May 1998 News and Events

Updated July 10, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

1998 News Month-By-Month


  • Former Premier Admits to Rwanda Massacres (May 1): Jean Kambanda pleads guilty to genocide charges before U.N. tribunal. He faces life in prison.
  • Europeans Agree on Single Currency (May 3): Monetary plan for all nations approved at Brussels conference after France and Germany resolve dispute over choice of candidate to head central bank.
  • Pope's Chief Guard Killed in Vatican (May 4): Bodies of Swiss Guards' new commandant, Col. Alois Estermann, his wife, and Vice Corporal were found shortly after the colonel's appointment. Authorities suspect murder-suicide by the subordinate.
  • Western Nations Move Against Serbia (May 9): Leading industrial states impose investment ban and freeze assets abroad in concern over violence in southern Serbian province of Kosovo. Ministers call for discussions between Belgrade and Albanian leadership.
  • Mudslide Deaths in Italy Reach 135 (May 11): Village of Sarno in south hardest hit of five smothered by rivers of mud that slid down Mount Sarno after torrential rains. Further devastation feared.
  • India Sets Off Atomic Blasts (May 11): Conducts three underground tests in northwestern desert in defiance of worldwide rejection of nuclear testing. International condemnation is instantaneous. (May 13): India stages two more nuclear tests, defying plans by U.S. and other nations to impose severe sanctions.
  • Clinton Decides on Sanctions on India (May 12): Plans to invoke penalties called for in the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Act of 1994.
  • Indonesian Students Stage Protests (May 13): Thousands rally to demand resignation of President Suharto. Police kill six students and wound others. (May 23): Army drives students from Parliament building. (May 28): Students resume protests, opposing new Government's timetable for holding elections next year.
  • Indonesian President Resigns (May 21): Suharto quits under pressure after economic crisis. In a television address, he apologizes for mistakes made during 32 years in power. He is succeeded by Vice President B. J. Habibie.
  • Irish Voters Approve Peace Agreement (May 22): Overwhelmingly support accord to end sectarian strife that has raged in Ireland for centuries. Accord approved in the North with 71 percent in favor, indicating that majority of Protestants support the agreement. “Yes” vote in the Irish Republic is 94 percent.
  • Russian Economy Threatened (May 27): Nation's financial markets near collapse. Moscow takes drastic steps to preserve value of currency and halt exodus of foreign investors. (May 29): International Monetary Fund pledges $670 million and sets conditions for stabilizing Russian financial markets.
  • Pakistan Stages Nuclear Tests (May 29): In response to India, announces that it has conducted five underground explosions. Clinton made prior futile appeal to prevent them. Afterward, he denounces them and imposes penalties that could cost billions. (May 30): Pakistan detonates another nuclear device.


  • Space Shuttle Returns Safely (May 3): Columbia lands at Kennedy Space center with live and dead animals after two weeks of laboratory work that advanced brain research.
  • Unabomber Sentenced to Four Life Terms (May 4): U.S. judge metes additional 30 years to Theodore J. Kaczynski, saying that “he committed unspeakable and monstrous crimes for which he shows utterly no remorse.”
  • Susan H. McDougal Indicted (May 4): U.S. grand jury in Arkansas charges criminal contempt and obstruction of justice by former law partner of the Clintons in the Whitewater land venture for her refusal to answer questions about the President and Mrs. Clinton.
  • U.S. Judge Bars White House Move (May 5): Rebuffs President's effort to limit scope of independent counsel's investigation by ruling President cannot invoke executive privilege or attorney-client privilege to restrict a prosecutor's questioning of close advisers, lawyers, and other officials involved.
  • House Investigator Resigns Under Fire (May 6): David N. Bossie, top aide in campaign finance inquiry, quits after bipartisan criticism of his role in releasing tapes of Webster L. Hubbell's prison conversations.
  • Two Acquitted in Texaco Case (May 12): Former executives cleared in Federal court of illegal action in taping discussion of destruction of documents in racial-discrimination lawsuit against company.
  • Senate Retreats on Welfare Law Reform (May 12): Votes 92–8, to restore food stamps to a quarter of a million legal immigrants and refugees. (May 22): In House, 98 Republicans join Democrats to block conservative move to reform welfare law.
  • House Votes to Bar Satellite Exports to China (May 20): In bipartisan action, moves overwhelmingly to prevent the sending of sensitive technology that many in both parties fear could aid the accuracy of nuclear missiles.
  • Court Rejects Clinton “Privilege” Bid (May 22): U.S. judge rules Secret Service agents can be forced to testify about President's relationship with a former White House intern. Decision is a victory for Whitewater Independent Counsel, Kenneth W. Starr.


  • Astronomers Detect Giant Explosion in Outer Space (May 6): Report blast second only to “The Big Bang,” generally credited with having created the universe.
  • Scores of 737's Grounded for Check (May 10): Federal Aviation Administration orders inspection of old aircraft after finding fuel-pump damage in some planes. Some flights around nation are canceled.
  • Public Television Upheld in Debates (May 18): Court rules 6–3 that stations have editorial discretion to exclude fringe or minority-party candidates who have little chance of election, providing that the decision is not based on the candidate's views.
  • Art Thieves Steal Treasures in Rome (May 20): Tie up guards in National Gallery of Modern Art and escape with two paintings by Van Gogh and one by Cézanne.
  • Hollywood Stars at Frank Sinatra's Funeral (May 20): Join family and friends to honor singer's life and career at formal services in Beverly Hills, Calif.
  • Microsoft Target of Antitrust Suits (May 20): U.S. and 20 state Attorneys General file two broad actions against the world's most powerful software corporation. Microsoft is accused of using its monopoly in personal computer operating systems to win control of Internet access systems such as browsers.
  • Student Held in Four Oregon Killings (May 21): Youth, 15, charged with fatal shooting of two students in school cafeteria and his parents at home in Springfield.
  • Comedian Phil Hartman Slain by Wife (May 28): Versatile TV and movie star shot in Los Angeles home. Wife takes her own life.

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