February 1998 News and Events

Updated July 10, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

1998 News Month-By-Month


  • Albright Scolds Middle East Leaders (Feb. 1): Secretary of State rebukes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat over delay in peace negotiations.
  • Palestinians March in Support of Iraq (Feb. 7): Several hundred demonstrate in Bethlehem's main road.
  • Debate on Judaism Intense in Israel (Feb. 9): Chief Rabbinate rules out any cooperation with non-Orthodox branches on conversions and religious rites.
  • Yeltsin Visits Pope at Vatican (Feb. 10): Russian leader and John Paul II exchange gifts cordially.
  • Cuba Responds to Pope's Appeal (Feb. 12): Havana announces it will free more than 200 prisoners held on political and other charges, in answer to appeal by John Paul II during his Jan. trip to Cuba.
  • Sinn Fein Expelled From Peace Talks (Feb. 20): Irish and British governments take temporary measures against political wing of Irish Republican Army.
  • Pope Honors 20 New Cardinals (Feb. 21): Two Americans are among prelates elevated in outdoor ceremony at Vatican, marked by pageantry and tradition.
  • Iraq Reported to Agree to Lift Arms Inspection Ban (Feb. 22): U.N. reveals agreement with President Saddam Hussein to permit access to presidential properties. (Feb 25): Clinton seeks British, French, and Russian support for Security Council resolution warning against violation of pact.
  • P. W. Botha Pleads Not Guilty to Contempt (Feb. 23): Former South African president denies charges. Accuses Truth and Reconciliation Commission of breaking agreement to let him testify in writing.
  • Israeli Intelligence Chief Resigns (Feb. 24): Danny Yatom, head of the Israeli intelligence agency the Mossad, resigns under heavy agency pressure to accept responsibility for bungled attack on a top Palestinian militant in Jordan in 1997.
  • Senate G.O.P. Leader Opposes Iraq Deal (Feb. 25): Trent Lott accuses Administration of abdicating foreign policy to Kofi Annan, U.N. Secretary General.
  • Swiss Confirm Capture of Israeli Agents (Feb. 26): Acknowledge that five agents of the Mossad were trapped while trying to bug house in Bern thought by some to be Iranian diplomatic base.


  • F.D.A. Revises Rules on Financial Disclosure (Feb. 2): Requires physicians who try out new drugs and medical devices to reveal whether they received stock or other financial support from manufacturers.
  • F.A.A. Warned on Computer Updating (Feb. 3): General Accounting Office finds aviation safety could be imperiled by agency's inability to remove “Year 2000” bugs from hundreds of critical computer systems before turn of the century.
  • First Balanced Budget in 30 Years (Feb. 3): President holds out possibility of surplus after five years of steady economic growth and cautious spending.
  • Clinton Friend Surrenders in Campaign Finance Inquiry (Feb. 3): Yah Lin Trie, Democratic fund-raiser, returns after fleeing U.S. when finance scandals broke out.
  • National Airport Named for Reagan (Feb. 4): Congress votes to honor former President for 87th birthday by renaming Washington National Airport.
  • Clinton Secretary Reported to Aid Inquiry (Feb. 5): Lawyers say Betty Currie gave evidence to special prosecutor about President's relationship with intern.
  • “China Area” Linked to Campaign Donations (Feb. 10): Republican investigation finds illegal gifts to Democrats were linked to “greater China area” but cannot establish a role for Beijing Government.
  • New Surgeon General Confirmed (Feb. 10): Senate approves Dr. David Satcher, first in three years to fill post marked by disputes over abortion and family values.
  • Reno Asks Naming of Counsel for Babbitt Inquiry (Feb. 11): Attorney General calls on judicial panel to appoint special prosecutor to investigate role of Interior Secretary in rejection of Indian casino project.
  • Senate Rejects Ban on Human Cloning (Feb. 11): Defeats Republican measure that aroused concerns over effect of bill on scientific research.
  • Line-Item Veto Ruled Unconstitutional (Feb. 12): U.S. judge rebuffs Clinton and G.O.P. in Congress over measure to allow veto of individual items in a bill.
  • Secret Service Subpoenaed in Intern Inquiry (Feb. 21): Members summoned by investigators of President Clinton's relationship with former White House employee. Action seen as preparing way for new confrontation with Whitewater independent counsel.
  • Executive Privilege Reported Invoked by Clinton (Feb. 24): Lawyers say President seeks to shield top assistants from testifying before grand jury about White House discussions on Monica Lewinsky inquiry.
  • Senate Blocks Campaign Spending Reform (Feb. 26): Delays revision for at least a year in face of Republican filibuster, after yearlong investigation of abuses in 1996 election. Close vote results in continued debate.


  • El Niño Storm Ravages California (Feb. 3, et seq.): Thousands flee driving rain and hurricane-force winds in one of state's biggest storms on record.
  • Texas Execution Ends Controversy (Feb. 3): State puts to death its first woman to be executed since Civil War. Karla Faye Tucker, 38, killed two people with a pick ax 15 years earlier.
  • U.S. Plane Cuts Ski Cable in Italy; 20 Killed (Feb. 3): Low-flying Marine Corps craft on training flight over Dolomite mountains sends car plunging 260 feet.
  • Auto Makers Compromise on Emissions (Feb. 4): General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler agree to produce cleaner cars than government standards require.
  • Thousands Dead in Afghanistan Quake (Feb. 4, et seq.): Thousands more reported homeless and injured in remote northeastern area. New tremors destroy villages and split mountain roads, hindering relief.
  • Winter Olympic Games Open in Japan (Feb. 7): Final games of 20th century begin in Nagano with celebration of traditional Japanese culture.
  • Judge Backs Disabled Golfer on Cart (Feb. 11): Casey Martin wins suit under Americans With Disabilities Act for right to transportation in professional tournaments.
  • Suspect Named in Abortion Clinic Bombing (Feb. 14): After unsuccessful two-week hunt for suspect, Federal authorities accuse 31-year-old North Carolina fugitive in Birmingham attack fatal to off-duty police officer.
  • Taiwan Air Crash Kills More Than 200 (Feb. 16): Casualties include Taiwan's Central Bank governor as China Airlines plane bursts into flames while trying to land in fog at Chiang Kai-shek International Airport.
  • Former Naval Academy Midshipman Guilty in Killing (Feb. 17): Texas court orders life sentence for Diane Zamora, 20, in murder of girl who had sex with Zamora's boyfriend.
  • Julian Bond to Head N.A.A.C.P. (Feb. 21): Veteran champion of civil rights elected by narrow margin.
  • Cigarette Maker Altered Nicotine Content (Feb. 22): Industry documents suggest that R. J. Reynolds, one of largest producers, altered content in apparent belief that it increased effect on smokers.
  • Florida Tornadoes Kill at Least 38 (Feb. 23): Spread wide devastation across central area of state.
  • Megan's Laws Allowed to Stand (Feb. 23): Justices reject constitutional challenges to statutes in New York and New Jersey providing for communities to be notified of presence of paroled sex offenders.

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