December 1998 News and Events

Updated July 10, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

1998 News Month-By-Month


  • Bosnian Serb General Arrested (Dec. 2): U.S. and Allies seize Maj. Gen. Radislav Krstic, charged with genocide by Yugoslav war crimes tribunal.
  • Libya Refuses to Yield Suspects (Dec. 5): U.N. Secretary General rebuffed in attempt to persuade Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi to turn over pair wanted in bombing of Pan Am jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988.
  • Pinochet Wins Stay of Extradition (Dec. 9): British Home Secretary upholds House of Lords rejection of plea to free former Chilean dictator, Gen. Augusto Pinochet, 83. Rules Spanish extradition case can go forward in England. (Dec. 17): House of Lords sets its own ruling aside and schedules new hearing on Pinochet's claim to immunity. Reversal follows revelation of a judge's association with human rights group Amnesty International, a participant in the case.
  • Call for Israel's Destruction Dropped (Dec. 14): Clinton watches in Gaza as hundreds of former Palestinian guerrilla fighters vote to remove clauses calling for the destruction of Israel from their charter.
  • Clinton Orders Air Strikes on Iraq (Dec. 16): He terms attack unavoidable even as G.O.P. charges it was timed to block impeachment action. (Dec. 18): On third day of U.S.-British assault, Pentagon confirms that only 18 of 89 targets had been badly damaged. President Saddam Hussein denounces attackers. (Dec. 19): U.S. and Britain end attack after fourth day.
  • China Sentences Three Dissidents (Dec. 21): Metes long terms to three prominent democracy crusaders, charging them with “subversion of state power.”
  • New Election in Israel Set for Spring (Dec. 21): Prime Minister Netanyahu agrees with opposition on election believed certain to doom his Government.
  • U.S. Firm on Iraqi Arms Inspection (Dec. 23): Administration sticks to demand that Iraq allows strict U.N. monitoring of weapons production. Pentagon orders withdrawal of some U.S. forces from Persian Gulf.
  • Russia and Belarus Agree on Ties (Dec. 25): Presidents announce plan to begin unifying currencies and much of their economies. No political merger planned.
  • U.S. Jets Fire at Iraqi Missile Site (Dec. 28): Attack antiaircraft missile base after it fires on them during patrol of no-fly zone in northern region.
  • Cease-Fire Prevails in Northern Kosovo (Dec. 28): Fighting stops but tensions remain high after four days of clashes between Yugoslav forces and rebel Kosovo Liberation Army.
  • China Imprisons Two Dissidents (Dec. 29): Sentences them to three years in labor camp. Pair, based in New York, had returned to work for democratic change by organizing legal opposition party.
  • Iraqis Again Fire on U.S. and British Planes (Dec. 30): For second time in week, four fighter jets attack air-defense battery as Baghdad follows through on threat to attack foreign aircraft patrolling no-fly zones.
  • Europe Launches Single Currency (Dec. 31): Eleven nations launch the euro as a means of unification. The nations lock exchange rates of their currencies to the euro, which will be worth about $1.17.


  • Auditors Find Fault in '96 Presidential Campaigns (Dec. 1): Inquiry by Federal Election Commission charges both President Clinton and Republican nominee Bob Dole benefited from issue advertising paid for by their respective parties. (Dec. 10): Federal Election Commission refuses to order multimillion-dollar repayments from Clinton and Dole campaigns.
  • Former Agriculture Secretary Acquitted (Dec. 2): Federal jury clears Mike Espy of corruption charges following inquiry into gifts while in office.
  • Attorney General Bars Campaign Finance Inquiry (Dec. 7): Janet Reno says she finds no reasonable grounds to appoint special counsel to investigate President's role in Democratic advertising drive in 1996.
  • House Panel Drafts Impeachment Charges (Dec. 11): Judiciary Committee votes along party lines, approving three articles accusing President of perjury and obstruction of justice. (Dec. 12): Fourth article approved.
  • Puerto Ricans Reject Statehood (Dec. 13): For second time in six years, voters choose to keep commonwealth status. Turn down other options in referendum.
  • House Speaker-Designate Resigns (Dec. 19): Rep. Robert L. Livingston stuns House with announcement that he will not serve as Speaker and will quit Congress. Two days earlier he had admitted adulterous affairs.
  • House Impeaches President Clinton (Dec. 19): Approves two articles charging perjury and obstruction of justice. Voting virtually follows party lines. Charges stem from President's statements about relations with former White House intern Monica S. Lewinsky. Clinton, in address on White House South Lawn, vows he will stay in office and “…rise above the rancor.”
  • Public Supports Clinton (Dec. 20): New York Times/CBS News poll shows majority of Americans want impeachment case resolved without Senate trial and removal from office.
  • Food and Drug Administration Approves Lyme Vaccine (Dec. 21): But agency is cautious in recommending use of Lymerix. It warns that vaccine does not protect everyone from Lyme disease.


  • Breast Implant–Disease Link Doubted (Dec. 1): Panel of four scientists reports that evidence fails to show that silicone implants damage the immune system.
  • Two Largest U.S. Oil Companies Agree to Merge (Dec. 1): Exxon to buy Mobil for $80 billion in stock. Action will create the world's largest corporation.
  • Astronauts Join Space Station Sections (Dec. 6): Crew of shuttle Endeavour uses robot arm in intricate procedure to connect first of many segments that will form international space station. (Dec. 13): Astronauts leave space station.
  • Eight Calves Cloned in Japan (Dec. 8): Scientists report creating identical copies from cells gathered from slaughterhouse. Half of calves die.
  • Nearly Intact Skeleton of Early Human Found (Dec. 9): Scientists in South Africa report discovery of most nearly complete remains of being that lived more than 3 million years ago. Clues to “missing link” possible.
  • Octuplets Born in Texas; One Dies (Dec. 20): Woman, 27, becomes mother of only known living set of octuplets, with birth of five girls and two boys. Another girl was born on Dec. 8. (Dec. 27): Smallest of octuplets, a girl, dies after heart and lungs fail.
  • Cigarette Dealer Admits Smuggling Scheme (Dec. 22): Unit of RJR Nabisco pleads guilty to Federal charges of tax evasion. Will pay $15 million in penalties.
  • Winter Storm Paralyzes South (Dec. 23): Ice coats highways from central Texas to Carolinas. Dozens of accidents and fatalities reported in several states. Many power lines pulled down. (Dec. 26): Power restoration begins but thousands remain without electricity.
  • Cold Spell Destroys California Crops (Dec. 24): Freeze causes more than half-billion dollars in damage, destroying more than a third of annual citrus crop.
  • Global Balloon Flight Cut Short (Dec. 25): Three on ICO Global Challenge forced by weather to ditch craft in Pacific Ocean north of Hawaii. Flight was most nearly successful attempt by any balloonist to achieve nonstop journey around the world.

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