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Voice of America, 99-09-14

Voice of America: Selected Articles Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Voice of America <gopher://>





    INTRO: Greece's deputy foreign minister was killed late Tuesday after the plane he was traveling in suddenly lost altitude. As Stefan Bos reports from Budapest, the incident happened shortly before the plane was scheduled to land in the Romanian capital.

    TEXT: The Greece Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis was on his way to the Romanian capital Bucharest for a meeting of Balkan countries, when the governmental plane suddenly lost altitude. Greek Officials confirmed late Tuesday that the French made Falcon executive jet he was traveling dropped from about seven-thousand-meters to about one- thousand-meters killing Mister Kranidiotis and five other passengers, including two journalists. The pilot was reported to be alive, and somehow managed to land the plane in Bucharest from where wounded survivors were rushed to hospitals. Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis said that the death of the Minister has shaken his country. Mr. Kranidiotis was one of the architects of a recently launched dialogue between Greece and Turkey aimed at improving relations between the arch rivals. (Signed)
    NEB/SB/TVM-T/PT 14-Sep-1999 19:22 PM LOC (14-Sep-1999 2322 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is again warning Kosovo Albanians they must do more to end corruption and revenge attacks against minority Serbs. Correspondent Nick Simeone reports she spoke to a conference of Kosovar Albanian leaders (Tuesday) in Washington.

    TEXT: Secretary Albright is widely considered to be the driving force behind NATO efforts to protect Kosovar Albanians from Serb aggression. But she warns revenge, corruption, and criminality will end up hurting Kosovo's cause in the eyes of the international community.

    // ALBRIGHT ACT //

    And you must do everything you can to prevent the killing, terrorizing, and expulsion of Serbs and other minorities. Acts of terror harm your own interests. They discourage international humanitarian support and investment. They give aid and comfort to your enemies. They are seen by some to validate Milosevic's claim that Serbs cannot be safe where ethnic Albanians have power.

    // END ACT //

    And she also reminds the Kosovo Liberation Army of its commitment to fully disarm by Sunday. (SIGNED)
    NEB/NJS/LTD/RAE 14-Sep-1999 11:42 AM LOC (14-Sep-1999 1542 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: A Serbian mayor has appealed to NATO member states to help his country clean up an environmental mess left by the recent NATO bombing campaign. Mayor Srjan Mikovic says a clean up of some eight tons of mercury is urgently needed to avoid further health risks in Yugoslavia and to avoid permanent damage to the Danube river basin. Philip Smucker reports from the town of Pancevo near Belgrade.

    TEXT: Mayor Srjan Mikovic says his town urgently needs the assistance of Western governments to help clean up the environmental damage left behind by NATO weapons. United Nations experts have called his town an "environmental hot spot." The experts concluded this week that Pancevo is in urgent need of help to clean up the Danube River basin. The city has a population of 85-thousand and is controlled by Serbia's opposition coalition. The United Nations team said that Pancevo was of special concern because of pollution of canals leading from petrol and chemical factories. Officials in the humanitarian relief organization, FOCUS, which is coordinating clean up efforts, have warned that delays could lead to irreversible mutations of plants and animals in the Danube basin. Mayor Srjan Mikovic asked Western nations to assist with a Greek and Russian-led project to clean up some eight tons of mercury and other toxic chemicals that seeped into the earth during the bombing campaign.


    The second project, which will be a very difficult task, is taking out the mercury from the ground of the petrochemical factory. There was eight tons of mercury coming into the ground. So the first step would be just to isolate that mercury and then to take it out.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mayor Mikovic said that some residents had experienced severe respiratory problems during the bombing, and added that the true impact of cancer-causing chemicals on town residents will not be known for years. Pancevo's petrochemical plant and oil refinery were completely destroyed during intense air strikes as were the industrial complexes in other Serbian towns. Pancevo's water and ground have been heavily polluted with mercury, dioxin and petrochemical waste. The United Nations experts fear that a significant rise in the river's water level this autumn will further contaminate the Danube River basin. Many of the residents of Pancevo are ethnic Slovaks and Hungarians who did not support their government's policy in Kosovo. They say they do not expect the NATO countries, which bombed their city, this past summer to come to their rescue. On the edge of Pancevo along the Danube River, a Serbian man fishing with his son held up a net filled with 20 small catfish. He said he would not eat the fish himself, because of fears of contamination. Instead, the fish would be fed to his cats. (Signed)
    NEB/PS/GE/JO 14-Sep-1999 13:29 PM EDT (14-Sep-1999 1729 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Toxic contamination is spreading throughout Yugoslavia as a result of the conflict in Kosovo. That's according to a new study conducted by the World Wide Fund for Nature, which examined the conflict's environmental impact. We have more from Lisa Schlein in Geneva.

    TEXT: A team of six experts examined two of the facilities bombed in Yugoslavia, the Pancevo petrochemical complex and the Novi Sad oil refinery. It also tested the water of the Danube River. The team says it found significant amounts of toxic chemicals released from the facilities. It says samples taken from soil and water contained large quantities of mercury and other highly toxic substances, including dioxin. Philip Weller, who helped conduct the study, says these pollutants are threatening drinking supplies and natural resources in several countries in the area.

    /// WELLER ACT ///

    It potentially could affect up to about 500 or 600-thousand people who are relying on those areas as drinking water sources. In addition, these materials have regional implications in that the Danube River is flowing by both of these facilities and is transporting those materials then at present from those facilities downstream into countries of Bulgaria and Romania and into the Black Sea.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr. Weller says the air has also been polluted by toxic chemicals. And this could lead to serious public health consequences, including cancer and reproductive and neurological damage. Mr. Weller says pollution monitoring programs for the Danube are very weak, and downright inadequate in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Therefore, he notes it is not possible to know how much of the environmental damage in Yugoslavia is a result of NATO bombing and how much is caused by contamination which already existed. But, he says tests show the recent 78-day conflict contributed to the problems.

    /// WELLER ACT ///

    The study that has been done indicates that the levels of contaminants that we have detected are in the above layer (i.e. in the top soil layer), or the majority of them in any event, . are directly the result of a release that happened over the last couple of months. And looking at the factories in terms of the results of the bombing, it clearly is in connection with the bombing that has taken place there.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr. Weller says it is absolutely vital that the Pancevo petrochemical complex and the Novi Sad oil refinery be cleaned up immediately. He says measures must be taken to stop the current pollution. He adds the clean-up process could be done within a matter of weeks. (SIGNED) NEB/LS/GE/bk 14-Sep-1999 08:57 AM EDT (14-Sep-1999 1257 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Stock prices in the United States were generally down today (Tuesday) on renewed interest rate concerns. VOA Business Correspondent Breck Ardery reports from New York.

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 10- thousand-910, down 120 points, more than one percent. The Standard and Poor's 500 index closed at 13- hundred-36, down seven points. The NASDAQ index gained almost one percent, reflecting strength in many technology stocks. Both the stock and bond markets dropped in reaction to a government report showing U-S retail sales grew at almost double expectations last month. That renewed fears on Wall Street that the U-S central bank will again raise interest rates in an effort to head-off inflation.

    ///Begin opt///

    Mitchell Held, chief economist at the Salomon Smith Barney investment company says there are a number of reasons why Americans are spending freely.

    /// Held act ///

    There are a couple of things consumers are focusing on. First of all, his or her real income continues to rise, inflation is low and wage increases are generally exceeding inflation and that is good. You are still living on the `wealth effect' that has come from the strong equity market that we have seen until recently. Also the housing market has improved. Employment is strong, job gains are present, real wages are high, the market is doing o.k. and why shouldn't the consumer be happy.

    ///end act - end opt///

    A good example of the strong retail environment was provided by Best Buy, the consumer electronics chain, which said its sales jumped more than 11 percent in the second quarter.

    /// Rest opt for long ///

    In addition to the strong retail sales, another thing that worried Wall Street was the fact that the U-S trade deficit hit a record 80 point six billion dollars in the second quarter. The stock of Federal Mogul, an auto parts company, fell 30 percent after the company warned its quarterly earnings will be well below expectations. The company blamed a shrinking demand for replacement parts for the earnings shortfall. Negotiators are facing a deadline of midnight Tuesday for a new contract between the major U-S automakers and the United Autoworkers Union. However, an immediate strike is not expected even if there is no agreement by the deadline. The Mellon Bank Corporation says it plans to buy back 25 million shares of stock in a transaction estimated to be worth about 830 million dollars. The company will also change its name to the Mellon Financial Corporation to reflect its diversification out of the banking business. Controversial economist Lester Thurow says the U-S economy is headed for recession because Americans are spending more than they save and such behavior can not be sustained. However, Mr. Thurow, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says it would be "dumb" to predict when a recession will hit and says quote "I'm not dumb."(Signed) NEB/NY/BA/EJ/PT 14-Sep-1999 17:02 PM LOC (14-Sep-1999 2102 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: East Timor is back at the top of many U-S newspaper editorial pages this Tuesday, while the big domestic story drawing comment is yet another attempt in the House of Representatives to enact campaign finance reform. Other topics in the spotlight include: Signs of progress in relations with North Korea; inconsistency on terrorism; the danger of drug- resistant germs; a monster hurricane threatens Florida; and a new heroine on the tennis court. Now, here is __________ with a closer look and an excerpt or two in today's Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: News that Indonesia's President B-J Habibie has agreed to an international force of United Nations peacekeepers to restore order on East Timor has received a lot of comment in today's U-S press. The Chicago Tribune says:

    VOICE: This is no time to ease the pressure and it is certainly too early to contemplate resuming arms sales and international financial aid to Indonesia. /// OPT /// It was the loss of those that wrung from [President] Habibie his concessions. /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: The Forth Worth [Texas] Star-Telegram justifies potential American military participation in a peacekeeping force, noting that, on occasion, the U-S must act where its direct national interest is not involved.

    VOICE: Sometimes . moral imperatives come into play that transcend material and strategic considerations. The bloodletting in . East Timor raises that kind of challenge .

    TEXT: Not so, says The Detroit Free Press, worrying:

    VOICE: /// OPT /// The impulse for America to get involved in . East Timor is strong, but it should be tempered by the very real possibility of making matters worse. /// END OPT /// By rushing in without carefully considering the ramifications for . President B-J Habibie, the United States could destabilize the world's (most populous) country . /// OPT /// Before making further military or economic commitments . the United States must exhaust every diplomatic effort to persuade Indonesia to rein in its thugs and restore order. /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: The Boston Globe agrees with criticism, found in other papers, of the United Nations:

    VOICE: Indonesia's belated acceptance of . peacekeepers . illuminates the blunder U-N officials made last May, when they signed an agreement . for the . referendum on independence without insisting on a foreign security presence to prevent a foreseeable calamity.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: Lastly, The Washington Times says the peacekeepers first urgent task will be to avert starvation for the thousands of people hiding in the island's barren mountains.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Domestically, the House of Representatives votes today on the Shays-Meehan campaign finance reform bill that hopes to limit so-called "soft money" campaign contributions to presidential and other candidates. Soft money, which is unregulated, is given for "institutional" support to the political parties, but is often illegally diverted to individual candidates. Ohio's Akron Beacon Journal says the bill would:

    VOICE: . crack down on so-called issue ads that are really independent ads for candidates. Critics have raised constitutional concerns about infringing on free speech. True, too, is that these ads have been used to bend campaign rules, penalizing those candidates who play straight. . Now Congress should . [close] loopholes that further risk public confidence in political life. The effort begins today in the House.

    TEXT: In Connecticut, home state of one of the bill's Republican sponsors, Christopher Shays, The Hartford Courant suggests:

    VOICE: Nothing short of a soft-money ban qualifies as acceptable reform. But an end to soft-money gifts . should be only a starting point in cleaning up the filthy system of financing campaigns that has corroded politics and robbed it of the public's trust.

    TEXT: Today's Washington Post, noting the latest agreement between North Korea and the West, suggests that the "evil" regime in Pyongyang is not at all irrational promoting its own best interests. The Post refers to North Korea's agreement not to test fire its new, long-range missile, in return for more aid from the U-S, Japan and South Korea. The New York Post, meanwhile, jumps on what it considers the hypocrisy of the Clinton administration for granting clemency and releasing several Puerto Rican terrorists Monday, while a spokesman made this comment.

    VOICE: "Acts of terror in all their forms have no place in a democratic society," State Department spokesman James . Rubin said late yesterday morning, at about the same time that the FALN [Puerto Rican] terrorists set loose by President Clinton last week were getting acquainted with their new surroundings.

    TEXT: Today's St. Petersburg [Florida] Times frets about the discovery of a deadly, drug-resistant germ, Staphylococcus aureus, in Minnesota and North Dakota that has left four children dead and 200 ill, and says:

    VOICE: The discovery . should be setting off alarm bells in the scientific community. It is another warning that the world must stop abusing antibiotics.

    TEXT: A massive hurricane named Floyd is threatening the southeastern United States as it churns across the Bahamas, drawing this comment from The Miami Herald:

    VOICE: When you consider that some five million people in south Florida alone are supposed to be prepared for this tropical monster, the last two days were fairly orderly. At least we are paying attention: more of us prepare in advance.

    TEXT: And, finally, plaudits for Serena Williams, winner of the U-S Open Tennis championship at Forest Hills, New York. She's the younger sister of another player, Venus Williams, as The Orlando Sentinel notes.

    VOICE: Serena Williams struck a blow for younger siblings this past weekend, playing her way to the U-S Open women's singles championship.. Most fans thought that if a Williams were to win [it] it would be Serena's powerful bib sister, Venus. ///OPT /// In victory Serena Williams exuded maturity, good sportsmanship and good humor. ///END OPT /// . Little sisters everywhere must love it.

    TEXT: On that note, we conclude this sampling of editorial comment from Tuesday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/KL 14-Sep-1999 12:24 PM EDT (14-Sep-1999 1624 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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