March 1998 News and Events

Updated July 10, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

1998 News Month-By-Month


  • Russian Atomic Minister Ousted (March 2): Viktor N. Mikhailov, influential in nation's military and civilian nuclear establishment, dismissed to surprise of many.
  • Mondale Brings Message to Indonesia (March 3): Former Vice President is second Clinton envoy to express concern over mounting economic and social crisis.
  • President of Israel Re-Elected (March 4): Parliament names Ezer Weizman for second five-year term after unusually hectic campaign for largely ceremonial post.
  • Serbs Battle Ethnic Albanians (March 5, et seq.): Hundreds of police reported to fire mortar rounds, set homes on fire, and shoot men in villages in central Kosovo Province, in sweep to stamp out separatist movement. (March 9): U.S. and allies decide to impose modest diplomatic and economic sanctions on Yugoslavia for “unacceptable” use of force. Serbian police renew counter-insurgency action. More than 80 reported dead in Kosovo.
  • Russia Plans Nuclear Reactor Sales to Iran (March 6): In rebuff to U.S., Moscow's Atomic Energy Ministry reveals plan to supply additional equipment.
  • Ex-Nazi Sentenced for Massacre in Italy (March 7): Military court orders life in prison for Erich Priebke, 84, for role in 1944 killing of 335 men and boys at Ardeatine Caves, Italy's worst wartime slaughter.
  • Former Serb Commander Admits Rape (March 9): Dragoljub Kunarac, 37, is first to plead guilty before war crimes tribunal in The Hague of raping Muslim women during Bosnian war in 1992.
  • Congress Party Head Resigns in India (March 9): Sitaram Kesri, president of oldest political group, quits after party's failure to win parliamentary election. (March 14): Sonia Gandhi, widow of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, elected as Kesri's successor. Her victory affirms family dynasty's continued dominance.
  • Rightist Leader Resigns in Chile (March 10): Gen. Augusto Pinochet quits as armed forces commander-in-chief to be sworn in as senator for life. His 17 years as dictator were marked by mass killings.
  • Three Palestinians Slain in West Bank (March 11): Martyrs' funeral given for men killed by Israeli troops at army checkpoint. Violent protests spread.
  • Financial Scandals Erupt in Japan (March 12): Prosecutors raid central bank and arrest official suspected of leaking secrets to nation's banks.
  • A Sweeping Amnesty in South Korea (March 13): President Kim Dae Jung frees scores of political prisoners and clears records of 5.5 million Koreans.
  • U.S. Drops Condemnation of China (March 13): Administration abandons sponsorship of U.N.'s annual resolution criticizing Beijing on human rights record.
  • Hindu Party Gains Power in India (March 15): President invites nationalist leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee to form Government as Prime Minister. He will head coalition regime of more than 20 parties. Moderate policy assured.
  • Vatican Regrets Inaction in Holocaust (March 16): Document, an “act of repentance,” admits failure of Roman Catholic Church to deter mass killing of Jews during World War II.
  • Israeli Premier Rebuffs British Official (March 17): Netanyahu cancels dinner with Foreign Secretary Robin Cook. Netanyahu charges visiting Briton violated agreement by meeting with Palestinians at site planned for disputed Jewish settlement.
  • Major Reforms Pledged for China (March 19): Zhu Rongji, new Prime Minister, outlines sweeping 3-year program for changes to make state-owned industries solvent, overhaul banking system, and redesign Government.
  • India's Prime Minister Sworn In (March 19): Ascendancy of Hindu nationalist Atal Bihari Vajpayee alarms Muslims, moderate Hindus.
  • Yeltsin Dismisses Entire Cabinet (March 23): In display of power, he includes trusted Prime Minister Viktor S. Chernomyrdin among those on list. (March 27): President appoints Sergei Kiriyenko, 35, a reform-minded banker, to succeed Chernomyrdin.
  • Iraq Arrests Germ Weapons Specialist (March 23): Baghdad reports detention of Dr. Nassir al-Hindawi as he was preparing to flee country. Action is blow to U.N. arms inspectors, who had hoped to interview him.
  • Pope Ends Visit to Nigeria (March 23): Admonishes nation for lack of respect for human rights. Urges ruling junta to relax grip on land torn by ethnic strife.
  • Clinton Acclaimed on Visit to Africa (March 23, et seq.): Opens 12-day tour with speech in Ghana pledging more U.S. interest and aid. (March 24): In Uganda, President expresses regret for American role in African slavery. (March 25): In Uganda conference he gets commitment from six East African leaders to work for democracy. (March 26): In Cape Town, South Africa, Clinton says U.S. has “profound” stake in nation's new democracy.
  • Saudis End Inquiry Into U.S. Airmen's Deaths (March 30): Saudi Arabian government delays report on investigation into 1996 terrorist bombing that killed 19 Americans.
  • Yeltsin Bars Re-Election Race in 2000 (March 30): Russian President, 67, refrains from endorsing any of a number of would-be successors.


  • Top Army Soldier Cleared of Sex Charges (March 13): Court martial acquits Sergeant Major Gene C. McKinney of sexual misconduct, but convicts him on one count of obstructing justice. (March 16): Military jury metes mild sentence of reprimand and rules that Sgt. McKinney get one-step demotion to master sergeant.
  • Volunteer Recalls Approach by Clinton (March 15): In TV interview, Kathleen E. Willey, a 51-year-old former White House assistant, says President made unwanted sexual approach. (March 16): White House releases correspondence showing that Ms. Willey maintained cordial relationship with President in four years since alleged incident.
  • Democratic Fund-Raiser Pleads Guilty (March 16): Johnny Chung, California businessman, faces sentence on charges of bank fraud, tax evasion, and conspiracy in connection with $20,000 in illegal contributions to Clinton-Gore re-election campaign.
  • Clinton Invokes Executive Privilege (March 20): Also calls on attorney-client relationship privilege to block testimony by senior White House aides in grand jury investigation of alleged Monica Lewinsky affair.
  • House Defeats Election Reform Bill (March 30): Approves only two minor changes in campaign law. Bars floor debate on bipartisan plan for major overhaul.
  • Democrats Offer Patient Protection Bill (March 31): Leaders in Congress say legislation would regulate practices of health insurance companies and health maintenance organizations. Consumer groups, unions, and American Medical Association support plan.


  • Princess Diana's Two Sons Share Bulk of Estate (March 2): Will allots total of $21.3 million to Princes William and Harry.
  • Punishment of N.B.A. Star Reduced (March 4): Arbitrator rules National Basketball Association must shorten one-year suspension given Latrell Sprewell for choking coach. Orders Golden State Warriors to reinstate multi-million-dollar contract.
  • Briton Honored for Interfaith Work (March 4): Sir Sigmund Sternberg, businessman and philanthropist, wins $1.2 million Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, world's largest monetary award, for promoting dialogue among different faiths.
  • U.S. Spacecraft Finds Frozen Water on Moon (March 5): Scientists say ice crystals mixed with soil could provide fuel for rockets exploring solar system.
  • First Woman Space Commander Named (March 5): Air Force Lieut. Col. Eileen Collins chosen to pilot shuttle Columbia on Dec. 1998 mission to deploy advanced telescope.
  • Lottery Worker Kills Four Bosses and Himself (March 6): Accountant in Connecticut office reportedly angered by salary dispute and failure to win promotion.
  • Austria to Return Confiscated Artworks (March 6): Owners to receive possessions seized by Nazis from Jews and kept in Vienna museums as national treasures.
  • Heavy Storms Batter Much of Nation (March 9): Snow, ice, and bitter temperatures cripple wide area of Midwest. Weather system causes deadly flooding in South and rain and high winds in the Northeast.
  • New Cancer Cases Decline in U.S. (March 12): Federal officials report first drop since 1930s, a sharp reversal in disease that kills 1,500 Americans daily.
  • Vitamin E Found to Cut Prostate Cancer Risk (March 17): Researchers in Finland say pills reduced incidence by a third and death rate by 41 percent in study of thousands of smokers. Vitamin A had no effect.
  • Presbyterians Keep Ban on Gay Clergy (March 18): Regional bodies of Presbyterian Church (USA) vote against replacing law with broader statute that would be open to individual interpretation.
  • Three Nations Announce Oil Production Cut (March 22): Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Mexico cooperate in move expected to reverse sharp drop in world prices. Other countries also expected to reduce output.
  • Two Boys Kill 5 at Arkansas School (March 24): Boy, 13, and cousin, 11, slay four girls and a teacher. Also wound 11 at Jonesboro middle school. Older boy said to have vowed to kill all girls who had broken up with him. Killers seized while fleeing.
  • F.D.A. Approves Male Impotence Pill (March 27): Prescription drug, sildenafil citrate, or Viagra, is made by Pfizer Inc. It acts on normal physiological system.
  • El Niño Loses Influence (March 29): Effects of Pacific Ocean high sea-surface temperature wane as spring relieves North America's harmful weather pattern.
  • Florida Executes First Woman Since Slavery (March 30): Judy Buenoano, 54, dies in electric chair. Was convicted of poisoning husband, killing paralyzed son, and attempting to kill boyfriend.

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