Home Decades 1990s 1996

1996

19 July. Muhammad Ali lights the flame that opens the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia.

January

02 – US peacekeepers pour into Bosnia to keep the peace between Bosnian Serbs and Muslims, following the signing of the Dayton peace plan last month.

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 country’s eastern side, causing more than 100 deaths.

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

10 – King Hussein of Jordan makes his first public visit to Israel’s largest city, Tel Aviv, in the latest indication of the new warmth between the two countries.

16 – Jamaican authorities open fire on Jimmy Buffet’s seaplane, 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.

22 – Andreas Papandreou, Prime Minister of Greece, resigns due to health problems. A new government forms under Costas Simitis.

26 – US First Lady Hillary Clinton testifies before a grand jury about the Whitewater scandal.

29 – French President Jacques Chirac says France will no longer test nuclear weapons.

31 – 91 people are killed and another 1,400 injured in a Tamil Tiger suicide attack in the capital of Sri Lanka when an explosives-filled truck rams into the gates of the Central Bank in Colombo.


February

02 – American actor and dancer Gene Kelly dies, aged 83.

05 – The first genetically modified, or GM, food goes on sale in British supermarkets.

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

9 February. The aftermath of the IRA bomb at Canary Wharf, London.

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 – the first computer to win a chess game against a reigning world champion – Kasparov wins the overall match.

14 – Violent clashes erupt between Filipino soldiers and Vietnamese boat people, as the Filipino government attempts to forcibly repatriate hundreds of Vietnamese asylum seekers.

15 – In south-west Wales, the oil tanker Sea Empress runs aground, spilling 73,000 tonnes of crude oil, killing many birds.

16 – A Chicago-bound Amtrak train, the Capitol Limited, collides with a MARC commuter train bound for Washington DC, killing 11 people.

18 – IRA bomber Edward O’Brien is killed, and eight are hurt after a bomb explodes on a double-decker bus in the heart of London’s West End. O’Brien is blown up and killed by his own device when it accidentally detonates.

19 – Jarvis Cocker of Pulp invades the stage at the BRIT Awards ceremony in London during Michael Jackson‘s messianic performance of Earth Song and performs a parody of Jackson’s act. Cocker waggles his rear at the crowd, pretending to break wind.

24 – Cuban fighter jets shoot down two American aircraft belonging to the Cuban exile group Brothers to the Rescue. Cuban officials assert that they invaded Cuban airspace.

25 – Two suicide bombs in Israel kill 25 and injure 80. Hamas claims responsibility.


March

02 – Australian Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating loses to Liberal leader John Howard in federal elections.

03 – José María Aznar, leader of the Popular Party, is elected as Prime Minister of Spain, replacing Felipe González.

06 – Chechen rebels attack the Russian government headquarters in Grozny. 70 Russian soldiers and policemen and 130 Chechen fighters are killed.

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

12 – The Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act – better known as the Helms-Burton Act – is signed into law by President Clinton. The act attempts to restrict trade with Cuba by other nations.

13 – Former scout leader Thomas Watt Hamilton enters a primary 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 – Robert Mugabe is re-elected as President of Zimbabwe, although only 32% of the electorate actually vote.

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.

17 – Sri Lanka wins the Cricket World Cup by beating Australia.

18 – A fire in the Ozone Disco Club in Quezon City, Philippines kills 163 people.

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

19Nelson Mandela is granted a divorce from Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

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.

22 – Sweden’s Finance Minister Göran Persson becomes the new Prime Minister of Sweden.

28 – Three British soldiers are found guilty of the manslaughter of Danish tour guide Louise Jensen in Cyprus. Allan Ford, Justin Fowler and Geoffrey Pernell receive life sentences for her rape and murder in September 1994.


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.

3 April. The arrest of Unabomber Theodore J Kaczynski.

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

03 – Massacres of Hutus by Tutsis in Burundi occur, with more than 450 killed within a few days.

04 Wilson Pickett is arrested for cocaine possession while out on probation.

09 – The European Union officially recognises the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

11 – Israeli planes and helicopters launch airstrikes against targets in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, for the first time in nearly 14 years – codenamed “Operation Grapes of Wrath”. At least five people are killed and several wounded in the attacks on the Syrian-controlled Beka’a Valley.

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

18 – Over 100 Lebanese civilians are killed after Israel shells the United Nations compound in Qana.

18 – Gunmen kill Seventeen Greek tourists and an Egyptian tour guide in Cairo. Another 15 are injured, three critically when the attackers open fire on a group outside the Europa Hotel. The Islamic group, al-Gamaa al-Islamiya, admits it was behind the attack in reaction to the Qana Massacre.

18 Chic bass player and songwriter Bernard Edwards dies from pneumonia in a Tokyo hotel room during a Japanese tour. He is 43.

21 – A general election in Italy proclaims a new centre-left government headed by Romano Prodi, replacing Silvio Berlusconi.

24 – The PLO changes its charter to omit the commitment to destroying Israel. The Israeli government responds by dropping a similar clause concerning the existence of Palestine.

28 – Martin Bryant shoots dead 32 people in the tourist town of Port Arthur in Tasmania (Australia). Bryant is captured after a 16-hour siege in which he kills a further three people. He is found guilty of murder in November 1996 and sentenced to life imprisonment with no possibility of parole.


May

09 – South Africa’s National Party pulls out of the coalition government formed two years earlier, and the African National Congress assumes full political control.

10 – A sudden storm engulfs Mount Everest with several climbing teams high on the mountain, leaving eight people dead. By the end of the month, at least four other climbers die in the worst season of fatalities on the mountain to date.

10 – The Australian government introduces a nationwide ban on the private possession of automatic and semi-automatic rifles in response to the Port Arthur massacre on 28 April.

11 – An Atlanta-bound ValuJet Douglas DC-9 crashes in the Florida Everglades shortly after takeoff from Miami. All 110 people on board are killed. Investigations rule that a fire started by improperly handled oxygen canisters in the cargo hold caused the crash.

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.

20 Doctor Who and Worzel Gummidge actor Jon Pertwee dies in his sleep from a heart attack aged 76

21 – The MV Bukoba sinks in Tanzanian waters in Lake Victoria, killing nearly 1,000 people in one of Africa’s worst maritime disasters.

23 – Göran Kropp reaches the Mount Everest summit alone without oxygen after having cycled there from Sweden.

28 – Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode dies in the Sunset Marquis, Los Angeles, after overdosing on a ‘speedball’ of heroin and cocaine. Miraculously, he is revived by paramedics after his heart has stopped for several minutes.


June

04 – The European space rocket Ariane 5 explodes forty seconds after takeoff in French Guiana. The project costs European governments $7,500,000,000 over eleven years.

07 – An IRA gang kills Detective Garda Jerry McCabe during a botched armed robbery in Adare, County Limerick.

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.

15 – The IRA detonates a 1,500-kilogram (3,300 lb) lorry bomb on Corporation Street in the centre of Manchester, England. It is the biggest bomb detonated in Britain since the Second World War. More than 200 people are injured, but there are no fatalities.

15 June. The aftermath of the IRA bomb in Manchester, England.

15 – First Lady of Song Ella Fitzgerald dies in her Beverly Hills home from a stroke aged 79.

23 – Archbishop Desmond Tutu is given an official farewell at his retirement service.

23 – The Nintendo 64 is released, along with its most popular title Super Mario 64.

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

29 – The Prince’s Trust concert is held in Hyde Park, London, and is attended by 150,000 people. The Who headlines the event in their first performance since 1989.


July

01 – Actress Margaux Hemingway takes her own life in her apartment in Santa Monica, California, aged 42. Four other family members have previously taken their own lives, including her famous grandfather, writer Ernest Hemingway.

03 Boris Yeltsin is re-elected as President of Russia after a second round of elections.

05 – Dolly the sheep, the first mammal to be successfully cloned from an adult cell, is born at the Roslin Institute in Midlothian, Scotland, UK. Dolly was put down in 2003 when it was found she had a fatal lung disease.

Dolly the cloned sheep.

08 – Three young children and four adults are attacked by a man with a machete at an infant school in Wolverhampton. Horrett Irving Campbell, 33, is found guilty and sent to a secure mental hospital for an indefinite period, suffering from severe schizophrenia.

16 – An outbreak of E. coli food poisoning in Japan results in 6,000 children being ill, including two deaths, after a group of school children eat contaminated lunches.

17 – A Paris-bound TWA Boeing 747 explodes off the coast of Long Island shortly after takeoff 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.

17 – Chas Chandler (bassist with The Animals and manager of Jimi Hendrix and Slade) dies at North Tyneside General Hospital in Newcastle, UK, after suffering a heart attack.

19Muhammad Ali – displaying the typical shaking symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease – lights the flame that opens the XXVI Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. There’s barely a dry eye in the stadium.

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.

28 – The remains of a man who lived 8,000 to 9,000 years ago are discovered in Kennewick, Washington and are named Kennewick Man.

31 The Sex Pistols play their first US date in over 18 years, at Red Rocks, Denver – their first of 21 gigs in the US and Canada on their ‘Filthy Lucre Tour’.


August

01 MTV launches M2 which is intended to screen non-stop music video, without interruptions for news, game shows, documentaries and the like.

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

06 The Ramones play their final live show together, in Los Angeles. Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam and Lemmy of Motörhead join them for guest slots.

07 – Bowing to public pressure in the wake of child-sex allegations against Michael Jackson, Hyundai pulls its sponsorship from his upcoming concerts in Seoul, South Korea.

09Boris Yeltsin is sworn in at the Kremlin for a second term as President of Russia.

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.

16 – After a 3-year-old boy falls into the 20-foot (6.1 m) deep gorilla enclosure at Brookfield Zoo, Chicago, a female lowland gorilla called Binti Jua sits with the injured boy until his rescue.

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

21 – Former State President of South Africa, FW de Klerk, makes an official apology for crimes committed under Apartheid to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Cape Town.

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

28 August. Divorce of Princess Diana and Prince Charles.

29 – A Russian Tupolev 154 jetliner crashes into a mountain as it approaches the airport at Spitsbergen, Norway, killing all 141 people on board.

30 – The attempted raising of a 15-tonne section of the RMS Titanic fails, as 1,700 spectators, including survivors of the wreckage, watch.

31 – Iraqi forces launch an offensive into the northern No-Fly Zone and capture Arbil.


September

03 – The United States launches ‘Operation Desert Strike’ against Iraq in reaction to the attack on Arbil.

07 – 25-year-old American rapper Tupac Shakur is shot in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas following a feud between East and West coast gangs and rappers. He is placed on life support but dies on 13 September at the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada. New York rapper Notorious B.I.G. is shot dead in a revenge attack six months later.

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

12 – Ricardo López sends a package containing an acid bomb to Icelandic singer Björk intending to kill or disfigure her and then kills himself. The package is intercepted by Scotland Yard four days later, before doing any harm.

18 – A North Korean Sang-O-class submarine runs aground in South Korea. The crew are described as spies by the South Korean government and killed by the South Korean military.

20 – Leader of Pakistani opposition party Pakistan Peoples Party Murtaza Bhutto is killed during a gunfight with police.

21 – John Gillis and Megan White, later to find fame as The White Stripes, are married in the county of Oakland, Michigan. They will divorce in less than three years’ time and throughout, bizarrely, they claim to be brother and sister.

24 – The world’s major powers sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) 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 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

02 – Former Prime Minister of Bulgaria, Andrey Lukanov, is assassinated.

06 – The government of New Zealand agrees to pay $130 million worth of compensation for the loss of land suffered by the Māori population between the years of 1844 and 1864.

08 – IRA terrorists plant bombs at a heavily secured British army base south-west of Belfast: 31 soldiers and civilians are injured.

08 – Demolition workers tear down the former home of mass murderers Fred and Rosemary West.

14Madonna 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.

26 – The New York Yankees win the World Series for the first time since 1978, defeating the Atlanta Braves 3–2 to win the series in six games.

29 – An auction is held to sell artwork stolen by the Nazis during the German occupation of Austria during World War II.


November

05Bill 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.

05 – President Farooq Leghari dismisses Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s government after widespread allegations of corruption.

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.

07 – NASA launches the Mars Global Surveyor.

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.

11 – 13 are killed and 70 wounded in a bomb blast in a Moscow cemetery during a service for veterans of the Afghanistan war.

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.

14 November. Marriage of Michael Jackson and Debbie Rowe in Sydney, Australia.

16 – Mother Teresa receives honorary US citizenship.

18 – A fire in the Channel Tunnel causes two injuries, and one tunnel is closed for seven months for repairs.

19Space Shuttle Columbia conducts the longest mission of the Space Shuttle program.

19 – Martin Bryant is sentenced to 35 consecutive sentences of life imprisonment plus 1,035 years without parole for murdering 35 people in a shooting spree in Tasmania earlier this year.

23 – A hijacked Ethiopian passenger jet crashes into the Indian Ocean just 500 metres from land in the Comoro Islands after running out of fuel. 125 people are killed in the crash.

24 – Neil Finn quits Crowded House after a farewell gig at Sydney Opera House, Australia, attended by over 200,000 fans.

26 – The Sands Hotel in Las Vegas is imploded to make way for the Venetian Hotel.

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

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


December

04 – The Mars Pathfinder probe is launched.

04 – After being described by a judge as “devious, truculent and unreliable”, Morrissey is ordered by a UK court to pay a £1 million share of profits to The Smiths‘ ex-drummer Mike Joyce. Morrissey will later comment, “I wish the very very worst for Joyce for the rest of his life”.

05 – The Wall Street Journal reports that, in a ground-breaking move for a rock artist, David Bowie is planning to sell his own $50 million asset-backed bond issue within the next few months.

09 – Horrett Campbell, 33, a paranoid schizophrenic who attacked three children and four women with a machete at an infant school teddy bears’ picnic in July this year is found guilty of seven counts of attempted murder and jailed for life.

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.

11 – South African President Nelson Mandela signs the country’s new constitution.

16 – Britain’s agriculture minister announces the slaughter of an additional 100,000 cows thought to be at risk of contracting BSE 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.

20 – Steve Jobs’ company NeXT is bought by Apple Computer, the company co-founded by Jobs.

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 local police have bungled crucial evidence in the case.


Also this year . . .

  • International Year for the Eradication of Poverty