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Voice of America, 00-01-05

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

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





    INTRO: Stock prices in the United States were mixed today (Wednesday) after Tuesday's frenzied sell-off on Wall Street. VOA correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York:

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 124 points or just over one percent, recovering less than half of what it lost Tuesday - closing at 11-thousand- 122. The Standard and Poor's 500 index gained two points. But the Nasdaq composite, down over five percent Tuesday, dropped another six-tenths of one percent, in very volatile trading. Last year's high-flying Internet stocks continued their downturn. Yahoo, Qualcom and Amazon-dot-com all traded lower. Amazon sank as much as 16 percent after the leading online retailer said its fourth quarter sales more than doubled, but warned this would not trim the company's net losses. Amazon has not turned a profit since it started cyber-retailing in 1995. Meanwhile, oil and banking stocks led the rally in the Dow Jones. The banking sector, for the moment, shrugged off concerns over interest rates.

    ///rest opt for long ///

    Worries about higher rates are still lurking on Wall Street, as the early February meeting of the Federal Reserve Board approaches. But not everyone is gloomy about the prospect of rate hikes. Analyst Allan Roness says an increase should not hurt the stock market in any significant way:

    ///RONESS ACT///

    If you compare it back to the 1980-81 (period) and so on, if they go up another point or so, they're still close to a half of what they were. And I think growth is a factor and productivity. We are producing much more per man. So that interest rates, even though they are a factor, shouldn't hinder us that much.

    ///END ACT///

    Many analysts are looking for continuing volatility in the stock market, at least until the end of the week. There is still a lot of money waiting to come in. But investors seem a bit cautious in advance of key U-S employment data due out on Friday. (signed) NEB/NY/EJ/LSF/PT 05-Jan-2000 16:49 PM EDT (05-Jan-2000 2149 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America





    INTRO: As a bloody 15-year Kurdish separatist campaign begins to wind down, local officials are seeking to exploit the huge potential for tourism in Turkey's largely Kurdish southeast. Amberin Zaman reports from Diyarbakir on a project to restore the city's ancient walls.

    TEXT: They are dark and they are exotic. They are majestic, yet strangely comforting. Diyarbakir's ancient walls have long been the pride of what is the largest and most populated city in Turkey's remote, largely Kurdish southeastern region. The walls extend for more than five-kilometers, including various imposing fortresses and elaborate gates and storage chambers. Historians and archaeologists say Diyarbakir's walls are the second longest in the world, after the Great Wall of China. Diyarbakir University Professor Halil Degertekin is at the forefront of efforts to restore the walls that he says date back more than five-thousand years.

    Professor Degertekin says the city walls are very important and very big. He says there are many important carvings on the walls, fortresses and gates. He adds that many civilizations lived here, including the Romans, the Byzantines, and the Arabian and Persian cultures. Esma Ocak is from one of Diyarbakir's most prominent families and among the leading patrons of the restoration project. Mrs. Ocak says she remembers being terrified as a child when city officials would blast away parts of the fortress with dynamite because the claimed the walls blocked winds which could help cool the burning summer temperatures.


    Mrs. Ocak says the practice only ended after a French archaeologist, Albert Louis Gabriel, who was touring Diyarbakir in the early 1930's, managed to convince the authorities that they were destroying one of Turkey's most precious historical monuments. Mrs. Ocak says that decades of neglect have further damaged the walls, with large sections literally in ruins. The problem grew during the 15-year separatist rebellion led by guerillas of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, known as the P-K-K. The violence, which has claimed nearly 40-thousand lives scared away Western tourists. With the tourism industry virtually dead, no effort was made to preserve the walls. To make matters worse, villagers displaced by the fighting began erecting makeshift homes using slabs of concrete pulled away from the walls. Others used the walls for support, simply building their homes against them. The Diyarbakir government donated 20-thousand dollars to help restoration work, which began in earnest last year. The city leaders say the families need to be moved, especially since part of the project involves planting gardens on either side of the walls. Cezair Serin is the mayor of Diyarbakir's Surici district, which is the oldest part of the city surrounded by the walls. He says about one-thousand families have built homes along the walls.


    Mr. Serin says life for the displaced villagers living along the walls is terrible. They have no running water, or sewers. Yet, Mr. Serin says that unless the government comes up with alternative accommodation for the villagers, he will not allow them to be kicked out of their homes. Hatun Gedikoglu is an old Kurdish woman who lives in a concrete shack only five-meters from the wall. She says she is terrified that her home may be destroyed.


    Mrs. Gedikoglu says with no where else to go, she will simply stay on here. Local officials agree that they need to provide accommodation for the people if they are to be moved. Officials are studying a proposal by Mayor Serin to donate land where he says the city will build new homes for the displaced. Mayor Serin insists that not only will they be much better homes, but they will also be free for those displaced as the work begins to restore the ancient walls of Diyarbakir. (SIGNED)
    NEB/AZ/GE/RAE 05-Jan-2000 08:45 AM EDT (05-Jan-2000 1345 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Ravaged by earthquakes in 1999, Turkey appears poised for a dramatic economic upturn in 2000. V-O-A's economics correspondent Barry Wood reports that Turkey's reformers have recently gained important endorsements from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

    TEXT: The (London) Financial Times last month editorialized that Turkey will only have a viable European future if it makes a decisive break from its inflationary and interventionist past. That future could be at hand given the European Union's decision in Helsinki last month to open membership negotiations with Turkey. For more than a decade Ankara's entreaties to join had been rebuffed, fueling resentment in Turkey that the E-U was a Christian club closed to Moslem nations. Geo-politically Turkey seems now to have been identified by the E-U and the United States as a vital ally in southeastern Europe. Philip Poole is a senior economist at ING Barings (bank) in London.

    /// FIRST POOLE ACT //

    The U-S has been very supportive and sees Turkey as geo-strategically important in the region, both in terms of stabilizing the Balkans and also in terms of providing stability-as it were- in respect to the C-I-S as well.

    /// end act //

    It is in the always important politics of oil that that support is most clearly evident. In November the United States threw its decisive support to the Turkish pipeline option as the preferred route for Caspian Sea oil to reach the Western market. It is a decision that still rankles in Moscow, whose own pipeline option was rejected. Economically, Turkey appears on the threshold of a dramatic turnaround. In 1999, in large part because of the devastating earthquake in August, Turkey's economy shrank by about four-percent. Forecasts say this is likely to become growth of nine-percent this year. Germany's Deutsche Bank says Turkey is already turning the corner. Phillip Poole of ING-Barings says despite numerous failed reform efforts, there are grounds for optimism now because the Turkish military has concluded that chronic high inflation and slow growth are breeding grounds for Islamic fundamentalism.


    I think on that basis the military and also big business -- for the same reason -- have put pressure on the coalition. And the coalition itself finally has a majority and the ability to legislate key reforms.

    /// END ACT //

    But other experts remain skeptical. Jeff Anderson is the European director at the Institute of International Finance, a Washington-based association of global banks. Mr. Anderson is not sure the Turkish government is strong enough to substantially reduce subsidies and a large fiscal deficit.

    /// ANDERSON ACT ///

    I am cautiously optimistic. I think that the program that the authorities have put together stands good chances of being successful.

    /// END ACT ///

    That program calls for widespread privatization of state enterprises, deregulation, and fiscal discipline. The I-M-F is supporting the reforms with a four-billion-dollar loan. Phillip Poole says the test of the program is whether inflation comes down.

    /// THIRD POOLE ACT ///

    To be sustainable, we have to see inflation coming down. Domestic interest rates have fallen precipitously, but inflation hasn't come down. In fact, in real terms on current inflation, interest rates are now severely negative.

    /// END ACT ///

    The international financial community projects that Turkey's inflation rate will fall by a third this year to 39-percent. That is still woefully high in comparison with the West European inflation norm of below four-percent. (Signed) NEB/BDW/ENE/gm 05-Jan-2000 15:28 PM EDT (05-Jan-2000 2028 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Glancing at the editorial columns of newspapers around the nation this Wednesday, we find lots of comment on the re-appointment of Federal Reserve Board [Central Bank] director Alan Greenspan. Another popular topic is an unpopular ruling by the federal government about safety of workers working at home; and there are more thoughts on the great computer problem at year's end that did not happen. Rounding out the other popular topics are thoughts on the German political scandal; the Indian Airlines hijacking aftermath; something positive about the Ivory Coast coup; and another U-S movie about a romantic time in Thailand does not go over well in Bangkok. Now, here with closer look is ___________ and today's Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: President Clinton has re-nominated the head of this country's central bank, Alan Greenspan, for a fourth four-year term, a nomination that is widely regarded as assured of Congressional approval. Mr. Greenspan is given much credit for the nation's unprecedented period of economic prosperity and growth, and editorial columns are for the most part heralding his continue presence at the financial helm. The Los Angeles Times calls it "The right move at the right time," while The Wall Street Journal, noting Tuesday's huge drop on American stock markets, qualifies its enthusiasm:

    VOICE: Mr. Greenspan indeed has an estimable record, one we've repeatedly commended. The Fed boss's commitment to price stability over the past 12 years is a large reason for the 1990s' run of prosperity. ... Paul Volcker aside, we can't think of anyone better to run monetary policy from his hip pocket. But that's what he does, no more evidently so than in the past year. . Mr. Greenspan, we should add, is also 73-years old. The Greenspan legacy would be much enhanced if he could in his fourth term . do more to publicly explain and institutionalize the Fed's inflation-fighting obligation.

    TEXT: The New York Times, calling Mr. Greenspan "both lucky and very astute," nevertheless reminds that he "did not produce the low foreign oil prices or higher productivity growth that have occurred during his tenure." But, says The Times,

    VOICE: . by setting clear objectives and exercising smart judgment, he let the economy take full advantage of both trends.

    TEXT: Today's San Francisco Chronicle also waxes enthusiastic:

    VOICE: [Mr.] Greenspan's policies proved miraculous in many ways. The jobless rate and wage-eating inflation figures now hover at a microscopic two percent. The stock market, until yesterday's bloodletting, was topping all-time highs. .. [Mr.] Greenspan's tight rein clearly helped the economy rocket through the seemingly constant predictions of an inevitable downturn.

    TEXT: However in the Midwest, The Detroit News, while hailing the reappointment, still has some criticism of the Fed chairman, noting that he:

    VOICE: . has shown a disconcerting tendency to squelch the recovery by raising interest rates whenever economic growth appeared too robust in his mind. At times, we worried that in its zeal to root out inflation, the Fed might actually tip the economy into deflation or a general decline of prices.

    TEXT: The morning's other popular topic is about a generally unpopular ruling by the Labor Department's office of Occupational Safety and Health, that companies in some circumstances are responsible for the safety of workers who work at home. In Connecticut, there is a stark reaction from The Hartford Courant, which writes under a headline: "Bureaucrats Gone Berserk:"

    VOICE: To put it bluntly, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration's policy on protections for stay-at-home workers is nuts [Editors: slang for "insane"] . This overreaching O-S-H-A edict should be canceled.

    TEXT: The Milwaukee [Wisconsin] Journal on the other hand, tries to understand how the regulation came to be written:

    VOICE: The problem. is that bureaucrats are trying to retrofit a law formulated years ago to a modern workplace, which operates in ways no one back then could have imagined. That doesn't mean the decision is totally without merit. As more Americans choose to work at home, steps need to be taken to ensure at least minimal worker safety. But the .declaration seems like overkill.

    TEXT: Several newspapers continue to marvel at the smooth transition to the new year after predictions that computers would not be able to recognize the year 2000, but would think it was 1900. In Salt Lake City, Utah, The Deseret [PRONOUNCED: Dez uh RET] News in Tuesday afternoon's editions applauded:

    VOICE: Someday, a historian will write the definitive study of the by-then long forgotten Y-Two-K scare, drawing smiles from some about those quaint turn-of- the-century folks who worried needlessly about major worldwide disruptions. When that story is written, we hope it is presented as a triumph of global cooperation. That is the only accurate spin [Editors: "interpretation."]

    TEXT: Turning to international news, there is comment in several papers on the scandal enveloping former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, now accused of operating unregulated or "slush" funds of money within his Christian Democratic Union party. The Honolulu Star Bulletin, in Tuesday afternoon's editions worries that Mr. Kohl:

    VOICE: . is mired in a campaign-funding scandal that could destroy his reputation. [Mr.] Kohl has admitted that he illegally accepted up to one-million dollars in secret cash contributions from 1993 to 1998.. [but] has refused to identify the donors. . The suspicion is that the former chancellor offered favors in return for the contributions. .. Whatever happens to [Mr.] Kohl, democracy in Germany must be preserved.

    /// BEGIN OPT ///

    TEXT: The Los Angeles Times adds that:

    VOICE: The C-D-U [Christian Democratic Union Party], which had a reputation for responsible government, may well end up like Italy's Christian Democrats, all but destroyed by corruption charges against its leading members. [Mr.] Kohl helped Germany face the truth about the country's World War Two history. Now he should disclose the truth about the financial affairs of his political party.

    TEXT: Comments continue to flow about the unexpected resignation of Russian President Boris Yeltsin on New Year's Eve. The San Jose [California] Mercury News comments:

    VOICE: Boris Yeltsin's stunning exit on the last day of the millennium befitted a man who ruled Russia cleverly, erratically and, at times, courageously, for nearly a decade. It was a gesture of contrition and cunning.

    TEXT: While in the heartland of America, The Topeka [Kansas] Capitol Journal appears a bit apprehensive about where Russia goes from here.

    VOICE: Change is a little scary anywhere. In Russia, where change is both a last resort and, lately, a daily occurrence, a change in presidents is especially anxiety-causing. Consider that a democratic Russia has never had anyone but Boris Yeltsin - and then even the unpopular, unpredictable and seemingly unstable [Mr.] Yeltsin starts to look good. But as his New Year's Eve resignation made clear, it's time for Russia to move on. To what, we don't yet know.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Several papers are reflecting on the Indian government's decision to release three jailed Kashmiri separatists in return for the release of more than one-hundred passengers and the crew of a hijacked Indian Airlines plane over the holidays. The [Minneapolis, Minnesota] Star Tribune suggests:

    VOICE: India made the best of a bad situation . [although] Debate . will continue on whether India encouraged further terrorism by bowing even partially to the hijackers' demands. But beyond that, this episode holds important lessons for the Indian government and for the U-N Security Council. For India, the lesson is that hijackings and other such horrors are what it reaps from the repression and brutality it sows in Kashmir. For the Security Council, the lesson is that it must cool the Afghan cauldron that spews bloodshed and rebellion across a volatile region. It was no coincidence . this drama played itself out on the territory of the Taleban.

    /// BEGIN OPT ///

    TEXT: In Texas, The Houston Chronicle has a definite view that more trouble lies ahead because of the decision.

    VOICE: Although many around the world were relieved that the situation was resolved with only one passenger death, that relief must be tempered by the understanding terrorism was the victor in this case. . Clearly, the loss of more hostages . would have been a high price to pay for thwarting the goals of these Islamic militants . But how many other innocent people now are at risk of becoming victims of terrorists encouraged by this outcome?

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: As regards the recent coup in the Ivory Coast, today's Detroit Free Press is hopeful that: VOICE; . a ray of hope is emerging. The new military ruler, General Robert Guei, met with leaders of the dissolved parliament and said Tuesday he would announce this week the makeup of a transitional government. . Ousted President [Henri Konan] Bedie - who fled to Paris - had become increasingly autocratic and dictatorial, and he attempted to divide Ivorians by playing on long simmering ethnic tensions. But he was an "elected" [italics for emphasis] leader, and any unconstitutional change in a democracy is cause for alarm. . [General] Guei's next step should be restoring civilian government.

    /// BEGIN OPT ///

    TEXT: The Cuban rafter boy, rescued from the sea off Florida, and now involved in a diplomatic tug-of-war between the United States and Cuba, draws this comment from The Trenton [New Jersey] Times, as negotiations proceed to re-unite him with his father in Cuba.

    VOICE: His cause was promptly seized upon by members of Florida's bitterly anti-Castro Cuban-American community . The exiles are insisting that Elian be given U-S asylum rather than be sent back to "live under communism." . Beyond question, Elian's future would be brighter in many ways on this side of the Straits of Florida. But that begs the question. In Havana, the child's father and his four grandparents want him back. They, and Elian, have a right to a solid parental and grandparental relationship. That right ...should get priority.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Finally, a comment on the Thailand government's ban of a new Hollywood film about the British governess who went to that country in the 19th century. While tutoring the crown prince, she ended up falling in love with the king. Today's Pittsburgh Post Gazette says of the ban:

    VOICE: All this strikes the average Westerner as absurd, of course. A work of art that criticizes Queen Elizabeth The First, for example, has no bearing on the present monarch, Queen Elizabeth The Second. No movie about a 19th -century Siamese king would change the Thai people's view of King Rama The Sixth (Bhumibol Adulyadej), who was born in the exotic city of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and as monarch since 1946 is the longest reigning king in Thai history. . it is an insult to both the king and the Thai people to assume that they are too naive and unschooled in Western culture to be allowed to watch a Hollywood movie about a 19th-century . king who employed an English schoolteacher in his court.

    TEXT: On that political and theatrical note, we conclude this sampling of editorials from Wednesday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/JP 05-Jan-2000 11:57 AM EDT (05-Jan-2000 1657 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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