Timeline: 1996

Jan 22  Pursuing his Whitewater investigation, Kenneth Starr subpoenas Hillary Clinton to determine whether she intentionally withheld subpoenaed billing records from the Rose Law Firm. This is the first time a wife of a sitting president has been subpoenaed. Shortly before Bill Clinton's election in 1992, the Clintons sold their interest in the Whitewater property in Arkansas to Jim McDougal for $1,000.

Jan 23  In his State of the Union Speech, President Clinton declares that "We have the lowest combined rates of unemployment and inflation in 27 years." He says that "The era of big government is over. But we cannot go back to the time when our citizens were left to fend for themselves."

Jan 29  In France, President Jacques Chirac declares a "definitive end" to France's nuclear testing.

Feb 8  The Irish Republican Army (IRA) is unhappy about its political wing, or party, Sinn Féin, not being included in settlement talks with Britian. A 17-month ceasefire ends with an IRA one-ton bomb explosion in London's Canary Wharf District, killing 2, injuring 39 and collapsing a six-story building.

Feb 13  The Communist Party of Nepal declares a "People's War."

Feb 15  In China, after lift-off, a satellite rocket crashes into a rural village. Deaths will be reported to number 500.

Feb 23  Saddam Hussein's brother-in-law, Hussein Kamel, has been lured back to Iraq from his defection to Jordan, where he cooperated with UN weapons inspectors. Saddam Hussein assured him that all would be forgiven. Kamel, his brother, father, sister and her children are murdered by Saddam's agents.

Mar 9  In Portugal, Jorge Sampaio, an agnostic socialist elected in January, takes office as president.

Mar 13  In Scotland an unemployed shopkeeper, Thomas Hamilton, walks into a grammar (primary) school, kills sixteen students and one teacher and then himself.

Mar 19  The city of Sarajevo is united again when city authorities take control of the last district held by Serbs.

Mar 23  Taiwan holds its first direct elections for president. A native Taiwanese, Lee Teng-hui, wins 54 percent of the vote and remains president.

Apr 3  The Whitewater trial is underway. Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr has as a witness a former Arkansas judge, who has been sentenced to 28 months in prison and has been promised leniency for testifying against Jim and Susan McDougal, former friends of Bill and Hillary Clinton and the Arkansas governor, Jim Tucker, a democrat.

Apr 3  At a cabin in rural Montana, the FBI arrests the "Unabomber" Theodore Kaczynski. He has killed and injured people to publicize the erosion of human freedom that he claims has resulted from modern technology and large-scale organization.

Apr 10  President Clinton vetoes a bill that would have banned partial-birth abortion.

Apr 18  Amid heavy fighting in Lebanon between Israeli forces and Hezbollah, Israeli shelling kills more than 100 civilians, to be called the Qana Massacre. Israeli, UN and US officials accuse Hezbollah of using civilian refugees as human shields by opening fire from positions near the UN compound.

May 12  The UN has reported that with economic sanctions against Iraq, the deaths of Iraqi children has increased five-fold. Protests against the sanctions have increased. In a 1996 interview with 60 Minutes, UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright accuses Hussein of building 48 presidential palaces since the Gulf War, at a cost of $1.5 billion, and she speaks of Iraq importing goods such as "Italian marble, videos, perfume, leather jackets," rather than food and medicine. She dislikes people being duped by Saddam Hussein and blaming the United States and sanctions.

May 18  The US and Saudi Arabia have pressured Sudan to expel Osama bin Laden. He returns to Afghanistan, with his wives, children and followers.

May 20  Saddam Hussein accepts the UN's offer of food in exchange for his selling oil on the world market, a modification of the economic sanctions in place against Iraq.

May 20  The US Supreme Court rules that the state of Colorado cannot prevent a city, town or county from taking legislative, executive or judicial action to protect the rights of homosexuals.

May 23  Göran Kropp of Sweden reaches the Mount Everest summit alone without bottled oxygen or Sherpa support.

May 27  President Boris Yeltsin negotiates a ceasefire to the war that has been raging between Russians and Chechnyan rebels for seventeen months. A power sharing plan defines Chechnya as a sovereign state within the Russian Federation, giving Chechnya control over its finances and resources.

May 28  In the Whitewater case, David Hale has given false testimony. Jim and Susan McDougal (divorced in 1990) and Governor Tucker are found guilty and face prison terms for defrauding $3 million from two federally-backed financial institutions. Susan McDougal is to describe as false her former husband's testimony associating her with the alleged illegal transaction.

May 31  Israeli voters choose Likkud Party leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, as prime minister – the first time an Israeli prime minister is elected directly by the public rather than by the Knesset (parliament).

Aug 28  In Britain, Prince Charles and Princess Diana formally divorce at the High Court of Justice.

Aug 31  Three divisions of Iraqi troops seize the Kurdish town of Arbil (or Irbil) near the border with Turkey, driving out hostile Kurdish troops. They hand it over to those Kurds allied with them: the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP).

Sep 3  In response to the Iraqi army entering a forbidden part of Iraq, the US launches Operation Desert Strike: coordinated cruise missile attacks against Iraqi air defense infrastructure. The operation will last a few weeks.

Jun 10  Peace talks begin in Northern Ireland without Sinn Féin.

Jun 11  A convoy of Chechen rebel leaders is blasted by remote control bombs while returning from negotiations with the Russians.

Jun 12  In the US, a panel of federal judges blocks a law against indecency on the internet. The panel claims that the law would infringe upon the free speech rights of adults.

Jun 13  In the state of Montana an 81-day long standoff between paramilitary anti-government "Freemen" and a federal government force ends. The group surrenders, foregoing their "oath to God" not to leave their compound without their demands having been met.

Jun 15  An IRA bomb in a busy shopping area in Manchester, England, injures 200 people.

Jun 25  In Khobar, Saudi Arabia, terrorists explode a bomb aimed at killing foreign military personnel including members of the US Airforce in an eight-story housing complex. Alert security guards save many lives. Nineteen US servicemen and one Saudi are killed and 372 of many nationalities are wounded. The blast is felt 20 miles away. Claiming responsibility is Hezbollah Al-Hijaz (Party of God in the Hijaz).

Jul 3  In Russia, Boris Yeltsin wins 55 percent of the popular vote. His Communist opponent, Gennadi Zyuganov, wins 40 percent. Yeltsin becomes the first democratically elected head of state in Russia's 1,000-year history.

Jul 5  The first successfully cloned mammal, Dolly the sheep, is born at the Roslin Institute in Midlothian, Scotland.

Aug 6  Chechen separatist, Shamil Basayev, leads 1,500 men and boys into the Chechen capital, Grozny, where the Russian army has had control since January, 1995.

Aug 15  The Republican Party nominates Bob Dole as their candidate for president.

Aug 15  Jim McDougal has turned against his former friend Bill Clinton and begins cooperating with Whitewater prosecutors. His sentencing date is delayed. He has told Susan McDougal that she should cooperate with Kenneth Starr at the expense of the Clintons. "The Clintons," Jim has told her, "have done nothing for us." "If you'll just have sex with Bill Clinton," he tells Susan, "they'll give you anything you want."

Aug 19  At the Whitewater sentencing hearing, Governor Jim Tucker receives a sentence of two years house arrest. Susan McDougal, who had been described in court as only a minor player in the Whitewater criminal transaction, is sentenced to two years in federal prison. She is allowed forty days to get her affairs in order. An FBI agent hands her a subpoena to appear in two weeks before another Whitewater grand jury investigation concerning the Clintons.

Aug 19  Chechen separatists have routed the Russian army from Grozny.

Aug 20  In the US, the Green Party nominates Ralph Nader as its candidate for president. Nader tells the group that corporate America will be the target of his campaign and that he does not expect to win. "What we are doing," he says, "is building for the future."

Aug 22  Russia's General Aleksandr Lebed signs a cease fire agreement with the Chechen separatist leader Ashlan Maskhadov.

Aug 23  Osama bin Laden issues his "Declaration of Jihad" on Americans, what he calls the "Zionist-Crusaders alliance."

susan McDougal

Susan McDougal

Aug 28  In Britain, Prince Charles and Princess Diana formally divorce at the High Court of Justice.

Aug 31  Three divisions of Iraqi troops seize the Kurdish town of Arbil (or Irbil) near the border with Turkey, driving out hostile Kurdish troops. They hand it over to those Kurds allied with them: the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP).

Sep 3  In response to the Iraqi army entering a forbidden part of Iraq, the US launches Operation Desert Strike: coordinated cruise missile attacks against Iraqi air defense infrastructure. The operation will last a few weeks.

Sep 4  In Columbia, a guerrilla movement initiated by the Columbian Communist Party is still active. It broke with the Communist Party after becoming involved in the drug trade in the 1980s, but it still calls itself Marxist-Leninist. Its official name is the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. It attacks a military base, starting three weeks of fighting which will kill at least 130.

Sep 9  Susan McDougal goes to jail for contempt of court rather than testify in front of a grand jury. She did not trust Kenneth Starr and was afraid of being falsely convicted of perjury for contradicting someone's testimony. She is to spend the maximum possible sentence for civil contempt: 18 months. Eight months of it will be spent in solitary confinement, and she will be subjected to the annoying prosecutorial tactic of being transferred from jail to jail to jail.

Sep 12  The Taliban take control in Jalalabad. They now control 70 percent of Afghanistan.

Sep 24  At the UN, President Bill Clinton signs the Comprehensive Nuclear- Test-Ban Treaty. The treaty bans all nuclear explosions in all environments, for military or civilian purposes. It is signed by 71 countries and requires both signatures and ratification by legislatures, in the US by the Senate, presently dominated by Republicans.

Sep 25  In Ireland, the last of the Magdalen Asylums is closed. These were places for women that the Roman Catholic Church considered "fallen."

Sep 27  The Taliban take control of the city of Kabul.

Nov 5  Pakistan's President, Farooq Leghari, removes Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto from office, describing her administration as incompetent, corrupt and defiant of constitutional restraints on executive power. Bhutto's husband, Asif Ali Zardari, has been accused of enriching himself from government contract kickbacks and is reported arrested while trying to flee the country.

Nov 5  President Clinton wins 49 percent of the vote to 41 for Dole and 8 percent for Ross Perot. Ralph Nader is fourth with 0.7 percent. The Prohibition Party candidate receives 1,293 votes. The Democrats gain 8 seats in the House of Representatives, which leaves them in the minority: 228 to 206. The Republicans pick up two seats in the Senate, where they remain the majority party.

Nov 7  New York Senator Alfonse D'Amato has been spearheading a Special Senate Whitewater Committee investigation, which issued a report critical of the Clintons. In New York, President Clinton won 59 percent of the vote, and exit polling indicated only a 34 percent approval rating for D'Amato. D'Amato will be up for re-election in 1998. He announces that he will not revive any Senate probes into the Whitewater affair.

Nov 14  Jeri Laber's "The Making of the Taliban" appears in the New York Review of Books. Laber writes of their orgins as orphans of the 1980s war in Afghanistan, taken to Pakistan and schooled in madrasahs, where they learned a strict interpretation of Sharia law.

Dec 25  Candidates opposed to President Milosevic won elections in 13 Serbian cities in November, but President Milosevic has refused to acknowledge their victory. In response, Belgrade has had large protest demonstrations. Violence erupts as Milosevic supporters are bussed into town from outside Belgrade.

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