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Voice of America, 00-03-14

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

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





    INTRO: The head of the U-N refugee agency will study the situation of hundreds-of-thousands of refugees and internally displaced people in the Balkans. Lisa Schlein in Geneva reports the official will start a two-week tour of the Balkans on Thursday.

    TEXT: The refugee agency chief, Sadako Ogata, will begin her trip in the Croatian capital, Zagreb. She also will visit cities in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo and other parts of Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, and Albania. The refugee agency spokesman, Kris Janowski, says Ms. Ogata will meet with national and international officials, including the head of the U-N administration in Kosovo, Bernard Kouchner. He says she also will meet with ethnic-Serb and Albanian leaders in Mitrovica, the divided Kosovo city. Mr. Janowski says Ms. Ogata will express her concern about recent unrest in the city.

    /// JANOWSKI ACT ONE ///

    She will look at the situation in Kosovo which, as you know, has been very tense over the past few weeks with incidents with a new influx of ethnic Albanians into southern Kosovo, with continued attacks against minorities in Albanian populated areas in Kosovo -- that is against Serbs and Romas, and so on and so forth.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr. Janowski says Ms. Ogata has no plans to visit southern Serbia's Presevo region. In recent weeks, hundreds of ethnic Albanians have fled to Kosovo to escape increasing harassment and intimidation from Serbs in Presevo. In Bosnia, there are more than 800-thousand internally displaced people in the Serb Republic and other parts of the country. Another 155-thousand Bosnians are refugees in Western countries. In addition, Serbia has an estimated 500-thousand Serb refugees from Croatia and Bosnia. Mr. Janowski says there have been a number of helpful developments in Croatia. He says the new Croatian president has indicated he would allow the return of tens-of-thousands of Serbs who fled Croatia after it declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991.

    /// JANOWSKI ACT TWO ///

    We also hope that what has happened in Zagreb is going to have a knock-on effect, not only in the Republika Srpska (Serb Republic in Bosnia), but also on the situation in Herzegovina. And, it will essentially pull the rug from underneath the hardline Croats who have been obstructing returns in Herzegovina in Mostar, Stolac, and other places, the violence, so on and so forth.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr. Janowski says that last year, the U-N refugee agency spent close to one-third of its total yearly budget in the Balkans. (SIGNED)
    NEB/LS/JWH/RAE 14-Mar-2000 11:03 AM EDT (14-Mar-2000 1603 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Negotiators from the United States and the European Union have reached preliminary agreement to protect information about Europeans who access the Internet on their computers. V-O-A Correspondent Ron Pemstein in Brussels reports the Europeans are accepting American assurances that the data will be safe and kept private.

    TEXT: The negotiations have taken nearly two years since the European Union passed a directive that gives its 15-member countries the right to stop information being sent over Internet if the receiving countries do not protect the privacy of the data. The United States does not have a similar data protection system. And, the E-U directive threatened to block trans-Atlantic business over the Internet. What the United States has been offering Europe is a self-regulating system that it calls the "safe harbor." Under this system, American companies wanting to do business with Europe would register with the U-S government and promise they will protect data privacy. Violations could be prosecuted under consumer protection laws. European Union negotiator John Mogg says he will recommend to European governments and the European Parliament that the American "safe harbor" principle satisfies European concerns for data privacy.

    /// MOGG ACT ///

    I think we have reached a very important stage today after a couple of years of detailed discussion. I feel able to recommend to my commissioner, to the commission, to the member states, to the privacy committees, and the parliamentary committees, that the U-S authorities' "safe harbor" has reached the level of adequacy that was laid down in our directive.

    /// END ACT ///

    The initial agreement on data protection does not cover, at this point, financial services. American negotiator David Aaron says the United States has to implement its own legislation before the Europeans will include banking in the basic agreement.

    /// AARON ACT ///

    Our system is significantly different than the system that exists in Europe. Indeed the structure of our financial system is different, the way the banks are incorporated, or whether they have affiliates or don't have affiliates, and all the rest is significantly different than Europe. We have had many creative ideas on how to deal with that, but quite frankly we ran up against the basic fact we are trying to paint a moving train. We have new legislation, newly adopted in the United States, the Financial Modernization Act, which we have not been able to deliver the regulations, the regulations are not due to be published until the middle of May.

    /// END ACT ///

    Given the delays on both sides, the full agreement on data privacy will not be operating until next year. (Signed)
    NEB/RDP/JWH/JP 14-Mar-2000 12:51 PM EDT (14-Mar-2000 1751 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: U-S stock prices were lower today (Tuesday), as volatility hit the biotechnology sector over the issue of human gene research. V-O-A correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York:

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 135 points, over one percent, closing at 98-hundred-11. The Standard and Poor's 500 index fell 24 points. The NASDAQ composite, weighed down by biotechnology stocks, lost over four percent. "Biotech" stocks came under pressure after President Clinton proposed that scientists around the world should have free access to data on human gene research. U-S companies leading in the field were not happy, fearing it would cut into their revenues. Leading aluminum-maker Alcoa is buying Cordant Technologies, a supplier of aerospace equipment. The deal is worth about two-point-nine-billion dollars. But Wall Street thinks the price is too high. Alcoa shares lost as much as 10 percent. Alcoa is one of the 30 stocks in the Dow Jones industrials list.

    /// REST OPT ///

    The latest on the U-S economy shows retail sales grew a stronger-than-expected one-point-one percent in February, increasing the likelihood that interest rates will be going up again. Analyst Diane Katilla says the U-S consumer remains an enthusiastic spender:

    /// KATILLA ACT ///

    It showed a consumer who pretty much is unfazed by the rising interest rates, by a volatile stock market, by rising oil prices. They're spending because incomes are rising and they're managing a relatively healthy increase in their sales patterns.

    /// END ACT ///

    The Federal Reserve Board meets next Tuesday and is widely expected to raise interest rates another 25 basis points for the fifth time since last June. Analysts point out that the four previous rate hikes have not managed, so far, to slow consumer spending or the U-S economy. Consumer spending accounts for roughly two-thirds of the output of the United States. (Signed) NEB/NY/EJ/LSF/WTW 14-Mar-2000 16:50 PM EDT (14-Mar-2000 2150 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: An unprecedented act of penitence from the Pope is drawing a lot of comment in the U-S press this Tuesday. Also at center stage, is the president's late decision to include Pakistan on his forthcoming trip to South Asia. Another popular topic is the feud between Mr. Clinton and the number-one gun lobby, the National Rifle Association. Rounding out the morning's topics are an apparent political shooting in Iran; supression of free media by Slobodan Milosevic; and a top U-S military official visits an old enemy. Now, here with a closer look and some excerpts, is _________ and today's Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: This is the season of Lent for the world's Christians, a time of introspection about one's soul, and a time of asking forgiveness for one's sins. On Sunday [3/12] at the Vatican, Pope John Paul asked forgiveness for the sins of Roman Catholics. His unprecedented apology is drawing significant comment in United States daily papers, like The San Francisco Chronicle, which calls it "historic and praiseworthy" and "a crowning achievement" for this pope.

    VOICE: It is difficult to atone for two- thousand years of sins and shortcomings in just one-day, but Pope John Paul the Second made a gallant and unprecedented attempt at it ... when he petitioned Heaven and Earth to forgive the hostilities, prejudices and indifferences that have dogged the Catholic Church for centuries.

    TEXT: The Chicago Tribune was also moved:

    VOICE: ... the papal apology was the sort of gesture that has become typical of this pope - one that reaches back to the Scriptures and the most ancient traditions of the church to do something that seems radical and new: publicly express contrition and ask forgiveness. It was a gesture both humble and challenging. ... As is so often the case, John Paul's action had a level of significance beyond the obvious... it was an example to a world riven by historical grievances of how reconciliation must begin ...

    TEXT: And in The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, this reaction:

    VOICE: What was astonishing was that he was asking forgiveness for sins of Catholics done in the name of the church. It is hard enough for individuals to confess moral lapses. Powerful institutions issue mea culpas even more rarely.

    TEXT: The New York Times leads its editorial column with these thoughts:

    VOICE: In calling for a church-wide purification of memory," John Paul acknowledged the mistakes and cruelty imbedded in church history, including the Inquisition, the forced conversions of native peoples in Africa and Latin America, and support of the Crusades, whose victims included Jews, Muslims and members of the Eastern Orthodox church. /// OPT /// John Paul's statement ... looks ahead by clearing the air for his successors. As long as it was burdened by its failure to reckon with past misdeeds committed in the name of Catholicism, the church could not fully heal its relations with other faiths. John Paul has now made it easier to do that. /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: President Clinton's recent decision to add a brief stop in Pakistan to his South Asia trip to India and Bangladesh later this month continues to draw both favorable and unfavorable reaction. Today, two dailies are firmly opposed to the addition. Ohio's [Akron] Beacon Journal is calling it "An unnecessary nod to an illegitimate government."

    VOICE: Despite wise counsel to the contrary, [Mr.] Clinton will stop briefly in Islamabad after a five-day tour of India and Bangladesh that begins Saturday. The White House can protest that it is not so, but the presidential visit already has been spun so as to bestow legitimacy on General Pervez Musharraf, whose October coup overthrew the elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. [Mr.] Sharif is on trial for his life as a result of the change in power.

    TEXT: Hawaii's Honolulu Star-Bulletin, citing the recent murder of the former Prime Minister's key lawyer, says: "The president should not visit Pakistan when the military government has not been absolved of responsibility" for the killing.

    /// OPT ///

    VOICE: President Clinton should reconsider his trip to Pakistan this month in the wake of the killing ... A visit by [Mr.] Clinton ... could be misinterpreted as condoning the crime. This would be very unfortunate.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Domestically, there is comment on an especially nasty feud between Mr. Clinton and the nation's main gun owners lobby, the National Rifle Association [N-R- A], over the issue of the latest rash of gun murders. In New Jersey's capital, The [Trenton] Times is furious at the N-R-A.

    VOICE: Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, charged President Clinton ... with exploiting gun deaths for political purposes. ... "He's willing to accept a certain level of killing to further his political agenda and his vice president, too." Willing to accept a certain level of killing to further his political agenda? This from an organization that has fought a ban on cop-killer bullets, fought a ban on assault-type weapons, fought a ban on plastic guns that can evade metal detectors... fought a requirement that handguns manufactured in the future be childproofed ... Even from a shameless outfit like the N-R-A, Mr. LaPierre's accusation is a shocker.

    TEXT: Back overseas, The Los Angeles Times is angry at a new political shooting in Iran, presumably with the support of the Islamic orthodox hardliners, opposed to change.

    VOICE: Terrorists in Iran now seek to undo what free choice at the ballot box aimed to achieve. On Sunday, Saeed Hajjarian, a key organizer of the February 18th parliamentary triumph by reformists and a confidant of moderate President Mohammad Khatami, was shot and critically wounded. On Monday, mortar fire fell in a residential area that is home to five members of parliament. ...It is highly probable that extremists within the government, determined to maintain control and prepared to use ruthless means to intimidate their opponents, were behind [Mr. Hajjarian's shooting]. ... Terrorism must not be permitted to negate the elections that have brought Iran to this crucial post- revolutionary turning point.

    TEXT: In another trouble spot, the Balkans, The Washington Post castigated Yugoslavian president Slobodan Milosevic for his latest crack down on independent media.

    VOICE: Slobodan Milosevic's Yugoslavia has been called a "media dictatorship" - a system in which raw force and elaborate manipulation of news and information function as mutually reinforcing instruments of political control. ... Still, he has always allowed a measure of breathing room for opposition and independent media. Now he is rapidly closing what is left of that space, seeking to choke off what little chance his Western-supported opponents might have to oust him in the already not-terribly- free elections he is constitutionally required to hold this year.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: Today's Manchester [New Hampshire] Union Leader feels that China should be condemned in the United Nations for persecution against a leader of its Muslim Uighurs minority in the nation's far northwest.

    VOICE: When the U-N Human Rights Commission convenes March 20th in Geneva, it ought to sanction China for its latest abuse of human rights. ... this week a Muslim businesswoman was sentenced to eight years in prison - in a secret trial that forbade her and her lawyer from speaking and forbade her family members from attending. Just a few years ago, Rebiya Kadeer was held up by the Chinese government as a model citizen before her community of ethnic Muslims, living near the northwestern frontier of China. She headed a program called one- thousand Families Mothers' Project, which helped Muslim women in the region start businesses. ... Now she is headed to jail and her son has been sent to a labor camp. ... If there is any reason at all for the U-N to exist, it ought to be to publicly condemn China for its continuing flagrant violations of human rights.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Defense Secretary William Cohen is visiting Vietnam, America's former enemy. The Portland [Maine] Press Herald notes:

    VOICE: [Mr.] Cohen ... met with top Vietnamese military officials, a move that cannot have escaped the notice of a nation just to the north: communist China. That country has been saber-rattling over the reunification of the island of Taiwan. [Secretary] Cohen's talks with Vietnam, which long held off Chinese invasions, should indicate that Beijing can not throw its weight around without some reaction from this nation and China's neighbors in Asia. Closer ties at all levels with Vietnam are well worth pursuing.

    TEXT: On that note, we conclude this sampling of comment from Tuesday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/RAE 14-Mar-2000 12:00 PM EDT (14-Mar-2000 1700 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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