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March 1999

1999 News Month-By-Month


  • U.S. Heats Up Trade Battle with Europe (March 3): Imposes 100% tariff on luxury products and threatens to ban supersonic Concorde from landing in U.S.
  • Three Americans Slain in Colombia (March 4): Bodies of two women and a man found over border, in Venezuela. They were studying the living conditions of a rainforest Indian tribe. State Department protests to Colombia and calls for arrest of killers.
  • Eastern European Nations Join NATO (March 12): Three former Soviet Bloc countries, Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary, restore important European ties.
  • Oil Producers Agree to Cut Output (March 12): Coalition of major companies agrees to reduce production further in move to stabilize world prices.
  • U.S. and North Korea Agree on Inspection (March 16): Pact reached after months of negotiations will allow U.S. access to huge underground site of suspected atomic weapons undertaking. North Korea to receive food aid in return.
  • European Union Leaders Quit (March 16): All 20 executives resign after independent panel accuses group of favoritism and corruption.
  • NATO Launches Attack on Serbia (March 24): Cruise missiles and bombs pound Kosovo, Belgrade, and other targets. Barrage intended to punish Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic and Serbian military for yearlong assault against ethnic Albanian separatists.
  • Pinochet Arrest Upheld in London (March 24): Law Lords rule that former Chilean dictator must remain in England and face possible extradition to Spain on charges including murder, kidnapping, and torture.
  • U.S. Plane Goes Down in Yugoslavia (March 27): Pilot of F-117 stealth fighter rescued six hours later. Aircraft is first Allied loss in Balkan conflict.
  • Thousands of Ethnic Albanians Flee Kosovo (March 30): Villages in Northwest empty as residents threatened with death join 60,000 refugees forced to flee another area a day earlier.
  • Three G.I.s Captured by Serbs (March 31): Reported missing during patrol of Macedonia's border with Yugoslavia. The three had reported they were surrounded and under fire.


  • Marine Pilot Acquitted in Deaths (March 4): Military court clears Capt. Richard J. Ashby of murder charges after plane severed ski gondola cables, killing 20 at Italian resort. Italian officials and public react with fury.
  • U.S. Reports Theft of Nuclear Secrets by China (March 5): Says China used data stolen from American government laboratories to miniaturize its bombs. (March 8): Taiwan-born computer expert Wen Ho Lee discharged from Los Alamos, N.M., laboratory for security breaches after F.B.I. names him prime suspect. Lee denies wrongdoing.
  • Clinton Pledges Aid for Nicaragua (March 8): Speaking at site of disastrous Oct. 1998 mudslide caused by Hurricane Mitch, President vows help in reclaiming lives and devastated land.
  • Senate Approves Missile Defense System (March 17): Votes, 97–3, for the prompt building of a network to intercept missiles fired by rogue nations such as North Korea and Iran. (March 18): House, 371–105, votes to support principle of national missile defense system.
  • Congress Votes for Republican Budget (March 25): House and Senate approve big tax cut and head toward showdown with White House over spending priorities.
  • Marine Navigator Pleads Guilty (March 29): Capt. Joseph Schweitzer, 31, admits destroying videotape that recorded part of flight of jet that cut ski gondola cable in Italy, killing 20 people.


  • Sport Utility Vehicles Criticized (March 1): Federal study finds them unusually harmful to cars they collide with, causing about 2,000 deaths in 1996.
  • Deal to Save Redwoods Approved (March 2): U.S., California, and Pacific Lumber Company agree on $480 million program to make public preserve of world's largest privately owned grove of ancient trees.
  • Major Fault Under Los Angeles Detected (March 4): Scientists report finding under downtown area “blind thrust” that could cause devastating earthquake.
  • Key N.C.A.A. Rule Discarded (March 8): U.S. judge finds test score requirement set by National Collegiate Athletic Association to put black student–athletes at unfair disadvantage.
  • Joe DiMaggio Dies at 84 (March 8): Idolized center fielder symbolized success of New York Yankees baseball team. Famed for 56-game hitting streak in 1941.
  • RJR Nabisco Splits Businesses (March 9): Announces division of food and tobacco ventures, amid financial problems stemming from tobacco lawsuits.
  • Thirteen Killed in Truck-Train Collision (March 16): Crash happens at crossing near Chicago.
  • Medical Benefits Seen in Marijuana (March 17): Government study confirms active ingredients appear to help treat pain and other symptoms related to AIDS.
  • Verdict Favors Tobacco Companies (March 18): Federal jury in Ohio rules that they do not have to repay dozens of union health and benefit plans for costs of treating illnesses related to smoking.
  • First Nonstop Balloon Trip around World (March 20): Bertrand Piccard (Switzerland) and Brian Jones (U.K.) land Breitling Orbiter 3 after passing finish line over Mauritania, to end 20-day voyage.
  • M.I.T. Admits Gender Discrimination (March 22): Prestigious science institution issues report acknowledging unintentional bias against women professors.
  • Major Cable TV Companies to Merge (March 22): Comcast Corporation announces it will acquire Mediaone in a $53 billion deal to create nation's third-largest cable television company. Internet access a factor.
  • Rudder Flaw Found in Boeing 737s (March 23): U.S. report says airliner is subject to rare malfunctions that have caused two crashes and several close calls.
  • 39 Die in Alps Tunnel Fire (March 24): French and Italian officials report fire in Mont Blanc tunnel started in heavy truck and quickly spread to some 30 other vehicles.
  • Dr. Kevorkian Convicted of Second-Degree Murder (March 26): Michigan jury finds physician guilty of giving fatal injection to man with terminal illness. Action had been broadcast on TV's 60 Minutes.
  • Bodies of Yosemite Tourists Identified (March 27): Carole Sund, daughter Julie Sund, and friend Silvina Pelosso had been missing since Feb. 15. Remains found in charred rental car near national park.
  • Computer Virus Snarls Internet (March 27): Worldwide affliction, nicknamed “Melissa,” forces several large corporations to shut down email servers.
  • Record Award in Smoking Lawsuit (March 30): Ore. jury rules Philip Morris must pay $81 million to family of man who smoked Marlboro cigarettes for forty years before dying of lung cancer.

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