January 1997 News and Events

Updated July 10, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

1997 News Month-By-Month


  • Two Sentenced to Death in Rwanda Massacre (Jan. 3): Court condemns Hutu men in first attempt to punish those responsible for half a million killings in 1994.
  • Serbia Rejects Appeals to Honor Vote (Jan. 3): Milosevic government refuses to reinstate opposition victories in key cities. Despite call by European organization, President stiffens stand against tens of thousands of demonstrators.
  • Joint Government Meets in Bosnia (Jan. 3): Leaders of former opponents pledge peaceful future. Unified government paves way for reconstruction.
  • Marchers Paralyze Belgrade (Jan. 5): Tens of thousands of anti-government demonstrators defy police ban on marches. Weeks-long street marches protest Socialists' annulling of opposition election victories.
  • Gunmen Kill Senior Mexican Drug Prosecutor (Jan. 5): Assassinate Odín Gutiérrez Rico, who investigated several prominent drug-related killings.
  • Israel Gives Up Most of West Bank City (Jan. 12): Finally breaks deadlock with Palestinians over withdrawal from part of Hebron. (Jan. 16): After bitter disputes, Israel's coalition cabinet votes, 11–7, to approve Hebron accord, and Parliament quickly agrees. (Jan. 17): Palestinian forces claim control of most of Hebron, which Israelis had occupied for 30 years.
  • Mexico Repays Loan Ahead of Time (Jan. 15): President reports return of $12.5 billion borrowed to avert financial collapse two years previously.
  • New Bulgarian President Sworn In (Jan. 19): Petar Stoyanov, calls for new parliamentary elections, a major demand of huge crowds of street demonstrators.
  • Dozens Dead in Algerian Violence (Jan. 20): Car bomb outside Algiers café kills more than 30 and injures many. Hours earlier, Islamic militants massacred 36 villagers south of capital, decapitating some.
  • Chechnya Elects New President (Jan. 27): Voters in rebelling Russian region choose Aslan Maskhadov, 49, army chief of staff in victorious battle for independence. Foreign and Russian observers report election to have been fair and democratic.
  • Clergy Lead Belgrade Marchers (Jan. 27): After ten weeks of demonstrations against government policies, more than 100,000 march through Serbian capital in largest religious procession since World War II. Orthodox Patriarch Pavle is at head of marchers.
  • Get-Rich Schemes Fail in Albania (Jan. 28): Violent demonstrations protest collapse of pyramid investment schemes. Government promises to help pay back losses.
  • U.S. Reports Human Rights Flaws (Jan. 29): Administration finds worsened conditions in China, Nigeria, Cuba, and Burma (Myanmar). Record of Russia and other former Soviet states is found to be mixed.
  • Benazir Bhutto Rebuffed in Pakistan (Jan. 29): Former Prime Minister loses reelection chance when high court rules her ousted government was corrupt.


  • Panel Considers Social Security Changes (Jan. 6): Advisory group suggests nation consider investing part of system's revenues in stock market to insure solvency of the retirement program.
  • Newt Gingrich Reelected as House Speaker (Jan. 7): Narrowly wins in vote despite nine Republican defections over his admission of ethics violations.
  • Pentagon Criticized on Investigation of Gulf War Illness (Jan. 7): Special White House panel finds no proof that exposure to chemical weapons was cause but calls for further study of malady afflicting veterans, citing Pentagon's research as inadequate.
  • U.S. Shuttle Joins Russian Space Station (Jan. 12): Atlantis craft launched at Cape Canaveral, Fla., with crew of six. (Jan. 14): Atlantis docks flawlessly with space station Mir. They begin five days of joint operations. U.S. astronaut John E. Blaha prepares to return home after four months on Russian craft. Dr. Jerry L. Linenger, a physician, leaving Atlantis to replace Blaha.
  • Medals of Honor Awarded Black Veterans (Jan. 13): Seven World War II heroes finally granted citation denied previously because of race. The only living survivor of the seven, Joseph Vernon Baker, attends White House ceremony.
  • Gingrich Found Guilty of Ethics Violations (Jan. 17): House ethics subcommittee concludes speaker used tax-exempt funds for his politically related college course and supplied Congress with false information. Finds pattern of “disregard and lack of respect for the standards of conduct” that should be upheld by a congressman. (Jan. 21): House reprimands Gingrich. Votes penalty, 395–28, and fines him $300,000, the most severe sanction ever imposed upon a Speaker.
  • President Clinton Starts Second Term (Jan. 20): In inaugural address as 42nd President, he calls for racial unity and urges Republican Congress to avoid partisanship and join in his mission.
  • F.B.I. Laboratory Found Defective (Jan. 28): Justice Department reveals defects in operation. F.B.I. orders personnel shakeup and general overhauling. (Jan. 30): Inquiry also uncovers complaints about handling of evidence in Oklahoma City bombing case.


  • Death Toll Above 200 in Europe Cold Wave (Jan. 3): Deepest freeze in decade grips continent.
  • Floods Cause Wide Damage in West (Jan. 5): Thousands homeless. Northern California especially hard hit. Storms blamed for many deaths in northwest.
  • Plane Crash Kills 29 Near Detroit (Jan. 9): Commuter turboprop craft plunges to ground in snowstorm on approach to Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
  • VW to Pay $100 Million in Espionage Suit (Jan. 9): Agrees to reimburse General Motors to settle lawsuit alleging theft of trade secrets by Volkswagen.
  • Two Women Quit the Citadel (Jan. 12): Kim Messer and Jeanie Mentavlos drop out as cadets, citing weeks of what they consider abuse by student superiors. Two other women remain in corps of 1,700.
  • Two Bombs Damage Atlanta Abortion Clinic (Jan. 16): None hurt in first explosion. Second injures six, including investigators and news reporters.
  • Bill Cosby's Son Slain (Jan. 16): Ennis Cosby, 27, graduate student, shot on Los Angeles freeway ramp in apparent robbery attempt as he changed flat tire. Ennis was only son of popular television star.
  • ABC Assessed $5.5 Million in Penalty (Jan. 22): Federal jury in Greensboro, N.C., awards punitive damages to Food Lion supermarket chain from network and two employees for news techniques using hidden cameras and undercover reporters.
  • Freeze Damages Florida Crops (Jan. 23): Worst in seven years causes possible $250 million loss in state.
  • Supermarket Chain Settles Bias Suit (Jan. 24): Publix agrees to pay $81.5 million for accusation that it discriminated against 100,000 women employees.
  • U.S. Economy Found to Be Strong (Jan. 31): Government reports vigorous 4.7 percent growth in final quarter of 1996, fueled by increase in exports. One measure finds inflation to be lowest in 30 years.

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