News from the 90s. Here we take a look at the ten biggest news stories from the decade.
1990 Nelson Mandela was released from prison on the 11th February 1990. Mandela held Winnie’s hand in front of amassed crowds and press; the event was broadcast live across the world. Driven to Cape Town’s City Hall through huge crowds, he gave a speech declaring his commitment to peace and reconciliation with the white minority, but made it clear that the ANC’s armed struggle was not over, and would continue as “a purely defensive action against the violence of apartheid.” He expressed hope that the government would agree to negotiations, so that “there may no longer be the need for the armed struggle”, and insisted that his main focus was to bring peace to the black majority and give them the right to vote in national and local elections. Staying at the home of Desmond Tutu, in the following days Mandela met with friends, activists, and press, giving a speech to an estimated 100,000 people at Johannesburg’s football stadium.
1991 The first major foreign crisis for the United States after the end of the Cold War presented itself in August 1990. Saddam Hussein, the dictator of Iraq, ordered his army across the border into tiny Kuwait. This was no ordinary act of aggression. Iraq’s army was well equipped. The United States had provided massive military aid to Iraq during their eight-year war with Iran, giving them the fourth largest army in the world. January 15 came and went with no response from the Iraqis. The next night Desert Shield became Desert Storm. Bombing sorties pummeled Iraq’s military targets for the next several weeks. On many days there were over 2500 such missions.
On February 24, the ground war began. Although the bombing lasted for weeks, American ground troops declared Kuwait liberated just 100 hours after the ground attack was initiated. American foot soldiers moved through Kuwait and entered southern Iraq. This posed a dilemma for the United States. The military objectives were complete, but Saddam, the perpetrator of the rape of Kuwait, was still ruling Iraq from Baghdad. President Bush feared that the allies would not support the occupation of Baghdad. Concerns were raised that if Saddam’s regime were toppled, the entire nation could disintegrate into a civil war. Soon Iraq agreed to terms for a ceasefire, and the conflict subsided.
1992 The 1992 Los Angeles riots, also known as the Rodney King riots, were a series of riots, lootings, arsons, and civil disturbance that occurred in Los Angeles County, California, in 1992, following the acquittal of police officers on trial regarding a videotaped and widely covered police brutality incident. They were the largest riots seen in the United States since the Detroit Riot of 1967, the largest in Los Angeles since the Watts Riot of 1965, and the worst in terms of death toll after the New York City draft riots of 1863.
The riot started in South Central Los Angeles and then spread out into other areas over a six-day period within the Los Angeles metropolitan area in California, beginning in April 1992. The riots started on April 29 after a trial jury acquitted four officers of the Los Angeles Police Department of the use of excessive force. The mostly white officers were videotaped beating Rodney King following a high-speed police pursuit of King. Thousands of people throughout the metropolitan area in Los Angeles rioted over six days following the announcement of the verdict.
1993 The Waco siege was a siege of a compound belonging to the religious group Branch Davidians by American federal and Texas state law enforcement and US military between February 28 and April 19, 1993. The Branch Davidians, a sect that separated in 1955 from the Seventh-day Adventist Church, was led by David Koresh and lived at ranch in the community of Elk, Texas nine miles (14 kilometers) east-northeast of Waco. The group was suspected of weapons violations and a search and arrest warrant was obtained by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
1994 The Channel Tunnel, often called the Chunnel, is a railway tunnel that lies underneath the water of the English Channel and connects the island of Great Britain with mainland France. The Channel Tunnel, completed in 1994, is considered one of the most amazing engineering feats of the 20th century.
In 1984, French president Francois Mitterrand and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher jointly agreed that a link across the English Channel would be mutually beneficial. However, both governments realized that although the project would create much needed jobs, neither country’s government could fund such a massive project. Thus, they decided to hold a contest.
Ten proposals were submitted, including various tunnels and bridges. Some of the proposals were so outlandish in design that they were easily dismissed; others would be so expensive that they were unlikely to ever be completed. The proposal that was accepted was the plan for the Channel Tunnel, submitted by the Balfour Beatty Construction Company (this later became Transmanche Link). The Tunnel was completed and opened in 1994.
1995 On November 4, 1995, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was shot and killed by Jewish radical Yigal Amir at the end of a peace rally in Tel Aviv. Yitzhak Rabin was the prime minister of Israel from 1974 to 1977 and again from 1992 until his death in 1995. For 26 years, Rabin had been a member of the Palmach (part of the Jewish underground army before Israel became a state) and the IDF (the Israeli army) and had risen up the ranks to become the IDF’s Chief of Staff.
After retiring from the IDF in 1968, Rabin was appointed the Israeli Ambassador to the United States. Once back in Israel in 1973, Rabin became active in the Labor Party and became the fifth prime minister of Israel in 1974.
During his second term as Israel’s prime minister, Rabin worked on the Oslo Accords. Debated in Oslo, Norway but officially signed in Washington D.C. on September 13, 1993, the Oslo Accords were the first time that Israeli and Palestinian leaders were able to sit down together and work toward a real peace. These negotiations were to be the first step in creating a separate Palestinian state.
Although the Oslo Accords won Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize, the stipulations of the Oslo Accords were extremely unpopular with many Israelis. One such Israeli was Yigal Amir.
1996 In the US presidential election was held on Tuesday, November 5, 1996. The contest was between the Democratic national ticket of President Bill Clinton from Arkansas and Vice President Al Gore from Tennessee and the Republican national ticket of former Senator Bob Dole of Kansas for President and former Housing Secretary Jack Kemp from New York for Vice President. Businessman Ross Perot ran as candidate for the Reform Party with economist Pat Choate as his running mate; Turnout was registered at 49.0%, the lowest for a presidential election since 1924.
President Clinton’s chances of winning were initially considered slim in the middle of his term as his party had lost both the House and the Senate in 1994 for the first time in decades; he had reneged on promises to cut taxes in order to reduce the deficit, enacted a Federal assault weapons ban, and had a failed healthcare reform initiative. He was able to regain ground as the economy began to recover from the early 1990s recession with a relatively stable world stage. He went on to win re-election with a substantial margin in the popular vote and electoral college. Despite Dole’s defeat, the Republican Party was able to maintain a majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
1997 On 31 August 1997, Diana, Princess of Wales died as a result of injuries sustained in a car crash in the Pont de l’Alma road tunnel in Paris, France. Her friend, Dodi Fayed, and the driver of the Mercedes-Benz W140, Henri Paul, were pronounced dead at the scene; the bodyguard of Diana and Dodi, Trevor Rees-Jones, was the only survivor.
Although the media blamed the paparazzi following the car, an 18-month French judicial investigation found that the crash was caused by Paul, who lost control of the car at high speed while drunk. Paul was the deputy head of security at the Hôtel Ritz and had earlier goaded the paparazzi waiting outside the hotel. His inebriation may have been exacerbated by anti-depressants and traces of a tranquilizing anti-psychotic in his body. The investigation concluded that the photographers were not near the Mercedes when it crashed.
1998 Sildenafil, sold as and other trade names, is a medication used to treat erectile dysfunction and pulmonary arterial hypertension. Its effectiveness for treating sexual dysfunction in women has not been demonstrated. Common side effects include headaches and heart burn, as well as flushed skin. Caution is advised in those who have cardiovascular disease. Rare but serious side effects include prolonged erections, which can lead to damage to the penis, and sudden-onset hearing loss. Sildenafil should not be taken by people who take nitrates such as nitroglycerin, as this may result in a severe and potentially fatal drop in blood pressure.
It acts by inhibiting cGMP-specific phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5), an enzyme that promotes degradation of cGMP, which regulates blood flow in the penis. It was originally discovered by Pfizer scientists Andrew Bell, David Brown, and Nicholas Terrett Since becoming available in 1998, sildenafil has been a common treatment for erectile dysfunction; its primary competitors are tadalafil (Cialis) and vardenafil (Levitra).
1999 The euro is the single currency shared by 19 of the European Union’s Member States, which together make up the euro area. The introduction of the euro in 1999 was a major step in European integration. It has also been one of its major successes: more than 337.5 million EU citizens in 19 countries now use it as their currency and enjoy its benefits.
The euro is not the currency of all EU Member States. Two countries (Denmark and the United Kingdom) have ‘opt-out’ clauses in the Treaty exempting them from participation, while the remainder (several of the more recently acceded EU members plus Sweden) have yet to meet the conditions for adopting the single currency.