56, proposes expanding the methadone program; Mayor Giuliani responds by saying, "To give up the idea of a drug-free America is a disgrace. I think Gen. McCaffrey is a disaster."
The Speed Trafficking Life-in-Prison Act passed by Congress in mid-September makes the penalties for trafficking in methamphetamine equal to those for trafficking in crack cocaine. Opponents have said the measure would clog courtrooms and burden prisons already overcrowded with inmates sentenced for relatively minor crimes.
The U.S. Supreme Court rules 5 to 4 December 1 that the Constitution's protection against unreasonable police searches does not apply to persons visiting other person's homes (Minnesota v. Carter) (see 1991). The decision overturns a state supreme court ruling that set aside the conviction of two men who were observed by police through the window of another man's apartment while preparing cocaine for sale.
Switzerland's electorate decisively defeats a measure to legalize marijuana, heroin, and cocaine in a vote held November 29. The Swiss have an estimated 30,000 to 36,000 hard-drug addicts, and government statistics indicate that about 500,000 of the nation's 7 million people use cannabis on a regular basis. Proponents of the measure have argued that a government-managed narcotics network would reduce drug-related crime, but the government has warned that instead of eliminating the black market in drugs it would create a new illegal drug trade and sever Switzerland's connections with international police efforts.
Two security guards at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., are shot to death July 24 by a 41-year-old paranoid schizophrenic who has not taken his medication and is himself wounded. Jacob J. Chestnut, 58, and John M. Gibson, 42, are buried with full military honors at Arlington Cemetery; tourist Angela Dickerson, 23, is wounded but recovers.
Trunk murderess Winnie Judd dies at Phoenix, Ariz., October 23 at age 93. She was released from prison in December 1971.
Instant background checks for U.S. gun buyers go into effect November 30 under terms of the 1993 Brady Act (see 1997). Gun dealers have computerized lists of offenders, prepared by the FBI, which they are required to check before selling any firearm. The FBI estimates that 12.4 million firearms are sold in the country each year, not counting about 2.5 million transactions involving gun owners who retrieve firearms from pawn shops. The Bureau operates the system in cooperation with state and local police and sheriffs; 27 states do some or all of the checks themselves.
Architecture, Real Estate
Malaysia hails the opening of Kuala Lumpur's 88-story Petronas Towers. Designed by New York architect Cesar Pelli, the towers rise to a height of 1,476 feet, but in terms of occupied floors they are shorter than Chicago's 24-year-old Sears Tower.
Lisbon's World Exposition (Expo '98) features a ceremonial square designed by Portuguese architect Alvaro Siza Vieira with a thin concrete canopy that spans 65 meters yet whose delicacy makes it an engineering marvel.
The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center is dedicated May 5 on Pennsylvania Avenue at Washington, D.C. Designed by architect James Inigo Freed of Pei Cobb Freed, the $816 million structure on the Federal Triangle is second in size only to the Pentagon, containing more floor space than New York's Empire State Building. When finished, the new building will hold 7,000 federal workers, with a 980-foot food court, restaurants, and a privately run trade center with office space, exhibition spaces, and a 650-seat auditorium.
Boston hails the opening of a new federal courthouse designed by Henry Cobb of Pei Cobb Freed with a six-story glass curtain wall providing views across the harbor to the city's downtown area.
The median sales price of a new U.S. home reaches $151,300, up from $29,700 in 1972, yet 66.3 percent of Americans own their own homes, up from 64.4 percent in 1972 and 44 percent in 1940.
Some 100,000 of the worst U.S. housing-project units are razed under a federal program called Hope VI and replaced with smaller developments that mix families of different income levels while moving thousands of low-income tenants into privately owned buildings. Chicago has 11 of the nation's 15 poorest census tracts, and its 35-year-old Robert Taylor Homes complex is considered the worst slum in America, with 70 percent of its tenants unemployed and half trying to survive on incomes of less than $5,000 per year (the average is $5,905); gangs and drug dealers control the buildings, but Hope VI offers social services that include trying to place people in high school equivalency courses and job-training programs. Similar efforts go forward from Hartford and Newark, N.J., to Denver and San Francisco.
Architect-urban planner Lucio Costa dies at his Rio de Janeiro home June 13 at age 96
A Mobil oil spill off the coast of Nigeria January 12 causes little damage but arouses anger against Americans. A 24-inch underwater pipeline has ruptured three and a half miles offshore, Mobil's 57 offshore wells are pumping at full capacity, the oil is not reaching shore, and Mobil's Texas-born operations manager Denny Sansom orders everything shut down. Flying 26 miles out over the Atlantic in a helicopter, Sansom sees a huge 40,000-barrel slick drifting slowly to the west, he deploys boats and helicopters to contain the spill with booms, skimmers, and dispersants, no more than 1,000 barrels reach the shore, but fishermen and others file claims totaling billions of dollars. Nigeria's generals have pocketed oil revenues for the past 28 years, leaving the people impoverished.
Forest fires blaze out of control throughout Mexico as a drought that started in January as a result of El Niño not only delays planting but also creates a noxious haze and clouds of smoke that cover much of the southwestern United States. Brush fires in eastern Florida rage for weeks in June and July, destroying more than 500,000 acres of brush and forest.
Some 2,323 Afghans are killed February 4 in an earthquake near the Tajikistan border and about 4,000 are killed May 30 when an earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale rocks the same region, injuring thousands, leaving more than 10,000 homeless, and destroying 6,725 head of livestock; two quakes off the north coast of Papua New Guinea July 17 register 7.1 and create a tsunami with waves estimated as high as 10 meters that kill at least 2,183 villagers and possibly four times that number, most of them children, along an 18-mile stretch of coastline. Thousands are injured, 9,500 left homeless, and about 500 reported missing.
A cyclone roars across the tidal flats of Kandla in western India June 9, sweeping away as many as 10,000 people with winds of 100 miles per hour pushing a wall of water eight feet high in the nation's deadliest disaster in 5 years.
China suffers devastating floods as the Yangzi (Yangtze) and northern rivers overflow their banks; by September the Chinese Army has deployed 278,000 soldiers to guard dikes on the Yangzi and another 100,000 along the Songhua, Nen, and other rivers in Heilongjiang Province. More than 3,000 die and hundreds of thousands are left homeless.
Mexico's Chiapas Province has floods in September that kill hundreds.
Hurricane Georges hits the Caribbean in late September, sweeps across the Florida Keys, and dumps more than 25 inches of rain on parts of the Florida panhandle, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Hurricane Mitch arrives October 27 and although downgraded to a tropical storm brings the heaviest rains to strike Central America in over 200 years, creating floods and mudslides that kill 14,600 and cause more than $1 billion in property damage across Honduras (which loses upwards of 6,500 people and two-thirds of the nation's roads and bridges), Nicaragua, and parts of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Guatemala, destroying the infrastructure that has taken decades to build.
Environmentalist and political reformer Morris K. Udall dies of complications from Parkinson's disease at Washington, D.C., December 12 at age 76.
Canadian farmers plant hemp for the first time since 1938, when fears about marijuana led to a ban on U.S. and Canadian cultivation of a plant whose fiber contains insignificant amounts of psychoactive chemicals and is used for textiles, building materials, pulp, and paper (hemp paper was used for initial drafts of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, and hemp was a mainstay crop of early North American colonists). Oil from hemp seed is used in food, medicine, and cosmetics, and Canadian farmers compete with counterparts in China, Romania, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Britain, and Hungary.
U.S. farmers in the northern plains states and northwest suffer from fusarium wilt and a falloff in export demand; wheat prices fall to their lowest levels in decades, and Texas crops wither in July as temperatures top 100° F. for weeks on end with no rain. President Clinton declares the entire state of Texas a disaster area.
Mediterranean fruit flies (Medflies) plague Florida growers for the second year in a row, raising a serious threat to the state's $53 billion agricultural industry.
Congress votes in mid-July to exempt agricultural credits from the economic sanctions placed on India and Pakistan following their nuclear tests. Pakistan is the third-largest buyer of U.S. wheat.
Hyundai founder Chung Ju Yung crosses the border into North Korea in mid-June with a convoy of 50 trucks carrying 250 cows and 250 oxen to help relieve the continuing famine, which has taken between 100,000 and 3 million lives (see 1996). Now 82 and South Korea's richest man, Chung visits his hometown for the first time in 65 years with his goodwill gift. South Korean agricultural scientist Kim Soon Kwon, 54, has visited North Korea 10 times to collect on the country's corn production, found that yields per acre are only half those in America despite favorable conditions, and proposed a "Corn for Peace" project; known as "Dr. Corn," he visits North Korea six more times, and by year's end his corn-breeding techniques are being tested at some 1,000 North Korean cooperative farm units. The United States agrees quietly in September to send 300,000 metric tons of wheat and other grains to North Korea, even though the North Koreans have launched a medium-range missile over Japan, most likely in an abortive effort to propel a small satellite into space. Japanese officials are reportedly chagrined, saying that shipping grain to relieve the famine in North Korea is rewarding that country for bad behavior, but Washington has given hunger relief precedence over punishment.
An agriculture bill signed into law by President Clinton June 23 restores food-stamp benefits to 250,000 of the 935,000 legal immigrants who lost eligibility under terms of the 1996 welfare overhaul law. The president has repeatedly urged reversing that part of the 1996 law, many Republicans said such a reversal would undermine welfare reform, but most farm-state Republicans favored restoring the benefits.
The European Union votes November 23 to lift its 32-month-old ban on British beef exports, saying that adequate measures have been put in place to halt the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy ("mad-cow disease") and the fatal Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease that affects humans (see 1996; Canada, U.S., 2003).
Denny's restaurant-chain founder Harold Butler dies of a heart attack at La Paz, Mexico, July 9 at age 77; McDonald's cofounder Richard McDonald at Manchester, N.H., July 14 at age 89; Luby's cafeteria-chain founder Robert M. Luby at Colorado Springs August 13 at age 88; restaurateur Joseph H. Baum of prostate cancer at his New York home October 5 at age 78.
A sniper kills Buffalo, N.Y., gynecologist Barnett A. Slepian, 52, at his suburban Amherst home October 23. Having performed abortions for mostly poor and low-wage clients, he has been targeted by pro-life extremists, but many right-to-life advocates modify their positions following reports that stem cells in fetal tissue harvested from embryos have the potential to produce effective treatments for Alzheimer's disease, cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and other ills (see 2000).
Birth control and sex education advocate Mary S. Calderone dies at Kennett Square, Pa., October 24 at age 94 after a 10-year battle with Alzheimer's disease and a much longer battle with the John Birch Society (which once called her an "aging sexual libertine"), the Christian Crusade, and the Moral Majority, which said that her promotion of sex education in schools usurped the role of parents and encouraged premarital sex.