February 1999 News and Events

Updated February 11, 2017 | Infoplease Staff

1999 News Month-By-Month


  • U.S. Expands Air Strikes on Iraq (Feb. 2): Pilots hit wide range of military targets under broadened rules for attacks over northern and southern no-fly zones.
  • Russian Production Falls Sharply (Feb. 4): Gross domestic product off 4.6 percent in 1998, sharpest decline in four years.
  • King Hussein of Jordan Dies at 63 (Feb. 7): Ruler of Hashemite Kingdom since 1952 succumbs to cancer soon after being flown home from U.S. clinic. His eldest son is crowned as King Abdullah II.
  • Germany Approves Fund for Nazi Victims (Feb. 9): Agrees to compensation, financed by industrial and banking leaders, to block lawsuits in U.S. against companies that used forced and slave labor in World War II.
  • Clinton Proposes Troops for Kosovo (Feb. 13): Plans to send 4,000 as part of a NATO peacekeeping force if ethnic Albanians and Serbs settle conflict.
  • Rival Israeli Groups Stage Rallies (Feb. 14): Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews demonstrate to show solidarity and protest official policies. In a counter-rally, thousands of academics, lawyers, and other professionals cheer pro-democracy speakers and sing patriotic songs.
  • China Frees Dissident Journalist (Feb. 15): Grants early release to journalist Gao Yu, 55, two weeks before scheduled visit by U.S. Secretary of State.
  • Northern Ireland Restructured (Feb. 16): Assembly votes for political changes that give Roman Catholic minority more power and call for end to sectarian violence.
  • Leaders of India and Pakistan Meet (Feb. 20): Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee of India travels to Pakistan for cordial meeting with Pakistan's Nawaz Sharif. (Feb. 21): Leaders pledge to strive for peace following discussions on nuclear weapons and disputed Kashmir territory.
  • Kurdish Leader Charged with Treason (Feb. 23): Abdullah Ocalan arraigned in Turkey, where he faces death penalty. Turkish authorities accuse him of causing thousands of deaths in Kurdish uprisings. Protests spread across Europe after Ocalan's capture in Kenya.
  • Serb Forces Mass on Kosovo Border (Feb. 26): Pentagon fears move threatens to undermine any progress in ending strife between Serbs and ethnic Albanians.
  • Nigeria Elects President (Feb. 28): Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, former military ruler, wins in first presidential election in 16 years. Promises to follow the ?path of democracy? as president.


  • President Proposes Budget for 2000 (Feb. 1): Suggests $1.77 trillion plan that he claims will ensure solvency of Social Security and Medicare for decades while paying billions for other programs.
  • Anti-Abortion Group Penalized (Feb. 2): U.S. jury in Ore. rules against organization that displayed ?wanted? posters listing names of abortion providers on Web site. $107 million payment will go to Planned Parenthood and group of doctors.
  • President Asks Mining Ban in Montana (Feb. 3): Seeks to strengthen conservation of federal lands in one of nation's richest wilderness areas, along Rocky Mountain Front.
  • Racial Tension in Washington (Feb. 3): Mayor asks white aide who resigned after using the word ?niggardly? in conversation with black colleague to return to post. The word, which is not a racial epithet, means ?miserly.?
  • U.S. Liberalizes Wine Label Rules (Feb. 5): Approves statements used by industry to encourage consumers to learn about the health benefits of drinking wine.
  • Court Challenges Miranda Ruling (Feb. 8): Federal appeals bench in Va. cites 1968 law passed by Congress to declare that federal law-enforcement officials need not follow Supreme Court decision under which criminal suspects are routinely read rights.
  • Logging Road Construction in National Forests Suspended (Feb. 11): Government shifts forest policy toward conservation in a step toward broad review of policy.
  • Senate Acquits President Clinton (Feb. 12): Verdict follows five-week impeachment trial on charges brought by House. In vote of 55?45, Senate rejects perjury charge in connection with President's affair with White House intern. A 50?50 split blocks obstruction of justice charge, with several Republicans breaking ranks to vote for acquittal. No Democrats vote to convict. Trial is second in 210-year history of the U.S.
  • President Says He's ?Profoundly Sorry? (Feb. 12): After acquittal by Senate, Clinton asserts verdict signals ?time of reconciliation and renewal.?
  • Republicans Move to Reshape Image (Feb. 15): Hold town meeting in Mich. as first in series following unpopular impeachment trial. Party, receiving warm response, hopes to bolster support for broad tax reductions.
  • U.S. Trade Deficit Reported at Record High (Feb. 19): Commerce Dept. reports level rose 53 percent in 1998 to a record of $168.8 billion. Global financial troubles caused first decline in U.S. exports in over a decade.


  • N.Y.C. Police Kill Unarmed Man (Feb. 4): Four undercover officers seeking rape suspect shoot at Amadou Diallo, 22, 41 times when he reaches into his pocket while being questioned. The immigrant street merchant, originally from Guinea, had no criminal record.
  • Gates Foundations Get $3.3 Billion (Feb. 5): Microsoft chairman William H. Gates and wife Melinda bolster assets of two philanthropic institutions.
  • Mike Tyson Sentenced in Assault Case (Feb. 5): Former heavyweight champion sentenced in Md. court to year in jail for attack on two men after minor traffic accident.
  • Pilots' Strike Cripples American Airlines (Feb. 8): More than 300 weekend flights canceled as scores of pilots call in sick. (Feb. 17): Ten-day strike comes to an end. American claims it lost $100 million in revenue and canceled more than 7,000 flights during sick-out.
  • Smoker Wins $51.5 Million Verdict (Feb. 9): Calif. jury awards largest judgment ever reached in a smoking-related case. Woman said her inoperable lung cancer was caused by decades of smoking cigarettes, primarily the Philip Morris Marlboro brand.
  • Gun Makers Found Liable in Shootings (Feb. 11): Federal jury in Brooklyn rules nine of 25 named in suit were collectively at fault because marketing and distribution practices facilitate illegal gun trafficking.
  • Scientists Confirm Cancer Research Theory (Feb. 11): Report they have duplicated Harvard experiments reported to have destroyed cancerous tumors in animals by using drugs to cut off tumors' blood supply.
  • Oregon Reports 15 Deaths Under Suicide Law (Feb. 17): Terminally ill persons took lethal medication in 1998 under world's only program for legally sanctioned assisted suicide.
  • Scientists Slow Speed of Light (Feb. 17): Danish researchers find way to slow rate to 38 miles per hour, from ordinary 186,171 miles per second.
  • Changes in Cervical Cancer Treatment Urged (Feb. 22): Experts recommend that chemotherapy be added to standard radiation treatment in advanced cases.
  • Texan Convicted in Dragging Death (Feb. 23): Jury in Jasper, Tex., finds John William King, 24, white supremacist, guilty of murdering James Byrd, Jr., 49, the black man he and two friends tied to their pickup truck. (Feb. 25): Jury, after brief deliberation, decides on death sentence.
  • Avalanches Sweep Through Alps (Feb. 21?28): Many dead and missing in series of avalanches in Swiss and Austrian Alpine region. More than 70 have died in Europe due to avalanches this winter.
  • Baptist Leader Convicted of Theft (Feb. 27): Rev. Henry J. Lyons, president of largest black religious organization, found guilty in Fla. court of racketeering and stealing millions from church arson recovery fund.

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