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Voice of America, 00-01-13

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

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





    INTRO: Russian forces are blocking the passage of all Chechen civilian males more than 10-years old and under age-60 from entering or leaving the breakaway republic. Moscow Correspondent Eve Conant reports regional and international leaders say the new measures violate human rights as refugees try to flee the renewed fighting in Chechnya.

    TEXT: Military officials say federal troops are combing Russian occupied towns in Chechnya for possible rebels after a series of counterattacks killed dozens of Russian soldiers. One of the new measures adopted by the military to fend off further attacks is to detain and thoroughly check all Chechen males they consider to be of fighting age. Border guards and refugees at the Chechen-Ingush border say Chechen men between the ages of 10 and 60 are not allowed to flee the fighting or to return to their homes. Russian television showed pictures of a border guard shouting at civilians that electricity problems meant no one could cross for some period.


    He shouts to the refugees - here is one more disappointment for you. The electricity has been cut off and even those of you over 60-years of age will have to wait. U-S officials, human rights groups, and regional leaders have all blasted the new measures as a violation of human rights. Ingushetia's president says intensified fighting had prompted a new wave of refugees. The New York-based Human Rights Watch calls it unacceptable to deny civilian males the right to flee a war. Russia's Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo, on a visit to the region, said Russian media reports that the offensive was starting to fail are a gross exaggeration. He tried to assure reporters that federal forces were in control, but would not give details of new security measures.


    He says - we will not reveal our tactics or methods, but we are going to strengthen checks in populated regions. He says - the rebels have not disappeared, they are here among us. Heavy fighting continued in the capital, Grozny, with helicopter gunships and warplanes hitting targets in the city center. Russian news agencies quote a representative of the Russian government in Chechnya as saying Grozny would soon be under federal control, but news reports from the region say the city center is still held by rebels. Federal artillery also pounded targets in towns reportedly under Russian control, as well as the mountain rebel stronghold of Vedeno. (SIGNED)
    NEB/EC/GE/RAE 13-Jan-2000 09:27 AM EDT (13-Jan-2000 1427 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Former East German leader, Egon Krenz, is enter (entered) prison in Berlin for his part in the deaths of people killed while trying to flee to the West across the Berlin Wall. Jonathan Braude reports.

    TEXT: For six-months, Egon Krenz has fought his way through the German courts, trying to have his sentence overturned. He managed to stay out of jail during the Christmas holiday while Germany's supreme constitutional court examined his appeal. But now, the judges have dismissed his case on the grounds that it had no chance of success. So the original judgement of last August stands. Mr. Krenz, the last non-elected leader of the former Communist East Germany, must serve six-and-one-half- years in prison for his part in ordering the shooting of people trying to escape to the West across the heavily armed, divided German border.

    /// OPT ///

    Mr. Krenz was due to enter prison in the Berlin suburb of Spandau - not far from the site of the old Spandau Jail, where Adolph Hitler's former aide Rudolf Hess lived out his last days. /// END OPT
    Mr. Krenz, who was leader of both the East German Government and the Communist Party when the Berlin Wall came down 10-years ago, tried to fight the sentence on the grounds that he was breaking no East German laws at the time. He has accused his pursuers of exacting "victors' justice" and revenge. But the judges were unimpressed. So, too, was the governing mayor of Berlin, Eberhard Diepgen, who refused a pardon to Mr. Krenz and to Guenther Schabowski, the former East German politburo member and government spokesman. Mr. Schabowski, who announced the opening of the wall at a press conference on November 9, 1989, is serving a shorter sentence for his role in the shootings. Mr. Krenz is still waiting for his appeal to go to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. But the German judges have refused to allow him to remain free until then. (SIGNED)
    NEB/JB/GE/RAE 13-Jan-2000 08:45 AM EDT (13-Jan-2000 1345 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Stock prices in the United States rallied today (Thursday), as technology shares pulled out of a two day sell-off. VOA correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York:

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 31 points, a fractional gain, closing at a record 11- thousand-582. The Standard and Poor's 500 index rose 17 points. And the Nasdaq composite rebounded for a gain of two and three-quarters percent. Internet stocks once again drove the stock market, but this time, toward the "up" side. America Online and Time Warner shares made a bit of a comeback, though well off their highs. A-O-L and Time Warner shares took a steep dive after Wall Street decided to take a second look at their proposed merger. The latest on the U-S economy shows minimal inflationary pressure at the wholesale price level. However, U-S retail sales rose more-than-expected in December, as consumers continued to spend robustly.

    /// REST OPT for long ///

    That could mean higher interest rates when the Federal Reserve Board meets early next month. Consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of the U-S economy, which Federal Reserve policy-makers are trying to keep from over-heating. Michael Moran, chief economist at Daiwa Securities firm, thinks the economy will cool in 2000, but too gradually to have a significant impact on spending. He says the three interest rate hikes last year were not enough:

    /// MORAN ACT ///

    It seems pretty clear that interest rates are not constraining demand to any significant degree. We have a good pace of demand in the housing market. We're still doing very well with consumer durable goods. This implies, I think, that rates need to go a little higher than they are now.

    ///END ACT///

    The U-S central bank left interest rates unchanged in December to ensure a smooth Y-2-K transition. United Airlines, the world's largest air carrier, says its earnings this year will fall short of expectations because of higher fuel and labor costs. Oil prices have more than doubled over the last 12 months. U-A-L shares fell over 14 percent. Charles Schwab, the world's number one online broker, says it will buy U-S Trust Corporation - a traditional money management firm. The deal - worth over two and one-half billion dollars - will enable Schwab to offer full-service. Financial stocks rallied on the news. The move comes after sweeping banking legislation in Washington last year that allows banks, brokers and insurers to enter each other's business. And, Warner-Lambert, the number two U-S drug-maker, has agreed to talk with its unfriendly suitor - Pfizer. This puts in jeopardy Warner-Lambert's proposed merger deal with American Home Products. Pfizer unveiled its hostile bid last November, one day after Warner-Lambert had agreed to merge with American Home Products. Until now, Warner-Lambert had refused to talk with Pfizer. (signed) NEB/NY/EJ/LSF/PT 13-Jan-2000 17:47 PM EDT (13-Jan-2000 2247 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The biggest corporate merger ever, the union between the America Online and Time-Warner companies, continues to occupy the attention of many editorial writers this Thursday. Newspapers also are commenting on the British decision that Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet is too ill to be tried, and on the question of what to do about a six-year-old Cuban boy who wound up in the United States when his mother drowned during an attempt to escape from Cuba. Rounding out the list of editorial topics are: an increase in the smuggling of people from China to the United States; the Syrian-Israeli peace talks; the Taliban's role in ending an air hijacking in Afghanistan; and coping with an AIDS pandemic in Africa. Now, here is _________ with a closer look and some excerpts in today's Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: The 160-billion-dollar-plus purchase of Time Warner by America Online continues to occupy a prominent place both in the business pages and on the editorial pages of the U-S press. In the first comment from some dailies, there is a mixture of admiration at the entrepreneurial spirit of A-O-L founder Steve Case, and apprehension about the centralization of media in this country. Calling the new firm a "media monster," the Tulsa [Oklahoma] World is quick to point out that the "merger has a downside."

    VOICE: ... Lost in the hullabaloo is the fact that fewer owners and managers control more and more of the news and entertainment available to Americans. ... Time was when newspapers and TV stations -- even movie studios -- were family- owned and local. That climate fostered strong, independent voices. Now corporate ownership is the rule. Time was when local editors decided what to print or broadcast based on what was news and what people needed to know. Now those decisions are based on ratings or advertising revenues or the "synergy" between corporate divisions. ... The A-O-L - Time Warner merger most likely will go through. But it will mean something more is lost in terms of variety and independence in our news and entertainment voices.

    TEXT: In the motor city, The Detroit News says while the federal government still must rule on the proposed merger, technology is about to make such oversight irrelevant.

    VOICE: The deal must still undergo regulatory scrutiny, no simple matter considering the Clinton Administration's antitrust instincts. But the merger itself represents a pace of change and competition that largely relegates such oversight to irrelevancy. ... The ... deal represents a convergence of complementary, not competing services. To the degree that efficiencies are created, competition will likely intensify. By the very nature of its virtually unlimited capacity, the Internet is difficult if not impossible to monopolize. Consumers stand to benefit from giving free rein to the development of this exciting new medium - - even though regulators might not. ... Government interference is ... unwarranted.

    // OPT //

    TEXT: Boston's Christian Science Monitor feels the new merger, and some previous ones, are not anti-competitive, adding:

    VOICE: "The quickening pace of progress in technology and media should be welcomed. ... Antitrust bureaucrats can rest awhile. And consumers can happily watch the scramble for their dollars.

    TEXT: As for the Washington Post, it essentially agrees, calling it an "apples-and-oranges merger" and suggesting the key questions for consumers are:

    VOICE: Might the merger dull the diversity of the media? Might it drive up the price of Internet access? The quick answer to these questions is: Relax. ... Down the road, there may be reasons to fear the muscle of A-O-L Time Warner, assuming that the deal does go ahead. But our sense is that, in the near future, the new company does not endanger consumer choice or competition. // END OPT //

    TEXT: "The Gift of Mercy for a Dictator who showed none" is the way today's Miami Herald is describing a British government decision that former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet is too ill to stand trial in Spain, and may be sent back to Chile.

    VOICE: For 17 years while in his prime, Mr. Pinochet ruled Chile with a strong and bloody arm. Now oil and infirm and under house arrest in England, he will probably be offered mercy -- a compassion never given to his victims -- and the ability to return to his country. ... The trial and a conviction surely would have further solidified important international human-rights standards. Yet even without reaching trial, the preliminary legal maneuvering in Mr. Pinochet's case already has established a watershed: No longer can a head of state, current or former, expect to escape punishment for crimes against humanity.

    // OPT //

    TEXT: No mistaking how The Milwaukee [Wisconsin] Journal feels. Its editorial headline reads: "No, [Mr.] Pinochet does not deserve a pass [a reprieve]."

    VOICE: ... [Mr.] Pinochet is being taken off a hook of his own making, and he does not deserve to bask in the freedom that gutless British officials seem ready to offer him. If [General] Pinochet is too ill to stand trial now, let him remain in the comfortable detention of the mansion where he resides until such time as he is able to answer for his crimes. And if he dies before then, few will mourn his passing.

    // END OPT //

    TEXT: A raging debate continues in this country over the fate of a six-year-old Cuban boy plucked from the sea as his mother drowned while trying to get him to Florida with other refugees. His father in Cuba wants him back, but the boy's relatives in Florida are trying to block the move, as the lad becomes the subject of a tug-of-war with the U-S government. In the latest episode, a Florida judge ruled that her court had jurisdiction of the boy's case, but the U-S Attorney General disagreed. Nebraska's Omaha World Herald agrees with the federal government.

    VOICE: Attorney General Janet Reno is right: The Florida court case involving Cuban refugee Elian Gonzalez has no legal standing. It may have been well meant, but it had "error" written all over it. ... Elian Gonzalez has become a political football. He deserves better.

    // OPT //

    TEXT: The [New York] Daily News raises yet another point: a link between the forces trying to keep the boy in Florida, and the Florida judge who made the questionable decision, temporarily overruling federal authority.

    VOICE: If they [the anti-Castro Cubans in Florida trying to keep the lad in the United States] are so enthralled with the democratic process, they would do better to condemn the questionable conduct of the state judge who defied the I-N-S, instead of canonizing her. Judge Rosa Rodriguez, already under investigation for alleged campaign finance violations, has political links to the guy who has been the mouthpiece [spokesman] for Elian's kin [in Florida]. Has she ever heard the word "recuse," as in step aside from the case? Do her supporters understand how American justice is supposed to work? Do they care? // END OPT //

    TEXT: In a related development, The Sun in Baltimore is questioning inconsistent U-S immigration policy toward illegal aliens smuggling themselves into this country, as Elian Gonzalez's mother was trying to do.

    VOICE: Advocates turning Elian Gonzalez into a political cause rather than condemn him to life in Communist Cuba presumably do not extend the same logic to hundreds of Chinese enduring unspeakable privation to reach these shores from Communist China. Immigration agents discovered 87 stowaways aboard six ships in West Coast ports from January second to January 10th. // OPT // Three immigrants died in one ... container, with 15 survivors living beside the bodies. // END OPT // ... This form of smuggling must be stopped before it catches on and becomes a problem in East Coast ports with illegal immigrants from this hemisphere. The profitable racket will grow until it is stopped. Politicians who favor any Cuban and oppose any other immigrant to these shores ought to make sure to fund the I-N-S, Customs Service and Coast Guard to the levels of vigilance required.

    TEXT: On the other side of the world, several more papers are commenting on the Syrian-Israeli peace talks in West Virginia, now recessed for a few days, with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette counseling patience - with some reservations -- for the slow progress so far.

    VOICE: Like labor negotiations, Arab-Israeli peace talks often follow a familiar pattern: protracted talks, rumors of a stalemate and, at the last minute, a break-through. Recent Israeli-Syrian talks in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, lacked both a climax and a cliffhanger. ... If the process is too protracted, political pressures against a deal could well build up in both countries.

    TEXT: Some thoughts now on the actions of the Taliban militia in Afghanistan, which helped resolve a lengthy hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane during the recent New-Year holiday period. The Houston Chronicle complains:

    VOICE: // OPT // Afghanistan's Taliban militia received much positive recognition for its help in negotiating a resolution to the Christmas Eve hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane. But // END OPT // too much praise is heaped on this brutal regime for a single righteous act; let us not forget the Taliban's terrible record on human rights and international terrorism.

    TEXT: As regards the AIDS pandemic in Africa, and the current attention being paid to it at the United Nations under United States leadership, the Tulsa [Oklahoma] World heartily agrees with the urgency.

    VOICE: It's always a mystery trying to understand what gets the world's attention. Fears about a Y-2-K computer virus spurred governments, industries and individuals to spend billions on prophylactic measures. At least 23- million Africans die from a real virus and less than 200-million is spent on prevention of H-I-V and AIDS. Indeed, it is one of the great riddles of our time why so many are dying in sub-Saharan Africa while so few elsewhere take action. ... In the 1930's and 1940s, at least six-million Jews were exterminated at Hitler's command. The world has spent the past half century wondering why more wasn't done to prevent or stop the killings. In Africa, AIDS has killed four times that many. ... The verdict is still out on whether the world community is going to stand up for the Africans or just stand by as millions more die.

    TEXT: Lastly, some thoughts on the potential breakup of two well-known couples, at least as Georgia's Augusta Chronicle sees it.

    VOICE: When Atlanta T-V mogul ... Ted Turner and his Viet Cong sympathizer wife Jane Fonda went their separate ways ... the news media reported their marriage was on the rocks. Fair enough, but another prominent couple are going their separate ways. ... Yet "splitting" or "breaking up" are terms that dare not speak their name. That's because the other married couple are the President and First Lady. When they "break up," it's big news -- so big, apparently, that the Big Media won't touch it. ... The break is being portrayed as a consequence of Hillary Rodham's expected run for New York's U-S Senate seat, and Bill Clinton's need to stay in Washington to run the country. But surely no one would be surprised if that were a smokescreen to cover for a marital breakup. Heaven knows, Hillary has cause.

    TEXT: With that little bit of celebrity domesticity, we conclude this sampling of editorial content from Thursday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/WTW 13-Jan-2000 13:02 PM EDT (13-Jan-2000 1802 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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