December 1997 News and Events

Updated July 10, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

1997 News Month-By-Month


  • Turkey Sentences 33 in Mob Attack (Dec. 2): Court decrees death penalty for group accused of killing 37 secular intellectuals in 1993.
  • New Talks Held on Hong Kong (Dec. 3): Chinese officials and British diplomats meet in Beijing to discuss issues of democracy and human rights.
  • Many Nations Sign Treaty Banning Land Mines (Dec. 3): About 120 at Ottawa conference agree to outlaw global production and use. United States, China, and Russia attend meeting but do not sign treaty.
  • Nations Agree to Cut Greenhouse Gases (Dec. 11): Delegates from more than 150 countries reach tentative accord at conference in Japan on measures obliging industrialized nations to reduce industrial emissions believed to be warming the Earth's atmosphere.
  • World Banks Bolster South Korea's Economy (Dec. 16): Nation's currency rises more than 8 percent in sign that Asia's financial crisis may have eased. (Dec. 24): In policy shift, U.S. joins other major nations in supplying South Korea with $10 billion in emergency loans. (Dec. 29): World's leading banks give South Korean borrowers a month's reprieve on loans.
  • U.S. Judge Assesses Cuba for Pilot Deaths (Dec. 17): Orders $187.6 million in damages, charging that Havana government and Air Force “murdered” four pilots of unarmed civilian planes carrying exiles in 1995.
  • Clinton Extends Troops' Bosnia Agreement (Dec. 17): Decides G.I.'s should remain past scheduled departure in June as part of peacekeeping force.
  • Winnie Mandela Rejects Nomination (Dec. 17): Political career ends as she announces she will not run for Deputy President of African National Congress following her questioning at Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which investigated her role in murder of young activist.
  • South Koreans Elect Dissident as President (Dec. 18): Overthrow political establishment and choose Kim Dae Jung, long-time pro-democracy campaigner. Voters irate over financial crisis afflicting nation.
  • Serbian President Elected (Dec. 23): Milan Milutinovia, ally of retiring official, Slobodan Milosevic, chosen by narrow margin amid charges of fraud in election.
  • Gunmen Kill 45 in Mexican Village (Dec. 23): Fifteen children among Indians slain in southern area. Violence reported to have been worst since Indian rebels began uprising in 1994.
  • Notorious Terrorist, Carlos, Convicted in Paris (Dec. 24): Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, 48, found guilty of killing two French police agents and Lebanese informant.
  • Zambia Arrests Former President (Dec. 25): Police seize Kenneth D. Kaunda in crackdown on opposition leaders believed to be involved in attempted coup in autumn.
  • Protestant Leader Slain in Ulster Prison (Dec. 27): Billy Wright, 37, a top guerrilla, shot dead by members of Irish Republican Army splinter group.
  • Egypt Court Upholds Ban on Female Mutilation (Dec. 28): High tribunal outlaws ritual cutting of genitals in girls and women, commonly practiced throughout Africa. Wide effect in Muslim world is foreseen.
  • China Restricts Use of Internet (Dec. 30): Adopts strict rules against use of computers in activities it deems harmful to national security and policies.


  • “Made in U.S.A.” Standard Stays (Dec. 1): F.T.C. bows to opposition and rules that labeled products must be “all or virtually all” made domestically.
  • Reno Backs Former Energy Secretary (Dec. 2): Virtually exonerates Hazel R. O'Leary of accusations that she improperly sought contributions from a charity.
  • Reno Rejects Special Prosecutor on Fund-Raising (Dec. 2): Attorney General bars appointment to investigate phone calls by President and Vice President.
  • Houston Elects First Black Mayor (Dec. 7): Lee Patrick Brown elected in Texas city, formerly largest city in nation never to have elected a black mayor.
  • Two Officials Reject House Subpoena (Dec. 8): Attorney General Reno and F.B.I. Director Freeh refuse to submit memorandum from Freeh to Reno urging naming of special prosecutor to investigate campaign fund-raising charges.
  • Former Housing Secretary Indicted (Dec. 11): Henry G. Cisneros charged with lying to federal agents and Congress about payments to a former mistress to prevent her from jeopardizing his nomination.
  • U.S. to Regulate Organic Food Industry (Dec. 14): For first time, Agriculture Department announces sweeping regulation effective from farm to consumer.
  • Separation of Sexes in Armed Forces Urged (Dec. 15): Panel advises Pentagon to modify integration in training by Army, Navy, and Air Force.
  • Anthrax Vaccinations for Armed Forces (Dec. 15): Pentagon moves to meet threats of germ warfare.
  • Clinton Pardons 21 in Christmas Gesture (Dec. 23): Grants clemency to Americans charged with variety of federal offenses, including bank robbery.
  • Clinton Order to Enroll 3 Million Children in Medicaid (Dec. 28): Announces major effort to enroll millions eligible but not enrolled in program for low-income families.


  • Irradiation of Red Meat Approved (Dec. 2): F.D.A. approves measure that food experts say could nearly eliminate dangerous bacteria if consumers accept it.
  • Prosecution Rests in Oklahoma City Trial (Dec. 2): Finishes case against Terry L. Nichols after 20 days of testimony in second bombing case. (Dec. 23): Jury convicts him on conspiracy and involuntary manslaughter charges but exonerates him on two other counts.
  • South Korea Accepts $55 Billion Loan Package (Dec. 3): Formally agrees to terms for international economic rescue effort, the largest ever. Revamping of economy expected to cause hardship for millions.
  • Player Suspended for Attacking Coach (Dec. 4): National Basketball Association penalizes Latrell Sprewell, 27, of Golden State Warriors after All-Star guard physically assaulted P. J. Carlesimo.
  • Plane Crash Kills More Than 100 in Russia (Dec. 6): Huge military transport smashes into apartment complex in eastern Siberia. Many persons injured.
  • Envoy's Body Removed From Arlington (Dec. 8): M. Larry Lawrence, late Ambassador to Switzerland, exhumed for reburial in civilian cemetery because of evidence that he had fabricated World War II heroism record.
  • TV Show Sickens Japanese Children (Dec. 18): Hundreds taken to hospital with severe convulsions after watching cartoon program with flashing lights.
  • Kaczynski Lawyers Bar Insanity Defense (Dec. 29): Abandon move to argue that “mental defect” caused actions that brought charge of having been “Unabomber.”
  • Hong Kong Kills Chickens to Check Flu (Dec. 29): Government orders more than 1.2 million slain in move to halt spread of new and often deadly disease.
  • Michael Kennedy Killed in Skiing Accident (Dec. 31): Son of Robert F. and Ethel Kennedy dies on expert slope at Aspen Mountain, Colo., resort.

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