1998 News and Interesting History Tidbits

News Stories and Interesting Tidbits of History from 10 Years ago in 1998

Omagh Bombing
A massive car bomb in the market town of Omagh, County Tyrone has left at least 27 dead and more than 100 injured in the worst paramilitary bombing since the start of the Northern Ireland conflict thirty years ago.

A splinter group of the IRA who oppose the current peace negotiations "The Real IRA" who formed after the Provisional IRA declared a cease fire are suspected of planting the bomb.

New English Oxford Dictionary
After more than 6 years a brand new "New Oxford Dictionary" is completed by Oxford University Press . This is the first publication of the dictionary written from scratch ( normally each new edition makes ammendments or additions ). The New Oxford Dictionary contains 350,000 words with contemporary meanings including the usage of words, political correctness.

US Embassies Bombed
The Islamic fundamentalist terrorist organization al-Qaeda ( run by Osama bin Laden ) is believed responsible for the bombings today of two United States Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania where at least 200 people have been killed and more than 5,000 injured . US President Bill Clinton is shocked and has made a statement "We will use all the means at our disposal to bring those responsible to justice,".

13 days later The United States launch cruise missile strikes against al-Qaida training camps in Afghanistan.

Japanese Economy Enters Recession
After nearly 20 years of consistent growth the Japanese economy is now officially in a recession as the latest figures show its economy has shrunk for the first time since 1974. Much of the problem has been caused by the collapse of land and property prices which has left Japanese banks with massive debts. The problems have also shaken consumer confidence as layoffs and unemployment worsens meaning the Japanese consumer is cutting back on spending.
The problems are also spreading to other Asian markets from Korea to Singapore with major currency fluctuations and concerns over the future.

Kosovo Ethnic Cleansing
In a combined show of strength NATO Defense Forces from a number of countries are gathering close to the Serbian province of Kosovo in Albania and Macedonia. At the same time Russian President Boris Yeltsin is meeting with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic hoping to convince him to end his assault on Kosova and end the bloodshed.

The G8 nations which includes Russia, United States, Britain, France, Germany and Italy have issued a list of demands to President Milosevic, which include an end to action against civilians and for refugees to be allowed to return to their homes.

Meanwhile as thousands of refugees have fled to Albania from Kosova an airlift carrying urgent aid including food, medicine, blankets and makeshift shelters are being flown to temporary Refugee camps in Albania.

Clinton Lewinsky
President Clinton acknowledged to a grand jury and the nation that he had an inappropriate relationship with Monica Lewinsky

Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA)
The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) is the largest civil settlement in United States history, covering tobacco related lawsuits against US States.

The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement is extremely complicated and covers a number of areas including:
Tobacco Advertising Restrictions
Education Advertising About Dangers Of Smoking
Reduction Of Second Smoke In Public Places
Costs Of Medicare and Medicare for Tobacco Related Disease
Tobacco Marketing Restrictions

Below are the latest figures for Settlement for each US State to provide funding for agreement, the biggest controversy has been the percentage of settlement used by States for ant-smoking education and advertising

More reading can be found around the net but these are my own favourites

Summary 1 From Joy Johnson Wilson National Conference of State Legislators
Director, AFI Health Committee

Summary 1 From Tobacco Free Kids

Morse Code
With the continued growth of technology Morse Code the series of dots and dashes used by sailors for many decades to send the SOS mayday signal 'dot-dot-dot dash-dash-dash dot-dot-dot' is to be lost as more and more coastguard and listening stations no longer listen for the signal. Morse code has been replaced by satellites, global positioning systems ( GPS ) , and two-way radios

An Idea of How Much Things Cost in 1998
Average Cost of new house $129,300.00

Average Income per year $38,100.00

Cost of a gallon of Gas $1.15

Ford Ranger XLT $14,325

Subaru Outback $22,788

US Postage Stamp 32 cents

1 LB of Bacon $2.53

1 LB Hamburger meat $1.40

Cherries $1.70 per pound

Frozen Peas 97 cents per pound

Loaf of Bread $1.26

Dozen Eggs 88 cents

Men's shirt $14.49

Aiwa CD Player $199.00

Solid Pine Armoire $539.00

Lake Front Home Elyria, Ohio 4 acres 4 bedroom immaculate with boat house $229,000

Internet Search Engine Google history lesson
Sometimes it's only when you look back can you understand how badly things worked which helped force a change.

I was reading an article about how librarians were concerned that much of the information on pages in search results was not only poor but sometimes wrong and in the case of medical information / diagnosis could actually be dangerous . The Year in question was 1998.

Now this was the same year two young men were working on a different way to decide what results should be presented as the most relevant and made a radical change in what pages of information should be given first for a search query.

Prior to them coming up with this very radical idea the pages were ranked according to number of times word was on the page or was used in page title or as a heading,
This was fine but did not help as far as deciding which content was the best only how well the page was designed for Search Engine Placement

This is much of the reason the librarians were shocked at the poor information that was given to the researcher

These two young men were Larry Page and Sergey Brin who later formed the search engine Google

Their Idea was simplicity itself the chances that a page contained good information could be better enhanced by looking at how many other pages had a link to that page and what the description of the link was.

Lets take a real world example there were maybe 50,000 pages ( just a guess ) around about Heart Disease but over a short period of time if the information was good other sites on the Internet would create a link to the best of those pages so instead of only looking at the content of the page which might say heart 100 times and was no good to use you could combine the fact that heart was on the page together with other sites creating a link to that page as an authority on the subject and you have a much better set of results which is the main reason Google took off so quickly to become the worlds most used search engine.

Sydney Harbour to Hobart Yacht Race
Huge 40ft waves during the 630 nautical mile (1167km) race from Sydney Harbour to Hobart on Tasmania has decimated the fleet of yachts taking part leaving at least six missing feared dead .

Japanese Bank Rescue Package
The Japanese finance minister Hikaru Matsunaga announces a rescue package for Japanese Banking Sector many who are facing bankruptcy following the number of bad loans due to the collapse in the property market. It is estimated that Japanese Banks have in excess of $500bn in bad debts. The plan will allow failing banks to be taken over by financial administrators who will attempt to sell the bank or liquidate. Part of the plan ensures that "sound and good-faith" borrowers will be protected.

Tornadoes Florida
Central Florida was hit by fatal tornadoes that had taken 42 people. Seven twisters in all had swept through this area, and quite a bit of damage had occurred in Kissimmee, Orlando, and surrounding areas.

12th World Aids Conference in Geneva
A report prepared by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), says the failure of prevention campaigns in many of the developing nations and the lack of funds and personel to administer the latest breakthroughs in antiretroviral drugs ( like AZT ) means that there is a levelling off or even a decline in the spread of HIV in rich countries and an alarming increase in infection rates in the poorest countries of the world.

James Byrd Jr Dragged To His Death
James Byrd Jr, a 49-year-old African-American man accepts a ride from three drunk men Shawn Allen Berry, Lawrence Russel Brewer, and John William King. Instead of taking him home, the three men beat up him behind a convenience store, tie him to their pickup truck with a chain and drag and kill him by dragging him for three miles.

Viagra Goes On Sale
The FDA approves the drug Viagra produced by Pfizer for use against impotence in men. The drug is an instant hit worldwide and in countries where the drug has not been approved new industries are popping up to find ways to satisfy the need of men hoping to solve impotence including tourism trips to countries who have approved Viagra.

BMW Buys Rolls Royce
The German car maker BMW buys Rolls-Royce cars for $570 million .

Chrysler Corp
Daimler-Benz AG agreed to buy Chrysler Corp. for more than $37 billion.

Lions Threatened By Tuberculosis
The Lion population in Krugar National Park are facing the biggest threat to their existence since they were nearly hunted to extinction by man. They are contracting the disease of Tuberculosis from their natural prey "The Cape Buffalo" who in turn caught it from mingling with domestic cows. Tests show that more than 90% of the lions tested have been found to have TB which kills the lions over a period of years

US Coyote Population Growing
A study done on the Coyote Population in America says they continue to grow in numbers and more are now mating with dogs and wolves. The coyote has been in North America for 2 million years through the Ice Age, the Stone Age and now the human age and adapts well to the human world. The Coyote can run at up to 40MPH and when hunting larger animals form packs.

Sudan Famine
The United Nations World Food Programme has declared an official famine Southern Sudan with estimates as that over 1 million people could die from starvation due to extreme food shortages.

Nigeria Pipeline Explosion
A pipeline explosion in Jesse, Nigeria, kills 700 people with the resulting fire burning for nearly a week. It is believed that the explosion was caused by local towns people tapping into the pipeline to steal oil but because the fire and explosion incinerated every person close by, the reason for the explosion was never fully explained.

Middle School Murders
Mitchell Johnson ( 13 yrs old ) and Andrew Golden ( 11 Years Old ) shoot and kill four fellow students and a teacher and nine other students and a teacher were wounded in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

These boys were in a middle school and had set off the fire alarm and set up in the woods overlooking the school with two semi-automatic rifles, one bolt-action rifle and four handguns.
As the students and teachers came out the two boys fired on them with devastating results

In August 1998, they were both sentenced to prison until they reached the age of 21. Mitchell Johnson was released on August 11, 2005, Andrew Golden was released on May 25, 2007

Since those killings laws regarding murder by young offenders have changed in Arkansas and many other states and young offenders who commit horrendous crimes like these are often charged as adults and imprisoned for life.

Rwanda Mass Trials for 1994 Genocide
Rwanda began mass trials for the country's 1994 genocide of the hundreds of thousands of ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutu sympathizers in Rwanda, the trials had started in 1996 following the change of government but the backlog was so bad that mass trials were instituted. The genocide was perpetuated by Rwanda government leaders working in secret with youth group leaders, forming and arming militias called Interahamwe which were responsible for most of the murders, the Red Cross estimated that 500,000 Rwandans were murdered.

France Win 1998 World Cup
France Win the 1998 World Cup beating Brazil 3-0 in the final France

Three Tenors Concert 1998 World Cup
The worlds most famous three tenors sing at the world cup open-air concert in Paris with a crowd of 100,000 people gathered around the Eiffel Tower. This is the third time the three tenors ( Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti ) have performed at World Cups ( Italy in 1990 and America in 1994 ) and their concert was watched by an estimated two billion people in 75 countries around the world.

Worlds Longest Bridge Completed
The Worlds Longest Suspension Bridge ( as of 2007 ) with a span of 6,529 feet in Akashi, Japan is Completed in 1998

Protesters Indonesia
Heavily armed soldiers marched into Parliament in Jakarta to evict anti-government student protesters who were protesting about the amount of government corruption in Indonesia , this follows weeks of riots against the current administration over corruption and the economy.

Dow Jones Goes Over 9000
The Dow Jones industrial average climbed above 9,000 for the first time.

Going Postal
Former U.S. postal worker Joseph Harris kills two former co workers at the post office in Ridgewood, New Jersey. The night before, Harris had killed his former supervisor, Carol Ott, with a three-foot samurai sword, and shot her fiance, Cornelius Kasten, in their home. His murders were one of many committed by postal workers which resulted in the phrase "going postal" .

Thurston High School Shootings
After shooting and killing his parents the day before student Kipland "Kip" Kinkel a 15-year-old student takes a .22 caliber rifle, a .22 caliber handgun, and a 9mm Glock semi-automatic pistol to Thurston High School in Springfield, Ore., where he murders two classmates, Ben Walker and Mikael Nicklauson, and injured 25 others.

Tara Lipinski Wins Gold Medal
American Tara Lipinski 15 becomes the youngest gold medalist in Winter Olympics history when she won the ladies' figure skating title at Nagano, Japan

President Bill Clinton
President Bill Clinton is called before the House of Representatives for perjury and obstruction of justice..

US Air Strikes On Iraq
President Bill Clinton orders a series of air strikes against Iraq by American and British forces in response to Saddam Hussein's continued defiance of UN weapons inspectors.

Ski Lift Accident Italy
A U.S. Marine Jet crashed into a ski lift in the town of Cavalese located in the Italian Alps, about 20 miles from Trento, Italy. A team of 20 people had crashed to the ground and 20 people had been killed as a result.

Pakistan Nuclear Power
Pakistan detonates 5 nuclear explosions in retaliation for similar nuclear tests by their neighbours, India.
Pakistan successfully test a medium-range missile capable of delivering nuclear warheads on neighboring India.
Pakistan has the seventh largest armed forces in the world and is in constant conflict over the region of Kashmir with it's neighbor India.
Both countries have developed nuclear weapons and Medium Range Missiles would allow them to destroy each other. They have been in armed conflict 4 times in the last 60 years.

General Augusto Pinochet
When 83-year-old General Augusto Pinochet visited Britain for surgery, the British government gave in to a Spanish magistrate who wanted him tried for genocide, torture, and killings. Relations between Chile and Great Britain are strained because of this.

Algeria Massacre
Islamic extremists attack two villages in Algeria massacre 400 the local villagers bombing the local mosque and cinema and then rounding up survivors and hacking them to death.

Microsoft Anti-Trust Case
The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and twenty U.S. states file a case that alleged that Microsoft Corp. abused it's monopoly power in its handling of operating system sales and web browser sales.
The case revolved around Microsoft should be allowed to bundle its flagship Internet Explorer (IE) web browser software with its Microsoft Windows operating system.

Northern Ireland Peace Accord Signed
After 30 yrs of violence in Ireland the Peace Accord ( called the Good Friday Agreement ) is signed after 30 years of bitter rivalries and bloody attacks and can be considered a triumph for British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Republic of Ireland's leader, Bertie Ahern, who have succeeded where all other attempts have failed

1997 Previous Year ---- ( Current Year Is 1998 ) ---- Following Year 1999

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