October 1999 News and Events

Updated July 10, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

1999 News Month-By-Month


  • Russia Severs Ties with Chechnya (Oct. 1): Prime Minister Vladimir Putin acts after eight days in which Russian planes bombed strongholds of Islamic militants using breakaway republic as a base for launching attacks on Russia.
  • Vajpayee Victorious in Indian Election (Oct. 7): Prime Minister keeps post and his 22-party National Democratic Alliance wins majority of Parliamentary seats. Leader's popularity based partly on support of nuclear development and tough stance in struggle with Pakistan over Kashmir.
  • British Magistrate OKs Pinochet Extradition (Oct. 8): A year after former Chilean dictator's arrest in London, Spain's request for his extradition on charges of torture continues to move through British legal system. (Oct. 14): Chile asks Britain to allow Pinochet's return home on grounds of his poor health.
  • U.N. Worker Killed in Yugoslavia (Oct. 11): Bulgarian man beaten and shot by ethnic Albanians after speaking Serbian. (Oct. 12): Two U.N. employees and seven other people killed in Burundi after humanitarian convoy is seized by rebels. (Oct. 13): During tough week for U.N., six employees and their interpreter are taken hostage by gunmen in Georgia. $300,000 ransom demanded.
  • Government Ousted in Pakistan (Oct. 12): Surprise military coup raises concern over future of new nuclear power. (Oct. 15): Despite international urging toward democracy, coup leader Gen. Pervaiz Musharraf assumes power, suspending constitution and dissolving parliament.
  • Indonesia Elects New President (Oct. 20): Electoral assembly chooses Muslim leader, Abdurrahman Wahid, 59, an advocate of tolerance. Action is nation's first democratic transfer of power.
  • Scores Killed in Chechnya Bombing (Oct. 21): Downtown market and maternity hospital devastated by missiles reportedly fired by Russian forces. Death toll is more than 143.
  • U.N. Votes for East Timor Mission (Oct. 25): Security Council approves authority to govern former Indonesian territory until it is stable enough to become fully independent. (Oct. 31): Thousands flock to waterfront in Dili, in religious procession to mark end of Indonesian control.
  • Gunmen Attack Armenian Parliament (Oct. 27): Five break in during session and gun down Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisian, parliamentary speaker, and six others. (Oct. 28): Attackers surrender, releasing 40 or so hostages.
  • EgyptAir Flight 990 Crashes in Atlantic (Oct. 31): All 217 on board presumed dead off coast of Nantucket Island, Mass.


  • U.S. Conducts Missile Defense System Test (Oct. 2): Receives international criticism after successful test of missile interceptor over Pacific. Argues Asia and Mideast nuclear development have created need for limited nuclear defense programs.
  • UPS Announces End to Gun Deliveries (Oct. 7): United Parcel Service will no longer ship handguns by ground service. Claims shipments can be too easily stolen.
  • Donald Trump Considers Presidential Run (Oct. 7): Well-known tycoon announces he is forming an exploratory committee. Would enter race for Reform Party nomination.
  • House Votes for Sweeping Health-Care Bill (Oct. 7): Surprising 275–151 vote rebuffs G.O.P. leaders. Bill calls for more power to patients, allowing them to sue health insurance plans that cause injury by denying care or providing substandard treatment.
  • Clinton Proposes Conservation Plan (Oct. 13): Ambitious initiative calls for preservation of over 40 million acres of roadless forest.
  • Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Fails (Oct. 13): In blow to President, Senate rejects treaty, 51–48. The 1996 agreement, which cannot enter into effect until all 44 nuclear-capable nations have ratified it, has only been accepted by 26. U.S. receives harsh criticism from world leaders, including allies.
  • F.B.I. Study Finds Drop in Gun Violence (Oct. 17): Reports new laws and police pressure caused seven percent decline in 1998 homicides. Entire drop attributed to decline in deaths by firearms.
  • Vote on Campaign Finances Blocked Again (Oct. 19): For fourth year, Senate G.O.P. leaders prevent action. Measure, sponsored by John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), would ban unlimited and unregulated donations to political parties.
  • Elizabeth Dole Quits G.O.P. Race (Oct. 20): After garnering much media attention and more support than any female Republican candidate in history, she drops out due to insufficient funding.
  • Agreement Revises Banking Laws (Oct. 22): Clinton and Republican leaders reach accord on overhauling financial system. Pact repeals Depression-era laws that prevent banking, securities, and insurance industries from expanding into each others' fields.
  • National Debt Slashed Unexpectedly (Oct. 24): Stalemate between President and Republicans over spending and tax cuts results in surplus money going toward national debt. Economy expected to benefit in the long run.
  • Patrick Buchanan Quits G.O.P. (Oct. 25): With poor ratings in the crowded Republican race, Buchanan switches to Reform Party to seek presidential nomination.


  • Controversial Art Exhibit Opens in Brooklyn (Oct. 2): Hundreds protest British exhibit “Sensation,” which features dissected animals and a portrait of the Virgin Mary smeared with elephant dung. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani sparks First Amendment debate in vowing to cut city's funding to museum.
  • Storms Devastate Mexico (Oct. 4 et seq.): More than a week of torrential rains results in country's worst disaster in a decade. At least 342 confirmed dead in floods and mudslides.
  • Commuter Trains Collide in London (Oct. 5): Worst British train crash in quarter century claims at least 40 lives. Accident blamed on poorly visible signal that had been missed by drivers eight times in the past four years.
  • MCI Worldcom Buys Sprint (Oct. 5): Second-largest long-distance phone company in U.S. reaches agreement with Sprint in stock swap valued at $115 billion. Takeover, which is nation's largest, must be approved by the Justice Dept. and the FCC.
  • Three Indicted in Russian Money Laundering Case (Oct. 5): U.S. jury accuses three Russian immigrants and three of their companies of illegally moving almost $7 billion through the Bank of New York over past three and a half years. Money may be tied to mob and possibly President Boris Yeltsin and his family.
  • Female Editor to Head AMA Journal (Oct. 8): Dr. Catherine DeAngelis, 59, is first woman and first pediatrician to hold post for American Medical Association's 116-year-old journal.
  • Record-Setting Webcast Targets Poverty (Oct. 9): Concert broadcast on Internet features series of performances in London, Geneva, and New York. U.N.-sponsored event to raise money and awareness for poor. Nearly 2.4 million viewers visit Web site, setting record for most hits.
  • World's Six Billionth Inhabitant Born (Oct. 11): U.N. chooses baby boy in Sarajevo to represent population landmark.
  • Grand Jury Closes Ramsey Investigation (Oct. 13): Lack of evidence prevents indictments before deadline in closely followed mystery. Many believe John and Patsy Ramsey to be responsible for the 1996 murder of their six-year-old daughter, JonBenet, in Boulder, Colo.
  • Colombian Cocaine Ring Raided (Oct. 13): Thirty arrested in biggest setback to Colombia's drug traffickers since 1995. Suspects face extradition to U.S.
  • Philip Morris Admits Harm in Smoking (Oct. 13): Nation's largest tobacco company finally acknowledges cigarette link to cancer and other diseases. Announcement, posted on company's Web site, seen as public image strategy.
  • Stock Market Drops Sharply (Oct. 15): Suffers worst week in decade after inflation report shows prices rising at surprisingly fast rate.
  • Ailing Doctor Airlifted from Antarctica (Oct. 16): Dr. Jerri Nielsen, 47, of Ohio, had been treating herself with chemotherapy after finding a lump in her breast five months earlier. Sub-zero temperatures had delayed her rescue until the end of the polar winter.
  • McDonnell Douglas Corp. Indicted (Oct. 19): U.S. grand jury also charges a state-owned Chinese company with hiding major details of a 1994 transaction in which some of purchased American machining equipment was diverted to a Chinese military site.
  • Verdict Against ABC News Upset (Oct. 20): U.S. Appeals Court voids all but $2 of damages a jury awarded Food Lion in 1997 case. ABC had covertly investigated the supermarket chain and then in a TV report accused it of selling unsanitary food.
  • Enzyme Linked to Alzheimer's Disease (Oct. 21): Scientists report discovery that may lead to production of drugs to block or slow condition.
  • Pro Golfer Dies in Plane Crash (Oct. 25): Payne Stewart and five others killed while traveling on Learjet. Plane traveled about 1,500 miles on autopilot before running out of fuel and crashing in S. Dakota. Jet may have depressurized, causing pilots and passengers to lose consciousness and die.
  • Ban on Late-Term Abortions Upheld (Oct. 26): In divided vote, federal appeals court approves constitutionality of laws in Ill. and Wis. criminalizing procedure.
  • Cyclone Kills Thousands in India (Oct. 29): About 10 million left homeless and at least 7,474 killed after powerful storm rages across Bay of Bengal and ravages nation's eastern coast.
  • Jet with 217 on Board Crashes in Atlantic (Oct. 31): Egyptair Flight 990 drops suddenly into ocean south of Nantucket Island, Mass., shortly after departing New York's Kennedy Airport. Search finds no survivors.

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