October 1997 News and Events

Updated July 10, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

1997 Month-By-Month


  • U.S. Sends Carrier to Gulf (Oct. 3): The Nimitz is dispatched in a warning to Iran to halt air attacks on Iraq, a violation of the no-flight zone imposed at the end of the Persian Gulf War.
  • Assassination Attempt Embroils Israel (Oct. 6): Prime Minister criticized over failed attempt to kill the political leader of Hamas, an Islamic militant group. Netanyahu defends assassination attempt as “just” action against terrorism, but releases 20 prisoners, including Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin, in concessionary move that explained Israel's unexpected release of the leader on Sept. 30.
  • Ten Bosnian Croats Surrender for Trial (Oct. 6): One of most-wanted war-crimes suspects is among group who turn themselves in to international tribunal.
  • Germany Raises Interest Rates (Oct. 9): Central Bank alarms world economic centers with first increase in five years; European stock markets suffer.
  • Political Crisis Settled in Italy (Oct. 14): Prime Minister Romano Prodi and Communists reach accord on budget restrictions to meet strict financial requirements for joining common European currency.
  • Yeltsin Blocks No-Confidence Vote (Oct. 15): Threatens to call early elections if Parliament passes measure that could impede his economic reforms.
  • Coup in Congo (Oct. 16): Denis Sassou-Nguesso, the former military ruler, takes over the presidential palace and, with help from Angola, overthrows President Pascal Lissouba, the country's first democratically elected president.
  • Bosnian Serbs Defy NATO on Broadcasting (Oct. 16): Hardliners circumvent police restrictions by operating at least two clandestine transmitters.
  • Eighteen Dead in Sri Lanka Bombing (Oct. 16): Toll of wounded set at 110. Nation shocked by truck explosion that demolished several Colombo buildings.
  • Poland Gets New Prime Minister (Oct. 17): Jerzy Buzek, 57, a chemistry professor, will lead two-party coalition rooted in anti-Communist movement.
  • Philanthropist Giving $500 Million to Russia (Oct. 19): George Soros, Hungarian-born financier, announces three-year donation to improve health care, expand educational opportunities and help in retraining the military for civilian employment.
  • Yugoslav President Suffers Setback (Oct. 20): Slobodan Milosevic loses key supporter with election of political opponent to presidency of Montenegro.
  • Yeltsin Thwarts Communist Move (Oct. 21): Sticks to reform program and blocks vote of no-confidence.
  • Governing Party Defeated in Peru (Oct. 26): Labor oriented Peronistas lose to opposition-party alliance in congressional elections. Vote threatens economic and social changes that have brought stability.
  • Iraq Bars U.S. Arms Inspectors (Oct. 29): Orders ouster of Americans working for U.N. teams. Baghdad also demands end of U-2 flights spying on military. (Oct. 30): Iraq bars three American inspectors from entry, defying threats of U.S. retaliation.
  • Chinese President Visits U.S. (Oct. 9): In day of talks, Jiang Zemin and President Clinton produce several commercial agreements but broaden disagreement over human rights. China agrees to abandon nuclear cooperation program with Iran. (Oct. 30): Jiang is questioned sharply on Capitol Hill by leaders of both parties on human rights and religious freedom. (Oct. 31): In New York Jiang confers with business leaders and dines with 200 top executives.
  • Irish Republic Elects Ulster Woman (Oct. 31): Mary McAleese, 46, law professor from British province, wins presidency, first Northerner to do so.


  • Reno Clears Clinton on Campaign Funds (Oct. 3): Attorney General, in letter to Republicans, says she has found no evidence that President misused his office for raising money. In separate action, she extends review of Vice President Gore's telephone solicitations. The review may lead to the appointment of an independent counsel.
  • Tapes Show Clinton and Rich Donors (Oct. 5): White House releases video tapes showing President greeting potential contributors at 44 coffees. Republicans accuse Attorney General of haste in clearing him.
  • Campaign-Finance Bill Blocked (Oct. 7): Republican leader uses procedural tactics to stalemate bipartisan bill on campaign finance reform.
  • President Defends Fund-Raising Actions (Oct. 8): Clinton seeks to calm furor over belated disclosure of White House videotapes of meetings with donors. Current and future advisers present same story to Congress and federal grand jury.
  • NEA Chairman to Resign (Oct. 8): Citing Congressional hostility toward the National Endowment for the Arts, Jane Alexander confirms her plans to step down as chairman.
  • U.S. Brands 30 Groups as Terrorist Threats (Oct. 8): Outlaws contributions to these foreign organizations and makes it illegal for their members to enter the U.S.
  • Attorney General Defends Actions (Oct. 9): Janet Reno aggressively defends the Justice Department handling of investigation into campaign finances.
  • Clinton Exercises Line-Item Veto (Oct. 14): He rejects 13 projects worth $141 million from Defense Department budget, having cut 38 items totalling $287 million from a military construction bill on Oct. 7.
  • Clinton Vetoes Spending Bill Items (Oct. 17): Uses new power to cut “unwarranted corporate subsidies” from measure on energy and water development projects.
  • Administration Backs I.R.S. Reform (Oct. 21): In policy shift, Administration calls for outside board with control over tax agency and for strengthening rights of taxpayers who believe they are treated unfairly.
  • Clinton Presents Program on Global Warming (Oct. 22): Outlines moderate plan relying on tax credits and research subsidies to foster energy conservation.
  • World Financial Crisis Hits Wall Street (Oct. 23): Plunge in Hong Kong stock market shakes world financial markets. (Oct. 27): Dow Jones industrial average falls 7.2 percent in New York, down 554.26 points in worst point-loss ever. (Oct. 28): Small investors and others rush in to halt Wall Street and global crisis. Dow Jones soars 337.17 points, or 4.7 percent. A record of 1.2 billion shares is traded, about twice number in 1987 crash.
  • Senate Campaign-Finance Hearings End (Oct. 31): Panel chairman complains he has not had time enough for thorough job. House inquiry to continue on, with campaign hearings focusing on White House.


  • Religious Revival Rally Held in Capital (Oct. 4): Promise Keepers, an all-male evangelical Christian organization, holds one of the largest meetings ever in Washington.
  • Fossil Auctioned for $8.36 Million (Oct. 4): Most complete remains of Tyrannosaurus rex ever found are sold to Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago using funds from McDonald's and Disney, who will both display casts of the fossil.
  • Rockefeller Foundation Names President (Oct. 6): Appoints Dr. Gordon Conway, British agricultural ecologist at University of Sussex, as 12th head. He is the first non-American to lead the $2.8 billion foundation, which pledged $107 million in gifts in 1996.
  • Shuttle Returns U.S. Astronaut From Mir (Oct. 6): Atlantis brings Dr. Michael Foale back to Earth after troublesome 41/2 months on Russian space station. Weather delayed the landing for a day.
  • Ex-Student Radicals Charged With Spying (Oct. 6): Three former University of Wisconsin students accused by F.B.I. of seeking U.S. secrets for Communist.
  • Brightest Star Ever Is Discovered (Oct. 8): Hubble Space Telescope reveals object that would fill all of our solar system within Earth's orbit.
  • At Least 141 Dead in Pacific Coast Hurricane (Oct. 9): Pauline ravages strip of Mexico's shoreline, setting off deadly floods and landslides in the tourist resort area of Acapulco.
  • Nonsmoker Class-Action Lawsuit Settled (Oct. 10): Cigarette companies agree to pay $300 million to study tobacco-related diseases, but admit no link between passive smoke and illness. Industry must also pay legal fees of the 60,000 former and current airline flight attendants and their survivors, who brought the suit.
  • Jet Car Sets Land Speed Record (Oct. 15): British team reaches average speed of 763.035 mph in a 10-ton car powered by jet engines.
  • NASA Launches Plutonium-Powered Probe (Oct. 15): Despite protests from anti-nuclear activists who were concerned about radiation poisoning if the rocket exploded on the launch pad, the launch goes smoothly. The probe will travel 2.2 billion miles over seven years to explore Saturn's moons.
  • Former Highest-Ranking Enlisted Man in Army Arraigned (Oct. 16): Sgt. Major Gene McKinney pleads innocent to 20 criminal counts of sexual misconduct.
  • Successful Births From Frozen Eggs (Oct. 16): Doctors at Atlanta clinic report scientific advance promising to help older women remain fertile.
  • Million Woman March Held (Oct. 25): Hundreds of thousands rally in Philadelphia rally to celebrate family unity and the meaning of being a woman of African descent.
  • Teachers Strike Shuts Ontario Schools (Oct. 27): Nearly all public and parochial schools closed by largest teacher walkout ever in North America.
  • English Nanny Sentenced in Killing of Baby (Oct. 31): Louise Woodward, 19, faces life in prison after conviction in Massachusetts court on murder charge.

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