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Voice of America, 00-01-04

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

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





    INTRO: Stock prices in the United States were sharply lower today (Tuesday). Profit-taking hit even the popular Internet stocks, dragging the technology-heavy Nasdaq index to the biggest one-day point loss in its 29-year history. V-O-A correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York:

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 359 points, just over three percent, closing at 10- thousand-997. The Standard and Poor's 500 index fell 55 points - a loss of nearly four percent. The Nasdaq composite was the biggest loser. It sank five-and- one-half percent. There is a growing perception on Wall Street that the technology sector may be over-valued and on its way toward a correction. Many experts are predicting a downturn for Internet-related stocks, which propelled the stock market to record highs last year.

    /// Begin Opt ///

    Byron Wien, an analyst with the Morgan Stanley Dean Witter investment firm, says investor euphoria over the Internet is dangerous because it creates unrealistic expectations:

    /// WIEN ACT ///

    I think the Internet is the most powerful business phenomenon in our lifetime. My feeling is that it is changing the world as we know it. But I just think that a number of these companies have gotten to valuation levels which are going to be unsustained by any earnings level that they're likely to deliver in the next five years.

    /// END ACT ///

    /// End Opt///

    Interest rate concerns also chipped away at stock prices, hitting financial and banking shares hard. Analysts expect the Federal Reserve Board to raise short-term rates next month to try to cool the strengthening U-S economy.

    /// Rest Opt ///

    The latest economic news shows that U-S construction spending rose in November at the fastest pace in one- and-one-half years. Builders took advantage of unseasonably mild weather in much of the United States to work on homes, highways and industrial facilities. Sears and Roebuck, the second-largest U-S retailer, says it expects to beat earnings estimates for the fourth quarter. It cites higher-than-expected Internet sales and an improving credit-card business for the jump in profits. Sears shares rose over seven percent - one of the few bright spots on Wall Street as other stock prices sank. Even so, Sears trades at about one-half its high in 1998, as investors wait to see whether it can win back shoppers who have been lured toward the big discounters, such as Wal-Mart. Sears and Roebuck was removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average last November. (signed) NEB/NY/EJ/LSF/JP 04-Jan-2000 16:53 PM EDT (04-Jan-2000 2153 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Two recurring themes run through the editorial columns of many major U-S newspapers on this second work day of the New Year. One is the surprise resignation of Russian President Boris Yeltsin on the final day of 1999. The other is the world's so-far successful transition - without major computer failures - into the new year and the new century. Other topics include the Israeli - Syrian peace talks in West Virginia; consequences of India's giving in to the airline hijackers; capitalism's future now that it won the race with Communism; the annoying problem of lots of little wars; and genuine sadness in many corners of the nation at the passing of a favorite newspaper comic strip, Peanuts. Now, here with a closer look and some excerpts is _____________ and today's Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: One of dozens of newspapers commenting on Boris Yeltsin's departure is The Oklahoman in Oklahoma City, which suggests:

    VOICE: Behind the caricature and the real-world pratfalls, Boris Yeltsin became a pretty fair politician. /// OPT /// For evidence, look no further than his New Year's Eve resignation. His prime minister and handpicked successor, Vladimir Putin, is in a strong position to win Russia's next presidential election in March ... Not bad for a bumbling, hard-drinking, sickly former communist. /// END OPT /// If Russia continues to stumble toward democracy . [Mr.] Yeltsin will deserve much of the credit.

    TEXT: In Texas, The Houston Chronicle looks ahead, wondering "What would a Putin presidency mean?"

    VOICE: "The scary truth is, we have absolutely no idea," says Michael McFaul, an expert with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, who spoke about Russian politics recently [at]. the Houston World Affairs Council.

    TEXT: Across the state, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram says:

    VOICE: Vladimir Putin may be a mystery to the West, but he may also be Russia's best hope for the future.

    TEXT: While in the Midwest, the outgoing Russian leader draws praise from The Detroit Free Press.

    VOICE: You can say this for Boris Yeltsin: In his best moments, he had an unbeatable sense of political theater. Whether he was clambering aboard a tank to resist a communist coup . or resigning unexpectedly on the cusp of the millennium - he knew how to make his point. What he didn't know was how to make Russia work. .[However] . He leaves behind a country in which the idea of elections has become commonplace, and the commitment to a free-market economy is firm, at least in theory: think what a miracle that is, after a thousand years of autocracy.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: The Tulsa World lauds Yeltsin for paving "the way for democracy," while The Kansas City Star compares him favorably to America's irascible 18th president, Ulysses S. Grant, the famed Civil War commanding general of the Union army.

    VOICE: Both were hard-drinking, rough-edged, underestimated men who surrounded themselves with corrupt followers. Both seemed to wither amid the routine of day-to-day administration. Yet both could rise to meet a crisis.

    TEXT: And lastly, The Hartford [Connecticut] Courant says of him:

    VOICE: President Boris Yeltsin . will forever be remembered as a man of courage who engineered the relatively peaceful breakup of a dysfunctional totalitarian empire.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: The day's other popular editorial topic is the successful transition to a New Year and a new century, without widespread computer problems, which had been widely anticipated. The Chicago Tribune asks, humorously:

    VOICE: Canned fruit, anyone? Anyone? How about a whole Y-two-K's' supply of peanut butter? Or a brand- new generator, still pristine in its box? We will never know if disaster was averted because governments, companies and individuals around the world spent an estimated 500-billion dollars to fix the millennium computer bug - or whether disaster never was in the cards [likely]. It's an impossible assessment. . The lights stayed on. The telephones worked. The nukes stayed - thankfully - in their silos.

    TEXT: Also breathing an editorial sigh of relief is Florida's St. Petersburg Times:

    VOICE: The End was not nigh after all. Missiles did not fire themselves at Washington; Wall Street did not crumble; ATMs did not seize up; and 747s [jetliners] did not fall from the sky. From Caroline Island to Cuba, the year turned and we are all still here . thanks to the . thousands of experts [who] sifted through millions of lines of code to make sure that our byte-driven way of life did not fold up like cheap lawn furniture. We owe them [Editors: understood, not stated "A debt of gratitude."]

    TEXT: Another important topic is the chance of peace between Israel and Syria, whose representatives are meeting at a small town in West Virginia to discuss it. This is a crucial moment in history, says The San Francisco Chronicle.

    VOICE: Americans may be weary of promises of another peace try in a war-prone region where little seems to change. But there is no mistaking this moment. Israel's biggest antagonist wants to talk about real issues - troop deployments, sentry posts, borders, water - that divide the two sides. Playing host is President Clinton, with his own risks and rewards riding on the outcome. A peace agreement would enhance the legacy he wants by the end of his eight years in office. That's why he is ready to helicopter over in an instant to break any deadlock.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: In California, The Los Angeles Times calls these talks the "Endgame for Israel and Syria," and Portland's Oregonian, under a headline reading: The Golan Heights of West Virginia," suggests:

    VOICE: Discussing the Golan Heights in the Appalachian hills only underscores the United States' identity - in one of the favorite phrases of the Clinton administration - as the "indispensable nation." . and if there is an agreement, the United States will have substantial obligations in carrying it out. Middle Eastern peace, it's often been suggested, would require divine intervention. It's hard to coordinate that, but there are reasons these talks are held in "almost heaven," [Editors: a phrase from a hit song in the 1970s describing West Virginia's mountainous beauty.] Text: The New York Post wonders whether Syria is serious about peace, and says of the talks:

    VOICE: . the real issue at stake is not Israel's willingness to abandon the Golan Heights . but Syria's willingness to abandon its 50-year refusal to accept a Jewish state in the Middle East .

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Several newspapers are expressing fears that India's agreeing to meet the demands of the airline hijackers over the Christmas holiday may come back to haunt the New Delhi government. So says The Atlanta Journal.

    VOICE: . the greatest concern for us, and for the rest of the world, is that terrorism emerged victorious. We're not doubting the ordeal was a nightmare for the passengers and crew. . But the repercussions of this hijacking will spread internationally like tentacles. The likelihood of violence against innocent individuals has grown, as has the possibility of more deaths.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: The Hartford [Connecticut] Courant says: "Give in to terrorists, and they will come back for more," and it urges the Indian government to "make every effort to capture the terrorists." And The Portland [Maine] Press Herald says "Freeing Pakistani hostages was a big mistake by India."

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Looking broadly at the 19th century, he Chicago Tribune ponders the victory of Western-style capitalism over communism and wonders where we go from here.

    VOICE: The clear winner at century's end is capitalism. . Rarely in history has a triumph been more complete. But anyone who believes the world is cheering this victory need only review the Seattle protests last month ... There is a free-floating anxiety about what it means to the world that America is so powerful and so prosperous and that America's prosperity and power flow directly from its freedom and free market. . Economists and politicians recognize that socialism and communism have failed, but they believe there can be a third way that surrounds the best of capitalism with a gentler face. Is that possible? The American experience suggests otherwise, but the century ahead will test the thesis.

    TEXT: Lamenting the large number of small wars, such as the fighting in Chechnya or Angola, The Oklahoman, in Oklahoma City notes that many small wars still dot the globe, causing misery.

    VOICE: The world is a dangerous place - more dangerous, even, than it was at the end of the Cold War because threats are multiple and less obvious than when the U-S confronted the Soviet Union. Nearly eight years of Clinton leadership has hollowed out the U-S military, making the current times even more treacherous.

    TEXT: Lastly, there is genuine sorrow in many quarters of the nation today, the first day in almost 50 years, without the familiar Peanuts newspaper comic strip. Its creator, Charles Schulz, 77, and ill with colon cancer, has retired it, and among many, The New York Times laments:

    VOICE: What made "Peanuts" different . was its joyous melancholy, the way it so often edged toward irony without ever spilling into anomie. Its humor arose from situations - Snoopy, a jump rope wrapped around his nose, pleading "Don't put a brand on me, sir . I'll stay in the corral!" - but also from its prose. Those classic strips are among the most eloquent comics ever written.

    TEXT: On that sad note, we conclude this sampling of editorials from today's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/JP 04-Jan-2000 11:31 AM EDT (04-Jan-2000 1631 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Turkish prosecutors ruled today/Tuesday that the country's Foreign Minister, Ismail Cem, did not violate the law when he called last month for easing current bans on Kurdish language broadcasts. From Ankara, Amberin Zaman has the details.

    TEXT: The news was widely welcomed by Western diplomats and Kurdish activists here, who say the ruling is an encouraging sign that what they call unfettered debate of the Kurdish issue is finally being officially tolerated. They say this will likely boost Turkey's chances of joining the European Union (E-U. One of the conditions for Turkey's possible E-U membership is that it respond to the Kurds' demands that they be permitted to broadcast and educate freely in their own language. Hopes that Turkey would respond to those calls rose when Foreign Minister Cem told a private Turkish news channel that - as he put it - everyone should be permitted to broadcast in their mother tongue. Mr. Cem clearly went too far for some people. A private citizen, Abdul Geylani Aksumer, petitioned an Ankara state security court for the foreign minister to be tried for breaching article eight of the anti- terror law prohibiting separatist propaganda. ///OPT

    /// Had he been tried and convicted Mr. Cem could have been sentenced for up to three years in jail. /// END OPT ///
    Turkish remains the official tongue under Turkish law. But some Kurdish language music cassettes and radio broadcasts are tolerated so long as their content is strictly non-political. The prevailing tendency among Turkish policy makers, and the military in particular, is to maintain the status quo. Many fear that once the Kurds are granted cultural rights they will press for even further rights such as autonomy. The quest for those rights is at the heart of a 15 year armed campaign by rebels of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, known as the P-K-K.

    /// REST OPT ///

    Initially, the guerrillas were seeking independence. But they later downgraded their demands to Kurdish autonomy. Today, their captured leader, Abdullah Ocalan, says granting the Kurds cultural rights will be enough to satisfy their demands and says he is ready to make peace with the Turkish State. From his island prison he has ordered his fighters to halt their attacks and to withdraw from Turkish territory. So far, they have obeyed. Analysts say that if the Turkish State maintains a hard line stance against the Kurds not only will it destroy virtually all chances of joining the European Union, it will also extinguish hopes of achieving a lasting peace with its Kurdish population. (Signed)
    NEB/AZ/GE/JO 04-Jan-2000 10:48 AM EDT (04-Jan-2000 1548 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America
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