May 1999 News and Events

Updated February 11, 2017 | Infoplease Staff

1999 News Month-By-Month


  • Three American G.I. Prisoners Freed (May 2): Milosevic releases men following appeal from Rev. Jesse Jackson. Soldiers in good health despite 31 days of confinement in Yugoslav cells.
  • Bombing Attacks Put London on Alert (May 1): Third bombing in three weeks leaves total of at least four dead and more than 100 wounded. Attacks target ethnic minorities and gays. (May 2): Engineer, 22, charged with murder in three bombings.
  • Labor Party Leads in Scotland and Wales (May 7): British Prime Minister Tony Blair says elections to new legislatures represent endorsement of his political reforms.
  • NATO Bombs Hit Chinese Embassy (May 7): Three journalists killed and many other people injured in accidental attack on building in Belgrade. NATO officials blame faulty intelligence. China calls U.N. emergency meeting.
  • A Pope's First Visit to Orthodox Country (May 7): John Paul II arrives in Romania. (May 8): Pope and Patriarch Teoctist of Romanian Orthodox Church join in asking immediate end to fighting in Kosovo.
  • Protests Erupt in Chinese Cities (May 9 et seq.): Thousands march in angry demonstration against bombing of Belgrade embassy. Mobs hurl objects at U.S. embassy in Beijing, where ambassador James Sasser is trapped for more than 48 hours. Chinese government supports protests. (May 14): Clinton expresses condolences to China over embassy bombing.
  • NATO Admits Casualties in Bombing of Village (May 15): Acknowledges that at least 80 civilians may have been killed in attack on military command post near southern Kosovo village of Korisa.
  • Impeachment Move Blocked in Russia (May 15): Parliament fails to impeach President Yeltsin on five charges, including one that he waged an illegal war against Chechnya in 1995 and 1996. Yeltsin remains object of attacks by both friends and enemies.
  • China Chooses Macao Ruler (May 16): Appoints Edmund Ho, island banker, to administer colony off southeast coast when it reverts to Chinese rule in Dec. after being ruled by Portugal for 442 years.
  • Sonia Gandhi Steps Down (May 17): Resigns as president of India's Congress Party after colleagues say she should not be prime minister because she was born in Italy. She is the widow of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. (May 25): After outpouring of support from party, Gandhi triumphantly withdraws resignation.
  • Labor Party Wins in Israeli Election (May 17): Ehud Barak, party leader, elected as Prime Minister. Voters reject leader of three years, Benjamin Netanyahu.
  • Japan Bans Child Pornography (May 18): Parliament also outlaws child prostitution in victory for international law enforcement officials.
  • New Russian Prime Minister Confirmed (May 19): Parliament approves appointment of Sergei V. Stepashin, a Yeltsin loyalist and former national police head.
  • Indian Jets Strike Kashmir Guerrillas (May 26): India claims that hundreds of guerrillas in the disputed territory are Islamic militants backed by Pakistan.
  • Hague Tribunal Indicts Milosevic (May 27): Issues arrest warrants charging Yugoslav President and four other senior officers with crimes against humanity in Kosovo. Charges include murder, forced deportation, and persecution of ethnic Albanians.
  • Allied Planes Bomb Bridge in Southern Serbia (May 30): At least nine civilians killed and 28 wounded in daytime attack on bridge that was important for Serb communications.
  • Tiananmen Inquiry Sought in China (May 31): Relatives of dead call for government investigation of pro-democracy demonstration that turned into massacre 10 years previously.


  • Clinton Nominee to U.N. Cleared (May 4): State Dept. Inspector General approves Richard C. Holbrooke as chief U.S. diplomat to U.N. after investigation of speaking fees accepted while unpaid Balkans envoy.
  • Marine Pilot Punished for Obstructing Justice (May 10): Capt. Richard Ashby, 32, sentenced to six months in prison and dismissal from Corps for helping destroy videotape of ski gondola accident. He had been acquitted of manslaughter charges in March.
  • China Campaign Aid Reported (May 11): Former Democratic fund-raiser Johnny Chung, who had admitted fraud, tells House panel high Chinese intelligence official in 1996 promised him $300,000 for Presidential election campaign.
  • Treasury Secretary Announces Resignation (May 12): Robert E. Rubin, chief architect of Clinton economic policy during period of prosperity, will step down. President plans to nominate as successor Lawrence H. Summers, Deputy Secretary of the Treasury.
  • Court Voids Air Quality Rules (May 14): Three-judge appeals panel decides in 2?1 vote that Environmental Protection Agency exceeded its authority in setting air quality standards.
  • Crime in U.S. Falls for Seventh Consecutive Year (May 16): F.B.I. reports violent and property crimes each dropped 7 percent in 1998, largest annual drop since beginning of downward trend in 1992.
  • Senate, 73?25, Votes for Gun Control Measures (May 20): Approves juvenile-crime bill including requirements for safety locks and background checks on purchasers of firearms at gun shows. Vice President Gore breaks deadlock on key amendment.
  • China's Nuclear Espionage Described (May 25): Congressional report describes successful pattern of efforts to learn American nuclear secrets, including information on weapons design.
  • Kenneth Starr Drops Charges in Two Cases (May 25): Independent Counsel will not seek retrials of Susan H. McDougal and Julie Hiatt Steele, key figures in investigations involving President Clinton.


  • Lost Space Capsule Found in Ocean (May 2): Mercury discovered off Fla. shore after 38 years. Carried Gus Grissom on America's second manned space flight.
  • Columbine Grad Accused of Providing Murder Weapon (May 3): Mark Edward Manes, 22, charged with providing powerful semiautomatic handgun to one of two underage killers in Littleton, Colo. massacre. Columbine High School students return to classes in nearby schools for first time since killing.
  • Okla. and Kans. Hit by Devastating Tornadoes (May 3): 41 killed in Okla., 5 in Kans. as twisters destroy more than 1,500 buildings and injure over 500 other people. One tornado reported to be a mile wide at times.
  • Citadel Graduates First Woman (May 8): Nancy Mace, 21, survives harsh experience at S.C. military college.
  • Talk Show Penalized (May 8): Mich. jury orders The Jenny Jones Show to pay $25 million to family of a murdered gay man who appeared on show. Victim, Scott Amedure, was killed in March 1995 by one-time friend Jonathan T. Schmitz, to whom Amedure revealed his secret crush on national TV.
  • Bus Crash Kills 23 in La. (May 9): Twenty others injured on Mother's Day excursion from New Orleans suburb to casino on Miss. coast. Accident one of nation's worst bus crashes.
  • Doctors Question Safety of Liposuction (May 12): N.Y. team bases warning on review of five deaths that occurred after popular, but unnecessary, fat-removal surgery.
  • Student Wounds Six at Conyers, Ga. School (May 20): Alleged gunman T. J. Solomon, 15, wounds fellow students at Heritage High. Tearfully surrenders to assistant principal. (May 21): Boy reported to have taken the two guns he used after breaking into stepfather's gun cabinet.
  • Clinton Friend Pleads Guilty in U.S. Court (May 21): Yah Lin Trie, Democratic fund-raiser, admits to felony of causing false statements to be made to Federal Election Commission.
  • Eradication of Smallpox Held Up (May 21): World Health Organization panel puts off calling for destruction of remaining stocks, decides more research is needed.
  • Policeman Pleads Guilty in N.Y.C. Torture Case (May 25): Officer Justin Volpe, 27, admits to brutally beating Haitian immigrant Abner Louima and sodomizing him with a wooden stick in Brooklyn police station in 1997. Four other white officers face trial in racially charged case.

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