1996

January

05 – Yahya Ayyash – thought to be behind a wave of Islamic suicide bombings against Israel – is killed in Gaza by a booby-trapped cellular telephone.

07 – One of the biggest blizzards in US history hits the eastern side of the country causing more than 100 deaths.

08 – Former French president Francois Mitterand dies at the age of 79.

16 – Jamaican authorities open fire on Jimmy Buffet’s seaplane, which is carrying Buffet and singer Bono from U2. They later apologise, explaining that they mistakenly thought the plane belonged to a drug trafficker.

18 – Lisa Marie Presley files for divorce from Michael Jackson.

20 – Polls open in the first-ever election for a Palestinian President and parliament. Yasser Arafat wins the poll for President, taking 88% of the vote.

February

09 – The IRA ceasefire ends when a one-ton bomb explodes in London’s Canary Wharf district, killing two people.

10 – A chess computer called ‘Deep Blue’ defeats the world chess champion Garry Kasparov for the first time. Although the IBM machine wins one game, Kasparov wins the overall match.

March

09 – Comedian George Burns dies after a long and distinguished career. He is 100.

13 – Thomas Watt Hamilton enters an elementary school assembly hall in Dunblane, Scotland at 9:30 AM, firing bullets all around him and killing 16 children and their teacher before turning the gun on himself. The massacre persuades the British government to ban the sale and use of handguns.

13 – The Liggett Group, the smallest of America’s five major tobacco companies, shocks the tobacco industry by settling a class action lawsuit over the detrimental health effects of smoking.

16 – Long past its glory years, London’s famed Marquee Club closes down without even a final concert. The last event is a dance club night.

19 – Sarajevo becomes a united city again after four years when Moslem-Croat authorities take control of the last district held by the Serbs.

20 – The British government announces that the disease BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) – more commonly known as “mad cow disease” – found in British cattle, could be transmitted to humans and that at least ten people had died from the disease.

April

02 – Former Solidarity leader Lech Walesa – who became Poland’s first post-war democratic president – resumes his old job as an electrician at the Gdansk shipyard.

03 – Theodore J Kaczynski, a 53-year-old loner, is arrested and charged with being the so-called Unabomber. His 18-year bombing campaign killed 3 people and injured 23 others.

03 – US Secretary of Commerce Ronald H Brown perishes, along with 34 others, when his military plane crashes into a mountain in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

16 – Prince Andrew and his wife Sarah announce they are to divorce after ten years of marriage.

24 – The PLO changes its charter to omit the commitment to destroying Israel.

May

11 – When The Smashing Pumpkins play at The Point Depot in Dublin, Eire, a crush develops in front of the stage. Injured audience member Bernadette O’Brien is pulled out of the crush but dies the following day.

June

08 – China sets off an underground nuclear blast.

13 – After an 81-day standoff, 16 members of the Freemen, a right-wing extremist group, surrender to FBI officers in Montana. 14 members are charged with threatening federal officers and defrauding banks and businesses of more than $1.8 million.

14 – Guernsey (one of the UK’s Channel Islands) votes to legalise abortion. The previous law from 1910 meant women faced life imprisonment if found guilty of having a termination.

19 – Muhammad Ali – displaying the typical shaking symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease – lights the flame that opens the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia.

25 – A truck bomb kills 19 American soldiers and wounds 300 people in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. No suspects are apprehended.

July

01 – Actress Margaux Hemingway commits suicide in her apartment at Santa Monica, California. Four other members of her family have previously taken their own lives, including her famous grandfather, writer Ernest Hemingway.

17 – A TWA Boeing 747 explodes over the Atlantic Ocean shortly after take off from New York’s Kennedy International Airport, killing all 230 people aboard. Theories about the blast onboard Flight 800 blame mechanical failure, fuel tank explosion, terrorist action or accidental downing by a missile from a nearby military base, but findings remain inconclusive.

19 – Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadžic resigns after being indicted on war crimes charges and the issue of an international arrest warrant.

25 – An explosion on the Paris Metro underground rail system marks the start of a bombing campaign by the Armed Islamic Group. The attacks continue until October, killing eight people and wounding hundreds.

27 – A bomb explodes in a park in Atlanta, Georgia, during Summer Olympics festivities, killing one person and injuring 100. Security guard Richard Jewell is briefly held as a suspect, then released. He later files defamation suits against the FBI and various media outlets.

August

05 – Josia Thugwane becomes the first black South African to win an Olympic gold medal, after finishing first in the marathon.

13 – Data sent back from the Galileo space probe indicates that there may be water on one of Jupiter’s moons, heightening the possibility it could once have supported life.

17 – Texan billionaire Ross Perot announces he intends to stand as the Reform Party’s presidential candidate.

28 – The marriage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana officially comes to an end with the granting of a divorce decree nisi. Diana loses her royal title (Her Royal Highness) and is now known simply as Diana, Princess of Wales.

September

07 – 25-year-old American rapper Tupac Shakur is killed in a drive-by shooting following a feud between East and West coast gangs and rappers. New York rapper Notorious B.I.G. is shot dead in a revenge attack six months later.

11 – David Bowie becomes the first major artist to release a single (Telling Lies) which is only available on the Internet.

24 – The world’s major powers sign a treaty to end all testing and development of nuclear weapons.

26 – Astronaut Shannon Lucid sets an American record for time in space after spending 188 days aboard Russia’s MIR space station.

27 – The Taliban seize control of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, and kill the former president Najibullah and his brother, publicly hanging their bodies from lamp posts. Strict Islamic dress becomes compulsory, including beards for men, while women are required to stay indoors.

October

14 – Madonna gives birth to a baby girl, Lourdes, at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles.

23 – The civil trial of OJ Simpson opens in California.

November

05 – Bill Clinton is re-elected as US president. Clinton wins a second term after a presidential race against Republican Bob Dole, taking 48% of the vote.

07 – A huge cyclone hits India, leaving fishing villages marooned after waves surge as far as 3 miles inland with wind speeds of up to 140 mph.

11 – The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund unveils The Wall That Heals, a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, which will tour communities throughout the USA.

14 – Michael Jackson marries Debbie Rowe (a nurse who allegedly works for his plastic surgeon) in Sydney, Australia. A few days earlier he announced that he and Debbie are expecting a child.

23 – A hijacked Ethiopian passenger jet crashes into the Indian Ocean just 500 metres from land after running out of fuel. More than 100 people are killed.

29 – Bosnian Serb army soldier Drazen Erdemovic is sentenced by a UN court to ten years in prison for his role in the massacre of 1,200 Muslims – the first international war crimes sentence since WWII.

30 – Tiny Tim, the eccentric ukulele-playing entertainer, dies at the age of 71.

December

04 – The Mars Pathfinder probe is launched.

05 – Clinton appoints Madeline Albright, US representative to the United Nations, to be his new Secretary of State. She becomes the first woman to hold the post.

09 – UN Secretary General Boutros-Ghali approves a deal allowing Iraq to resume its exports of oil and easing the UN trade embargo imposed in 1990.

16 – Britain’s agriculture minister announces the slaughter of an additional 100,000 cows thought to be at risk of contracting BSE, in an effort to persuade the EU to lift its ban on British beef exports.

18 – The Oakland CA school board passes a resolution to treat black English, or “Ebonics”, as a second language. Controversy predictably ensues.

25 – Crooner Dean Martin dies in Los Angeles.

26 – The body of six-year-old beauty pageant contestant JonBenét Ramsey is found dead in the basement of her Boulder, Colorado, home. Her death is originally thought to be the result of a bungled kidnapping, but when her wealthy parents John and Patsy refuse to cooperate with the investigation, speculation increases that they were somehow involved and that local police have bungled crucial evidence in the case.