Calendar of 1996

Calendar of 1996
▪ 1997


      King Fahd cedes power

      Still experiencing the effects of a stroke suffered in November 1995, Saudi Arabia's King Fahd, who also held the post of prime minister, ceded temporary power to Crown Prince Abdullah, his legal successor. A spokesman said that the monarch needed time for rest and recuperation. Though no significant change was expected in Saudi Arabia's domestic or foreign policies, Abdullah had shown a greater inclination to foster ties with other Arab groups than with Western nations. His local power base was provided by the National Guard, an internal security organization, which he had commanded for more than 30 years.

      Khun Sa surrenders

      Government authorities in Myanmar (Burma) reported that Khun Sa, the world's most notorious trafficker in heroin, had surrendered at his base in Ho Mong and that his stronghold in eastern Myanmar was under the control of government troops. Khun Sa had earlier expressed a willingness to retire if his conditions for surrender were accepted by Myanmar's military rulers. For some 30 years Khun Sa had operated with virtual impunity in the so-called Golden Triangle, a region straddling the borders of Myanmar, Thailand, and Laos. Military campaigns to wipe out his operation had failed because government troops proved to be no match for the 20,000-man outlaw army that protected the mountain area that they occupied. The U.S. had reportedly offered a $2 million reward for information leading to Khun Sa's conviction in a U.S. court, but a U.S. request that Khun Sa be extradited to the U.S. was not expected to be honoured.

      Heat sets record in 1995

      The British Meteorological Office and the University of East Anglia in Norwich released preliminary figures indicating that 1995 had the highest average temperature ever recorded by meteorologists since they began compiling such statistics in 1856. They calculated that the average global temperature in 1995 was 14.84° C (58.72° F). The Goddard Institute, operated by NASA, came up with a slightly higher figure. Although certain scientists and environmentalists were quick to cite these numbers as clear evidence of global warming, others contended that no definitive conclusions could be reached about permanent changes in the Earth's climate without studying data collected over a much longer period of time.

      Whitewater papers found

      The White House released documents that federal and congressional investigators had been demanding since 1994. David Kendall, the personal attorney of Pres. Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, said that the long-sought records detailing Hillary Clinton's work for the Rose Law Firm in the mid-1980s had been discovered the previous day by Carolyn Huber, the first lady's personal assistant. On January 18 Huber told a Senate committee that she found the Rose billing records on a table in a small room in the White House private quarters. She further stated that the documents had not been there when she entered the room three or four days earlier. Investigators wanted to learn, among other things, whether Hillary Clinton's work for the now defunct Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan involved a conflict of interest. The question arose because its owner, James McDougal, was accused of fraud and had been a partner of the Clintons in the Whitewater Development Corp., a trouble-plagued real estate venture.

      Haiti asks UN to stay

      René Préval, scheduled to become president of Haiti on February 7, formally petitioned the United Nations to keep its 5,800-man peacekeeping force in the country for an additional six months. The UN mandate was due to expire on February 29. While expressing a willingness to continue its support for the still struggling Caribbean nation, the UN indicated that the size of its peacekeeping force would probably be drastically reduced.

      Arzú wins in Guatemala

      In a runoff election, Alvaro Arzú of the National Advancement Party (PAN) won the presidency of Guatemala by defeating Alfonso Partillo, candidate of the Guatemalan Republican Front (FRG). The results posted by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal showed that Arzú was the choice of 51.2% of those who cast ballots. Partillo's greater popularity in 18 of the country's 22 provinces was offset by Arzú's appeal to voters in Guatemala City, the nation's capital and largest city, which he had governed as mayor from 1985 to 1990. During the campaign, Arzú, a businessman, expressed support for a free-market economy. He also pledged to improve the nation's human rights record, fight rampant crime, and make a concerted effort to terminate the country's 35-year-old civil war.

      Cardoso revokes decree

      A 1991 presidential decree barring non-Indians from challenging land allocations made to indigenous peoples was revoked by Brazilian Pres. Fernando Cardoso. The original decree had been enacted to protect the traditional lands of Indians from encroachment by loggers, ranchers, and miners. Businessmen, however, complained that the more than 200 reservations already created—and some 300 others awaiting recognition—were a hindrance to economic growth, especially in the Amazon, where most were located.

      Kim admits money gifts

      In the course of a nationally televised address, South Korean Pres. Kim Young Sam acknowledged that he had accepted political funds, but not bribes, from businessmen before his election to the presidency. No politician, he contended, could "have avoided such wrong practices" at the time. Kim's ties to business interests had been questioned after his predecessor, Roh Tae Woo, admitted that he had built up a secret $650 million slush fund accumulated from contributions made by the heads of dozens of business conglomerates. Kim Dae Jung, a prominent member of the political opposition, admitted that he had benefited from Roh's fund and challenged Kim to acknowledge that he too had received such money. Kim, however, did not address the issue directly, nor did he identify those who had contributed financially to his presidential campaign.

      Hashimoto to lead Japan

      Following the abrupt resignation of Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama on January 5, both houses of Japan's Diet (parliament) approved the appointment of Ryutaro Hashimoto as the nation's new leader. He had been elected head of the Liberal-Democratic Party (LDP) in September 1995. Murayama, leader of the Social Democratic Party of Japan (SDPJ), had held office for only 18 months, but the time had come, he said, "to inject fresh blood into the leadership." As a member of Murayama's Cabinet, Hashimoto had gained international prominence as a tough negotiator during an automobile trade dispute between the U.S. and Japan. His new Cabinet included 12 members of the LDP, 6 from the SDPJ, and 2 from New Party Sakigake. One woman joined the Cabinet as the minister of justice.

      Peru sentences U.S. woman

      Peru's Supreme Council of Military Justice convicted Lori Berenson, a 26-year-old U.S. citizen, of treason and sentenced her to life in prison. She had been arrested in late 1995 along with 22 others and accused of involvement with guerrillas of the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA), which planned to seize control of the Congress building and take legislators hostage. On January 8 Berenson had publicly defended Tupac Amaru, saying that it was not a terrorist but a revolutionary group fighting injustice and inequality. She consistently refused to distance herself from the MRTA despite entreaties to do so. During her secret trial, before judges whose identities were concealed, Berenson had not been allowed to challenge evidence, cross-examine government witnesses, or call witnesses on her own behalf.

      Drug lord flees prison

      José Santacruz Londoño, a major figure in Colombia's Cali drug cartel, escaped from a maximum security prison in the capital city of Bogotá. He had been arrested in July 1995 and was awaiting trial on a variety of charges, including murder. It was not immediately clear how he managed to escape, but officials suggested that a car used by prosecutors may have been involved. Such vehicles were not searched when they left the facility. The only other major figure in the Cali cartel still at large was Helmer Herrera, identified as the group's military leader.

      Portuguese elect Sampaio

      The successful presidential campaign waged by Jorge Sampaio gave Portugal's Socialist Party control of both the presidency and the prime ministership for the first time in more than 20 years. Sampaio captured 53.8% of the popular vote in defeating Aníbal Cavaco Silva, a former prime minister representing the Social Democratic Party. During the campaign Sampaio had promised to use his presidential powers to stabilize the nation's economy. Cavaco Silva, however, had warned voters that a Sampaio victory would lead to a "dictatorship of the majority." Following the election there was speculation that Sampaio might invoke his powers to dissolve the unicameral legislature and call for new elections in the hope that the Socialist Party could gain an absolute majority in the Assembly of the Republic.

      King dies in accident

      Lesotho's King Moshoeshoe II and his chauffeur were killed when their car plunged over a cliff near the capital city of Maseru. The monarch was returning home early in the morning after inspecting his herds of cattle. He had been twice deposed but in January 1995 regained the throne from his son King Letsie III, who then became crown prince. After Moshoeshoe's death, Queen Mamohato held the post of regent until the Traditional College of Chiefs named (February 7) Crown Prince Letsie the nation's new ruler. He would again be known as King Letsie III.

      Papandreou resigns

      Acknowledging that debilitating lung and kidney infections had undermined his ability to govern Greece, Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou tendered his resignation. Three days later the ruling Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok), which Papandreou continued to lead, elected Kostas Simitis prime minister. After he and his Cabinet took the oath of office on January 22, Simitis called for a restructuring of the government and improved ties with the U.S. To facilitate implementation of reforms that he was contemplating, he dismissed numerous Papandreou loyalists, many of whom had not supported his election. Theodoros Pangalos, an advocate of reform, was then named foreign minister. Vasso Papandreou, who was not related to the former prime minister, was given responsibilities that included promoting investment and overseeing privatization.

      Strasser ousted

      A group of army officers in Sierra Leone ousted Valentine Strasser from his post as chairman of the Supreme Council of State. He was allowed safe passage to neighbouring Guinea, where many of his compatriots had earlier fled to escape the perils of civil war. Strasser was replaced by Brig. Julius Maada Bio, the former vice chairman of the council and head of government. He announced that multiparty elections would be held in February as planned and said that he would attempt to persuade the Revolutionary United Front to negotiate an end to their five-year-old insurrection.

      Abdel Rahman sentenced

      Michael Mukasey, a district court judge in New York City, sentenced Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, a blind Egyptian cleric, to life imprisonment without parole. He and nine other Muslim militants had been convicted in October 1995 of having conspired to bomb the UN headquarters and other landmarks in New York City and of having plotted to assassinate political leaders, including Egyptian Pres. Hosni Mubarak. The heart of the government's case consisted of more than 100 hours of tape-recorded conversations secretly made by an informer. None of the defendants was sentenced to less than 25 years in prison. Before being sentenced, Abdel Rahman was allowed to address the court. He described the U.S. as an infidel country and an enemy of Islam.

      Keating mends fences

      Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating returned home after strengthening Australia's relations with Malaysia and Singapore. During talks in Kuala Lumpur, Keating and Malaysian Prime Minister Dato Seri Mahathir bin Mohamad agreed to paper over past differences and resume trade talks at the ministerial level. Keating had earlier offended Mahathir by calling him "recalcitrant" for declining to attend a 1993 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in the United States. Mahathir remarked that his meeting with Keating was important because the two men addressed "minor misunderstandings and lack of appreciation of each other." Singapore and Australia underscored the degree of importance they placed on good relations by issuing a joint statement. It expressed support for free trade in the area and endorsed a five-nation defense pact that also included Malaysia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

      Art thieves convicted

      Four men were convicted by a court in Oslo of having stolen and/or attempted to sell Edvard Munch's 1893 masterpiece "The Scream." Two were found guilty of having stolen the painting from the National Art Museum in Oslo in February 1994. (It was rescued undamaged the following May.) The court ordered one of the defendants to spend six years and three months in prison; the other, four years and nine months. Their two associates were convicted of having conspired to sell the painting, which had an estimated market value of $55 million. Both were also given prison terms.

      Arafat wins presidency

      Palestinian voters in the Gaza Strip and West Bank overwhelmingly supported Yasir Arafat's bid to become president of the self-ruling Palestine National Authority. Arafat's only rival, Samiha Khalil, garnered only 9.3% of the vote. Arafat hailed the election as "the foundation for our Palestinian state." Incomplete tabulation of ballots cast for legislators suggested that the Arafat-led al-Fatah faction within the Palestine Liberation Organization would occupy about 65 of the 88 seats in the legislative council. Officials estimated that 75% of eligible voters had gone to the polls, a clear rejection of the boycott called by Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Palestine Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

      Galileo data analyzed

      During a news conference in California, scientists at NASA's Ames Research Center reported that preliminary analyses of data transmitted from the Galileo spacecraft raised many questions and required a reevaluation of theories about the formation and evolution of the solar system. For about an hour in December 1995, when Galileo made a turbulent entry into Jupiter's atmosphere, it relayed a massive amount of data for 57 minutes before being destroyed by intense heat and pressure. The Ames researchers noted that the data received did not necessarily represent the conditions of the entire planet because the probe had descended into one of Jupiter's less cloudy regions. Even so, the scientists were highly skeptical that life of any kind existed on the largest planet in the solar system.

      Chun Doo Hwan indicted

      Prosecutors in South Korea charged former president Chun Doo Hwan with sedition for his role in the May 1980 massacre in Kwangju of pro-democracy demonstrators. That same day Roh Tae Woo, Chun's successor, was charged with insurrection. Roh had commanded government troops in Kwangju, but he was not accused of having participated in the killings. Both men also faced charges of bribery on a massive scale. After the 1979 assassination of Pres. Park Chung Hee, Chun moved against his rivals and quickly became the de facto authority in South Korea even though Choi Kyu Hah held the post of president. In May 1980 the military declared martial law. Three months later Chun was elected president by the nation's electoral college.

      U.S. ratifies START II

      By a vote of 87-4, the U.S. Senate ratified the second Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START II) treaty. The accord, however, would not take effect until it had been ratified by both houses of Russia's Federal Assembly. The pact committed both nations to eliminating all of their land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles armed with multiple warheads and to drastic reductions in missile- and bomber-based warheads by the year 2003.

      Coup succeeds in Niger

      Col. Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara led a successful military coup against Mahamane Ousmane, Niger's first democratically elected president. After ordering Ousmane and Prime Minister Hama Amadou arrested, Baré declared himself chairman of a national council that would temporarily govern the country. He also outlawed political parties and suspended the constitution. The U.S. condemned the coup and automatically suspended aid to Niger because U.S. law required such action when violence was used to overthrow a government. France also condemned the coup and cut off aid to its former colony even though Niger desperately needed foreign assistance.

      Fire guts La Fenice

      One of Venice's most glorious monuments, the 204-year-old Teatro La Fenice opera house, was almost totally destroyed by a fire that raged for nine hours before it was extinguished. Only the walls of the foyer and the marble facade remained standing amid the debris. The Italian government immediately pledged $12.5 million to help rebuild the historic structure, which Giuseppe Verdi had selected to premiere five of his operas, including Rigoletto (1851) and La Traviata (1853). Luciano Pavarotti, one of many world-renowned singers who had performed at La Fenice, announced that he would hold a fund-raising concert to help restore the opera house. Architects estimated that the total cost would be in excess of $300 million.

      Cubans leave Guantánamo

      Some 125 Cubans, the last of numerous refugees who had been housed at the U.S. Guantánamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba, were flown to Florida. The camps were then officially closed. In August 1994 U.S. President Clinton, hoping to discourage Cuban refugees from embarking on a perilous voyage to the U.S., reversed a long-standing U.S. policy by announcing that Cuban refugees would no longer be automatically admitted into the U.S. Those who were picked up at sea—many on makeshift rafts or in unseaworthy boats—were taken to Guantánamo Bay. At one point the base was home to some 29,000 Cubans and 21,000 Haitians.


February 2
      Canada gets regional veto

      Three Canadian provinces (British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec) and two "prairie regions" were granted veto power over any changes in the constitution that were sponsored by the federal government. The bill, initially proposed by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien in November 1995, became law when it was approved by Gov.-Gen. Roméo LeBlanc. The Senate and House of Commons had already approved the legislation, which had been drafted, among other reasons, to satisfy French-speaking Quebeckers who felt that their concerns were not being adequately addressed in formulating national policies.

      Bahrain arrests Shi'ites

      Authorities in Bahrain announced that 41 Shi'ite Muslims had been arrested and charged with rioting and sabotage. In mid-January, when some 200 Shi'ite protesters were taken into custody, officials said that 8 would face trial as members of a "subversive organization." The Shi'ite community had long complained that the al-Khalifah family, which ruled the emirate, reserved choice positions in the government and business for fellow Sunni Muslims even though the Shi'ite population was more than twice that of the Sunni. The Shi'ite demands included the restoration of the legislature, which had been disbanded in 1975, the right to free speech, better job opportunities, and the release of political prisoners. The government had acknowledged that 600 Shi'ites were being held, but others believed the true number to be closer to 2,000.

February 6
      Kirby joins High Court

      A vacancy on Australia's High Court was filled when Michael Kirby was sworn in as the court's 40th justice since its establishment in 1903. Kirby replaced Sir William Deane, who had resigned in 1995 to become governor-general of Australia. Kirby had previously served as president of the New South Wales Court of Appeals, deputy president of the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Committee, and chairman of the Australian Law Reform Commission.

February 7
      Polish leader replaced

      Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, who had been deputy speaker of Poland's Sejm (parliament), took the oath of office as prime minister. The promotion had been approved by the former communist Democratic Left Alliance, which held a plurality of seats in the Sejm, and the leftist Polish Peasant Party, which had strong support in rural areas. Both were members of the ruling coalition. Cimoszewicz, however, had no current ties to any political party. In 1990 he had made an unsuccessful run for the presidency as an independent socialist. The prime ministership became vacant when Jozef Oleksy resigned in order to spend full time refuting charges that he had given state secrets to spies from the former Soviet Union.

February 8
      UN to stay in Angola

      The United Nations Security Council agreed to extend its peacekeeping mission in Angola an additional three months. It hoped that its rejection of the six-month extension recommended by UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali would pressure Jonas Savimbi, leader of the rebel National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), to speed up the demobilization of his 62,000-man army. To date, only some 9,000 of the promised 16,500 troops had met an agreed-upon deadline and gathered in designated areas. UNITA and the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, headed by Pres. José Eduardo dos Santos, had signed a peace pact in November 1994. If implemented, it would end a civil war that had taken the lives of half a million people since the country gained independence from Portugal in 1975.

February 12
      Bishops back condom use

      The Social Commission of the Roman Catholic bishops of France issued a report that called the use of condoms a necessary means to prevent the spread of AIDS. Even though the report insisted that the use of condoms was not a proper substitute for adult sexual education, its basic statement contradicted the teaching of Pope John Paul II, who maintained that abstinence was the only morally acceptable way to avoid being infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

February 15
      Stankevicius promoted

      One week after Lithuania's Seimas (unicameral legislature) voted 94-26 in support of Pres. Algirdas Brazauskas's January 29 decree removing Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius from power, the legislature awarded the post to Laurynas Stankevicius, a member of the ruling Lithuanian Democratic Labour Party. Slezevicius's fate was sealed when a scandal was uncovered in the government's takeover of Lithuania's two largest privately owned banks. Senior management officers were accused of fraud, and several were arrested. In December 1995, when authorities declared the banks insolvent, they held nearly one-quarter of the nation's bank deposits. An uproar ensued when it was learned that the prime minister had withdrawn his personal deposits shortly before the banks were shut down and their assets frozen. When Slezevicius refused to resign after admitting that he had made "a moral and political mistake," he was removed from office.

      Grozny palace destroyed

      One week after Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin was made head of a commission that was to explore ways of ending the fighting in Chechnya, Russian troops demolished the presidential palace in the Chechen capital of Grozny. It had been the symbol of independence for Chechen separatists, who had been fighting government forces since December 1994. On February 8 Russian Pres. Boris Yeltsin had told reporters that if the fighting did not stop and Russian troops were not withdrawn, he would be wasting his time if he ran for the presidency because "people won't elect me."

      Bangladeshi go to the polls

      In parliamentary elections boycotted by the three main opposition parties, Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) won 205 of the 300 contested seats in the 330-member Parliament. The election was preceded by strikes, protest marches, bloody clashes, and threats of violence against anyone who went to the polls. Even though the BNP faced no significant challenge on election day, there were numerous reports of fraud in some areas. As a consequence, the ballots at more than 10% of the polling places reportedly were declared invalid.

February 16
      Italy seeks new leader

      Following the resignation of Italian Prime Minister Lamberto Dini on January 11 and the failure of Prime Minister-designate Antonio Maccanico to form a coalition government supporting constitutional reforms, Pres. Oscar Luigi Scalfaro dissolved Parliament and ordered new elections to be held on April 21. Until that time Dini would continue to head the government in the role of caretaker. The political atmosphere had changed when former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi of Forza Italia and Massimo D'Alema of the Party of the Democratic Left—both supporters of electoral reform—announced that they no longer opposed a general election.

February 17
      Ads banned in Russia

      Ignoring the protests of some businessmen, Russian Pres. Boris Yeltsin ordered a complete media ban on advertisements promoting tobacco and alcoholic products. Those who contravened the ban, he said, would be fined and the money used to promote public health education. Russia had the world's highest rate of alcohol consumption, and nearly 70% of adult Russians smoked. Health officials predictably praised the ban, saying that the health of ordinary Russians was deplorable.

February 18
      New effort at peace

      During talks at the Italian Foreign Ministry in Rome, leaders of the three warring factions in Bosnia and Herzegovina pledged to resolve the problems that had impeded implementation of the peace treaty signed in Paris in December 1995. Hard-liners on all sides had opposed elements of the treaty, which had been designed to establish a multiethnic state in Bosnia and Herzegovina, once an integral part of Yugoslavia. Among the most emotion-charged issues that arose during negotiations was the arrest of two Bosnian Serb military officers whom the Muslim-dominated government of Bosnia and Herzegovina had accused of war crimes. Success in resolving this and other differences rested with Pres. Alija Izetbegovic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatian Pres. Franjo Tudjman, and Serbian Pres. Slobodan Milosevic.

      IRA bombs London bus

      A terrorist bomber was killed and at least eight other persons injured when a double-decker bus exploded in flames in London. The Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) claimed responsibility. Several days earlier the IRA had detonated a powerful bomb in central London. It killed two persons and caused extensive damage to buildings in the area. During an interview that appeared in a weekly newspaper published by Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA, a spokesman for the IRA declared that the cease-fire was no longer in effect. The words seemed to imply that the political status of Northern Ireland was about to trigger another round of violence.

February 20
      Iraqi defectors murdered

      After being granted amnesty by Saddam Hussein, Iraq's president and prime minister, two high-ranking military officers who had defected to Jordan in August 1995 returned home. Their wives, who accompanied them when they left Iraq, were both daughters of Hussein. Lieut. Gen. Hussein Kamel Hasan al-Majid had been in charge of the nation's weapons program and Col. Saddam Kamel Hasan al-Majid head of special forces. On February 23 the Interior Ministry announced that the two men, their father, and a brother had been slain at their residence outside Baghdad by members of their own clan.

      Mfume assumes office

      During a ceremony at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., Kweisi Mfume was sworn in as president and chief executive officer of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He had relinquished his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives two days earlier. Mfume faced a formidable challenge as he planned strategy to rebuild the organization's financial base and overcome a crisis in leadership created by his predecessor, Benjamin Chavis, Jr., who had been fired in 1994 after revelations that he had misused NAACP funds.

February 21
      Farrakhan ends tour

      The Rev. Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, returned to the U.S. after a controversial "world friendship tour," which, he said, had been undertaken to promote peace and solidarity among Muslims. Iran, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, The Sudan, and Syria were among the nearly 20 countries that he visited. Farrakhan's critics included black activists who were dismayed that he had agreed to accept $1 billion from Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi to fund political activities in the U.S. Qaddafi was quoted as saying, "Our confrontation with America used to be like confronting a fortress from the outside. Today we have found an opening to enter the fortress and to confront it from within."

February 22
      Indian officials charged

      Prosecutors in India ended another phase of their investigation into bribery with the indictment of 14 high-ranking politicians, most of whom belonged to Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao's Congress (I) Party. Four of the group were top ministers who had resigned in the face of the impending indictments. Evidence of corruption came mainly from the diaries of Surendra Jain, a former industrialist who had been arrested in 1995. His diaries contained the names of more than 100 persons to whom he had given money. Under Indian law all payments made to public officials were presumed to be illegal gratifications unless proved otherwise.

      France to cut military

      In a televised address to the nation, French Pres. Jacques Chirac proposed major reductions in military spending to help reduce the budget deficit. He noted that the Cold War was over and that the U.S. and the U.K. had already reevaluated their military expenditures. Among other things, Chirac called for an end to conscription, a 30% cut in the armed forces, the development of a rapid response force, a drastic reduction in nuclear weapons, the closing of the only facility in France that produced plutonium and weapons-grade uranium, and the dismantling of France's Hades missile launches. As expected, there were voices of dissent, especially regarding the abolition of France's citizen army, which had been an uninterrupted tradition for more than 90 years.

      Blacks enter white school

      Following a February 16 order issued by South African Supreme Court Justice Tjibbe Spoelstra, black students, previously turned away, were admitted to a primary school in Potgietersus, a rural area about 260 km (160 mi) north of Johannesburg. Because of a parental boycott, only about 30 of the 700 white students attended school that day. The population of Potgietersus consisted of 120,000 blacks and 10,000 whites. After South Africa began integrating its schools in 1991, many black children had entered white schools without incident.

February 24
      Cuba downs two planes

      Four Cuban exiles living in Florida were killed when their two unarmed Cessna 337 planes were shot down by Cuban MiG fighter jets over the Caribbean. The aircraft belonged to an organization called Brothers to the Rescue, which operated out of Miami. The U.S. called an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, which issued a statement "strongly deploring" the shooting down of civilian aircraft. On February 26 President Clinton suspended all charter flights between the U.S. and Cuba and said that travel to the U.S. by Cuban diplomats would be restricted. Although Cuban exiles had previously flown over Havana to drop antigovernment leaflets, the U.S. contended that in this instance the planes were over international waters. Cuba claimed otherwise.

February 25
      Hamas bombs kill 27

      An Israeli bus was ripped apart by a bomb that exploded as the vehicle neared the Central Bus Station in West Jerusalem. The terrorist died along with 24 other passengers. Less than an hour later, a much smaller bomb was detonated in the Israeli town of Ashkelon. A man disguised as an Israeli soldier detonated the device after joining a group of Israeli soldiers looking for rides back to their base. The bomber died along with a female soldier. The military wing of Hamas claimed responsibility for both suicide attacks. Yasir Arafat, president of the Palestine National Authority, vigorously condemned the bombings, which were the deadliest to have occurred in Israel in 20 years.

      Obiang's election illegal

      Brig. Gen. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, president of Equatorial Guinea, won 99% of the vote in an election that had been called early in violation of the nation's constitution. Outside observers as well as political opponents at home characterized the election process as a charade. All five opposition candidates, who had been optimistic when they began to campaign in the country's first multiparty presidential election, later sought unsuccessfully to have their names stricken from the ballots. Some people speculated that Obiang had called for an early election in order to profit personally from revenues that were expected to come from an oil field discovered off Biako in 1995.

February 28
      Diana agrees to divorce

      The British public was officially informed that Diana, princess of Wales, had agreed to divorce Charles, prince of Wales, her husband of nearly 15 years. Several months earlier Queen Elizabeth II had urged the estranged couple to end their relationship, which had provided the tabloids with a steady stream of scandals, real or manufactured.

      Daiwa pleads guilty

      Officials of Japanese-owned Daiwa Bank Ltd. pleaded guilty in a New York City court to 16 of the 20 counts listed in an indictment. The pleas included 10 counts of falsifying books and records, 2 counts of conspiracy, 2 counts of wire fraud, one count of obstructing a U.S. Federal Reserve Board examination, and one count of attempting to cover up $1.1 billion in losses from illegal bond trading at its New York City offices. The $340 million fine was the largest sum ever imposed on a financial institution.

      Jim Bolger finds ally

      With his National Party (NP) occupying only 43 of the 99 seats in New Zealand's House of Representatives, Prime Minister Jim Bolger strengthened his political position by forming a coalition with the United New Zealand (UNZ) party. Having been assured of a post in Bolger's Cabinet, Peter Dunne of the UNZ was destined to become the first Cabinet member in 54 years to serve in a government ruled by another party. A 1993 referendum, which guaranteed representation in Parliament to any party that received at least 5% of the popular vote, had ended political domination of the government by either the NP or the Labour Party.


March 1
      Bosnian Serb charged

      Gen. Djordje Djukic, a Bosnian Serb, was charged with war crimes by the United Nations International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. He had been placed in charge of logistics for the Bosnian Serb army when civil war broke out in 1992 and became a senior aide to Gen. Ratko Mladic, commander of the army. The tribunal's chief prosecutor alleged that Djukic had coordinated the bombardment of civilian targets in Sarajevo during the Bosnian Serbs' assault on the capital. The tribunal was also investigating Djukic's possible role in the transportation of Muslim and Croat civilians to work camps and detention centres.

March 2
      Labor loses in Australia

      Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating's Labor Party suffered a crushing defeat at the polls when John Howard's Liberal Party-National Party coalition won 94 of the 148 seats in the House of Representatives. Analysts believed the personalities of the two men significantly affected the outcome, but the candidates also took different positions on major issues. They disagreed on such subjects as the state of the economy, the wisdom of having a national wage scale, and the possible consequences of partially privatizing the company that held a monopoly on local telephone services.

      Caldera loses support

      The government of Venezuelan Pres. Rafael Caldera lost control of both the Senate and the House of Deputies when the Movement to Socialism (MAS) party, the Social Christian Party, and the Radical Cause formed an alliance. MAS had previously allied itself with Caldera's National Convergence and the Democratic Action Party, but differences over financial policies caused it to seek new partners. Among the difficult problems Caldera faced were bank failures, serious inflation, a growing national debt, and labour unrest.

March 3
      Turkish rivals unite

      After unsuccessful attempts by various political parties to agree on terms for a coalition government, Turkey's two-month-old political crisis came to an end. Interim prime minister Tansu Ciller of the True Path Party and Mesut Yilmaz of the Motherland Party agreed that Yilmaz would head their coalition government for the rest of the year. During the following two years, Ciller would be in charge. During the two years after that, if the coalition still survived, the prime ministership would be split between Yilmaz and a member of the True Path Party. The two rivals were able to come together because both were determined to isolate the Islamic Welfare Party, which in December 1995 had won a plurality of 158 seats in the Turkish Grand National Assembly. Although the new coalition controlled only 267 seats in the Assembly—just short of an absolute majority—two leftist parties that controlled 124 seats indicated that they would allow the conservative coalition to manage the government.

March 6
      Canada cuts social budget

      A blueprint for Canada's 1996-97 fiscal year, presented to the House of Commons by Finance Minister Paul Martin, indicated that the government would continue its effort to reduce the budget by trimming funds for social programs. Pensions and retirement savings plans were specifically targeted for slower growth, but other benefits for the elderly were also likely to be affected because there appeared to be no other way to control the deficit. In the future, single persons earning more than Can$52,000 a year (the current limit was Can$85,000) and couples earning more than Can$78,000 (currently Can$170,000) would not qualify for Old Age Security benefits.

March 7
      Okinawa rape trial ends

      A panel of three Japanese judges in Naha, Okinawa, convicted three U.S. servicemen of the rape of a 12-year-old Japanese girl in Okinawa in September 1995. A marine and a navy seaman were each sentenced to seven years in prison. A second marine was sentenced to six and a half years. All three had pleaded guilty to having participated in the child's abduction, but of the two who admitted raping her, one later retracted his confession. The judges remarked that the evidence left no room for sympathy because the crime had been premeditated. Nonetheless, the sentences they handed out were less than the 10 years demanded by the prosecution.

      Arafat convenes council

      The 88-member Palestine Legislative Council, chosen in general elections in January, convened for the first time in Gaza City under the chairmanship of Yasir Arafat, president of the Palestine National Authority. During his speech Arafat hailed "the birth of a new democracy in the Middle East" while deploring recent acts of terrorism against Israel, including two bombings in February that killed 25 Israelis. Such attacks, he vowed, would not halt the peace process. Arafat's authority was further strengthened when Ahmed Qurie (Abu Ala) was elected speaker of the Council. He was among those who had signed the Palestinian peace treaty with Israel.

      Austrian parties reunite

      After months of negotiations, Austria's two largest parties agreed to reestablish the coalition that they had formed in November 1994 after both lost seats in the National Council elections. One year later the People's Party withdrew its support from the Social Democratic Party because it had failed to implement a program of greater fiscal austerity. With the Social Democrats still holding a plurality of seats in the legislature, the People's Party agreed to become part of a coalition government again if the budget deficit was reduced by billions of dollars. Chancellor Franz Vranitzky, a Social Democrat, agreed that such cuts could be made.

      Turkey curbs free speech

      Yasar Kemal, generally regarded as Turkey's foremost living author, was given a 20-month suspended prison sentence for having published several articles in which he criticized the government for placing certain restrictions on free speech. The court found Kemal guilty of having violated the country's anti-terrorist law because his remarks allegedly "fomented enmity between peoples." In a separate trial three months earlier, Kemal had faced similar charges for having condemned the government's military campaign against the Kurds. In that instance he was acquitted.

      Drug firms to merge

      Sandoz AG and Ciba-Geigy AG announced that they planned to merge under the name Novartis. The two giant Swiss pharmaceutical firms would then become one of the largest drug companies in the world, with annual sales of nearly $11 billion. The market value of Novartis, which would control 4.4% of the world market, was estimated to be $62 billion. After the merger, which had to be approved by stockholders of each company and by international regulatory agencies, Ciba-Geigy's chief executive would become chairman of Novartis and the head of Sandoz's pharmaceutical division would become president.

March 8
      Thai workers recompensed

      The California Department of Industrial Relations distributed checks to Thai workers who in August 1995 had been discovered working in sweatshops. Most were illegal immigrants. Authorities had calculated that they were owed a total of $1.1 million in back wages. The checks they received ranged in size from $64 to $37,000. The seven Thai citizens who had operated the sweatshops had pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy, harbouring illegal aliens, and slavery. They were to be sentenced later.

March 13
      Gunman slays 16 children

      In what appeared to be a totally random act of violence, a gunman shot and killed 16 small children and their teacher at the Dunblane (Scot.) Primary School. He then killed himself. The heavily armed man fired several shots in the playground before going to the gymnasium, where the children had gathered. Only one of the 29 children was unscathed. As police began their investigation, they were at a loss to explain the gunman's behaviour.

      Liggett settles lawsuit

      The largest class-action suit ever filed against the tobacco industry was partially settled when the Liggett Group agreed to contribute 5% of its annual pretax profits, up to a maximum of $50 million each year, for a period of 25 years to programs aimed at helping people quit smoking. Individuals would receive no compensation. Liggett also negotiated a settlement with five states that had sued to recover Medicare money they had spent treating those suffering from tobacco-related illnesses. Although Liggett ranked fifth among U.S. cigarette manufacturers, its sales represented only 2% of the U.S. market. Liggett's settlements broke the unified front the tobacco companies had formed to fight a flood of lawsuits.

March 15
      Duma revokes treaties

      Russia's State Duma (parliament) voted 250-98, with numerous abstentions, to annul the 1991 treaties that dissolved the Soviet Union. The vote kindled fears that Russia might resort to force to reunite the now sovereign republics, especially if Gennady Zyuganov, the leader of the communists, defeated Boris Yeltsin in Russia's presidential election. There appeared to be little likelihood that the former Soviet republics would voluntarily relinquish their recently won independence.

      Menem gets special powers

      According to published reports, Argentina's Senate and Chamber of Deputies had agreed to give Pres. Carlos Menem special economic powers for one year so that he could better cope with the nation's financial problems. Fearing that Argentina could not otherwise meet the 1996 fiscal targets imposed by the International Monetary Fund, the legislators granted Menem the power to increase tax rates and impose new taxes without its prior approval. There was a stipulation, however, that the president would have to present his tax proposals to a special congressional committee for screening.

March 17
      Mugabe runs unopposed

      After his two political opponents had demanded that their names be removed from the ballots, Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, was automatically elected to another six-year term. He had ruled the country continuously since 1980, the year it gained independence from Great Britain. Abel Muzorewa, a retired bishop, had withdrawn his candidacy after the Supreme Court rejected his request to have "unfair electoral rules" changed and the election postponed. Muzorewa said that Zimbabwe was now ruled "by a black minority one-party dictatorship." Mugabe's party controlled 147 of 150 seats in the legislature. The Rev. Ndabaningi Sithole had also withdrawn from the race owing to electoral policies that he alleged were unfair.

      The Sudan holds election

      Sudanese Pres. Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir was assured of five more years in office after an election that lasted 12 days. The outcome of the first voting in The Sudan since 1986 was never in doubt. Political parties had been banned, and the names of the 40 or so presidential candidates who challenged Bashir meant little to a large segment of the voters. Most opposition leaders had called for a boycott of the election and requested that their names not be placed on the ballots. Observers generally viewed the election as a transparent effort by Bashir to gain some measure of legitimacy for his military regime. Since ousting The Sudan's democratically elected government in 1989, Bashir and the National Islamic Front had ruled the country with near absolute power. On March 23 Bashir declared that he would rule the country under "Islamic law and dignity" without a return of party politics.

March 18
      Benin elects Kérékou

      In a runoff election for the presidency of the small West African republic of Benin, Mathieu Kérékou defeated incumbent Pres. Nicéphore Soglo by capturing 52.5% of the vote. After leading a successful military coup in 1972, Kérékou used his position to promote Marxist policies. He stepped aside in 1990 during a period of economic and social instability. After regaining power, Kérékou promised to continue the free-market policies of his predecessor and to support democracy.

March 19
      Sarajevo region reunited

      For the first time since 1992, Sarajevo and five suburbs were united under the authority of the Muslim-dominated government of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Under terms of a 1995 peace accord, Bosnian Serb authorities were obliged to relinquish control of the five specified suburbs. The transfer of authority came amid a massive exodus of Serbs from the affected area. Of the 70,000 Serbs who had lived in the Sarajevo suburbs, only 7,000 remained. Their departure highlighted the problems authorities faced in establishing a multiethnic state in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Ethnic animosities were too intense for a speedy reconciliation.

March 22
      Union workers end strike

      With near unanimity, some 1,700 members of United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 696 voted to end their strike against the General Motors Corp. (GM). Only two brake-manufacturing plants in Dayton, Ohio, were directly affected, but GM was forced to lay off 178,000 other UAW workers when 26 of its 29 North American production plants had to be shut down for lack of parts. The strike, which was the automobile industry's largest since 1970, had cost the automaker an estimated $50 million a day in pretax earnings through lost production of 240,000 cars. The strikers' central complaint was GM's outsourcing of brake work to the U.S. unit of a German company. In-house production would have provided employment to an additional 128 union workers, but it would have made GM even less competitive against its chief U.S. rivals, the Chrysler Corp. and the Ford Motor Co. While the issue of outsourcing was not resolved, GM executives agreed to pay each UAW worker $1,700 and, among other things, to reduce the required amount of overtime from 40% to 20% of the regular workweek.

March 23
      Lee Teng-hui reelected

      In the first direct presidential election in Chinese history, Lee Teng-hui won a second five-year term as president of the Republic of China on Taiwan. He easily defeated three other candidates by capturing 54% of the vote. The election board reported that 76% of eligible voters had cast ballots. Lee was the first native-born Taiwanese to head the ruling Kuomintang (KMT; Nationalist Party). Peng Ming-min, who supported his Democratic Progressive Party's (Minchintang's) policy of independence for Taiwan, received 21% of the vote. The other candidates, both former members of the KMT, ran as independents and together won 25% of the vote. In a victory speech in Taipei, Lee remarked that the election marked a historic moment in China's history because "the door of democracy is now completely open." In a reference to China, which had tried to undermine support for Lee by firing rockets off the northern and southern coasts of the island, the president said, "In this very difficult and dangerous moment, with threats coming from outside, we have completed our mission."

March 26
      Japan banks post losses

      With the announcement that 10 more of Japan's largest banks would report losses for the 1995 fiscal year, a total of 17 of the country's leading commercial and trust banks would post a combined deficit of $33 billion. This figure reflected a decision by the directors of the banks to write off about $95 billion in bad debts. Fuji Bank Ltd. and Sakura Bank Ltd. were each expected to report losses of about $4 billion.

March 27
      EU bans "mad cow" beef

      The European Union (EU) announced a worldwide ban on the export of British beef products amid fears that bovine spongiform encephalopathy ("mad cow" disease) was linked to a similar disease that affected humans. Both diseases were fatal. Britain had reported nearly 160,000 cases of mad cow disease since it was first diagnosed in 1986. The Standing Veterinary Committee of the EU had evaluated the possible health hazards before approving the ban 14-1. British Prime Minister John Major expressed dismay at the decision, saying it could not be justified by available scientific evidence. Nonetheless, the impact of the ruling was immediate and far-reaching; the number of British cows sent to slaughter dropped by 98%.

      Yigal Amir convicted

      After a two-month trial in Tel Aviv District Court, a panel of three judges found Yigal Amir guilty of the premeditated murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in November 1995. By law only Nazi war criminals were subject to capital punishment in Israel. Amir, therefore, received the mandatory life sentence imposed on murderers. Amir, who was smiling broadly when arrested at the scene of the crime, told the court that he had shot Rabin to halt the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. He claimed that what he had done was for God, the Torah, and the people and land of Israel. Prime Minister Shimon Peres remarked that the punishment meted out to Amir "pales in my eyes in comparison with the crime."

March 28
      Line-item veto passed

      Another item in the Republican Party's "Contract with America" was due to become U.S. law when President Clinton announced that he had decided to sign legislation granting "line-item veto" powers to the president. The new law would allow the U.S. president to veto specific parts of legislation authorizing new entitlement programs without having to reject the entire bill because he could not subscribe to all of its provisions. Congress could reinstate the deleted item, but if the president vetoed it a second time, a two-thirds majority would be needed in both houses of Congress to override the veto. The new law was opposed by those who contended that it improperly transferred legislative powers to the executive branch of government.


April 2
      Belarus signs accord

      Belarusian Pres. Alyaksandr Lukashenka and Russian Pres. Boris Yeltsin signed a treaty creating an "integrated political and economic community." Even though the two nations agreed to form the union, for the present they remained totally independent and sovereign. Nothing had been decided about merging at some future date. Belarus, Russia, Kazakstan, and Kyrgyzstan earlier had signed a pact that committed them to strengthening economic ties. Speaking mainly to those who were pondering the significance of growing cooperation between the former Soviet republics, Yeltsin remarked, "Those who do not lament the disintegration of the [Soviet] Union do not have a heart. But those who are dreaming of its restoration do not have a brain."

April 3
      Unabomber suspect nabbed

      U.S. federal agents in Montana apprehended Theodore J. Kaczynski, who they believed was the serial killer known as the "Unabomber." On April 4 Kaczynski, a former university professor, was charged with the federal felony of possessing materials used in destructive devices. Over a period of 17 years, the Unabomber had killed 3 persons and injured 23 with explosives sent through the mail. Kaczynski was tracked down after his brother notified the FBI that in his mother's house he had come across papers suggesting that Theodore might be the long-sought terrorist.

      Ron Brown dies in crash

      U.S. Secretary of Commerce Ronald Brown died, along with 32 other Americans and 2 Croatians, when a U.S. Air Force jet crashed into a mountain in Croatia. Brown was visiting Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina with other U.S. government officials and businessmen. The purpose of their visit was to secure contracts to help rebuild the war-damaged nations. There were indications that human error and bad judgment had caused the accident.

      Afrikaners go to prison

      Five members of the Afrikaner Resistance Movement were sentenced to 26 years in prison for killing 21 persons in three 1994 bombings. The white extremists were part of an effort by right-wing elements to disrupt South Africa's first all-race parliamentary elections. Of the 13 others who were put on trial, 4 were acquitted and 5 given prison sentences of a minimum of three years. The sentencing of four others was suspended because they had escaped.

      U.K. to hold referendum

      British Prime Minister John Major announced that his Cabinet had agreed to a national referendum to decide whether Great Britain should join the European Monetary Union and accept a common European currency. Kenneth Clarke, chancellor of the Exchequer, had threatened to resign if the Cabinet sought public approval of its policy in a referendum, the first ever sanctioned by a ruling Conservative Party government. Clarke agreed to stay on after Major assured him that he would force the resignation of any Cabinet member who publicly advocated rejection of the referendum before the voters had cast their ballots.

April 4
      U.S. trims farm supports

      President Clinton signed legislation that would eliminate or drastically reduce federal subsidies and price supports that benefited farmers. The Freedom to Farm Act, which had received strong support in both the Senate (74-26) and the House of Representatives (318-89), was expected to save the government some $2 billion over seven years. Among other things, under the new law, which took into account many different situations, subsidies that farmers had been paid not to grow crops that were in oversupply would be reduced gradually for seven years, at which time they would cease. Sugar, peanut, and tobacco farmers were among those who would not be affected by the new policy.

April 6
      Chaos reigns in Liberia

      The worst factional fighting in more than three years turned Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, into a battlefield. It also disrupted a peace plan designed to end the civil conflict. Following the declaration of a cease-fire, a six-man Council of State had been established to run the government while the warring parties disarmed and preparations were made for elections in August. The uncertain calm gave way to violence when the council ordered the arrest of faction leader D. Roosevelt Johnson on murder charges. When his followers began seizing Lebanese women and children as well as West African peacekeeping personnel, the U.S. quickly moved to evacuate hundreds of its citizens and other foreign nationals whose lives were in jeopardy. A new cease-fire was announced on April 19, but it did not solve the problems of the more than one million people—half the population—who remained homeless.

April 7
      Korean DMZ violated

      North Korean troops ended three days of military exercises in the demilitarized zone that separated North and South Korea. Because there was no sign of an impending attack against the South, political analysts speculated that the North was merely attempting to convince UN officials that it would be in their interest to conclude a bilateral treaty with the North formally ending the Korean War. North Korea had previously stipulated that South Korea was to be excluded from the treaty negotiations.

April 10
      Clinton veto criticized

      President Clinton's veto of a bill that would have outlawed "partial-birth" abortions was denounced, as expected, by pro-life groups. The House of Representatives had approved the legislation by more than the two-thirds majority required for overriding a veto, but the Senate had not. The medical procedure, performed only after 20 weeks of a pregnancy, involved the partial removal of a fetus and the crushing of the skull or the sucking out of the brain. Sen. Bob Dole summed up his position, saying, "A partial-birth abortion blurs the line between abortion and infanticide and crosses an ethical and legal line we must never cross. President Clinton now stands on the wrong side of this line." Clinton defended his veto on the grounds that such abortions were rare and resorted to only when the mother or fetus had serious medical problems that were discovered after it was too late to perform other types of abortion.

      China turns to Europe

      China's offer to buy 30 passenger planes from Airbus Industrie, a European consortium, was formally approved by French Prime Minister Alain Juppé during a meeting in Paris with Chinese Premier Li Peng. Because the U.S.-owned Boeing Co. dominated the Chinese market, it appeared that Chinese officials were venting their displeasure with the U.S. for its criticism of China's human rights record and, among other things, its perceived reluctance to crack down on Chinese companies pirating copyrighted materials.

April 11
      Africa bans nuclear arms

      During a meeting in Cairo, representatives from virtually all of the African nations signed a treaty banning nuclear arms from the continent. The signatories pledged not to test, build, or stockpile nuclear weapons of any kind. To give added meaning to the treaty, China, France, the U.K., and the U.S. signed protocols promising not to test or use nuclear weapons in Africa or use the continent as a dumping ground for nuclear waste. Russia, the only other nation that publicly acknowledged having a nuclear capability, objected to parts of the treaty, including a section that excluded the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, where the U.S. maintained a military base.

      Kim's party flounders

      South Korean Pres. Kim Young Sam's New Korea Party lost its majority in the National Assembly, but it did not suffer the stinging defeat many had predicted before the legislative election. This was due in part, some analysts believed, to a desire on the part of many voters to support the government in the face of provocations from North Korea. Kim had cited North Korea's military exercises in the demilitarized zone as a reminder that the nation must be ever vigilant. The balance of power in the new legislature was such that Kim would be able, with expected support from independents, to continue his program of economic and political reforms without having to form a coalition government.

April 12
      Pakistan gets U.S. arms

      In a letter to Congress, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott revealed that the Clinton administration had decided to deliver $368 million worth of military equipment to Pakistan. The shipment would not include the 28 F-16 fighter jets Pakistan had already paid for. A 1985 amendment to a U.S. foreign aid bill had prohibited the sale of military items to countries thought to be developing nuclear weapons. The president, consequently, had to certify that Pakistan was qualified to receive the shipment, which had been delayed because Pakistan had purchased from China 5,000 ring magnets that could be used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.

April 17
      Brazilian police kill 19

      At least 19 members of Brazil's landless peasant movement were killed when Pará state police tried to open a highway they were blocking. Police claimed that they had fired on the crowd only after peasants had fired at them. A professionally shot videotape, shown on national television, proved otherwise. On countless occasions members of the landless movement had occupied unused sections of large rural estates to press their case for land redistribution. Many of the local police ordered to evict the trespassers were said to be paid by the estate owners. The peasants and their cause had a friend in Pres. Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who had signed decrees expropriating rural land from large estates.

April 18
      Israeli shells hit camp

      More than 100 civilians were killed and numerous others injured when Israeli soldiers fired artillery shells into a UN camp at Qana, Leb., that housed Lebanese refugees. For days Israeli warplane and helicopter gunships had been hitting various targets in Lebanon as part of a military operation against Hezbollah (Party of God) guerrillas who had launched rockets into northern Israel. On April 26 both Israel and Hezbollah signed a cease-fire agreement.

      Tourists killed in Egypt

      Islamic militants shot and killed 18 Greek tourists outside their hotel about 30 km (20 mi) from Cairo. There was some evidence that the terrorists had mistakenly thought that the tourists were Israelis. The attack, like others before it, was an attempt to cause turmoil in Egypt and destabilize the pro-Western government of Pres. Hosni Mubarak. The Muslim Brotherhood, tolerated but officially banned, called the murders "a disgrace to humanity." The police later rounded up 1,500 Islamic fundamentalists in a sweep through three poor areas of Cairo.

April 20
      Bolivians end strike

      A month-long strike came to an end when the Bolivian Workers' Central, which represented most of the country's public-sector workers, reached an agreement with the government. It included a 13% pay raise for teachers and a 9% increase for other workers. The state-employed teachers had walked out on March 18 to protest their low wages and government plans to privatize some state-owned industries. The teachers were then joined by students, health care personnel, public transportation employees, and workers in the oil industry. On April 2 some 50,000 strikers had created chaos in the streets of La Paz, the capital, by looting stores and hurling sticks of dynamite at police.

April 21
      Italy holds election

      For the first time in Italian history, a leftist coalition emerged from parliamentary elections with a plurality of seats in both the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. The victorious Olive Tree coalition, led by Romano Prodi, included the Democratic Party of the Left (PDS) and the Italian Renewal Party formed by Prime Minister Lamberto Dini. Massimo D'Alema, the popular leader of the PDS, was urged to seek the prime ministership, but he declined. He said he believed that Prodi would be a better choice and would be well received by the electorate, in part because most Italians did not associate him with a political system that they considered corrupt.

April 22
      Eurotunnel reports loss

      Sir Alastair Morton, cochairman of the Anglo-French authority that operated the Channel Tunnel (Eurotunnel), reported a loss of $1.4 billion during 1995. Morton said that the tunnel's 225 creditor banks had not yet responded to proposals for restructuring the debt, but he expressed optimism about the future because the tunnel was handling about 45% of the freight and passenger traffic moving across the English Channel.

April 24
      PLO revokes basic policy

      Fulfilling a pledge Yasir Arafat had made to Israel at the signing of a second-stage peace accord in September 1995, the Palestine National Council voted 504-54, with 14 abstentions, to rescind clauses in the Palestine Liberation Organization's (PLO's) charter that called for guerrilla warfare against Israel and the destruction of the Jewish state. Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres referred to Arafat, the newly elected president of the Palestine National Authority, as an integral partner in Israel's search for peace. He also characterized the modifications made in the PLO charter as the most important change in ideology in a century.

      Chechen leader slain

      Secessionists in Russia's autonomous republic of Chechnya confirmed reports that Pres. Dzhokhar Dudayev had been killed three days earlier when his jeep was hit by a rocket fired from a Russian plane. At the time, Dudayev was reportedly using a cellular phone to converse with a Russian negotiator. The phone signal was evidently used to target the rocket. A Russian official later took credit for the "assassination." Dudayev, a former general in the Soviet air force, had led the fight for Chechen independence after being elected president in 1991. His death, some felt, would motivate Chechens to resist the Russian army with renewed determination.

      French doctors strike

      Three of the four French doctors unions, upset that access to the public health system would be restricted by some of the budget-cutting reforms announced by Prime Minister Alain Juppé, called a protest strike even though they knew the ordinances would take effect after being debated in the National Assembly. When Juppé first unveiled his proposals in 1995, the social security budget deficit was projected to reach $3.3 billion. Subsequent calculations nearly doubled that figure. The government concluded that the only feasible solution was to adopt a managed-care system similar to those now widely used by U.S. health care providers. Under Juppé's plan, patients would have to consult general practitioners before visiting specialists. Records, moreover, would identify those who overused the public health system.

April 26
      Germany cuts welfare

      Faced with a budget deficit that was becoming intolerable, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl announced a series of welfare reforms and spending cuts. Earlier in the month he had failed to persuade employers and workers to back his proposals. He continued to argue, however, that Germany's generous welfare system could no longer be financed because of recent downturns in the economy. The plan he presented included a reduction in the "solidarity surcharge" earmarked for the development of former East Germany as well as cuts in such areas as state pensions, benefits accorded certain immigrants, and wages received by workers during long-term illnesses.

April 27
      Pipeline deal sealed

      Kazakstan, Oman, and Russia signed an agreement to build a 1,400-km (900-mi) oil and gas pipeline running from western Kazakstan through Russia to the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiysk. The three nations would hold a 50% interest in the consortium. The other 50% would be owned by eight oil companies. The major participants would be Chevron Corp. with a 15% interest, the Russian oil company Lukoil with 12.5%, and Mobil Corp. with 7.5%. The project, expected to cost at least $1.2 billion, was scheduled for completion in the year 2001.

April 28
      Gunman slays 35

      In what was described as the worst massacre in Australian history, a gunman killed 35 people in Port Arthur, Tasmania. The incident occurred at an old colonial prison frequented by tourists. After killing 20 people in a small cafe, he used a semiautomatic rifle to murder 12 more people visiting the prison ruins. He then held three persons hostage in a guest cottage, which he set afire the next morning. The man was captured when he fled the burning building, but the three hostages had burned to death.


May 1
      Shipbuilder goes under

      Germany's largest shipbuilder, Bremer Vulkan Verbund AG, initiated bankruptcy proceedings after its creditor banks rejected proposals for restructuring the company's debt. When Bremer Vulkan announced early in the year that it had sustained some $650 million in losses, its executives acknowledged that the state funds the company had received in the early 1990s had been misused. The company's collapse was expected to be most keenly felt in the port cities of Bremen and Bremerhaven.

May 3
      Land mines restricted

      During a conference at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, delegates from around the world debated the use of land mines but did not concur that all land mines should be eliminated immediately. While there was wide agreement that land mines were uncontrollable and inhumane, some insisted that they were still necessary for defense until new technology provided an acceptable alternative. China, India, Russia, and the U.S. were among the nations unwilling to endorse an immediate ban on all land mines.

May 6
      Report on Guatemala

      The U.S. State Department made public some of its official documents on human rights abuses allegedly perpetrated by the Guatemalan military. A spokesman for the State Department used the occasion to declare that U.S. government officials in Guatemala had had "no reason not to believe" Sister Dianna Ortiz when she reported that she had been kidnapped, raped, and tortured by Guatemalan security forces in 1989. Ortiz had gone on a hunger strike to compel the government to review her case and make public its findings. The newly released documents revealed that the U.S. ambassador had cabled Washington, D.C., at the time to say that he believed that Sister Ortiz's story was a hoax concocted to persuade the U.S. to cut off aid to Guatemala.

May 7
      Sex offenders identified

      The U.S. House of Representatives supported (418-0) an amendment to a 1994 federal anticrime bill requiring state officials to notify communities when a convicted sex offender had moved into their area. Two days later the Senate approved the measure by voice vote. On May 17 President Clinton signed the bill into law. Virtually all states had already enacted legislation obliging authorities to keep track of paroled sex offenders, but few laws stipulated that the public was to be notified where such criminals were living.

May 8
      New charter approved

      By a vote of 421-2, with 10 abstentions, South Africa's Constitutional Assembly approved a new democratic constitution. Most sections of the new charter would take effect as soon as the Constitutional Court stipulated that the document embodied the principles set forth in the interim charter that had been in force since South Africa's first all-race national election in April 1994. Among many other things, the constitution established a strong presidency, a two-house national legislature, and an independent judiciary. It also guaranteed free speech (so long as it was not "hate speech") and the right to restitution for land seized by the government under apartheid.

May 9
      Canada protects gays

      Canada's House of Commons passed (153-76) an amendment to the federal Human Rights Act that prohibited discrimination against homosexuals who worked for the federal government or in institutions regulated by the government. After Prime Minister Jean Chrétien assured fellow members of the ruling Liberal Party that they were free to vote their convictions, 29 rejected the amendment. Impetus for a federal amendment came by way of the Supreme Court of Canada, which in 1995 had affirmed that the Human Rights Act implicitly protected homosexuals against discrimination. The fact that 7 of Canada's 10 provinces had already passed laws forbidding discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation was further evidence that the laws had wide support throughout the country.

      U.K. military bans gays

      The British House of Commons rejected (188-120) a bill that would have revoked laws banning homosexuals from serving in the military. Two days earlier a select committee in the House of Commons had issued a statement supporting a continuation of the ban, saying, "There has to be a balance between the rights of the individual and the needs of the whole." The committee also rejected as impractical the U.S. policy of "don't ask, don't tell" and the German approach, which limited the types of assignments given to homosexuals.

May 10
      Vietnamese refugees riot

      In an effort to prevent their forcible repatriation, thousands of Vietnamese refugees in Hong Kong's Whitehead detention camp rioted. Several dozen buildings and more than 50 cars were set ablaze, and 15 or more wardens were briefly taken hostage. During the confusion about 30 detainees were able to elude the police and escaped to freedom. The Hong Kong government had set the repatriation process in motion on orders from China, which demanded that all 18,000 boat people held in Hong Kong camps be sent home before the crown colony reverted to Chinese sovereignty on July 1, 1997.

      Australia curbs guns

      Following the massacre in Tasmania of 35 people in late April, the national, state, and territorial governments of Australia agreed to outlaw the sale and possession of all automatic and semiautomatic weapons. The decision was reached during an emergency meeting called by Prime Minister John Howard, who labeled the new restrictions on guns "a signal to people all around the country that ours is not a gun culture." The opposition Labor Party also voiced its approval of the legislation, but some 70,000 disgruntled gun owners held a protest march in Melbourne on June 1.

May 11
      Museveni wins election

      Election officials in Uganda announced that Pres. Yoweri Museveni had won 74.2% of the popular vote in the no-party election held on May 9. It was the first presidential election since the country gained independence from Great Britain in 1962. Paul K. Ssemogerere, Museveni's principal opponent, denounced the election as neither free nor fair. As evidence he cited the restrictions placed on political parties. He also charged that local officials had been bribed and voters intimidated by government-instigated violence. Even though political parties as such could not raise money, hold meetings, or conduct campaigns, outside observers were generally restrained in their criticism of the government, which had fostered a free-market economy with favourable results.

May 15
      Chirac cajoles U.K.

      During an address to a joint session of the British Parliament, French Pres. Jacques Chirac encouraged the nation's leaders to be more positive in evaluating the benefits that would accrue to the nation if they gave whole-hearted support to a tightly integrated European Union (EU). Reassuring those who claimed that Britain's sovereignty had already been violated by the EU ban on exporting beef that might be contaminated by "mad cow" disease, Chirac pledged that Britain's voice would be heard loud and clear once the nation had committed itself fully to a strongly united economic and monetary union. In a private meeting, Chirac and British Prime Minister John Major discussed the Channel Tunnel's (Eurotunnel's) financial problems and a proposal to form a joint arms-purchasing agency with Germany. Several days earlier France's Matra Hachette SA and British Aerospace PLC had agreed to merge to form Europe's largest manufacturer of guided weapons.

May 18
      Prodi assumes office

      The centre-left Olive Tree coalition took over the reins of government in Italy with the swearing in of Prime Minister Romano Prodi, a member of the Popular Party. His 20-member Cabinet included 9 members of the Party of the Democratic Front (PDS), which represented the largest group within the coalition. The PDS, however, was not given several influential posts that it had hoped to fill. Two former prime ministers were awarded Cabinet portfolios: Lamberto Dini, Prodi's predecessor and a member of the Italian Renewal Party, was appointed foreign minister, and Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, an independent, was named head of the Treasury and Budget ministries.

      Demirel escapes attack

      A man identified as a Muslim extremist was tackled by bodyguards as he was about to fire a handgun at Turkish Pres. Suleyman Demirel. The incident occurred during a ceremony for the opening of a shopping mall in the town of Izmit. The gunman was apparently one of many Turkish Muslims who were incensed at the government for allowing Israeli military aircraft to conduct maneuvers in Turkish airspace. Demirel had also incurred the wrath of Muslims by refusing to transform Turkey into an Islamic state.

May 20
      Iraq accepts oil deal

      After repeatedly refusing to allow the UN to dictate the terms under which Iraq could export oil to finance the purchase of urgently needed food and medicine, Iraqi Pres. Saddam Hussein endorsed UN Security Council Resolution 986. It permitted Iraq to sell $2 billion worth of oil during an initial six-month period. During that time UN officials would carefully monitor the oil flow and verify that the food and medicine that had been purchased were reaching those most in need. One-third of the oil revenues would be deposited in an account to reimburse those who had been victimized during Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. At least $130 million worth of supplies would be earmarked for Kurds living in the northern part of the country. If the UN was satisfied with the way things were proceeding, Iraq would be allowed to sell $1 billion worth of oil during successive three-month periods.

May 22
      Hackers worry Pentagon

      Computer experts at the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) reported that hackers had attempted to invade computer files at the Defense Department about 250,000 times during 1995. About 65% of those attempts, principally using the Internet, had been successful. The GAO called attention to the potential for "catastrophic damage" unless the situation was seriously addressed and remedied. Jack L. Brock, Jr., who headed the investigation, warned that inadequate security opened the door for terrorists or enemy nations to wreak havoc with Pentagon communications.

May 23
      UNHCR reports on CIS

      The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) issued a report on the migration of peoples who had been Soviet citizens before the breakup of the U.S.S.R. in 1991. An estimated 50 million-60 million people suddenly found themselves living outside their native republics in newly independent nations. The UNHCR described the situation in these new countries as "the largest, most complex, and potentially most destabilizing" phenomenon in Europe since the end of World War II. This was true despite the fact that the former Soviet republics had agreed to join together in a loose association called the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). During a meeting in Geneva at the end of May, representatives of some 80 countries discussed problems that had been created by forced migration within the CIS. A nonbinding program was approved urging each CIS nation to grant citizenship rights to former Soviet citizens living within its borders and to take steps to protect the rights of minority peoples.

May 24
      SLORC tightens its grip

      News sources reported that Myanmar's (Burma's) ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) had arrested more than 250 members of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in an effort to disrupt its scheduled party conference at the home of its leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Undeterred by the fact that she had been under house arrest until July 1995, Suu Kyi began the conference on May 26, the sixth anniversary of the landmark 1990 national election. Only 18 delegates were allowed to attend the conference, but some 10,000 others gathered outside her home in a show of support. The NLD's agenda included the drafting of a new constitution, which would invalidate SLORC's seizure of power after the military declared the NLD's overwhelming election victory in 1990 null and void.

May 25
      King visits homeland

      Responding to an invitation from a group of Bulgarian intellectuals wishing to discuss the future of their country, King Simeon II visited his homeland in the company of his wife. He was welcomed in Sofia, the capital, by an estimated half a million people, even though fewer than 20% of Bulgarians said that they would like to see the monarchy restored. Simeon was six years old when he ascended the throne in 1943 upon the death of his father. He had not lived in Bulgaria since 1946, when he and his mother fled the country to escape the Soviet army. Simeon, who had never abdicated the throne, made his living in Spain as a business consultant. Bulgaria's socialist government characterized the king's visit as an attempt to revive fascism.

May 26
      Albania holds election

      In a national election held to decide representation in Albania's People's Assembly, the Democratic Party of Albania (DPA) of Pres. Sali Berisha won 95 of the 115 seats filled by direct election. The results were generally welcomed by U.S. and Western European leaders because Pres. Berisha had enhanced stability in the Balkan region by persuading the large minority of Albanians who were living in Yugoslavia to soften their demand for autonomy. Nonetheless, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe did not hesitate to confirm the truth of charges leveled by Berisha's political foes that ballots had been altered by DPA supporters and that voters had been intimidated by armed men who invaded polling places.

May 27
      African mutiny quelled

      French troops stationed in the Central African Republic were finally able to quell an uprising by mutinous soldiers. On May 18 rebellious soldiers had surrounded the presidential palace to give teeth to their demand for back pay. They also wanted to take back control of the national armoury from presidential guards who had been assigned that duty after the uprising on April 18. France helped resolve the latest crisis by providing back pay to soldiers as well as to teachers and civil servants who had gone on strike to demand their own overdue wages. In 1993 Ange-Félix Patassé had won the country's first multiparty presidential election, but many inside and outside the country considered him an incompetent and corrupt leader.

May 28
      McDougals, Tucker guilty

      James and Susan McDougal and Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker were found guilty of fraud and conspiracy by a federal jury in Little Rock, Ark. All had previously been associated with President Clinton and his wife in business deals connected with the Whitewater affair. The defendants were convicted of having arranged fraudulent loads amounting to some $3 million through Capital Management Services and Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan, a now-defunct institution in Arkansas that James McDougal had owned. Federal insurance carried by the two institutions allowed the losses to be repaid with tax revenues. James McDougal was convicted on 18 of the 19 counts against him. Susan McDougal, his ex-wife, was convicted on four counts and Tucker on two. All convicted said they would appeal the verdicts.

      Bulgaria gets IMF loan

      After satisfying itself that Bulgaria would adhere to the terms of an agreement designed to put the country on the road to economic recovery, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) authorized a $400 million standby loan. Among other things, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov agreed to shut down 64 unprofitable state-owned enterprises and to reform the banking system, which was responsible for millions of dollars in bad loans. Videnov's Socialist Party had made only a token effort to adopt a free-market economy, but drastic changes were mandated under IMF guidelines. Tens of thousands of workers were expected to lose their jobs if broad reforms were instituted.

      Ukraine leader replaced

      Leonid Kuchma used his authority as president of Ukraine to name Pavlo Lazarenko prime minister. Before his promotion, he had been first deputy prime minister. Yevhen Marchuk had been removed as prime minister the previous day for "using all his energy to promote his own political image." Marchuk was viewed by many as a politician positioning himself for a run at the presidency in 1999.

May 29
      Netanyahu defeats Peres

      In a general election closely followed around the world, Benjamin Netanyahu, chairman of the Likud bloc, defeated Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres by the narrowest of margins. Official tallies showed that Netanyahu had captured 50.4% of the vote. Throughout the campaign his recurrent theme had been national security first and foremost. Analysts, accordingly, interpreted the election results as evidence that Israelis were more concerned about security than about an Arab-Israeli peace accord. In separate balloting for the 120-seat Knesset (parliament), both the ruling Labor Party and Likud lost seats. As a consequence, small parties were expected to have a larger voice in government than their absolute numbers warranted.

May 30
      GM chooses Thailand

      After surveying various sites in Southeast Asia and evaluating the advantages that each offered, the General Motors Corp. (GM) announced that it would build a major automobile assembly plant in Thailand. Smaller GM factories were already operating in India, Indonesia, and Taiwan. The company, which was the world's largest manufacturer of cars, reportedly hoped that its new $750 million facility in Thailand would eventually help double its share of the Asian market, which currently stood at 5%. Thailand reportedly had supported its bid by offering to build a $15 million automobile training centre on the condition that employees of other automobile companies would be allowed to train there.


June 1
      Gowda to lead India

      With the swearing in of H.D. Deve Gowda as prime minister, India came under the rule of a new government. The 13-party United Front coalition, which included leftist and regional parties, was able to survive a confidence vote on June 12 when the Congress (I) Party decided to support the Front without joining the coalition. Congress officials, however, had first demanded that the new government continue to pursue the free-market reforms that had been initiated by former prime minister P.V. Narasimha Rao. Gowda had no hesitation in making that pledge because he had earlier introduced similar policies in his home state of Karnataka. For the first time since India gained independence in 1947, the Cabinet was not dominated by Brahmins; most members, like Gowda himself, came from lower castes.

June 4
      Bahrain jails suspects

      The interior minister of Bahrain announced that 34 of the 44 persons arrested on June 3-4 had confessed to having conspired to overthrow the monarchy that ruled the tiny Persian Gulf emirate. On June 5 six men appeared on television and pleaded guilty to the charges against them. One said that he had worked with an Iranian official who reported directly to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's highest authority. These statements and alleged evidence that the Bahraini suspects had received terrorist training in both Iran and at bases run by the Hezbollah Party in Lebanon prompted Bahrain to downgrade its diplomatic relations with Iran. Iran denied any involvement in the alleged plot, which was purportedly aimed at establishing a Shi'ite Muslim regime favourable to Iran.

June 5
      Medicare facing crisis

      The six trustees overseeing the U.S. Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund reported that the fund would run a $53 billion deficit by the year 2001 unless changes were made in the program. Their study focused on Part A of Medicare, which relied primarily on payroll deductions to cover the cost of hospital stays. Part B, which paid for visits to doctors' offices and certain other medical expenditures, was not an immediate financial concern. Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin, one of the trustees, said that a short-term solution could be implemented immediately by cutting spending by $116 billion over six years. Such a step, he contended, would keep the program solvent until the year 2006. Those who reported on government affairs generally agreed that the Republican and Democratic members of Congress would resolve the problem through compromise, but not before the presidential election in November because neither party wanted to anger elderly voters by proposing cuts in their Medicare benefits.

June 10
      Peace plan for Chechnya

      A new accord aimed at ending the conflict between Chechen secessionists and the Russian government was signed by the Chechen chief of staff and the Russian nationalities minister. Under the terms of the agreement, elections in Chechnya would be postponed until September, after all Russian troops had been withdrawn from the area. The accord also called for the removal of roadblocks by July 7 and the disarmament of Chechen soldiers by August 7. Both sides also agreed that armament would not be used in battle. Previous cease-fire violations and recent skirmishes tempered expectations that the civil conflict had actually come to an end.

June 12
      Church fires condemned

      Speaking at the dedication of a new sanctuary at the Mt. Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church in Greeleyville, S.C., President Clinton condemned the recent burning of numerous churches, mostly in the South and with predominantly African-American congregations. During the previous 18 months, more than 30 churches had been destroyed or badly damaged. In most cases arson was suspected. Authorities, unaware of any evidence indicating the existence of a national or regional conspiracy, were inclined to conclude that some of the fires had been set by copycats.

      Election in Bangladesh

      In national parliamentary elections, the opposition Awami League, led by Sheikh Hasina Wazed, defeated the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) by capturing 146 seats; the BNP won 116. Because its representation in Parliament was short of an absolute majority, the Awami League invited the Jatiya Party, which finished third in the election with 32 seats, to join a coalition government. Its leader, former president Hossain Mohammed Ershad, was released from prison so he could occupy the seat he had won in the election. On June 23 Sheikh Hasina, who had played a major role in toppling Ershad's military government in 1990, took the oath of office as prime minister. Her 19-member Cabinet included Abdus Samad Azad, who was given the post of foreign minister. Sheikh Hasina reserved the defense minister post for herself.

June 13
      Racial districts voided

      In two 5-4 decisions, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the 14th Amendment of the Constitution had been violated in the racial gerrymandering of four congressional districts. One case involved a black district in North Carolina; the other, three majority black and Hispanic districts in Texas. The court's majority ruled that race had been too dominant a factor in the drawing of the boundaries of the districts. The justices had earlier declared that the consideration of race to promote the political influence of minorities could be defended only if it passed strict judicial scrutiny, a constitutional standard that required a compelling state interest in redressing specific racial discrimination.

      Last Freemen surrender

      After an 81-day standoff, the last 16 members of a group known as Freemen surrendered to authorities at a farm near Jordan, Mont. The 390-ha (960-ac) farm had been owned by Richard and Emmett Clark until the government issued a foreclosure notice in 1995 for nonpayment of taxes. The Freemen were bound together by their opposition to taxation and government interference in their lives. A crisis developed when two leaders of the Freemen were arrested on March 25 and charged with fraud and intimidation. In subsequent indictments the Freemen were accused of having defrauded banks, credit-card companies, and mail-order businesses of nearly $2 million. This was done by means of false checks and money orders. Many farmers in the area who had been sympathetic to the Freemen later criticized federal agents for not having used more aggressive tactics to end the stalemate sooner.

June 15
      German workers protest

      An estimated 350,000 workers held a rally in Bonn to protest the deep budget cuts that had been announced in April by German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. The leaders of the country's largest labour unions had organized the demonstration in part because the government had announced the austerity measures without first reaching a negotiated compromise with the unions. In addition, the labour leaders contended that workers were being forced to bear the burden of the cuts while wealthy corporations were left comparatively unscathed. Kohl's plan called for a $33 billion reduction in pensions, in payments during sick leave, and in other social programs. He had made the decision to implement the changes, he said, because Germany's entry into the European Union was contingent on major reductions in the nation's deficit.

June 17
      U.K. revamps divorce laws

      The British Parliament gave overwhelming approval (427-9) to basic reforms in the nation's divorce laws. Beginning in 1999, the termination of all marriages would be so-called no-fault divorces granted solely on the grounds that the marriage had "irretrievably broken down." As a consequence, specific failings such as infidelity or alcoholism would no longer of themselves be considered justifiable grounds for granting a divorce. Moreover, divorces could not be initiated in the first year of marriage, and no divorce would be finalized until one year after the couple had separated. If children were involved, the waiting period would be 18 months or longer if suitable arrangements had not been made for their financial support.

      ValuJet planes grounded

      The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) told ValuJet Airlines to ground its entire fleet. An intensive investigation of the low-cost airline had been ordered after one of its planes crashed in Florida in May. All 110 persons aboard were killed. At the time, David Hinson, head of the FAA, and Federico Peña, secretary of transportation, contended that ValuJet was a safe carrier. On June 19, however, Hinson acknowledged that repairs on ValuJet aircraft had not been properly done, that repairs had not been documented, that planes with maintenance safety problems had taken off, and that FAA safety directives had been disregarded.

June 18
      Report on Whitewater

      After a 13-month investigation, the special U.S. Senate Whitewater Committee issued two reports, one by the majority Republican membership headed by Alfonse D'Amato, the other by the Democrats. At a news conference D'Amato summed up his position, saying, "History will judge these hearings as a revealing insight into the workings of an American presidency that misused its power, circumvented the limits of authority, and attempted to manipulate the truth." The report issued by the Democrats stated in part, "The American people deserve to know, and now can take comfort in knowing, that this yearlong investigation shows no misconduct or abuse of power by their president or first lady." The purpose of the probe was to determine, if possible, the relationship that existed between Bill and Hillary Clinton and the Whitewater Development Corp., a failed real-estate venture in the 1980s.

      Yeltsin promotes Lebed

      Two days after winning a slim plurality of votes in the first round of Russia's presidential election, Boris Yeltsin appointed retired general Aleksandr Lebed to two high-level Kremlin posts. The former paratrooper had finished third in the voting. Former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev received only 0.5%. On June 17 Yeltsin had delivered a televised address during which he appealed to followers of Lebed and two other defeated candidates to support him in the runoff election against Gennady Zyuganov, leader of the Communist Party, so that the nation would not "return to revolutions" but "move forward toward stability and prosperity."

      Ulmanis wins reelection

      In secret balloting, members of Latvia's Saeima (parliament) granted Pres. Guntis Ulmanis another three-year term. Prime Minister Andris Skele and the members of several political parties had made public declarations supporting Ulmanis's reelection. Ilga Kreituse, who held the post of chairwoman of Saeima, finished second in the voting with 25 votes, less than half the number received by Ulmanis. Five parliamentarians cast votes for Alfreds Rubiks, the imprisoned candidate of the Latvian Communist Party.

June 21
      FBI files misused

      Kenneth Starr, an independent counsel investigating firings in the White House travel office, received expanded authority from a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., to investigate the White House acquisition of hundreds of confidential files maintained by the FBI. Louis Freeh, director of the FBI, said that his agency had been victimized by the White House and that both the FBI and the White House were guilty of "egregious violations of privacy." He promised that no such thing would ever happen again while he headed the FBI. President Clinton claimed that the improper acquisition of the files was due to a bureaucratic mix-up. The initial request for the files had been made on a form letter bearing the name of Bernard Nussbaum, then White House counsel. On June 5 Nussbaum denied under oath that he had ever authorized the sending of the letter.

June 23
      Arab League warns Israel

      All 20 attending members of the Arab League—Iraq was not invited—concluded a two-day emergency meeting in Cairo with a warning to the new government in Israel that any attempt to stall or renege on agreements reached by the previous government would compel the Arab world to reevaluate the Middle East peace process. Yasir Arafat, president of the Palestine National Authority, also attended the meeting and played a prominent role in the discussions. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed out of hand Arab demands that included, among other things, Israeli withdrawal from all occupied Arab lands and the establishment of a Palestinian state in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem.

June 25
      Bomb kills U.S. soldiers

      A massive truck-bomb explosion killed 19 U.S. servicemen stationed near the Saudi Arabian city of Az-Zahran. Several hundred other persons were injured. The bomb, apparently detonated by terrorists, left a 10.5-m (35-ft) crater on the perimeter of the military complex, where U.S., British, French, and Saudi military personnel were housed. Night guards at the complex became suspicious when a fuel truck pulled alongside the perimeter fence, which was just 32 m (35 yd) from the eight-story building. Before they could reach the vehicle, the driver jumped into a waiting car and was spirited away. Worried that such an attack might take place, the U.S. had petitioned Saudi authorities to move the fence farther away from the men's living quarters, but the request was denied. In October 1983, 241 servicemen had been killed in Beirut, Lebanon, by a Shi'ite Muslim suicide bomber.

June 26
      Court rules against VMI

      The U.S. Supreme Court ruled (7-1) that the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), which was funded by the state of Virginia, violated the 14th Amendment of the Constitution by refusing to accept female cadets. Unless it became private and received no funds from the state, VMI would have to end its 157-year-old tradition of training only males. The head of VMI called the ruling a "savage disappointment," especially since an alternative program had been set up for females at Mary Baldwin College, Staunton, Va. The court, however, concluded not only that the military education provided at Baldwin fell far short of that at VMI but that the state had not met the legal requirement of providing an "exceedingly persuasive justification" for excluding females.

June 27
      Rape termed war crime

      The United Nations International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague indicted eight Bosnian Serb soldiers and policemen on charges of rape. It was the first time that rape had been officially identified as a war crime. According to people in the area, thousands of rapes had taken place during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of a campaign to brutalize and terrorize the population. The cases presented to the tribunal involved 14 Muslim women who allegedly had been beaten and gang-raped by Bosnian Serbs in the town of Foca in 1992 and 1993.

      Gay marriages legalized

      Iceland's unicameral Althing (parliament) passed legislation legalizing civil marriages, but not church weddings, between homosexuals. The law allowed joint custody of existing children but did not permit gay couples to adopt children or attempt to have children through artificial insemination.

      Klaus forms new coalition

      Vaclav Klaus, prime minister of the Czech Republic and leader of the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), heeded the request of Pres. Vaclav Havel and formed a minority government. Because the coalition government he headed had failed to win a majority in the May and June parliamentary elections, Klaus sought a new partner. The Social Democratic Party (CSSD) agreed to become a junior partner in a coalition government on the condition that no further steps would be taken to privatize the energy and transportation sectors of the economy. Milos Zeman, leader of the CSSD, became leader of Parliament.

June 28
      New Ukrainian charter

      At the urging of Pres. Leonid Kuchma, Ukraine's national legislature approved a new constitution. It was the nation's first new charter since it became independent of the Soviet Union in 1991. Although strong opposition was voiced by members of the Communist Party, the largest bloc in the legislature, the vote comfortably exceeded the two-thirds majority needed for ratification. Among other things, the new constitution confirmed the right to private property and free enterprise. It also declared that Ukrainian was the nation's only official language, even though about 22% of the population considered Russian to be their first language.

June 29
      Grímsson wins presidency

      By capturing a plurality of 41% of the popular vote, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson easily defeated Pétur Hafstein in a race for the presidency of Iceland. Grímsson replaced Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, who had been exceptionally popular during her 16 years in office. Despite his victory, Grímsson was considered by some to be a left-wing extremist because he opposed Iceland's membership in NATO and questioned the nation's close ties to the U.S. By contrast, Hafstein, a Supreme Court judge, generally supported right-wing policies.

June 30
      Mongolia's MPRP ousted

      In a dramatic reversal of the 1992 parliamentary elections, the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP) was soundly defeated by the Democratic Union Coalition (DUC). Official results released by the election committee gave the MPRP only 25 seats in the Great Hural, a net loss of 45. The DUC—which included the National Democratic Party, the Social Democratic Party, and two smaller parties—had called for political reforms and faster implementation of more liberal economic policies. Before the election, there was a general consensus that the coalition could claim a moral victory if it managed to win one-third of the seats, which was sufficient to veto legislation. Shortly after the election, Mendsaihan Enhsaihan was named prime minister.

      Fernández wins election

      In a runoff election for the presidency of the Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernández Renya of the Dominican Liberation Party defeated José Francisco Peña Gómez by garnering more than 51% of the popular vote. He was scheduled to formally replace 89-year-old Joaquín Balaguer, who had served seven nonconsecutive terms beginning in 1960, on August 16. Unlike past elections, which had often been marred by flagrant fraud, this election was praised for its integrity. During the campaign Fernández had welcomed the support of the National Patriotic Front, which had been formed by Balaguer and his longtime political rival Juan Bosch to undermine support for Peña. Fernández assured the electorate that he had not compromised his integrity by making any promises in exchange for such support. Peña, who was of Haitian descent, called the alliance racist, saying that it had been formed "to stop a man because of his colour, and because he is the son of the poorest sector of the country."


July 2
      Lockheed to build X-33

      U.S. Vice Pres. Al Gore announced in California that Lockheed Martin Corp. had been awarded the contract to design and build the prototype of a new-generation reusable rocket ship designated X-33. The goal of the project was to replace the NASA space shuttle with one that was privately owned and operated. NASA would then be free to concentrate on research and development. Daniel Goldin, head of NASA, explained that NASA and Lockheed would work together "to build a vehicle that takes days, not months, to turn around; dozens, not thousands, of people to operate; reliability 10 times better than anything flying today; and launch costs that are a tenth of what they are now." Before making its final decision, NASA had carefully reviewed the contract bids submitted by Rockwell International Corp. and McDonnell Douglas Corp.

July 3
      Yeltsin wins reelection

      In a runoff election for the presidency of Russia, incumbent Boris Yeltsin defeated Gennady Zyuganov, candidate of the Communist Party, by winning 53.8% of the popular vote. About 5% of the electorate cast ballots indicating that they rejected both candidates. Outside observers, who viewed the election as a critical moment in modern Russian history, declared that the process had been free and fair. They read the results as an endorsement of democratic reforms and a free-market economy and a rejection of the political philosophy preached by the communists and their political allies. On July 4 Yeltsin announced that he would renominate Viktor Chernomyrdin for the post of prime minister.

July 7
      Bucaram defeats Nebot

      In Ecuador, even before the official results had been announced, Jaime Nebot Saadi, candidate of the Social Christian Party, publicly congratulated Abdalá Bucaram Ortíz of the Ecuadorian Roldosist Party on winning the country's runoff presidential election. Bucaram had finished second to Nebot in the first round of voting, but he managed to garner about 54% of the final ballots by appealing to the indigenous population and the smaller political parties that represented their interests. Nebot was generally favoured by the business community, which was concerned that Bucaram would abandon the free-market reforms begun by incumbent Pres. Sixto Durán Ballén. Bucaram, however, reassured businessmen that as president he would promote private industry and encourage foreign investment.

July 9
      Mandela visits Europe

      South African Pres. Nelson Mandela arrived in London, where he was honoured with a military parade and a state banquet for which Queen Elizabeth II served as host. Two days later he became the first foreign leader since Charles de Gaulle in 1960 to address a joint session of Parliament at Westminster Hall. He used the occasion to call for an increase in aid to the nations of Africa and an end to racism. Before departing for France, Mandela visited with Prime Minister John Major, former prime minister Margaret Thatcher, and other prominent politicians and businesspeople. He also received eight honorary degrees at a ceremony held in Buckingham Palace and traveled to Brixton, a district in London that was predominantly black, where crowds numbering in the thousands greeted him enthusiastically. In France, Mandela attended the annual Bastille Day military parade as a guest of honour of Pres. Jacques Chirac.

      Prudential to pay fine

      Insurance regulators from 30 states and the District of Columbia concluded, after a 14-month investigation of Prudential Insurance Company of America, that senior executives had known that its agents had given clients misleading information about the cost of their insurance premiums and that they did nothing to halt the nationwide practice. The company agreed to pay $35.3 million in fines and reimbursements, the largest settlement in the industry's history, even though the regulators had no legal power to enforce their finding of guilt. Prudential executives also declared that they would seek to settle outstanding claims in states that had not been represented.

July 11
      Poland joins OECD

      The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development welcomed Poland as its 28th member. It was the third former communist state to join the research group, which studied economic conditions in industrialized nations. On March 29 Hungary had been admitted to the Paris-based organization, its membership having been contingent on compliance with conditions laid down by the International Monetary Fund to justify giving Hungary a standby loan of $387 million.

July 12
      Italy to try ex-leaders

      An Italian judge in Milan ruled that Silvio Berlusconi and Bettino Craxi, both former prime ministers, would have to stand trial on charges related to illegal funding of political parties. Several executives of Fininvest SpA, a media conglomerate controlled by Berlusconi, were among 10 others facing prosecution. Craxi's Socialist Party was said to have received $6.5 million in 1991 from Fininvest, which funneled the money through a company to which it was linked. In a separate trial, Berlusconi faced charges of having used Fininvest money to bribe tax officials.

      House passes marriage law

      By a vote of 342-67, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Defense of Marriage Act, which barred federal recognition of same-sex marriages and gave each state the right not to recognize such unions, even if they were legal in another state. President Clinton had earlier declared his intention to sign such legislation if it passed both houses of Congress because he accepted the traditional view of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Congress believed that such legislation was needed because the legalization of homosexual marriages was being debated in Hawaii and the U.S. Constitution required states to give "full faith and credit" to the public acts and records, including marriages, of other states.

July 16
      Bosnians to get U.S. arms

      Representatives of the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina, of the Muslim-Croat federation, and of the U.S. signed an agreement that allowed the joint Muslim-Croat army to receive $360 million worth of military equipment. The ordnance included tanks, helicopters, armoured personnel carriers, and radio telephones. The U.S. had offered to finance $100 million of the total cost; the rest would be covered by contributions from other countries. The purpose of the shipment was to establish a military balance between the Bosnian Serbs and the Muslim-Croat federation. The delivery of the arms, however, was contingent on the departure of all Iranian troops from the area and the maintenance of a joint Muslim-Croat army. All of the ordnance was expected to arrive in the area before the end of the year because NATO's mandate in Bosnia and Herzegovina was due to expire at that time.

      Canberra cuts ABC funds

      Australian Communications Minister Richard Alston announced that the budget of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) would be cut 10% in the 1996-97 fiscal year. ABC, the nation's publicly funded television and radio service, would also be obliged to adhere more closely to its traditional programming, which focused on news, current affairs, and programs for children. Employees, fearing layoffs, staged a protest strike that disrupted transmission for nearly 24 hours.

July 17
      TWA flight 800 crashes

      Some 30 minutes after taking off from New York City's Kennedy International Airport, Trans World Airlines (TWA) flight 800 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. Eyewitnesses reported seeing two explosions before the 747 jetliner plummeted in flames into the sea. All 230 persons aboard the aircraft were killed. Federal aviation officials were reportedly considering three possible explanations for the crash: a mechanical failure, a bomb, or a surface-to-air missile. With most of the wreckage resting on the ocean floor, no one could predict how long it would take to recover the remains of the victims. It would take even longer to transport the shattered plane to the surface and reassemble it so that experts might then determine the cause of the crash.

      500,000 Israelis strike

      Responding to a call made by the leaders of Histadrut, a trade union federation, an estimated 500,000 Israeli workers took part in a 10-hour general strike to protest broad budget cuts proposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud-led coalition government. The strike shut down the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, banks, factories, and public utilities. It also slowed operations at the country's airports, post offices, government agencies, and hospitals. The workers threatened further disruptions if the government carried out its plan to raise bus fares, increase the cost of health care and education, and cut back child care allowances and pensions. These and similar cuts, they contended, would place an unjustified burden on the poor and on the middle class.

July 18
      ASEAN policy challenged

      After opening its week-long annual meeting in Jakarta, Indon., the seven members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) granted Myanmar (Burma) observer status and accepted membership applications from Cambodia and Laos. During the same week, the ASEAN Regional Forum meeting was held and was attended by invited representatives from China, the European Union (EU), India, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the U.S. Clearly upset over ASEAN's overtures to Myanmar, the EU and the U.S. especially were insistent that ASEAN put pressure on the military leaders of Myanmar to negotiate with pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and accept the fact that her National League for Democracy had won the 1990 parliamentary election. Warren Christopher, the U.S. secretary of state, warned the delegates that Myanmar's refusal to tolerate political dissent was an open invitation to instability and bloodshed and could cause a flood of refugees.

July 19
      Karadzic forced to quit

      After several days of negotiations that involved former U.S. assistant secretary of state Richard Holbrooke and Serbian Pres. Slobodan Milosevic, Radovan Karadzic agreed in writing to resign as chairman of the Serbian Democratic Party and president of the self-styled Bosnian Serb Republic. The Bosnia and Herzegovina peace accord, signed in 1995, stipulated that Karadzic and all other indicted war criminals were to be removed from positions of power and prohibited from running for office in the general election scheduled for mid-September. Even though Karadzic had finally complied with the terms of the peace agreement, there were serious doubts that he would cease exercising de facto control over Bosnian Serb affairs.

July 21
      Prisoners exchanged

      After several months of secret negotiations, and with the apparent consent of Iran and Syria, Hezbollah (Party of God) and Israel exchanged several dozen prisoners and the remains of many others who had died in combat or in captivity. Among those not released were two high-ranking Islamic leaders held by Israel and an Israeli airman believed to be held captive by Shi'ite Muslims. The exchange, brokered by a German official, involved more individuals than any other that had taken place in Lebanon during the 13 years of conflict. Syria and Iran were involved behind the scenes because Syria had a major voice in Lebanese affairs and Iran supported the Hezbollah guerrillas.

      Anpilov loses post

      In Russia during a two-day meeting of the Communist Workers' Party plenum, Viktor Anpilov was ousted as first secretary of the party organization in Moscow. Because he was among the party's most prominent members, he apparently felt no need to consult the membership before publicly endorsing Gennady Zyuganov's bid for the presidency. On August 7 the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and dozens of other left-wing and nationalist political parties founded a new coalition that they called the Popular-Patriotic Union of Russia. Anpilov had not been named to the organizing committee.

July 23
      ETA leader apprehended

      In an early-morning raid, French police captured Julian Achurra, one of the top leaders of Homeland and Liberty (ETA), a guerrilla organization seeking to establish an independent state for the Basque population. Achurra, who was apprehended at a farmhouse near the Spanish border, reportedly had arms and explosives in his possession; he was believed to be in charge of arms and logistics for ETA. Authorities said that 18 warrants had been issued for his arrest, all related to terrorist attacks in Spain.

July 24
      Pravda presses silenced

      One of the Greek co-owners of Pravda, the Russian newspaper of the Communist Party founded by V.I. Lenin in 1912, suspended publication when the owner was denied access to his Pravda office. At the height of its popularity, 11 million copies of Pravda were sold each day, but more recently circulation had dropped to about 200,000 as the paper continued to promote a staunchly pro-communist line. The two brothers who owned the paper said that they hoped to resume publication under a new editor in chief.

July 25
      Court upholds amnesty

      South Africa's Constitutional Court ruled that the nation's Truth and Reconciliation Commission had the authority to offer amnesty to those who admitted that they were guilty of abuses during the period of apartheid. At the same time, the court rejected the pleas of the families of slain antiapartheid activists who were demanding that those who had committed crimes be punished. Although some of those charged with crimes pleaded not guilty in court, numerous others, both supporters and political foes of the National Party during the apartheid era, were expected to plead guilty to past human rights abuses and seek amnesty.

      Burundi coup condemned

      The Tutsi-dominated army of Burundi took over control of the country by ousting Pres. Sylvestre Ntibantunganya, a Hutu. The army then appointed Maj. Pierre Buyoya interim president, dissolved the National Assembly, outlawed political parties and demonstrations, sealed the border, and declared a curfew. The coup was vigorously denounced by the United Nations, the Organization of African Unity, the European Union, South Africa, and the United States. After having seized power in a bloodless coup in 1987, Buyoya supported a democratic election in 1993, which he unexpectedly lost to Melchior Ndadaye, a Hutu. In Burundi, as in neighbouring Rwanda, the Tutsi constituted less than 15% of the population.

      U.S. pressures Myanmar

      Hoping to force the military regime in Myanmar (Burma) to tolerate political dissent and end its support of illegal trafficking in drugs, the U.S. Senate voted to deny visas to officials from Myanmar, except in special circumstances, and to cut back aid to the country. Sen. William Cohen had proposed an additional provision that would have forbidden all U.S. investments in Myanmar. The final version of the amendment, however, did not outlaw investments in Myanmar so long as the military government did not repress or arrest political dissidents. Cohen subsequently accused the Clinton administration of having a "blind moral spot" in its dealings with Myanmar.

July 27
      Indonesians riot

      Thousands of people took to the streets in Jakarta, Indon., to protest an early-morning military raid on the headquarters of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI), one of two opposition parties sanctioned by the government. More than a dozen banks and government buildings were destroyed in what observers said was the most serious antigovernment protests since President Suharto seized power from President Sukarno following a bloody upheaval in 1965. At least three persons were killed, hundreds injured, and hundreds of others taken into custody. The riot was directly connected to an event in late June in which the government conspired with a rival of the PDI to oust Megawati Sukarnoputri (Sukarno's daughter) as head of the PDI. About 150 angry PDI members refused to heed an order to vacate the party's headquarters. The July 27 riot began when the military carried out a command to oust them by force.

      Bomb mars Olympics

      One person was killed and 111 injured when a pipe bomb exploded in Centennial Olympic Park during the Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, Ga. A second person died of a heart attack while racing to the bomb scene. Police immediately began gathering evidence that might lead them to the person who had planted the knapsack that contained the bomb. Stringent security had been the order of the day at most of the Olympic sites, but an exception was made for the park so that the general public could enter the grounds free of charge to enjoy the fountain, picnic, and listen to a music concert.

July 29
      Hashimoto visits Yasukuni

      Ignoring anticipated criticism, Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto paid a visit to Yasukuni Shrine, a cemetery reserved for Japanese war dead and the burial site of seven Japanese executed for war crimes. Because such a visit by the nation's highest government official was seen by many as an implicit endorsement of Japan's past militarism, no prime minister since Yasuhiro Nakasone in 1985 had visited the Shinto shrine. China's foreign minister chided Hashimoto for making a visit that "hurt the feelings of all the people from every country, including China, which suffered under the hands of Japanese militarists." Hashimoto responded to the criticism, saying, "Why should it matter any more? It's time to stop letting that sort of thing complicate our international relations."

      Free speech on Internet

      Three federal judges in New York City ruled that censorship of the Internet computer network would violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guaranteed free speech. The judges, in a unanimous decision, struck down the 1996 Communications Decency Act because it denied consenting adults access to "indecent materials." The intent of the act was to protect children from viewing materials that they could not legally obtain from other sources. The judges agreed with the editor of the American Reporter that the act, as presently phrased, was so broadly drawn that it violated constitutionally protected free speech. The judges also pointed out that there was no effective way to block out indecent material transmitted from foreign countries.


August 1
      Aydid dies of wounds

      The leader of the most powerful clan in strife-torn Somalia, Gen. Muhammad Farah Aydid, died from wounds he had sustained on July 24 in factional fighting. A few days later Hussein Muhammad Aydid, his son, was named his successor. Aydid had been instrumental in overthrowing the president, Gen. Muhammad Siad Barre, in January 1991. When the dictator departed, he left behind a nation facing economic ruin and riven by rival clans vying for political power. In 1992 the UN authorized a humanitarian mission to alleviate mass starvation. The effort was hailed as a major success, but Aydid's forces so bedeviled the UN forces that the Security Council ordered Aydid's arrest, to no avail. In March 1995 the UN finally abandoned its goal of bringing peace to the region and establishing a functioning government.

August 2
      Korean airspace opened

      The International Air Transport Association announced that after 16 months of negotiations, North Korea had agreed to grant overflight privileges to international airlines. All parties to the agreement would benefit financially because North Korea would collect overflight dues and airlines would save substantial quantities of fuel by flying more direct routes to certain destinations. Although North and South Korea remained political enemies, South Korean aircraft would also be allowed to fly over North Korean territory after the pact went into effect in December.

August 4
      Summer Olympics end

      After 16 days of competition, closing ceremonies for the Summer Olympic Games were held in Atlanta, Ga. Some 10,000 athletes representing 197 Olympic federations had participated in the athletic events. Officials were pleased that for the first time in history, all the invited delegations had attended what was the centenary of the modern Olympic Games. Among many other memorable moments, Josia Thugwane finished just three seconds ahead of Lee Bong Ju of South Korea in the marathon. It was the closest such finish in Olympic history and the first time a black South African had won an Olympic gold medal.

August 6
      Epidemic strikes Japan

      Health authorities in Japan announced that the 9,000 cases of food poisoning reported from several regions of the country constituted an epidemic. Medical personnel then began to implement measures to protect the general public. The rare bacterium that caused the outbreak was identified as E. coli O157:H7. This caused concern because the infection could cause kidney failure and brain damage even though its visible symptoms (vomiting, fever, diarrhea, cramps) were generally classified as minor. Seven deaths had already been reported. Tainted radishes were thought to be the source of the problem because students in state-run schools in Sakai and residents of a retirement home in Habikino had become sick after eating the suspect radishes provided by the same supplier.

      NASA assesses meteorite

      Daniel Goldin, head of NASA, reported that scientists had made "a startling discovery that points to the possibility that a primitive form of microscopic life may have existed on Mars more than three billion years ago." He noted that the evidence, while compelling, was not conclusive. The 1.9-kg (4.2-lb) meteorite studied by the scientists was the oldest of 12 meteorites found on Earth and identified as having come from Mars. The one being analyzed had been found in Antarctica in 1984. If the meteorite did indeed provide evidence of primitive life, it would be the first direct indication that life had existed beyond Earth. William Schopf, an expert on ancient Earth bacteria, remarked during a news conference that in his opinion it was "unlikely" that the meteorite contained evidence of biological activity.

August 9
      Burundi faces embargo

      Zaire formally declared an embargo against its neighbour Burundi. Among all the nations that had committed themselves to such action during an emergency meeting of the Organization of African Unity on July 31, Zaire was the last to make a public announcement. The aim of the sanctions was to force Maj. Pierre Buyoya, who had been named president after a successful coup on July 25, to restore democracy. Buyoya, a member of the Tutsi clan, had traveled to Uganda and Tanzania in late July to ask for understanding, but his pleas for help were ignored despite repeated assurances that he would restore democracy eventually and make no distinction in his treatment of Tutsi and the rival Hutu.

      Tobacco firm loses case

      After two days of deliberations, a six-member jury in Jacksonville, Fla., ordered Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. to pay $750,000 in damages to a man who had developed lung cancer after smoking the company's cigarettes for some 40 years. In only one of numerous earlier cases had a jury decided that a cigarette manufacturer was guilty of marketing a defective product and of not adequately informing the public of the danger of smoking. The jury's verdict in that case had been overturned on appeal.

August 16
      Gorilla rescues child

      An eight-year-old female gorilla called Binti Jua astonished attendants at the Brookfield Zoo near Chicago when she rescued a three-year-old boy who had fallen over the guardrail and into the gorilla pit 5 m (18 ft) below. The gorilla gently picked up the injured boy and carried him to an entrance so that zoo personnel could easily reach him. Zookeepers speculated that Binti Jua's unusual behaviour may have been affected by the care she had received from humans after she was abandoned by her mother shortly after birth. The young ape had later been transferred from the Cincinnati (Ohio) Zoo to one in San Francisco, then to the Brookfield Zoo, where she had continued to be hand reared. Zookeepers believed that it was the rapport Binti Jua had established with humans that caused her to treat the injured boy with apparent tenderness. They also noted that the mother gorilla carried her 17-month-old daughter on her back as she moved slowly to the entrance of the pit.

August 19
      Australians protest cuts

      Hundreds of Australian students, workers, and Aborigines, some using sledgehammers and a battering ram, forced their way into the Parliament building in Canberra, the capital. Police battled the protesters for some two hours before order was restored. About 60 people were injured in the melee. The rioters had broken off from a group of 15,000 demonstrators who had taken to the streets to vent their anger over planned budget cuts that Prime Minister John Howard had said were needed to balance the federal budget by fiscal year 1998-99. Before the Liberal Party-National Party coalition government assumed power in March, Howard had pledged not to raise taxes if he was elected. Instead, he proposed to balance the budget by cutting various programs, including some that affected the sick, the elderly, students, employees, and Aborigines. The treasury minister called the cuts "balanced, strong, and fair." Others called them draconian.

August 20
      India vetoes treaty

      During a UN-sponsored conference on disarmament in Switzerland, India vetoed a draft of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which outlawed all testing of nuclear weapons. China, France, the U.K., Russia, and the U.S.—the five nations that admitted possessing nuclear weapons—had already endorsed the treaty. India, however, was able to effectively kill the treaty because there was an understanding that the treaty would not take effect unless 44 specified nations (which included India) signed it. The list included Israel and Pakistan, both of which were believed capable of producing nuclear weapons. Pakistan had expressed no reservations about the treaty itself but announced that it would not be party to the arms treaty so long as India refused to add its name to the list of signatories.

      Students riot in Seoul

      South Korean police finally ended a violent student protest that began on August 12 at Yonsei University in Seoul, the nation's capital. After thousands of police surrounded two university buildings occupied by some 1,500 students, police in riot gear stormed one of the buildings. Students then evacuated the other building, aware that they could not resist such force. Before the confrontation ended, however, more than 1,000 students and police sustained injuries. The ultimate goal of the students was reunification with communist North Korea. For achievement of that goal, they demanded that the U.S. withdraw all its troops from South Korea and negotiate a bilateral treaty with the North. South Korea was to have no role in the negotiations. The positions taken by the students were judged by most people to be so extreme that few thought anything could be gained by addressing their demands directly.

      Russia leads arms sales

      The U.S. Congressional Research Service, according to a report published in the New York Times, had calculated that in 1995 Russia led all other countries in arms sales to developing nations. (For purposes of the study, the term "developing nations" included all nations except Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, and the members of NATO.) Russian arms sales were estimated to have been worth about $6 billion, more than 60% higher than in the previous year. By comparison, U.S. sales to developing nations in 1995 were worth $3.8 billion. Although developing nations accounted for more than half of all recent arms purchases, their expenditures for weapons had been declining for five straight years.

      Minimum wage raised

      President Clinton signed legislation raising the minimum wage in the U.S. to $4.75 an hour from $4.25, effective October 1, and to $5.15 on Sept. 1, 1997. On August 2 the House of Representatives had passed the bill by a vote of 354-72 and the Senate by a margin of 76-22. The new law allowed employees to pay a "training wage" of $4.25 an hour to workers under the age of 20 during their first 90 days on the job. The wage for workers who received gratuities remained at $2.13 an hour. Republicans generally opposed the new law, saying that it would ultimately result in layoffs for many minimum-wage workers.

August 21
      De Klerk repeats apology

      During lengthy testimony before South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, F.W. de Klerk, the last president to head a white-minority government under apartheid, reiterated his apology for the pain and suffering many had endured under the official policy of racial segregation. De Klerk, however, refused to accept personal responsibility for human rights abuses, saying that he had never issued an order sanctioning torture or murder. He placed the blame on rogue security forces and on the social and political conditions of the times, which he said were conducive to violations of human rights. He claimed, moreover, that the African National Congress and other black groups were partly responsible for the hostile attitudes that then prevailed. Some days later Eugene de Kock was found guilty on 89 of 121 criminal charges, including 6 counts of murder. He had committed the crimes while serving as a high-ranking police officer during the apartheid era.

August 22
      U.S. reforms welfare

      President Clinton signed a welfare reform bill that, he contended, would "make welfare what it was meant to be: a second chance, not a way of life." At the same time, he acknowledged that the new legislation was "far from perfect." He then promised to work to have certain provisions of the law amended. On July 31 the House of Representatives had passed the measure by a vote of 328-101; the vote in the Senate the next day was 78-21. The new law, which was expected to save the federal government $55 billion over six years, replaced the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program with lump sum payments to the states. They would, within certain limitations, determine how their welfare programs would be designed and administered. Most families that had been on welfare for a total of five years would be denied benefits. Heads of households who failed to find jobs within two years would have their benefits reduced. Most welfare benefits would be denied to legal immigrants who were not citizens. These and other provisions of the highly complex legislation were vociferously denounced by the National Organization for Women, the Children's Defense Fund, and others.

      Hindus die in storm

      Several hundred Hindus lost their lives in the Himalayas after being trapped by a sudden snowstorm that had begun on August 22. Six days earlier the first of some 80,000 Hindus had set out on an annual pilgrimage to the Amarnath Cave to pay homage to an ice statue of Shiva, the paramount Hindu god, who is both destroyer and restorer. Because many of those making the trek were lightly clothed and walking barefoot, officials sought to call off the pilgrimage once they became aware of the magnitude of the storm, but many of the worshipers had already made their way into the mountainous state of Jammu and Kashmir.

August 23
      Police invade church

      French riot police used axes to break down the doors of a Roman Catholic church in Paris in order to remove some 300 illegal African immigrants who had taken refuge inside. Armed with tear gas and night sticks, the police entered St. Bernard de la Chapelle and forcibly evicted those who resisted. More than 200 illegal immigrants were then transported to detention centres, but those who had grown weak from a prolonged hunger strike were taken to military hospitals for treatment. A few of the aliens were immediately deported to Africa. Popular reaction to the raid was mixed. Some expressed sympathy for the immigrants, especially for those who had lived in France for years. By August 26 most of the detainees had been released, but the government indicated that the majority would not be granted permanent residence in France.

August 26
      Chun sentenced to death

      Three judges representing the District Criminal Court in Seoul, S.Kor., sentenced former president Chun Doo Hwan to death after finding him guilty on charges related to the 1979 coup that brought him to power and to the massacres of pro-democracy demonstrators in the city of Kwangju in 1980. He was also convicted of bribery. Roh Tae Woo, who succeeded Chun, was sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison for having supported the coup and accepted bribes. In addition, Chun was fined the equivalent of $270 million and Roh slightly more—the amount of money each was said to have received illegally. The judges also found dozens of businessmen and military officers guilty on a wide variety of charges, some related to bribery.

      Cuba convicts Vesco

      Robert Vesco, who had been wanted by U.S. authorities for more than 20 years on charges of embezzlement, drug trafficking, and making an illegal $200,000 contribution to Richard Nixon's 1972 presidential campaign, was convicted in Havana on charges of fraud and illicit economic activity. His partner in marketing the drug Trixolane without government approval was Donald Nixon, Jr., a nephew of the former president. Nixon was arrested along with Vesco, but he was released and allowed to return to the U.S. Trixolane had been marketed as a wonder drug capable of curing a wide range of diseases, including cancer and AIDS.

August 27
      Illegals denied aid

      Implementing one provision of a referendum that had been approved by California voters in 1994, Gov. Pete Wilson signed an executive order that prohibited state agencies and state-funded institutions of higher learning from providing benefits to illegal immigrants. Wilson had delayed action until the courts had disposed of legal challenges. Illegal aliens could attend public primary and secondary schools and receive emergency medical care, but they remained ineligible for such benefits as public housing and prenatal care. The Justice Department had not yet decided how a person's legal status would be verified. Opponents of the referendum argued that the denial of ordinary health care would force illegal aliens to flock to more expensive hospital emergency rooms.

August 30
      Farrakhan accepts reward

      The leader of the Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan, accepted a human rights award in Tripoli, the capital of Libya. He declined the $250,000 cash prize that accompanied the award because he had been informed by the U.S. Treasury Department that receiving such money would be a violation of U.S. law. Farrakhan vowed to take his case to the courts. After leaving Libya he visited Iran, Iraq, The Sudan, and Cuba, all of which had been classified by the U.S. government as sponsors of terrorism and put under economic sanctions. While in Cuba, Farrakhan called such punishment inhumane.

August 31
      Peace comes to Chechnya

      Using the unrestricted authority he had been granted by Russian Pres. Boris Yeltsin, Aleksandr Lebed, secretary of Russia's Security Council, reached agreement with the commander of the Chechen secessionist army to cease hostilities and terminate the 21-month-old civil conflict. Gen. Aslan Maskhadov agreed that his people would set aside their demand for independence for five years. Lebed remarked that the two sides could then sort out their relationship "with cool heads, calmly and soberly." In the interim, a joint commission would monitor the withdrawal of all Russian troops from Chechnya and work to reduce crime and acts of terrorism in the region.


September 3
      Perry to rule Liberia

      Ruth Perry, a former senator, was installed as Liberia's head of state and assigned the responsibility of running the government until democracy could be restored through a general election. Her appointment had been approved on August 17 by leaders of the Economic Community of West African States, whose members hoped that the multifactional fighting that had torn Liberia asunder since 1989 would finally cease. The new agreement was signed by the leaders of Liberia's three main factions: Charles Taylor, who headed the National Patriotic Front of Liberia; Alhaji Kromah, leader of the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy faction; and George Boley, head of the Liberian Peace Council.

September 4
      U.S. planes attack Iraq

      For the second straight day, U.S. Navy ships and Air Force planes fired cruise missiles at Iraqi military and command targets south of the 32nd parallel. The operation was launched to punish Iraq for sending troops northward across the 36th parallel (latitude 36° N) and into a Kurdish area under the protection of the United Nations. Iraqi Pres. Saddam Hussein had ordered his troops into action after the Kurdistan Democratic Party requested help in its fight with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, a rival Kurdish faction. On September 3 the U.S. expanded the southern no-fly zone in Iraq northward to the 33rd parallel. Iraqi aircraft could then fly only between the 33rd and 36th parallels without fear of being fired upon.

September 5
      Jordan to try rioters

      The government of Jordan announced that 145 persons would be put on trial in connection with two days of food riots in mid-August. At the time, King Hussein had declared that he would handle the situation with "an iron fist"; he suspended the National Assembly and ordered curfews in several cities. Violence had first erupted in Kerak, a city about 90 km (55 mi) from Amman, the capital, then spread to other cities. In order to meet the conditions for a loan from the International Monetary Fund, the government had cut its subsidies for certain foods, an act that more than doubled the price of bread, a staple in the diet of Jordanians. The rioting that ensued was the worst since 1989.

      Education gap narrows

      The U.S. Census Bureau released a report entitled "Educational Attainment in the United States: March 1995." The statistics indicated that, for the first time, the high-school graduation rate for black Americans was roughly equal to that for whites. The study showed that 86.5% of blacks 25 to 29 years old had received high-school diplomas. The figure was 81.7% in 1990 and 76.6% in 1980. Comparable figures for whites in the same age group were 87.4% in 1995, 86.3% in 1990, and 86.9% in 1980. The study further showed that Hispanic-American students lagged far behind, with only 57.1% of those in the age group receiving high-school diplomas in 1995.

      New leader in Suriname

      The United People's Assembly, which included all elected members of the National Assembly plus officials of local and regional governments, elected Jules Wijdenbosch president of Suriname. Having outpolled incumbent Pres. Ronald Venetiaan, he took the oath of office on September 14. The vote in the United People's Assembly followed an inconclusive national election on May 23 and then two rounds of voting in the 51-member National Assembly. All had failed because no party gained the two-thirds majority needed to name a president. Wijdenbosch had been an aide of Col. Dési Bouterse, who had seized power in 1980. Under intense international pressure, Bouterse had resigned in 1987, having been accused of solidifying power by murdering political enemies. Foreign observers, worried that Bouterse might still be a potent behind-the-scenes political force in Wijdenbosch's government, expressed reservations about the future of democracy in Suriname.

      Zafy forced to resign

      When the High Constitutional Court in Madagascar upheld a parliamentary vote impeaching Pres. Albert Zafy, the nation's leader agreed to resign on October 10. The court then appointed Prime Minister Norbert Ratsirahonana interim president. Zafy had assumed office in 1993, one year after leading a pro-democracy movement that ousted a military-dominated regime. He subsequently clashed repeatedly with the National Assembly for refusing to meet the conditions for financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund and for backing a referendum that transferred key powers from the National Assembly to the president.

September 9
      Clinton partner jailed

      Susan McDougal, already convicted and sentenced to prison for having accepted a fraudulent government-backed loan in 1986, was ordered jailed for refusing to answer questions before a grand jury in Little Rock, Ark. Speaking to reporters outside the courtroom, McDougal said that she had refused to cooperate with the prosecutors because she felt that they "always wanted something on the Clintons." McDougal had been a business partner of President Clinton and his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, in the Whitewater Development Corp., a failed real-estate venture.

September 10
      Ex-generals sentenced

      Six former East German generals were sentenced to prison for having sanctioned the shooting of anyone trying to escape to West Germany after the border was sealed in 1961. In the years that followed, an estimated 800 Germans lost their lives attempting to flee their communist homeland. The judge who presided over the court in Berlin sentenced Klaus-Dieter Baumgarten, a former East German deputy defense minister, to six and a half years in prison after finding him guilty on multiple charges of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter. Five other generals, who were convicted as accomplices, received sentences of at least three years.

September 14
      Bosnians to share power

      In the first national election in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, each of the three major ethnic groups elected a president to represent its interests in a collective leadership. Alija Izetbegovic was elected by the Muslims with 80% of their vote and named chairman of the three-man leadership. Momcilo Krajisnik was chosen by 68% of the Serbs and Kresimir Zubak by 88% of the Croats. A settlement resulting from negotiations held near Dayton, Ohio, in 1995 had raised hopes that the bitter and vicious four-year-old civil war had come to an end. Under terms of that agreement, formally signed in Paris on Dec. 14, 1995, the nation would be divided into two regions, one of which would be a Muslim-Croat federation and the other a Serbian entity. Despite the success in bringing the three factions together, foreboding about the future persisted in many quarters because, among other reasons, the rules of the election itself, specifically endorsed by all parties, had been blatantly violated.

September 15
      Italians support unity

      During a meeting in Venice, Umberto Bossi, who had founded the Northern League political party in 1984, announced the creation of a new "independent and sovereign federal republic." For more than a decade, he and fellow secessionists had claimed that citizens in the northern part of Italy would be more prosperous if they were no longer "overtaxed" in order to support poorer regions in the south. The proposed new nation, to be called Padania, would include such major cities as Venice, Bologna, Turin, and Milan. Polls, however, indicated that only about 7% of Italians supported Bossi's movement. Such low-level support seemed to be confirmed when only 10,000-20,000 attended the Bossi-led rally in Venice while an estimated 150,000 gathered in Milan at the same time in support of national unity.

September 18
      South Korea hunts spies

      Troops deployed by South Korea began an intense search for North Korean agents after a taxi driver spotted an abandoned North Korean submarine that had run aground off the east coast city of Kangnung. By September 26 a total of 20 North Koreans were dead, either killed by South Korean soldiers or possibly by fellow North Koreans because they were members of the submarine crew and not trained to avoid detection. One captured North Korean told interrogators that several of his companions were not accounted for and had presumably escaped. Acting on that information, South Korean soldiers set out to track them down. According to South Korean officials, the grounded submarine represented the 310th known attempt by North Korea to infiltrate the South during the past 25 years.

September 19
      Rebels sign peace pact

      Government officials and representatives of the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity, which represented the country's major rebel forces, concluded negotiations in Mexico City that were designed to end 35 years of civil conflict. Both sides hailed the UN-mediated settlement as a momentous event. An estimated 140,000 Guatemalans had been killed since fighting began after democratically elected Pres. Jacobo Arbenz, a leftist, was overthrown in a 1954 military coup supported by the U.S.

September 20
      Meri wins reelection

      An expanded electoral college broke a political impasse by electing Estonian Pres. Lennart Meri to a second five-year term. In late August the 101-member national legislature had twice failed to support either presidential candidate with the 68 votes required for election. The stalemate ended when the electoral college was expanded to include 273 local officials. In the second round of ballots, the expanded college gave Meri 196 votes. Arnold Ruutel, who received 126 votes, had served as president when Estonia was under communist rule.

September 22
      Socialists win in Greece

      The ruling Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok) party retained power in Greece by capturing 162 of the 300 seats in the Chamber of Deputies—a net loss of 8 seats. Although the New Democracy Party lost 3 seats, it still controlled 108 and would continue to be the main party in opposition. Three smaller parties won the remaining 30 seats. When Prime Minister Konstantinos Simitis called for a general election in August, his Pasok party was expected to win handily, but the 10-month-old Democratic Social Movement gained sudden popularity that siphoned off Pasok support. The main issue in the campaign had been Greece's economic health and its participation in the European Union.

      Patient killed legally

      Under a new law that took effect in Australia's Northern Territory on July 1 and was upheld by a 2-1 vote of the territory's Supreme Court on July 24, a terminally ill cancer patient was injected with a lethal dose of barbiturates by his doctor. The law permitting euthanasia required that the patient be at least 18 years old and mentally competent. The primary physician's diagnosis of terminal illness, moreover, had to be confirmed by two other doctors, one of whom had to be a psychiatrist. The law also required a nine-day waiting period before the patient was put to death. On September 9 a bill, supported by Prime Minister John Howard and opposition leader Kim Beazley, was introduced in the federal Parliament that, if passed, would repeal the law.

      Ter-Petrosyan reelected

      In Armenia's second democratic election since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Pres. Levon Ter-Petrosyan retained his office by winning nearly 52% of the vote. His chief challenger was former prime minister Vazgen Manukyan, whose candidacy was supported by more than 41% of the electorate. On October 2 the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe reported that "very serious breaches of the election law" had marred the election. More than 22,000 ballots that had been cast were not accounted for, a larger number than Ter-Petrosyan's margin of victory.

September 23
      IRA explosives seized

      In a predawn raid on suspected Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) hideouts, London police seized some 10 tons of homemade explosives. The largest cache included fertilizer (ammonium nitrate) explosives and Semtex. A high-ranking police officer reported that some explosive devices had already been assembled and were ready for use. The raids also netted guns, ammunition, detonators, and timers. During the raid one suspected IRA member was killed and five were arrested. London's police commissioner said that his officers had prevented the IRA from carrying out "significant and imminent attacks with the probability of grave loss of life [and] serious damage." In June an IRA bomb had injured more than 200 people when it was set off in Manchester.

September 24
      Israel angers Muslims

      At least 60 Palestinians and 15 Israelis were killed in violent protests that followed a decision by the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to open a new entrance to an archaeological tunnel near a sacred Muslim site in Jerusalem. The incident was viewed by many Palestinians as another attempt by the Israelis to stall the Middle East peace process. They noted that Netanyahu had authorized the expansion of Jewish settlements in Arab lands and had delayed the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Hebron, a city in the West Bank. Palestinians were also suffering economically because many were prevented from going to their jobs in Israel. The border had been closed after bombings by Palestinian extremists.

September 25
      Lebed speaks out for army

      During an interview Aleksandr Lebed, secretary of Russia's Security Council, criticized the government for having not paid military personnel for the previous three months. Lebed said that some soldiers were suffering from malnutrition and that others were being forced to beg or steal. Russia's official government newspaper had earlier warned that the military could take "unpredictable action" if their situation did not improve. All told, the armed forces were owed some $4.3 billion.

September 26
      Lucid sets space records

      U.S. astronaut Shannon Lucid returned to Earth aboard the space shuttle Atlantis after setting new space endurance records (188 days) for a woman and for a U.S. astronaut. Lucid's stay on the Russian space station Mir was extended six weeks beyond schedule because of problems with the Atlantis booster rockets. After the two space vehicles linked up, the Russian and U.S. crews spent five days transferring new supplies and equipment into Mir and removing other items for a return trip to Earth.

      Howard greets Dalai Lama

      Australian Prime Minister John Howard held a 35-minute private meeting in Sydney with the Dalai Lama, despite warnings from China that trade relations between the two countries would be adversely affected if such an event took place. Howard had earlier remarked that he would welcome the head of Tibetan Buddhism as a spiritual leader, not as the exiled head of the Tibetan government. Chinese troops had occupied Tibet in 1950 on the grounds that it was historically part of China. When China squelched an uprising against Chinese rule in 1959, the Dalai Lama fled to India and set up a government-in-exile.

      ValuJet meets criteria

      The U.S. Department of Transportation announced that ValuJet Airlines was "fit, willing, and able" to resume service because it now complied with all federal regulations. The airline's entire fleet had been grounded by federal authorities on June 17 for various violations, including improper maintenance procedures. An investigation of the low-fare airline had been ordered after one of its DC-9s crashed in Florida on May 11. The government had certified that ValuJet aircraft were safe to fly, but a lawyer for the Association of Flight Attendants said that his clients were not at all convinced that this was true. He would, accordingly, petition the court to keep the planes grounded.

September 27
      Taliban capture Kabul

      After two years of fighting, the Muslim fundamentalist group called the Taliban ("students") captured Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. That same day a six-member council, headed by Mohammad Rabbani, was appointed to rule the areas under their control, which were to be governed by strict Islamic law. Before Kabul fell, Afghan Pres. Burhanuddin Rabbani, Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and the defense minister escaped to the northeastern region of the country, which was still controlled by ethnic Tajiks. All had been sentenced to death by the Taliban. Two former Afghan officials, however, were captured inside a United Nations facility in Kabul and executed. They were former communist president Mohammad Najibullah, who had ruled the country from 1987 to 1992, and his brother, the former head of security.

      Gambian leader reelected

      Following an election that was widely described as a travesty, Yahya Jammeh retained his post as president of The Gambia. Weeks before the election, Jammeh had guaranteed his continued control of the West African nation by outlawing major opposition parties and forbidding his political rivals to talk with foreign diplomats. Government soldiers, moreover, disrupted rallies by opposition candidates, and security personnel intimidated voters by standing watch as they cast their ballots. The election was an apparent attempt to legitimize Jammeh's regime because he had gained power in July 1994 by staging a military coup that ousted democratically elected Pres. Dawda Jawara.


October 1
      UN removes sanctions

      The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved the lifting of the 1992 sanctions that it had imposed on the federation of Yugoslavia (which included only Serbia and Montenegro after the nation disintegrated in 1991). The goal of the sanctions was to force Serbia to end its support of ethnic Serbs who were engaged in a civil war with Croats and Muslims in Bosnia and Herzegovina. With a fragile peace settlement in place, the Security Council agreed to remove the sanctions, but it did not restore Yugoslavia's membership in the UN General Assembly or release the nation's assets that were frozen in foreign banks.

October 2
      Gunman kills Lukanov

      An unidentified gunman shot and killed former prime minister Andrey Lukanov outside his home in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. Following a series of strikes and protests, Lukanov had resigned in November 1990 just a few months after his Socialist (formerly Communist) Party won the parliamentary election. He remained active on the political scene, frequently serving as the voice of his party, which was often at odds with Prime Minister Zhan Videnov. The assassination did not delay the presidential election. In a runoff on November 3, Petar Stoyanov of the Union of Democratic Forces defeated Ivan Marazov by winning 59.9% of the vote.

October 6
      Mideast leaders at impasse

      After failing to make headway in their negotiations in Washington, D.C., on October 1-2, Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister of Israel, and Yasir Arafat, head of the Palestine Liberation Organization, resumed their talks at the Israeli-Gaza Strip border. Their stated goal was to revitalize the Middle East peace process by resolving several issues, including the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the West Bank city of Hebron. Arafat accused Netanyahu of seeking to renegotiate an agreement already ratified by his nation, but Netanyahu insisted that he was merely seeking to make adjustments in the existing agreement. It was apparent to all who paid close attention to the proceedings that the road to definitive peace would be long and arduous. In an address to the Knesset (parliament) on October 7, Shimon Peres, Netanyahu's predecessor, declared that Israel had lost a lot of goodwill around the world because there had been nothing but "talk about the need to talk" during the 111 days that Netanyahu's government had been in power.

October 12
      Peters ponders options

      New Zealand's parliamentary elections ended with neither the ruling National Party of Prime Minister Jim Bolger nor the main opposition Labour Party having sufficient representation in the expanded House of Representatives to form a government. As a consequence, the balance of power devolved on the New Zealand First Party (NZFP) led by Winston Peters. Although he was in a position to negotiate with either party and bring the NZFP into a coalition government as a junior partner, neither of the two major parties was prepared to accept some of the basic policies advocated by the NZFP. Under a new electoral system, voters had cast two ballots, one for an individual and one for a political party. The purpose of the dual ballot was to ensure that any party receiving at least 5% of the vote had the right to be represented in the national unicameral legislature even if none of its candidates won a seat outright.

      Hispanics march in D.C.

      Tens of thousands of Latinos held a rally in Washington, D.C., to emphasize their common bonds, underscore their importance as a political bloc, and protest new laws that denied benefits to legal immigrants who were not citizens. The new legislation also made it more difficult to qualify for political asylum and to prove discrimination when employers failed to hire Latinos in the belief that they had entered the country illegally. The gathering, called the Latino and Immigrants' Rights March, was organized by the director of Coordinadora 96.

October 14
      ADM to pay huge fine

      The Archer Daniels Midland Co. announced that it would plead guilty to charges of conspiracy with competitors to fix the price of lysine, a feed additive, and of citric acid, which is used in foods and beverages. The company also agreed to pay a fine of $100 million—a penalty almost seven times larger than any the U.S. Justice Department had previously imposed in a criminal price-fixing case. Evidence against the company had been secretly obtained by Mark Whitacre, who recorded incriminating conversations during hundreds of meetings that he attended as a senior executive. As part of the settlement, the Justice Department agreed not to pursue its investigation of other alleged instances of price-fixing, possible bribes, and theft of technology.

October 15
      Christopher visits Africa

      Warren Christopher ended a nine-day diplomatic journey that took him to Angola, Ethiopia, Mali, South Africa, and Tanzania. It was the first visit to Africa by a U.S. secretary of state since 1987. During his key policy address at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, S.Af., he noted that African nations were abandoning military rule and one-party political systems and embracing democratic principles. While recognizing that many of the continent's nations had made social and economic progress, he added that prospects for the future would be greatly improved through sound policies and international support. He promised that the U.S. would give Africa the "attention it deserves" while recalling that the U.S. had helped negotiate the peace settlement in Angola and, among other things, had undertaken humanitarian missions to relieve starvation in Africa. Christopher's call for an all-African crisis-intervention force was generally well received by leaders in the region.

      U.S. troops reach Bosnia

      A task force of some 5,000 U.S. soldiers began arriving in Bosnia and Herzegovina to protect the last 15,000 U.S. peacekeeping troops during their withdrawal from the country. They had been part of a 48,000-member international force led by NATO. Some weeks earlier, during a meeting in Norway, the NATO ministers had asked Gen. George Joulwan, NATO's supreme commander in Europe, to study the feasibility of a new peacekeeping force that would be capable of preventing another outbreak of ethnic fighting between Bosnian Serbs, Croats, and Muslims. Fears were expressed that the civil war would almost certainly erupt again unless an international force capable of enforcing the peace accord was deployed on the ground in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

October 16
      U.S. policy draws fire

      The European Union (EU) requested that the World Trade Organization decide whether the Helms-Burton act violated international trade laws. The legislation had been passed by the U.S. Senate (74-22) and by the House of Representatives (336-86) in March. One provision of the law allowed U.S. citizens to file lawsuits in U.S. courts against foreign companies that "trafficked" in property that had belonged to them before it was confiscated by the Cuban government. In effect, the U.S. law was an attempt to force other nations to observe the economic embargo that the U.S. had imposed on Cuba. Canada, Mexico, and members of the EU challenged the right of the U.S. to dictate their policy toward Cuba, arguing that the Helms-Burton act was an illegal extraterritorial extension of U.S. law.

      U.K. may ban handguns

      In the wake of recommendations made by a panel of investigators assigned to review the random slaying in March of 16 children and a teacher in Dunblane, Scot., the British government announced that it would propose a plan to outlaw the private possession of most handguns. Although Great Britain already had some of the world's most restrictive laws on the possession of guns, Thomas Hamilton, who committed the murders, had been able to obtain his handguns legally.

October 17
      Yeltsin fires Lebed

      Using television as a forum, Russian Pres. Boris Yeltsin signed a decree dismissing Aleksandr Lebed as secretary of the nation's Security Council. On October 19 his place was taken by Ivan Rybkin, who had been speaker of the State Duma (parliament). Although Lebed, a retired general, had negotiated an end to the civil conflict in Chechnya, he had angered Yeltsin by questioning government policies and creating friction among high-ranking officials. Lebed had earlier threatened to resign when he was not named head of a commission on military appointments. After his dismissal, Lebed, who was generally considered one of the country's most popular politicians, pledged to continue speaking out on domestic and foreign affairs. He openly acknowledged that he hoped one day to be president while pledging to use only constitutional means to attain his goal.

      Strike disrupts France

      Public employees went on strike throughout France to protest the government's plan to prepare for a common European currency by cutting its deficit through reduced spending. The strike provoked bitter conflict among union members, some of whom were willing to admit that steps had to be taken to control, among other things, the social security and health insurance programs, which were billions of dollars in debt. The call to strike was issued after the government announced that it would not fill 6,000 civil service jobs when they became vacant in 1997 because workers had quit or retired. The number of civil servants, however, would still exceed five million. The strike kept about one-half of the country's teachers at home and seriously hobbled air, rail, and public transportation. The protest was joined by many doctors, who denounced Prime Minister Alain Juppé for demanding that the cost of medical treatment and drugs be lowered.

October 18
      DNC suspends Huang

      The Democratic National Committee (DNC), under fierce attack for having accepted what were said to have been illegal contributions to President Clinton's reelection campaign, announced that it had suspended John Huang, its vice-chairman for financial operations. Huang, a Chinese-born naturalized U.S. citizen, had solicited huge sums of money from the Asian business community. The DNC had already returned one illegal gift of $250,000 from a South Korean electronics firm. Another sizable contribution had apparently been concealed by using a Buddhist temple in California as a front. Huang had also received money from the Riady family, which controlled the Lippo Group, a vast banking and real-estate empire in Indonesia. Huang had worked for the Lippo Group before becoming deputy assistant secretary for international economic policy at the U.S. Commerce Department. Huang reportedly had turned over to the DNC nearly $1 million from U.S. associates of the Riady family and from subsidiaries of the Lippo Group.

October 20
      Japan holds election

      In parliamentary elections Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto's Liberal-Democratic Party (LDP) gained 28 seats in the lower house of the Diet (parliament), but its 239-seat total fell short of an absolute majority. There was little doubt, however, that Hashimoto would continue to head the government, whether or not the Social Democratic Party of Japan and New Party Sakigake continued to support the LDP as partners in a coalition government. Under a newly adopted electoral system, the number of seats in the lower house was reduced from 511 to 500—300 of which were filled from single-seat districts and 200 by proportional representation. Commentators, trying to explain the record-low 59.9% voter turnout, frequently cited public disgust with political corruption, indifference to the outcome, and skepticism that the new electoral system would bring about any significant positive change.

      Sex case angers Belgians

      More than a quarter of a million people held a peaceful march in Brussels, the capital of Belgium, to vent their frustration over the government's perceived reluctance to investigate vigorously a pedophile and child-pornography ring that was involved in kidnapping, sexual abuse, and murder. The frustration and anger of ordinary people had reached new intensity when the nation's highest court removed the chief magistrate, Jean-Marc Connerotte, from the case because he accepted a free dinner at a fund-raiser for the parents of children still missing. Connerotte, who had been widely admired for his handling of the case, was reportedly about to reveal the names of senior government officials who had been identified on compromising videotapes. His dismissal raised questions of a possible government cover-up.

      Alemán defeats Ortega

      In a race for the presidency of Nicaragua, Arnoldo Alemán, candidate of the Liberal Alliance party, handily defeated his main rival, former president Daniel Ortega Saavedra of the Sandinista National Liberation Front. Incomplete returns indicated that Alemán had won more than 45% of the popular vote, the minimum required for avoiding a runoff. Ortega charged that "serious irregularities" had tainted the election, but outside observers were satisfied that such problems as a shortage of ballots in some polling stations, incomplete voter lists, and late openings of some voting precincts were the result of poor organization and did not involve fraud. Alemán was scheduled to replace Violeta Barrios de Chamorro as president on Jan. 20, 1997.

October 21
      Chirac backs Palestinians

      On the first day of a state visit to Israel, French Pres. Jacques Chirac called for the establishment of a Palestinian state as a step toward bolstering security in the Middle East. The following day Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced his opposition to such a plan on the grounds that a Palestinian state would present a threat to Israel because it could then form an alliance with Israel's enemies. Nonetheless, Netanyahu insisted that he was eager to conclude a definitive peace agreement with the Palestinians, but not on the same terms envisioned by his predecessor, the late Yitzhak Rabin. Chirac's visit was widely viewed as an effort to restore France's historic role in the region.

October 23
      Swiss reputation sullied

      Flavio Cotti, Switzerland's foreign minister, announced that the government would immediately intensify its investigation of a scandal that had angered Jewish communities throughout the world, as well as the Swiss people and foreign governments. During research at the Swiss National Archives, Peter Hug, a historian at the University of Bern, came across documents confirming that Switzerland had secretly used dormant assets of Jewish victims of the Holocaust to compensate Swiss businessmen for losses that they had sustained through confiscation during World War II. Switzerland had entered into confidential agreements with Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Yugoslavia to settle their debts through such compensation. The scandal embarrassed the Swiss government and tarnished its carefully cultivated reputation for honesty in financial dealings.

      Brundtland resigns

      After announcing that she was stepping down as prime minister of Norway, Gro Harlem Brundtland declared that she would remain a Labour Party MP and seek reelection in 1997. When she began her first term in 1981, she was the youngest person and the first woman ever to have held the post. On October 25 Thorbjørn Jagland was sworn in as prime minister by King Harald V.

      GMC workers end strike

      The Canadian Auto Workers ratified a new three-year contract with General Motors of Canada (GMC) and returned to work after a 21-day strike. The shutdown had forced GMC to lay off temporarily some 19,900 workers in the U.S. and Mexico and thousands of others who manufactured automobile parts. The strike cost the Canadian economy an estimated $750 million. Under terms of the new contract, workers would receive annual pay increases of 2% and an immediate bonus of $259. The company, moreover, would be allowed to sell two auto parts plants in Ontario so long as the benefits workers received were protected for a number of years. GMC agreed to offer those workers attractive buyout options and in its remaining plants to replace jobs that had been lost by channeling business to outside suppliers.

October 26
      Chaos reigns in Zaire

      The United Nations evacuated its personnel from Bukavu, Zaire, convinced that the escalating conflict between ethnic Tutsi and government forces created a situation that was unacceptably dangerous. The UN also acknowledged that the refugee problem had reached unmanageable proportions. Two years earlier about one million Hutu had crossed the border into Zaire and set up refugee camps to avoid the vicious Hutu-Tutsi conflict in Rwanda and Burundi. These refugees, fearing that the warring Tutsi would attack their camps to seek revenge for the earlier murder of some 500,000 Tutsi, fled the camps in panic. Hundreds of thousands sought safety in the bush, even though they carried with them virtually no food, drinking water, or personal belongings.

October 28
      Sant turns back on EU

      A new head of government assumed power in Malta when Pres. Ugo Mifsud Bonnici administered the oath of office to Alfred Sant. The constitution required the president to appoint Sant prime minister after the Labour Party, which he led, defeated the Nationalist Party by capturing slightly more than one-half of the popular vote. During the campaign Sant pledged to abolish an unpopular value-added sales tax, a decision that effectively voided Malta's bid to join the European Union. Sant also promised to seek closer ties with Libya, which was situated just 360 km (225 mi) south of Malta, and to relinquish Malta's associate membership in NATO.

October 30
      Wang Dan jailed again

      After a four-hour closed trial, a Chinese court in Beijing convicted Wang Dan of having plotted to subvert the government and sentenced him to 11 years in prison. The court cited Wang's writing for foreign publications and his association with other dissidents. After the Tiananmen Square massacre on June 4, 1989, Wang headed the government's most-wanted list of pro-democracy dissidents. After turning himself in, he was imprisoned for nearly four years. In May 1995 he was rearrested and held incommunicado until October 7, when he was charged with the capital offense of subversion. With Wang's imprisonment, all of China's prominent dissidents were either behind bars, in labour camps, or in exile. China watchers generally agreed that Wang's sentence indicated that China's leaders no longer feared that harsh suppression of dissent would cause Western nations to be less friendly toward their country.


November 5
      Clinton defeats Dole

      After a political campaign that many Americans considered far too long and much too expensive, Democrat Bill Clinton was reelected U.S. president with 379 electoral votes. He captured 31 states and the District of Columbia and 49% of the popular vote. He thus became the first Democratic president to win a second term since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936. Former senator Bob Dole, the Republican candidate, earned 159 electoral votes by capturing 19 states; his share of the popular vote was about 41%. H. Ross Perot, carrying the banner of the Reform Party, was supported by 8.5% of those who cast ballots, but he won no electoral votes. The Republicans increased their majority in the Senate (55-45) by picking up two additional seats. They also retained control of the House of Representatives by a margin of 226-207. Although party changes occurred in two gubernatorial races, the overall balance remained the same—32 Republicans and 17 Democrats. The term of the governor of Maine, an independent, was not due to expire until 1998. The overall voter turnout—less than 50%—was the lowest in modern times.

      Yeltsin has heart surgery

      An all-Russian team of 12 surgeons performed successful seven-hour multiple heart bypass surgery on Russian Pres. Boris Yeltsin at the Moscow Cardiological Centre. Six weeks earlier world-renowned U.S. heart surgeon Michael DeBakey had arrived in Moscow to act as consultant. He advised that the surgery be delayed until Yeltsin's health problems could be treated. Ailments that could complicate the surgery included anemia, high cholesterol, and intestinal bleeding. On November 6 Yeltsin reassumed the powers he had temporarily delegated to Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin.

      President ousts Bhutto

      For the second time in her political career, Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was dismissed from office. Pres. Farooq Ahmed Leghari, responding to widespread charges that Bhutto's government was rife with corruption, dissolved the National Assembly and called for new elections on Feb. 3, 1997. In his decree of dismissal, Leghari remarked that "public faith in the integrity and honesty of the government has disappeared." That same day he installed Malik Meraj Khalid as interim prime minister. The antigovernment protests that began in late October had paralyzed Islamabad, the capital. Many of the charges of corruption were directed at Asif Ali Zardari, Bhutto's husband, who allegedly had taken bribes and channeled money from government contracts into private bank accounts. There was also talk about his possible involvement in the September murder of Mir Murtaza Bhutto, the prime minister's estranged brother.

November 7
      Hashimoto reelected

      With the backing of 262 of the 500 members of Japan's House of Representatives, the lower house of the Diet (parliament), Ryutaro Hashimoto was reelected prime minister. Although his Liberal-Democratic Party (LDP) had won a plurality in the October Diet elections, he could not persuade the Social Democratic Party of Japan and the Sakigake Party to resume the roles they had played as formal partners in his previous coalition government. The new Cabinet included only members of the LDP, with each of the LDP's main factions nearly equally represented.

      Army probes sex cases

      U.S. Army officials publicly acknowledged that a wide-ranging investigation of alleged sexual assaults and harassment was under way at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland and at other military compounds. The charges ranged from violations of the ban on consensual sex with trainees to rape, forcible sodomy, sexual assault, threats of severe bodily harm or death, and obstruction of justice. As the investigation proceeded, thousands of additional complaints from other female recruits made it clear that the problem of abuse was far more widespread and serious than had earlier been believed. Many females reported that male military officers had simply ignored their complaints when they were reported at the time of the alleged incidents.

November 10
      Chile is summit host

      Most of Latin America's heads of state, as well as the leaders of Spain and Portugal, gathered in Viña del Mar, Chile, for the sixth annual Ibero-American Summit. During the two-day conference the main topics of discussion were drug trafficking, corruption, poverty, and the U.S. economic embargo of Cuba. The final communiqué urged Fidel Castro to begin introducing democratic reforms in Cuba. At the same time, it criticized the U.S. policy toward Cuba, especially its recent law allowing U.S. citizens to sue foreign businesses occupying property that had belonged to U.S. citizens before it was confiscated by the Cuban government.

November 11
      Lithuania holds election

      After the second round of elections to Lithuania's Seimas (parliament), the Homeland Union (HU) party under the leadership of Vytautas Landsbergis occupied 70 of the 141 seats. Having previously allied itself with the Christian Democratic Party, which controlled 16 seats, the HU was in a position to elect Landsbergis speaker of the Seimas and prime minister. During the campaign he had pledged to continue Lithuania's effort to join the European Union and NATO.

November 15
      Hutu return to Rwanda

      After more than two years in Zaire, hundreds of thousands of Hutu refugees began returning voluntarily to their homes in neighbouring Rwanda. The unexpected turn of events immediately called into question the need for a UN humanitarian mission to prevent massive starvation and the spread of life-threatening diseases, especially in the North Kivu province of Zaire. There were, however, still hundreds of thousands of refugees, many from Burundi, whose whereabouts were unknown. Their number included Hutu militants, who were the main target of Tutsi warriors bent on revenge for the earlier massacre of some 500,000 of their fellow tribesmen.

      Texaco settles lawsuit

      A financial deal amounting to $176.1 million was approved by Texaco, a major U.S. oil company, to settle a discrimination lawsuit filed in 1994 by some 1,400 of the company's black employees. The plaintiffs charged that they had been denied deserved promotions and pay comparable to that of white employees. On November 4 what appeared to be damaging evidence against Texaco officials was made public. It was a low-quality audiotape recording of Texaco executives making what appeared to be disparaging racial remarks and discussing the alteration or destruction of compromising documents related to the case. As part of the settlement, which had to be approved by the U.S. District Court in White Plains, N.Y., Texaco agreed to help create a task force of outside experts, which would operate under court supervision and oversee Texaco's human resources program for a period of five years.

      Deutch defends CIA

      Hoping to dispel doubts about CIA involvement in the distribution of illegal drugs in inner-city neighbourhoods during the 1980s, CIA director John Deutch visited the Watts area of Los Angeles to answer questions posed by black leaders. In August the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News had reported that the CIA had had connections to Nicaraguans who sold crack cocaine in U.S. inner cities. The CIA had then reportedly used some of the profits from the illegal drug sales to finance Contra rebels fighting the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. Although Deutch asserted that he had no evidence of such CIA activity, he said that he would reserve final judgment until the CIA had completed a thorough investigation.

November 17
      Thai government falls

      The Thai Nation (Chart Thai) party of Prime Minister Banharn Silpa-archa was soundly defeated in elections to the House of Representatives, losing 53 of the 91 seats it had held. The New Aspiration Party, led by Defense Minister Gen. Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, gained 68 seats for a new total of 125, a slight plurality. The Democrat Party of former prime minister Chuan Leekpai finished second with 123 seats. Under intense pressure to resign over charges of corruption and fiscal mismanagement, Banharn had finally agreed to step aside after a 207-180 vote of no-confidence. He then reneged and called for new elections. On November 18 Chavalit announced that he had succeeded in forming a new coalition government that included four former prime ministers, all of whom were leaders of political parties.

      Romania chooses president

      Romanian voters ended Ion Iliescu's seven-year reign by electing as president Emil Constantinescu, candidate of the centre-right Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR) party. Two weeks earlier the electorate had signaled its desire for change by displacing the former communist government with a centre-right parliament. The CDR and the Social Democratic Union, which were allied, controlled 213 of the 343 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 94 of the 143 seats in the Senate. Observers expected Romania to move more quickly toward a market economy and encourage foreign investment by easing restrictions on repatriating profits.

November 19
      U.S. ousts Boutros-Ghali

      Exercising its veto power in the UN Security Council, the U.S. formally voted against the reelection of Boutros Boutros-Ghali to a second five-year term as secretary-general of the United Nations. Madeleine Albright, the U.S. ambassador, made it clear that the U.S. would not capitulate to pressure and join the majority of nations that favoured extending Boutros-Ghali's term. The position of the United States was based on Boutros-Ghali's perceived lack of leadership and his inability or unwillingness to carry out reforms that the U.S. viewed as vital if the UN hoped to fulfill its mission as an effective international organization.

      Castro visits John Paul II

      During a private meeting in the Vatican, Pope John Paul II accepted an invitation from Cuban Pres. Fidel Castro to pay a state visit to his country in 1997. The Roman pontiff, who was generally credited with having hastened the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, first insisted that he be allowed to travel freely throughout the country and address gatherings without restrictions. No pope had ever visited Cuba. Before the nation's constitution was amended in 1992, Cuba was officially an atheistic country. The communist government, which had been headed by Castro for 37 years, had confiscated church property, expelled or imprisoned clergymen, and forbidden public worship. In 1996 only 250 priests were taking care of the spiritual needs of an estimated five million Roman Catholics, who constituted almost one-half of the country's population.

November 20
      Poland reinstates abortion

      Aleksander Kwasniewski, president of Poland, signed legislation that returned to women the right to terminate a pregnancy, up to the 12th week, if they chose to do so for financial or emotional reasons. The vote in the Diet had favoured abortion rights 228-198, sufficient to override a Senate veto. During communist rule the law had permitted abortion on demand, but new legislation in 1993 banned abortions, in part because the vast majority of Poles were members of the Roman Catholic Church, which condemned the practice.

      Student scores compared

      According to information released by the U.S. Department of Education, middle-school students in Singapore posted higher scores in both mathematics and science than any other group of eighth-grade students in the 41 nations that participated in the Third International Mathematics and Science Study. South Korea finished second in math, Japan third, Hong Kong fourth, and Belgium fifth. In science the Czech Republic was second and Japan third. South Korea and Bulgaria tied for fourth place. In the overall rankings, the U.S. was 28th. There was no apparent relationship between achievement and the hours of instruction. U.S. students, for example, received an average of 143 hours of math instruction each year, compared with 117 hours given in Japan.

November 21
      CIA officer called spy

      A federal grand jury in Alexandria, Va., indicted Harold Nicholson on one count of conspiracy to commit espionage for Russia. He was the highest-ranking CIA official ever charged with spying. At the time of his arrest on November 16, Nicholson was preparing to board a plane to Switzerland, allegedly carrying with him a briefcase filled with classified documents. Before being named branch chief at the CIA's counterterrorism centre, Nicholson had been an instructor at the agency's training school for spies. Among the information he was said to have given the Russians were the names of spies he had trained. According to an affidavit made public on November 18, Nicholson received some $180,000 for the information.

November 24
      Serbian elections voided

      Despite public protests that began on November 19 as a warning to Serbian Pres. Slobodan Milosevic not to repudiate the results of recent local elections, the First District Court in Belgrade voided the elections of 33 local council seats that had been won on November 17 by opposition candidates from the Zajedno coalition. Victories by other members of the opposition had earlier been negated by court rulings or official proclamations. The situation had all the elements of a pending crisis because there was growing evidence that the protesters were in no mood to capitulate.

November 25
      APEC meets near Manila

      The 18 members constituting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum ended their two-day annual meeting at Subic Bay, north of Manila, with a pledge to "substantially eliminate tariffs" on computers and high-tech products by the year 2000. The ministers, aware that the problems each faced were different, made allowances for "flexibility" in implementing the agreement. Issues that remained unresolved included China's tense relationship with Taiwan, the proliferation of nuclear technology, and the linkage between trade and observance of human rights. In a major side development, President Clinton and Chinese Pres. Jiang Zemin agreed to exchange state visits in 1997.

November 29
      French truckers end strike

      A successful 12-day strike by French truck drivers ended when the trucking companies agreed, among other things, to lower the retirement age to 55 after 25 years of service, to compensate drivers for the time they waited while their cargo was loaded and unloaded, and to expand the ban on Sunday work to include foreign truckers working in France. The truckers had seriously disrupted French life by setting up some 250 road barricades that prevented the delivery of essential goods, including fuel. The strike also prevented commercial traffic across the English Channel and made it impossible for Spanish and Portuguese drivers to reach their destinations if their route took them through France.

      Islamic parties banned

      The Algerian government announced that in the national referendum held on November 28, the electorate had approved a new constitution that expanded the powers of Pres. Liamine Zeroual and severely undermined the political power of Islamic-based parties by outlawing those "founded on a religious basis." When the government canceled the second round of legislative elections in January 1992, which would almost certainly have led to the establishment of an Islamic state in Algeria, militant Muslims initiated a civil conflict that in the following five years claimed an estimated 50,000 lives.

November 30
      Stone of Scone returned

      A block of gray sandstone known as the Stone of Scone was returned to Scotland 700 years after it had been taken to England as war booty by King Edward I. The stone, which had been transported to Westminster Abbey in London, had been the coronation seat of Scottish kings and was, therefore, regarded as a symbol of Scottish nationalism. Prince Andrew, representing Queen Elizabeth II, attended the festivities that marked the return of the stone to Edinburgh Castle.


December 1
      Jiang visits India

      Chinese Pres. Jiang Zemin ended a four-day visit to India after he and Indian Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda had signed a series of accords aimed at reducing tensions between their countries. Among other things, the two leaders agreed to reduce the number of troops each country had stationed along the 4,000-km (2,500-mi) common border. In 1962 fierce border skirmishes had driven the two countries farther apart, but in 1976 the two nations restored diplomatic relations. After Jiang's visit serious differences remained, including China's reported sale of armaments and nuclear technology to Pakistan, India's longtime rival. Jiang's visit had special significance because he was the first Chinese head of state to visit India since the country became independent in 1947.

      Lucinschi wins election

      In a runoff election for the presidency of Moldova, Petru Lucinschi, a left-of-centre independent and the speaker of Parliament, defeated incumbent Pres. Mircea Snegur by capturing 54% of the vote. Lucinschi, who had been a member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union before Moldova became independent, promised to promote Moldovan neutrality and to respect the powers granted to Parliament.

December 2
      OSCE to update pact

      During their fourth summit meeting in Lisbon, the 54 members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) began discussions on updating the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty, which had been signed by NATO and the Warsaw Pact nations in 1990. With the Warsaw Pact no longer a reality and NATO preparing to expand its membership in Central and Eastern Europe, OSCE considered it an appropriate time to reset limits on tanks, artillery, and military aircraft deployed in Europe in order to allay Russian concerns about its security.

December 3
      Gay unions become issue

      Kevin S.C. Chang, a circuit court judge in Honolulu, ruled that a state ban on same-sex marriages was unconstitutional and ordered the state to issue licenses for such unions. On the following day lawyers for the state were granted a stay pending the outcome of an appeal to the state Supreme Court. Anticipating Chang's ruling, in September the U.S. Congress had passed the Defense of Marriage Act, which denied federal recognition of same-sex marriages and federal benefits to partners in such unions.

December 4
      U.S. launches Mars probe

      The unmanned space vehicle Mars Pathfinder began a seven-month voyage to Mars that was scheduled to reach its destination on July 4, 1997. Its main science mission was to study the Martian atmosphere and investigate the geology and chemical composition of the planet's rocks and soils. When Pathfinder took off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, it carried a 10-kg (22-lb) wheeled rover device dubbed Sojourner. The rover was designed to move slowly across the surface of Mars taking photographs, gathering other scientific data, and testing autonomous-vehicle technology on the Martian terrain.

December 5
      Clinton fills Cabinet posts

      Madeleine Albright, well known in the international community as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was nominated by President Clinton to replace Warren Christopher as secretary of state. There was near unanimous agreement that her appointment would be approved after a brief pro forma hearing before the Senate. Albright, who was born in Czechoslovakia, was regarded as an expert on European affairs. She had strongly backed U.S. military intervention in Haiti, Iraq, and Bosnia and Herzegovina and had supported the establishment of war-crimes tribunals to punish those responsible for atrocities committed in Rwanda and the Balkans. Other Clinton nominations included William Cohen for the post of secretary of defense and Anthony Lake as director of central intelligence.

      Taiwan reacts to setback

      John Chang, the foreign minister of the Republic of China on Taiwan, announced that his government was recalling its ambassador to South Africa, terminating $80 million in annual aid, and suspending most of the treaties the two had signed. Officials on Taiwan felt that they had no other choice after South Africa announced on November 27 that it was severing diplomatic ties with the Republic of China at the insistence of the People's Republic of China. South Africa had been one of 30 countries that maintained a formal diplomatic relationship with the government on Taiwan.

December 7
      Ghanaians reelect Rawlings

      The people of Ghana reelected Jerry Rawlings president by giving him 57.2% of their votes. John Kufuor, his closest rival, was favoured by 39.9% of the electorate. In contests for seats in the unicameral House of Parliament, Rawlings's National Democratic Congress captured 130 of the 200 seats. The former air force pilot, after seizing power in 1981, had headed a military government until 1992. Then, after an election denounced as fraudulent by his opponents, he assumed the office of president as a civilian. International observers declared the most recent election free and fair.

December 9
      Iraqi oil deal approved

      Boutros Boutros-Ghali, secretary-general of the United Nations, gave final approval to a plan that would allow Iraq to resume its exportation of oil in order to alleviate a serious shortage of food and medicine; some money would also be used to reimburse victims of Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. A similar plan approved by the UN in May had been shelved after Iraq intervened militarily in a conflict between Kurdish factions in the northern part of the country. On December 10 Iraqi Pres. Saddam Hussein turned on a pumping station to symbolize Iraq's reentry into the world's oil markets.

December 10
      Mandela signs new charter

      South African Pres. Nelson Mandela signed a new constitution that completed a transition from a long period of white-minority rule to full-fledged democracy. A broad bill of rights immediately became the law of the land, but certain other provisions of the charter would take effect in stages. Following recommendations made by the Constitutional Court, the final document gave somewhat greater powers to a 60-member Council of Provinces, which replaced the 90-member Senate as the upper house of the bicameral national legislature. The signing ceremony took place at Sharpeville, a township 55 km (35 mi) from Johannesburg. That site was chosen because it had been the scene of a 1960 massacre of antiapartheid demonstrators. Mandela remarked, "Out of the many Sharpevilles which haunt our history was born the unshakeable determination that respect for human life, dignity, and well-being must be enshrined as rights beyond the power of any force to diminish."

December 11
      Hong Kong leader chosen

      A 400-member special election committee, approved by China, overwhelmingly chose Tung Chee-hwa to fill the office of chief executive of Hong Kong when the British crown colony reverted to Chinese sovereignty on July 1, 1997. Tung, who had been highly successful as head of the Orient Overseas International Ltd. shipping company founded by his father, was generally favoured by the business community, but his endorsement of China's plan to dissolve the colony's elected legislature and replace it with appointees had riled pro-democracy activists. The current governor of Hong Kong, Christopher Patten, challenged Tung to defend Hong Kong's interests after he assumed office and to insist that China honour the promises it had made to allow Hong Kong to exercise considerable autonomy after the British departed.

      Russian miners end strike

      Having received government assurances that some $470 million in back wages would be paid to striking coal miners before the end of the year, officials of the Russian Coal Industry Workers' Union ordered its members to return to their jobs. More than 400,000 workers had walked off their jobs in protest on December 3. The delay in payments was due in part to the fact that coal customers owed the government nearly $1.5 billion in unpaid bills.

December 13
      Annan to head UN

      The UN Security Council ended a contentious debate by approving Kofi Annan of Ghana as secretary-general of the United Nations. On December 17 the UN General Assembly confirmed his appointment as successor to Boutros Boutros-Ghali as of Jan. 1, 1997. At the time of his election, Annan held the post of undersecretary-general for UN peacekeeping operations. Annan, who had earned academic degrees in both the U.S. and Switzerland, declared that he would seek to restore confidence between governments and the UN and strive to revitalize the UN's political and moral authority and its sense of common purpose in order to carry out its mission.

December 15
      Airplane rivals to merge

      The Boeing Co., which already dominated the global market for commercial aircraft, announced plans to buy the McDonnell Douglas Corp., a leading manufacturer of military aircraft. The $13.3 billion deal would make the new company the only U.S. manufacturer of commercial jets and the largest aerospace company in the world. Industry analysts viewed the planned merger as an ideal partnership because it brought together two complementary segments of airplane manufacturing and improved the new company's competitive position against such rivals as the formidable European consortium Airbus Industrie.

December 16
      Chun given life sentence

      An appellate court in Seoul, S.Kor., upheld the convictions of former presidents Chun Doo Hwan and Roh Tae Woo on charges that ranged from treason to corruption, but it then reduced Chun's death sentence to life imprisonment. Roh, who had been sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison, had his sentence reduced to 17 years.

December 17
      Peru crisis begins

      About 20 heavily armed guerrillas of the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) invaded the Japanese embassy in Lima, Peru, and took several hundred reception guests hostage. The dignitaries had gathered to celebrate the birthday of Japanese Emperor Akihito. The MRTA, which had maintained ties with similar Marxist groups in other Latin-American countries, demanded, among other things, the release of fellow rebels imprisoned in Peru and other countries. The organization had been considered moribund after many of its members accepted the terms of a government amnesty program and returned to society. Although the government cut off the embassy's utilities and refused to negotiate, the guerrillas released most of their hostages because the 80 or so they still held served their purpose and lessened the strain created by so many people living in cramped quarters. On December 31, with no end of the standoff in sight, a group of reporters with camera equipment evaded police barricades and entered the compound. The guerrillas welcomed the opportunity to gain wider publicity for their cause.

      Red Cross workers slain

      Five nurses and one construction worker, all members of the International Committee of the Red Cross, were shot and killed in a Chechen village hospital by unidentified gunmen. The killings were described as the worst premeditated atrocities against Red Cross personnel in the 133-year history of the organization. With no hard evidence to guide them, officials could only speculate that the acts of brutality were an attempt to undermine the peace settlement reached by Chechen separatists and Russia's central government. The attack had one immediate effect: the Red Cross, Doctors of the World, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees agency all withdrew their workers from the area.

December 19
      TV programs to be rated

      Responding to a congressional mandate contained in the 1996 Telecommunications Act and to demands from the general public that television programs be rated for their violence, profanity, and sexual content, a panel of television industry personnel proposed a system keyed to the age of the viewers. After 10 months of often intense debate, the group approved six rating categories, one of which would be indicated on the television screen just before a program was aired and would be published beforehand in television guides. V-chip technology would soon be available to block out controversial programming. The first two ratings would apply to children's programming, and other programs would receive one of the four other ratings. TV-Y meant suitable for all youngsters and TV-Y7 suitable for children at least seven years old. Whereas TV-G programs would contain virtually no questionable material, TV-PG would warn that parental guidance was needed because the program contained potentially objectionable material; TV-14 would indicate a higher level of violence, sexual content, or profanity that might render them unsuitable for children under 14 years of age. TV-M programs were intended for adults only. News programs and sports events would not be rated.

December 26
      South Koreans strike

      Hundreds of thousands of South Korean union workers went on strike to protest a law that union leaders contended could lead to widespread layoffs. The legislation had been passed by the National Assembly in secret without opposition deputies present. The Federation of Democratic Unions, which had been outlawed, claimed that more than 200,000 of its workers had walked off their jobs at 172 automobile factories, shipyards, and other sites producing major exports. The following day the strike escalated when workers belonging to the government-approved Federation of Korean Trade Unions, which represented 472 unions, joined the protest. Hopes for a quick settlement of the strike began to recede when the finance and economy minister declared that the government would "not tolerate this illegal strike for any reason."

December 27
      Lebed forms own party

      Having already declared his intention to seek the presidency of Russia, Aleksandr Lebed announced that he was forming his own political party to give the voters an alternative to Pres. Boris Yeltsin or the Communist Party. Lebed, a popular retired general who had been Yeltsin's national security adviser before being summarily fired in October for causing dissension, claimed that he had the backing of bankers and financiers. He reiterated his contention that Yeltsin was in such poor health that he could not deal effectively with Russia's problems, which included unpaid government wages, delinquent tax collecting, and the formulation and financing of social programs.

December 29
      Peace comes to Guatemala

      During a ceremony that was more subdued than festive, the guerrilla leaders of the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity and members of the government's Peace Commission signed the Accord for a Firm and Lasting Peace, which formally ended 36 years of civil war. Many of those who watched the televised proceedings, which took place in the public square outside the National Palace in Guatemala City, had never known peace. A large number had family members or friends among the 100,000 who had died or the 40,000 who had "disappeared" during the years of conflict. Even though most Guatemalans said that they welcomed an end to the hostilities, they also expressed doubts that the peace would endure because problems rooted in poverty and injustice had never been adequately addressed.

* * *

Universalium. 2010.

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