February 1997 News and Events

Updated July 10, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

1997 News Month-By-Month


  • Colombia Curbs TV News Broadcasts (Feb. 1): Congress gives commission broad powers to remove programs on basis of content. Some see retaliation for shows linking drug dealers and prominent politicians.
  • Three Nations Agree to Freeze Nazis' Gold Loot (Feb. 3): U.S., U.K., and France consider using $68 million in gold bars as possible core of fund to compensate victims of Nazis' holocaust. (Feb. 5): Three Swiss banks plan fund for Nazis' victims. Under pressure from American Jewish groups, they agree to setup $70 million initial amount as “humanitarian fund for the victims of the Holocaust.”
  • Benazir Bhutto Loses in Pakistan's Election (Feb. 4): Ousted Prime Minister suffers sharp rebuff from Pakistan Muslim League, led by Nawaz Sharif, 47, industrialist, nation's leader from 1990 to 1993.
  • Two Israeli Copters Collide; 73 Killed (Feb. 4): All aboard perish in midair crash of craft ferrying soldiers to South Lebanon in worst military air disaster in Israel's history. Cause uncertain.
  • Serbian President Accepts Voting Results (Feb. 4): After 77 days of Belgrade street protests, Slobodan Milosevic reverses decision and restores opposition victories in local elections.
  • Ecuadorean Crisis Ends Peacefully (Feb. 9): Under agreement with Congress, Mrs. Rosalia Arteaga, 40, will serve as Interim President, first woman in post.
  • Europe Delays Challenge to U.S. on Havana Trade (Feb. 12): Officials seek compromise by asking World Trade Organization to postpone action against American sanctions on companies doing business with Cuba.
  • 68 Nations Widen Telecommunications Markets (Feb. 15): Geneva conference endorses landmark agreement to grant access to all rivals. Action commits governments to unlock state telephone monopolies.
  • Deng Xiaoping Dead at 92 (Feb. 19): Chinese leader was one of top Communist revolutionaries and an architect of economic modernizations that transformed most populous nation. Dies of Parkinson's disease. (Feb. 25): Final eulogy to Deng delivered by President Jiang Zemin, who pledges he will continue Deng's policies.
  • Albright Meets Yeltsin (Feb. 21): But U.S. Secretary of State finds Russians cool to expansion of NATO despite her assurances of friendship.
  • Opposition Controls Belgrade Council (Feb. 21): Coalition attains a major goal in its campaign to unseat President Slobodan Milosevic.
  • Jewish Housing in East Jerusalem Planned (Feb. 26): Israeli Government approves large development, provoking Arab and international denunciation.
  • U.S. Certifies Mexico as Ally in War on Drugs (Feb. 28): Clinton acts after Mexican government makes commitments sought by American law enforcement agencies.


  • Army's Top Soldier Accused in Sex Case (Feb. 3): Gene C. McKinney, Sergeant Major of the Army, charged by 22-year veteran with assaulting her in Hawaii. Later McKinney quits Army panel reviewing policies against sexual harassment. (Feb. 10): Under Congressional pressure, Army suspends McKinney.
  • President Gives State of Union Message (Feb. 4): Clinton, in second-term address, sounds “call to action” for nation. Says federal government can help improve education, modernize technology, and provide health care. G.O.P. speaker stresses racial amity.
  • Clinton Offers $1.69 Trillion Budget (Feb. 6): President says it would cut taxes on the middle class, increase spending on education and health care, and result in an end to federal deficits by 2002. Republican leaders in Congress cool to proposals.
  • Term Limits Drive Defeated in Congress (Feb. 12): House vote, 217–211, falls short of two-thirds required for a constitutional amendment, dooming campaign for limitation, at least during 105th Congress.
  • Whitewater Counsel Changes Mind (Feb. 17): Kenneth W. Starr says he plans to resign to become a law dean at Pepperdine University in California. (Feb. 21): After wide criticism from staff and prominent Republicans, he announces he will not resign until his investigation is completed.
  • Virginia Legislature Retires State Song (Feb. 17): Votes, 100–0, to repeal “Carry Me Back to Old Virginia.” Song under criticism for glorifying slavery.
  • Clinton Approved Reward for Top Donors (Feb. 25): Memo reveals President's approval of plan for Democratic Party to offer meals, coffee, outings, and stays in Lincoln Bedroom as campaign incentives.
  • AIDS Deaths Decline Sharply (Feb. 27): U.S. health officials report casualty rate has fallen “substantially” since epidemic began in 1981.
  • Former F.B.I. Supervisor Admits Spying (Feb. 28): Earl Edwin Pitts, ex-supervisor for agency, pleads guilty in federal court to charges that for years he sold Russians classified information for $244,000.


  • O. J. Simpson Found Liable in Civil Suit (Feb. 4): Jury in Santa Monica, Calif., rules former football star responsible in wrongful death lawsuit brought by families of victims, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald L. Goldman. Jury awards Goldman family $8.5 million in compensatory damages. (Feb. 10): Jury orders Simpson to pay $25 million in punitive damages to families of two victims.
  • Air Force Jets Fly Close to Airliners (Feb. 7): All flights in East Coast areas suspended after two encounters of National Guard planes and civilian craft within a week. (Feb. 10): After two more incidents, Air Force announces plan to re-educate pilots on encountering commercial planes.
  • Human Era in Americas Pushed Back (Feb. 10): Archeologists conclude after long debate that humans reached southern Chile 12,500 years ago. This is more than 1,000 years earlier than previously thought.
  • Stock Market Surges to New High (Feb. 13): Dow Jones industrial average passes 7,000 points for first time despite worries by Washington and Wall Street analysts that share prices are too high.
  • Astronauts Repair Hubble Telescope in Space (Feb. 15): Two of shuttle Discovery's crew install new targeting device fitted with special optics to correct Hubble's misshapen mirror. (Feb. 18): After 33 hours of space walks, astronauts complete tune-up and repair Hubble's blistered skin.
  • Cloning of Sheep Stirs Ethical Controversy (Feb. 23): Scottish scientist replaces genetic material to create duplicate animal. Team removes last practical barrier in reproductive technology. Moral issues involved debated widely across world.
  • Gunman Spreads Terror atop Empire State Building (Feb. 23): Palestinian, 69, kills tourist, wounds seven others and fatally shoots himself on 86th floor observation deck of 102-story New York landmark.
  • Du Pont Heir Convicted in Killing (Feb. 25): John E. du Pont, 58, found guilty of third-degree murder but mentally ill when he shot Olympic gold medalist David Schultz on grounds of country estate.
  • Vienna Philharmonic Admits Women Players (Feb. 27): In face of protests on overseas tour, including New York, members of venerable symphony vote to break 155-year-old tradition of exclusion.
  • Earthquakes Kill 150 in Iran and Pakistan (Feb. 28): Hundreds more injured. Death toll may rise.

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