October 1998 News and Events

Updated February 11, 2017 | Infoplease Staff

1998 News Month-By-Month


  • China to Improve Human Rights (Oct. 5): Signs major international agreement that includes ban on arbitrary arrest and torture, and protects freedom of thought, religion, and expression. Move seen as an important first step for China.
  • Thousands in Russia Stage Protest Strike (Oct. 7): Communists and trade unionists lead nationwide protest calling for President Yeltsin to resign.
  • Italian Prime Minister Ousted in Vote of No-Confidence (Oct. 9): Romano Prodi loses power by one vote in Parliamentary decision. He will remain in post with weakened power until replacement is found.
  • Netanyahu Names Ariel Sharon Foreign Minister (Oct. 9): Palestinians upset by appointment of former general and defense minister fired after massacre of hundreds of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon in 1982. Israeli commitment to peace process questioned.
  • Pakistan Clears Way for Islamic Order (Oct. 9): National Assembly grants federal government power to rule based on interpretation of the Qu'ran. Bill consolidates power of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and poses threat to women and minorities.
  • Re-Election of Azerbaijan President Questioned (Oct. 12): Challenger of Haydar Aliyev and international observers note lack of balanced coverage for all political groups, threats to voters, ballot box stuffing and other tampering in weekend election.(Oct. 12): Iranian Khordad Foundation raises its bounty on Rushdie to $2.8 million to counter government's disavowal of 1989 religious edict against author.
  • NATO Reaches Agreement with Yugoslav Federation President (Oct. 12): On verge of ordering air strikes, NATO receives last-minute commitment from Milosevic to withdraw forces from Kosovo. Agreement keeps Kosovo with Serbia while granting more autonomy to majority Albanian population.
  • Japanese Government Plans to Bail Out Banks (Oct. 12): Parliament passes bank reform legislation to help recover economy. $513 billion in aid to banks sends stock markets up worldwide.
  • U.N. Votes for End to U.S. Embargo of Cuba (Oct. 14): General Assembly, in record 157-nation ballot, opposes economic sanctions. Only U.S. and Israel object to nonbinding resolution.
  • Pinochet Arrested in London (Oct. 16): Former Chilean ruler detained in London medical clinic at request of Spanish magistrate. Charged with murder of Spanish citizens in his 17-year rule, during which at least 3,000 political opponents vanished or died. Chilean reaction is divided, as rallies break out across nation.
  • Mideast Peace Talks Extended (Oct. 18): Key issues remain in dispute between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat as talks carry into unplanned fifth day. (Oct. 19): Two hand grenades explode in crowd, injuring at least 60 people. After calling off part of talks, Netanyahu softens stance and agrees to discuss security issues and work toward an agreement with Arafat. (Oct. 23): The two leaders sign modest agreement calling for Israeli withdrawal from additional 13% of West Bank and promise of PLO to curb terrorism.
  • India and Pakistan End Talks With Little Progress (Oct. 18): First diplomatic meeting since nuclear testing by both countries in May comes to a close. Tensions remain high, as only agreement achieved is to meet again in February.
  • Hundreds Die in Nigerian Pipeline Explosion (Oct. 18): At least 700 die in blaze while scooping gasoline from a broken pipeline.
  • Rwanda to Free 10,000 Held on Genocide Charges (Oct. 19): Government to release portion of reported 120,000 accused of aiding in extremist Hutu government's slaughter of half a million people in 1994. Many had been imprisoned based simply on accusations.
  • Israeli-Palestinian Agreement Reached (Oct. 23): After nine-day conference, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian leader, Arafat, sign modest agreement in Washington. It provides for new life to Middle East peace effort and opens way for talks on 50-year-old dispute about Palestinian state. President Clinton presides over signing ceremony.
  • Serbs Begin Withdrawal From Kosovo (Oct. 26): Soldiers and police leave many fortified positions in province day before NATO deadline for air strikes. Albanian rebels move into abandoned sites. (Oct. 27): NATO suspends threats, seeing Serb compliance.
  • Clinton Economic Plan Supported (Oct. 30): Leading industrial nations endorse proposal to protect weaker ones from currency and stock market upheavals.
  • Iraq Halts Arms Inspections (Oct. 31): Closes international monitoring in challenge to U.N.
  • Recovery Plan Approved in Russia (Oct. 31): New government projects more public spending and tighter government control of economy to ease crisis. International Monetary Fund is critical.


  • Panel Votes in Favor of Impeachment Probe (Oct. 5): House Judiciary Committee votes 21–16 to recommend full-scale investigation of whether Clinton's alleged cover-up of affair with Monica Lewinsky is grounds for impeachment. (Oct. 8): In historic vote, House decides 258–176 to approve the inquiry, with 31 Democrats breaking ranks.
  • Clinton Advisers Resign (Oct. 5): Chief of Staff Erskine B. Bowles and Senior Adviser Rahm Emanuel announce their departure, only three weeks after resignation of Press Secretary Michael D. McCurry.
  • Religious Freedom Bill Passed By Senate (Oct. 9): Unanimous vote approves legislation requiring president to impose sanctions against countries practicing religious persecution.
  • Black Farmers' Case Ruled Class Action (Oct. 9): Federal judge clears way for more farmers to join $3 billion lawsuit against government Agricultural Department, accused of denying Blacks farm loans, crop subsidies and other benefits from 1983 to 1997.
  • Crackdown on Internet Pedophilia Approved (Oct. 12): Congress passes measure that will facilitate prosecution of adults who use Internet to lure children under 18 into sexual relations or send obscene material.
  • Congress Passes Digital Copyright Bill (Oct. 12): Legislation aims to punish those who circumvent high-technology security in order to copy software, movies, music, and other protected works.
  • F.B.I. Opens DNA Database (Oct. 13): Installs computer with national reach that is expected to reduce incidence of rape and other crimes by making it easier to catch repeat offenders early on.
  • Fugitive Faces New Bombing Charge (Oct. 14): Eric Robert Rudolph, 32, accused formally in Centennial Olympic Park bombing and two other bomb attacks in Atlanta in 1996. Authorities believe he is hiding in mountains in North Carolina.
  • Congress Approves Budget Proposal (Oct. 21): Package includes increased funding for education, the International Monetary Fund, and the environment. Clinton criticizes Republicans for drawing out 8-month, partisan battle over how to apportion $500 billion.


  • Right-to-Die Appeal Rejected in Virginia (Oct. 2): Top court rejects Governor's request for reinsertion of feeding tube that had sustained comatose man. Court says removal of tube may facilitate natural death but cannot be considered murder.
  • Amnesty International Criticizes U.S. in Human Rights (Oct. 5): U.S. found to frequently violate the standards it demands of other countries. Practices include use of shock-emitting stun belts on prisoners, unprovoked beatings by police, and use of death penalty in many states.
  • Student, 21, Savagely Beaten in Suspected Hate Crime (Oct. 6): Gay University of Wyoming student, Matthew Shepard, burned, badly beaten, and left tied to a fence. Two young suspects charged with kidnapping, aggravated robbery, and attempted first-degree murder. (Oct. 12): Shepard dies in hospital after being in a coma for several days.
  • AIDS Deaths Decline in U.S. (Oct. 7): Total reported down to 16,865 in 1997, almost half 1996 toll.
  • New Technique Similar to Cloning Stirs up Debate (Oct. 8): Scientists add genes of infertile woman's egg to another egg and fertilize with sperm, making genetically-related children possible for infertile women. Practice banned in California.
  • Pictures Hint at Dawn of Universe (Oct. 8): Scientists believe Hubble Space Telescope reveals infrared glimpse of early galaxies formed in first billion years of cosmic history.
  • John Glenn Prepares for Return to Space (Oct. 9): First American to orbit Earth strapped into spaceship for first time in 36 years during drill. Oct. 29 launch of shuttle Discovery to make him oldest person ever in space.
  • Pope Canonizes Jew Who Became Nun (Oct. 11): Praises Edith Stein, Jewish intellectual who joined Carmelite Order before being sent to her death at Auschwitz.
  • Thousands Flock to Georgia for Message From Virgin Mary (Oct. 13): Pilgrims from as far away as Latin America gather to hear messages conveyed through former nurse. 100,000 estimated to attend what is to be the last of Nancy Fowler's annual public addresses.
  • 20-Year-Old Sentenced to Life in Las Vegas Murder Case (Oct. 14): Young man who molested and strangled 7-year-old girl in casino toilet in 1997 is given four life terms without parole. No charges brought against a friend of the man, who observed killing without intervening.
  • Record Set by Mount Everest Climber (Oct. 17): Nepalese Sherpa sets unconfirmed record by reaching summit of world's tallest mountain in 20 hours and 24 minutes from base camp.
  • Severe Weather in Texas Kills 10 (Oct. 17, et seq.): Floods and tornadoes hit state. 1,500 people forced out of homes in emergency evacuations. (Oct. 21): Death toll climbs to 22 as rains continue.
  • Chronic Fatigue Affects 183 out of Every 100,000 Americans (Oct. 18): New study by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds condition to be more prevalent than previously believed. Adult women most susceptible to disorder, whose main symptom is at least six months of severe unexplained fatigue.
  • U.S. Begins Antitrust Case Against Microsoft (Oct. 19): Department of Justice starts presentation of evidence that aims to prove Microsoft practices have been unfair to consumers and competition. Outcome could have profound implications on U.S. economy.
  • Sniper Slays Abortion Doctor (Oct. 23): Obstetrician, Dr. Barnett Slepian, hit by bullet fired through window at his home outside Buffalo, N.Y. Incident alarms practitioners in wide area of New York and Canada.
  • Scientists Report Brain Discovery (Oct. 29): Generation of adult brain cells reported by American and Swedish researchers. Findings thought to show way for treatment of severe neurological disorders.
  • John Glenn, 77, Returns to Orbit (Oct. 29): Veteran astronaut takes off in space shuttle Discovery to perform experiments on aging. Thousands watch launch.
  • DNA Tests Called Evidence of Jefferson Affair (Oct. 31): Scientists believe they show that third president fathered at least one of slave Sally Hemings' children.