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Voice of America, 99-10-04

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

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




    VOICED AT: .../// Reissues 2-254610 to correct spelling of Lazarevac in second graph and delete reference to "resistance fighters" in same graph. ///

    INTRO: A top Serbian opposition leader, who was the only survivor in an auto accident Sunday that killed four others, has said from his hospital bed that the accident was in fact an assassination attempt. The incident has cast a shadow over the anti-government protests, which have grown in strength over the last 12 days. Philip Smucker reports from Belgrade.

    TEXT: Vuk Draskovic, a fiery opposition leader, is the only survivor of an automobile accident that killed three bodyguards and his wife's brother. The accident took place near the town of Lazarevac in central Serbia as they were on an excursion to visit the historical site of Ravna Gora. Mr. Draskovic received only minor injuries. He expressed bitterness and anger, and said that truck driver who collided with two cars in his convoy was trying to kill him. He did not indicate, however, who the driver might have been working for or why he would have wanted to kill him. Mr. Draskovic also claimed that the truck driver has mysteriously disappeared. Serbian police officials, who investigated the crash site, were not immediately available for comment. Protesters at an anti-government rally held a minute of silence Sunday for Mr. Draskovic and the dead members of his entourage. Serbian police did not beat the demonstrators as they did twice in recent days. The charismatic street politician had been considering participation in the anti-government protests before his accident. The 52-year-old politician served in the Milosevic-led government earlier this year, but was fired in April because of policy disagreements during the 11-week NATO air war against Yugoslavia. NEB/ps/gm 03-Oct-1999 21:52 PM EDT (04-Oct-1999 0152 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The International Committee of the Red Cross says Serbia has released 54 ethnic-Albanian prisoners who had been held in Serbian jails. Lisa Schlein reports from Geneva.

    TEXT: This is the second group of prisoners released by Serbia since the end of NATO's bombing campaign. The first group of 166 ethnic-Albanian men was freed in late June. Red Cross spokeswoman Suzanne Berger says the I-C-R-C is helping make sure the 54 newly-released prisoners return home safely.

    /// BERGER ACT ONE ///

    So I-C-R-C has transferred these people by bus to Kosovo and they will have the possibility to spend the night in Pristina. And the I-C-R-C will then arrange for their return to their home district. And, we also arrange for them to be able to contact their families.

    /// END ACT ///

    Ms. Berger says families seeking their missing relatives will be able to see a list of names of the released prisoners at Red Cross offices in Pristina and elsewhere in Kosovo. Before the two rounds of prisoner releases, the Red Cross had registered more than two-thousand ethnic- Albanian prisoners in Serbia. Some ethnic Albanians say they believe Serbia is holding at least five- thousand Kosovar Albanians. Ms. Berger says Red Cross representatives now have access to about 19-hundred people arrested in Kosovo who are being held in Serbia.

    /// BERGER ACT TWO ///

    They have been arrested; some before the NATO strikes started and some just when the Serbian authorities withdrew from Kosovo in the wake of the agreements that permitted the crisis to end.

    /// END ACT ///

    Ms. Berger says the Red Cross also has access to people arrested in Kosovo by NATO-led peacekeepers. She says Red Cross representatives visit all the detainees on a regular basis and help them maintain family contacts through letters. (SIGNED) NEB/LS/JWH/LTD/RAE 04-Oct-1999 13:24 PM LOC (04-Oct-1999 1724 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The U-N High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, is warning government and military involvement in humanitarian work can jeopardize refugees. In an opening speech to the agency's annual refugee conference, the High Commissioner said efforts by governments to sideline humanitarian agencies in high- visibility crises pose serious risks. Lisa Schlein has more from Geneva.

    TEXT: The U-N High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, says some of the worst humanitarian and refugee crises of the decade have occurred this year. In particular, she singles out the mass expulsion of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo and the refugee crisis in East Timor. Ms. Ogata says aid operations in other regions, especially in Africa, have remained woefully under funded. Ms. Ogata calls NATO's involvement in humanitarian activities during the war in Kosovo a risky business. She says there were many instances in which NATO provided assistance to gain what she called legitimacy and visibility.

    /// OGATA ACT ///

    These episodes undermined coordination and deprived civilian humanitarian agencies of effectiveness and clout. More broadly speaking, the involvement of the military in humanitarian operations can, in certain situations, expose refugees to a conflict, or even make them party to it, jeopardizing their security.

    /// END ACT ///

    The High Commissioner says the military and national governments should support international relief agencies in acute crises. She says they should not try to take over the work of humanitarian agencies. She notes the military does not have the experience to deal with the suffering, pain and trauma of refugees fleeing into exile. She says only civilian humanitarian agencies have the expertise and political independence to properly handle such crises. Ms. Ogata accuses some governments of interfering with humanitarian aid for political reasons.

    /// OGATA ACT ///

    Kosovo also showed that in a high-profile emergency, the operating space of humanitarian agencies has become unbearably overcrowded. Being there, and being seen as dealing directly with refugees, became almost a necessity for many different actors. Humanitarian resources were often used by governments directly, bilaterally.

    /// END ACT ///

    Ms. Ogata says these trends diminish the ability of humanitarian agencies to operate. She urges governments to help aid agencies be more effective in their operations, and not to weaken their efforts by bypassing them. (SIGNED)
    NEB/LS/GE 04-Oct-1999 09:34 AM LOC (04-Oct-1999 1334 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: In France, employers and members of one of the country's main labor unions held separate demonstrations in Paris Monday against a law introducing a shorter -- 35-hour -- work week. The employers are against the law altogether. But the union says it does not go far enough. Julian Nundy reports from Paris.

    TEXT: The mass meeting of French employers was called to show companies' frustration at having further regulation thrust upon them at a time when de-regulation is the global fashion. Called by the French employers' federation, the meeting came just before the French parliament debates a second law on introducing the shorter work week. It would take effect in January for all companies with more than 20 workers, and two years later for smaller firms. The employers argue that the aim of the law - to increase jobs - would be better met by reducing France's huge social charges of around 40 percent that employers have to pay on every salary. In a parallel protest, the Communist-backed C-G-T labor union marched through Paris, demanding that the new law be strengthened to force employers to create more jobs. French Employment Minister Martine Aubry said, meanwhile, that moves toward the 35-hour week so far have already created 125-thousand new jobs. Despite this, France's unemployment rate is still above 11 percent. The pledge to introduce a 35-hour working week was contained in the program of the Socialist Party at France's last parliamentary elections in 1997. Despite the employers' opposition and much criticism from elsewhere, French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin insists the promise must be kept. Monday's protests began a week of social unrest in France, with truck-drivers expected to block roads Tuesday in protest at the European Commission's plans to deregulate European road transport. And Thursday, high school students, who gathered more than 150-thousand participants in marches across the country last week, plan a second nationwide protest against poor school facilities and teacher shortages. (Signed)
    NEB/JN/GE/KL 04-Oct-1999 11:46 AM EDT (04-Oct-1999 1546 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: A former leader of Germany's ruling Social Democratic Party has sharply criticized Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and his government. Jonathan Braude in Berlin reports the former S-P- D leader and finance minister, Oskar Lafontaine, says in a new book that Mr. Schroeder is -- in his words -- "not fit to be chancellor."

    TEXT: Oskar Lafontaine -- from the left wing of the Social Democratic party -- dramatically quit the German cabinet in March. He left without saying exactly why. Ever since, the ruling party has been haunted by the fear of Mr. Lafontaine's potential revenge. Now, he tells at least part of the story in extracts of his book "The Heart Beats on the Left." Chancellor Schroeder is his chief target. In the book extracts -- published in the newspaper, Die Welt -- Mr. Lafontaine accuses Mr. Schroeder of a radical turn to the right. He attacks him for personal disloyalty and being unable to work in a team. The former party leader also complains bitterly that Mr. Schroeder made light of a 1990 knife attack on Mr. Lafontaine and that the chancellor cannot even sing the party hymn. The book comes at a bad time for the ruling coalition of Social Democrats and the Green Party. The government has fared disastrously in state elections in the past few months and faces another defeat in Berlin this coming weekend. Mr. Schroeder is not the only target of Mr. Lafontaine. He also sharply criticizes Joschka Fischer, the popular Green party foreign minister and former anti nuclear activist. He says Mr. Fischer -- after taking office as foreign minister -- started by hanging onto every word spoken by U-S Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and soon became her greatest fan. The Greens, too, are in electoral trouble and Mr. Fischer, the former peace campaigner, is facing a struggle with the traditionalist, pacifist wing of his own party. Chancellor Schroeder refused to comment on the charges in Mr. Lafontaine's book, but other party members accused the former finance minister and party of treachery. (Signed)
    NEB/JB/JWH/KL 04-Oct-1999 11:23 AM EDT (04-Oct-1999 1523 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Stock prices in the United States were up strongly today (Monday) as traders bet the U-S central bank will not raise short-term interest rates. V-O-A Business Correspondent Breck Ardery reports from New York.

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 10- thousand-401, up 128 points or more than one percent. The Standard and Poor's 500 index closed at 13- hundred-four, up 21 points. The NASDAQ index gained more than two percent. The rally came a day before governors of the Federal Reserve Board, the U-S central bank, meet to decide whether to raise short-term interest rates for the third time this year. There is a growing consensus on Wall Street that the central bank is unlikely to raise rates, and stock buyers seemed to be betting on that Monday.

    /// REST OPT ///

    Joseph Finnegan of the C-M-J Investment company believes the central bank governors will be satisfied with the current state of the stock market and the overall economy.

    /// FINNEGAN ACT ///

    I think the "Fed" probably believes the market has sold off nicely,and some of their earlier rate hikes have had the effect they are looking for,and the consensus seems to be that they will not raise rates, and I think that will be positive.

    /// END ACT ///

    In business news, The Gemstar Corporation will pay more than nine-billion dollars for "T-V Guide" magazine. Gemstar produces technology for interactive television program directories. A takeover battle may develop for control of the Sprint long-distance telephone company. Sprint's board is believed to favor a 65-billion-dollar offer from M-C-I Worldcom, another long-distance carrier. However, Bell South, a regional telephone company, is offering more than 70-billion dollars for Sprint. The Clear Channel Communications Company will pay 17- and-one-half-billion dollars in stock for the A-M-F-M company to create the largest owner of radio stations in the United States. The Heinz Corporation will consolidate its diverse U-S food products and food service businesses into a single company. Heinz says the move will increase efficiency and result in cost savings. The stock of Mattel, the world's largest toy company, fell 25 percent after the company warned its quarterly earnings will be well below estimates. Mattel's educational software business has been a major disappointment. The stock of the R-C-N telecommunications company rose 15 percent after financier Paul Allen announced he will invest one-point-six-billion dollars in the company. R-C-N provides cable television, telephone and high-speed data transmission services. Akio Morita, the co-founder of the Sony electronics company of Japan, is being remembered as an innovator who was not afraid to take risks. Not all of Mr. Morita's ventures paid off, but the majority became very profitable, especially the Sony "Walkman." He introduced the "Walkman" over heavy opposition from associates in his own company, who saw no demand for the product. Akio Morita died Sunday at the age of 78. (Signed) NEB/NY/BA/LSF/WTW 04-Oct-1999 17:07 PM EDT (04-Oct-1999 2107 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Today is the first Monday in October, and that means the Supreme Court begins its new term. Editorials in several major dailies discuss the forthcoming schedule of important cases the high court will decide. Other topics include allegations of a U-S army massacre at the beginning of the Korean war: the Japanese nuclear accident; Congress coping with the disarmament treaty; third-world and United-States U-N debt; some thoughts on new evidence of prehistoric cannibalism; and Guenter Grass wins the Nobel Prize for literature. Now, here with a closer look and some excerpts is ________________ and today's editorial digest.

    TEXT: Today's "New York Times" says of the Supreme Court's pending caseload:

    VOICE: . the sparse docket already contains a rich array of significant Cases destined to transform, for better or worse, the legal landscape on issues of civil rights, campaign financing, tobacco regulation, the separation of church and state, and the relationship between the Federal Government and the states. . Taking up where the last term ended, the Court's biggest battles will involve the balance of power between the Federal government and the states.

    TEXT: "The Washington Post" adds the court's new term promises "to be fascinating," covering everything from abortion clinic demonstrations, to H-M-O [Health Maintenance Organizations] liability, to the constitutionality of federal laws protecting women against violence.

    TEXT: Revelations by The Associated Press of a U-S Army massacre of unarmed South Korean refugees at the beginning of the Korean war continue to draw anguish in the editorials, such as this from Ohio's [Akron] "Beacon Journal".

    VOICE: Only a thorough review will do, no matter how grim its findings. The American military calls on its troops to meet the highest standards of conduct. An essential part of that requirement is an unwavering pursuit of accountability. . If the bridge at No Gun Ri proves as horrible an episode as the A-P report suggested, the U-S government will be obliged to offer deepest apologies and compensation to survivors and victims' families.

    TEXT: Today's "San Francisco Chronicle" adds that justice would demand stern punishment for the officers who ordered such war crimes, but the passage of time .[makes] that all but impossible. Elsewhere, several papers are commenting on the Japanese nuclear accident and the apparent carelessness that caused it. During the weekend, "The Honolulu Star-Bulletin" suggested that the accident should prompt strengthening of safety precautions. And in today's [Akron] "Beacon Journal", the paper suggests:

    VOICE: The accident's seriousness was exceeded only by the 1979 Three Mile Island incident in Pennsylvania and the even worse Chernobyl explosion in the Ukraine 13-years ago.

    TEXT: Boston's "Christian Science Monitor" combines both the Japanese accident and the mathematical mistake by NASA and its contractors that killed the Martian Climate Orbiter space probe, as it discusses the foibles of modern science.

    VOICE: Too many times in this century, mankind's ability to invent new technologies has surpassed its ability to use them well. D-D-T can wipe out mosquitoes -- and much of the food chain above them. Software programmers in the 1970's were wizards, but, oops, they did not plan for the year 2000. . two recent mishaps remind us that advances in science are not being matched by advances in human capacity and vigilance. In Japan . a private company making nuclear fuel for a reactor let workers violate industry safety standards . while at NASA, the loss of the 125-million dollar Mars . Orbiter spacecraft . revealed a tragic mix-up of English and metric units of measurements.

    TEXT: On New York's Long Island, "Newsday" is upset about an October 12th scheduled Senate vote on the long-dormant nuclear test-ban treaty. The newspaper says that does not give the Clinton administration enough time to build public support for the treaty, and says failure to ratify it will make the world a more dangerous place. Debt is also a popular topic in Monday's U-S editorials. "The Tulsa World" reminds readers -- nobody likes, or respects, a deadbeat -- as it pleads for Congress to pay this nation's huge arrears at the United Nations. And "The New York Times" salutes President Clinton's forgiving of all outstanding debt to dozens of the world's poorest countries so they can spend the money on critical domestic improvements. Turning to Latin American affairs, the on-going crisis of insurgency, drug trafficking and attendant violence in Colombia, causes "The Chicago Tribune" to call for more U-S military and other aid to that beleaguered nation.

    VOICE: Faced with spiraling chaos in Colombia, Americans can be forgiven if their first reaction is to roll up their eyes and turn away. . Yet Colombia is far too important for the United States to ignore. . the possibility that the Colombian strife might spill over into neighboring Venezuela and Panama . [means] ignoring Colombia becomes a luxury this nation cannot afford.

    TEXT: Speaking of insurgencies, on the other side of the world Russia's overwhelming military attacks in Chechnya, responding to alleged Chechen terrorists, draws this comment from "The New York Times".

    VOICE: The Russians are understandably frightened by terrorist attacks and determined to do something about them. But re-fighting a bad war and rejecting a valid election sounds dangerously like the Russia of an earlier era.

    TEXT: Revelations that early man engaged in cannibalism elicits this reaction from "The San Francisco Chronicle", under the sarcastically humorous headline; "Prehistoric French Cuisine."

    VOICE: It was disquieting to learn our distant Neanderthal ancestors were cannibals who butchered fellow hominids for dinner and sucked the marrow from their bones . in France 100- thousand years ago. . somehow, we had expected better of them, being in our same family tree and all. Text: And lastly, at the other end of the humanity scale, compliments for German writer Guenter Grass whose efforts last week won him the Nobel Prize for literature. But "The Tulsa World" says his work is not so revered everywhere.

    VOICE: Praise was immediate and almost universal. Except, of course, from Oklahoma City, where an anti-porn group two-years ago succeeded in having a film, based on the novel . "The Tin Drum". banned on grounds it was obscene. . the group's sanctimonious stunt [succeeded] in making the whole state look unenlightened, if not downright dumb, in the eyes of the rest of the world.

    TEXT: On that literary and societal note, we conclude this sampling of comment from the editorial pages of Monday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/RAE 04-Oct-1999 11:36 AM LOC (04-Oct-1999 1536 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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