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Voice of America, 00-03-16

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

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





    INTRO: American troops have seized weapons and ammunition from Albanian militias operating in Eastern Kosovo near the Serbian border. Ron Pemstein reports from Brussels that there is growing NATO alarm about Albanian militia activity.

    TEXT: A NATO official in Brussels says there is growing concern about illegal Albanian militias in Eastern Kosovo. Using the Albanian language initials for the banned Kosovo Liberation Army, the official says - we do not want to see the U-C-K by another name and we will not allow others to conduct U-C-K activities. The American NATO troops raided five sites Wednesday in Eastern Kosovo along a 28-kilometer front. A statement by the peacekeeping troops says the raid captured 22 crates of ammunition, seven rifles, 28 hand grenades and two mortar tubes. The troops also captured uniforms bearing the black and red insignias of an Albanian militia group. Nine people were detained. A statement says the raid was designed as a pre- emptive strike to prevent the militia from smuggling weapons and launching cross-border raids into Serbia from Kosovo. Speaking in Paris (Thursday), U-N Secretary General Kofi Annan says it is clear that Kosovo Albanians are the cause of provocations into southern Serbia's Presevo Valley. The valley has three towns predominantly populated by Albanians. NATO has no control over any actions the Serbian army may take outside Kosovo's boundaries. Secretary General Annan also appealed in Paris for reinforcements in Kosovo, saying - we need money, police and troops. France and Italy have agreed to rush hundreds of extra troops to the divided city of Mitrovica in northern Kosovo where tensions have led to Serb-Albanian clashes and violent confrontations with peacekeeping troops. NATO officials say they expect other countries to announce additional troop contributions for Kosovo in the next few days. General Wesley Clark, NATO's military commander, called last month for two-thousand extra troops to bring the total force in Kosovo back to 40-thousand. NATO countries contribute 31-thousand of those troops. The raid in Eastern Kosovo and the reinforcements for Mitrovica are meant to signal NATO's determination to maintain the peace brought about by the alliance's 78- days of bombing last year. (SIGNED)
    NEB/RP/GE/RAE 16-Mar-2000 11:56 AM EDT (16-Mar-2000 1656 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The Pentagon says its troops are ready to act again if called on to head off violence by either side in Yugoslavia's troubled Kosovo province. Wednesday, the Americans siezed weapons caches from some of the ethnic Albanians NATO fought to protect in last year's air war. V-O-A's David Swan reports.

    TEXT: NATO commanders are growing more and more concerned about illegal Albanian militias. Earlier this week, a senior Defense Department official warned U-S peacekeeping forces may soon be drawn into combat against their former allies. Wednesday, American soldiers raided five cities and towns in eastern Kosovo. They detained nine people and confiscated rifles, grenades, ammunition and militia uniforms. Pentagon spokesman P-J Crowley says the troops will move against anyone threatening stability in the area.

    // Crowley act //

    We are going to take decisive action to continue to eliminate those tools that a hardline group could use to fuel tensions and conflict in the region.

    // end act //

    The raids are described as a pre-emptive strike to stop the militias from staging their own operations across the Serbian border. Officials fear that could touch off a wider war involving Serbs, Albanians and peacekeepers alike. Tensions are also high in the divided city of Mitrovica in northern Kosovo. France and Italy have agreed to send extra troops there to help keep order. Meanwhile, 11-hundred U-S Marines and nine-hundred soldiers from other countries (Poland, Romania, Norway and Argentina) will move into Kosovo this weekend on a training mission. The Pentagon calls this an annual exercise that was scheduled months ago, and is not a response to any current crisis. However, officials say it should also signal all sides that NATO is determined to prevent another flare-up of violence. (Signed)
    NEB/DS/PT 16-Mar-2000 16:14 PM EDT (16-Mar-2000 2114 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: President Clinton will host a St. Patrick's Day dinner at the White House Friday for the leaders of the Northern Ireland peace process. The event comes one month after Britain suspended a new power- sharing government. US officials are playing down the possibility for any breakthroughs in the troubled peace process. Correspondent Deborah Tate reports from the White House. Text: Clinton spokesman Joe Lockhart declined to speculate on prospects for resuming the peace process when the Northern Ireland leaders gather for the traditional White House St. Patrick's Day celebrations.


    I would say this is more than just courtesy, but I also do not expect any breakthroughs.

    /// END ACT ///

    The parties are seeking to restart the peace process after Britain on February 11th suspended Northern Ireland's 72-day old power-sharing government, which had brought together majority Protestants and minority Roman Catholics. In taking the action, Britain cited a lack of progress by the Catholic Irish Republican Army to hand over the weapons used in its decades-old battle against British rule of the province. But Sinn Fein, the IRA's political ally, maintains that disarming by a February deadline was not part of the 1998 US-brokered Good Friday Accords that began the peace process, and that suspending the government made it even more unlikely to happen. But late last year, Protestant Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble, in an effort to win his party's backing for the new government, pledged to resign the coalition if the IRA did not make progress on disarmament before mid-February. An independent commission's report released early last month concluded that the IRA had not done enough toward disarming - setting the stage for Mr. Trimble's resignation. British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Peter Mandelson - believing that Mr. Trimble is indispensible to keeping the Ulster Unionists engaged in the peace process - suspended the government to prevent the resignation. Among those expected to attend the White House event are Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, Mr. Mandelson, Mr. Trimble and Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern. Mr. Clinton will meet separately with the leaders during the day before bringing them together in the evening. On Thursday, Mr. Clinton attended a St. Patrick's Day luncheon hosted by House Speaker Dennis Hastert on Capitol Hill. Mr. Ahern and Mr. Adams were also on hand. (Signed)
    NEB/DAT/TVM/PT 16-Mar-2000 18:50 PM EDT (16-Mar-2000 2350 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Hungary says it will try to collect financial damages from Australian and Romanian companies for a mining accident that polluted waterways in three countries. The firms are accused of pouring waste water contaminated with deadly cyanide into the Tisza River, part of Eastern Europe's Danube River system. Stefan Bos reports from Budapest.

    TEXT: Hungary announced its plan to sue for damages on Thursday, after learning that the Australian company, Esmeralda Exploration [Limited], has begun bankruptcy proceedings in Sydney. Hungarian and Romanian environmental officials say they fear the Australian firm is trying to evade financial responsibility for the pollution. Six weeks ago, a cyanide spill from a gold mine in Romania -- a joint venture by the Esmeralda company and a Romanian partner -- virtually wiped out marine life along an extensive stretch of the Tisza, Hungary's second-largest river. The pollution also affected parts of Ukraine and Romania and spread downstream into the Danube. Another accident last week at a different Romanian mine poured more pollution into the Tisza: 20-thousand cubic meters of sludge laced with zinc, lead and copper. Hungary says it also will sue for damages in that case, but Thursday's anouncement focused on the cyanide spill at Esmeralda's Baia Mare gold mine. The Australian company denies any direct link to the pollution, or its consequences in Hungary. Officials in Budapest, however, say the cyanide spill killed hundreds of tons of fish and fouled drinking-water supplies for many towns and villages. Foreign Ministry spokesman Gabor Horvath says Hungary has suffered catastrophic environmental damage in recent weeks, and his government will not rest until those responsible pay compensation.

    /// HORVATH ACT ///

    Hungary, in view of the two environmental pollution situations which are serious, is considering and planning to take appropriate legal action against the Romanian-Australian joint venture, which is responsible for the cyanide pollution, as well as against its mother company, Esmeralda. And Hungary will also take appropriate action against the state-owned Romanian firm which is responsible for the zinc and lead pollution [earlier this month].

    /// END ACT ///

    // OPT //

    Germany's deputy environment minister, Gila Altmann, has been meeting with government officials and environmentalists here, after visiting the scene of the cyanide spill in Romania. She says there must be a maximum effort to prevent further accidents in the future. Ms. Altmann says Germany has set up a water-quality monitoring system to provide data about the extent of environmental damage in the region.

    /// ALTMANN ACT ///

    For Romania we have a mobile station to measure the pollution, and we hope that we will receive objective data and facts. I think that would be good for both Hungary and Romania.

    /// END ACT ///

    Hungary feels monitoring is not enough. It also wants Romania to close down industrial sites that are potential environmental hazards. // END OPT // Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of people who live near the Tisza have been warned by local authorities not to use river water for any purpose. Experts say there are fears that heavy-metal pollutants in the river's mud could end up in the food chain, where they could aggravate Hungary's already-high cancer rate. (Signed)
    NEB/SJB/WTW 16-Mar-2000 18:08 PM EDT (16-Mar-2000 2308 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    ///Eds : Use opt graphs for long ///

    INTRO: U-S stock prices were up sharply today (Thursday), with the downtrodden "blue-chips" staging a big rally for the second straight day. The Dow Jones Industrials posted their biggest one-day point gain ever. VOA correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York:

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average went up 499 points, almost five percent, to 10-thousand-630. The Standard and Poor's 500 index rose 66 points - more than four percent. The technology-weighted Nasdaq composite clipped a three-day losing streak. It went up more than 130 points, nearly three percent. Experts are not sure whether these market gains have any real staying power. But analyst Bob Seijas said it was very exciting to see those numbers run up:

    ///SEIJAS ACT///

    This is really quite something. It's a big, broad-based, high volume rally into quality stuff. This is an old time rally that just makes everybody feel good.

    ///END ACT///

    ///BEGIN OPT///

    Robert Harrington, an analyst with the Paine Webber brokerage firm, believes the "blue-chips" are in a good position to go higher because they had been driven down so low. And, he says good quarterly earnings reports will remind people that many of the under-valued traditional companies have solid fundamentals:


    I think there's a lot of room for the old economy stocks to act well. I think once we get by the interest rate rise we're expecting March 21st (the Federal Reserve Board's meeting day), we'll start looking towards earnings to see who's executing their business strategy and doing well. But yes, I think there's room for this to grow.

    ///END ACT///

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average - even after a two- day rally - is still down over one-thousand points from its all-time high in mid-January.

    ///END OPT///

    The latest on the U-S economy shows inflation at the wholesale level was up a full percent last month. But most of it came from oil prices. The core rate of inflation - excluding energy - was up just three- tenths of one percent.(Signed) NEB/NY/EJ/LSF/ENE/PT 16-Mar-2000 17:04 PM EDT (16-Mar-2000 2204 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: As Taiwan's presidential election nears, the rhetoric from Beijing becomes more intense and threatening, and the editorials in the U-S press on the topic increase in number. The trip to Vietnam by Defense Secretary William Cohen also comes in for comment, as does the struggling Japanese economy. A Scottish company's success in cloning pigs -- and the hope for human organ transplants -- is another popular topic, as is the increase in gasoline prices. In politics, there is criticism of Vice President Al Gore, praise for the Pope's apology, and fears of where more Kosovo violence will lead. Now, here with a closer look and some excerpts, is _____________ and today's Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: Taiwan holds a presidential election Saturday, and on the front page of several U-S dailies there is a picture of Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji delivering Beijing's latest threatening comments aimed at the island. For The San Francisco Chronicle, the comparison between the two governments is stark.

    VOICE: The comparison is unavoidable. While authoritarian China blusters, Taiwan votes. ...The election carries a variety of messages. On one level, it's billed as a referendum on relations with China. Lien Chan, the heir apparent to the Koumintang dynasty chased from the mainland in 1949, wants to temper talks of a formal break with China. Rival Chen Shui-bian is a notable, and loud, advocate of independence. The third candidate, James Soong, is playing the stay-or-split issue cautiously. ... The election bears watching. A combative president could taunt a reflexive china into a dangerous move ... [unsettling] the whole region.

    TEXT: The lead editorial in the Washington Post compares Prime Minister Zhu to a Mafia boss, as the paper comments:

    VOICE: /// OPT /// China experts in the West will hasten to explain why Mr. Zhu's words do not mean what they appear to mean. The prime minister, a chief advocate for China's entry into the World Trade Organization and therefore suspect to party hard-liners, is only seeking to burnish his nationalist credentials, it will be said. Or he is only looking for maximal impact on Taiwan's election, in which Beijing would like to see opposition ... candidate Chen Shui- bian defeated. /// END OPT /// With bellicose rhetoric, he hopes to scare sufficient numbers of voters away from Mr. Chen. It seems prudent, though, at least to entertain the notion that ... Mr. Zhu also means what he says, that his regime is prepared to use force against Taiwan. ... It's right for Mr. Clinton ... to continue urging peaceful dialogue. ... But Mr. Clinton also should make clear that the United States will help defend Taiwan if it is attacked simply for being a democracy ...

    /// BEGIN OPT ///

    TEXT: In Baltimore, The Sun is urging cooler heads to prevail whoever wins Taiwan's election.

    VOICE: Communist China learned about capitalism from watching Taiwan in envy. So it must with democracy. The wrong person can win. You put up with it. China is capable of wrecking Taiwan, not occupying it. The cost to both would be horrendous. The two Chinas are already interdependent. If Mr. [Chen Shui-bian] Chen can win, he will have made his point. Coexisting and cooperating for a future one- China would be Beijing's responsibility, and his.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Still with Asian affairs, The Fort Worth Star- Telegram, watching Defense Secretary William Cohen's trip to Vietnam, has these observations.

    VOICE: During his two-day visit, [Secretary] Cohen emphasized the importance of ongoing efforts by teams of Americans and Vietnamese to retrieve the remains of missing American military personnel. ... [Mr.] Cohen also pointed to new possibilities for military cooperation in such areas as land mine disposal and medical problems. But he stressed that such military interaction needs to take place in a context of improved relations between the two countries overall. There is no shame for this country in moving toward such a reconciliation with Vietnam.

    TEXT: To which The Beacon Journal of Akron, Ohio adds:

    VOICE: [Mr.] Cohen delivered a well-measured message meant to resonate not only in Hanoi, but in Beijing as well. China's emerging, economic presence casts a long shadow over Vietnam and its anxious Southeast Asian neighbors. /// OPT

    /// ...The United States restored trade relations with Vietnam in 1994 and diplomatic relations a year later. The two have since made significant progress ... in moving beyond the war, beyond the memory of 58-thousand American and three-million Vietnamese lives lost, families torn apart. /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Turning to East Asia's economic giant, U-S-A Today, the daily published in a Washington, D-C suburb, says "Decisive action [is] needed to rev Japan's still-stagnant economy."

    VOICE: Reports out of Japan this week show that the nation's economy contracted in the second half of 1999, a flop back into recession that threatens to pull the rest of Asia, and in time, western prosperity, down with it. Coming after a hopeful spell early last year, the news signals that financial woes aren't yet behind the world's second-biggest economy. And that's bad news for countries consigned to watch anxiously from the sidelines.

    /// BEGIN OPT ///

    ... Only new businesses and workers can stimulate Japan's economy of aging, rich citizens and mature, coddled firms. Yet Japan remains in denial about the need for radical change.

    TEXT: Turning to President Clinton's forthcoming trip to South Asia, one more newspaper has come out against his including Pakistan on the journey. The Charleston [South Carolina] Post and Courier calls it a "dangerous trip," in more ways than one.

    VOICE: President Clinton should rethink his plan to visit Pakistan next week, simply on the basis of security considerations. The significant diplomatic risks of visiting a new military dictator committed to the liberation of neighboring Indian Kashmir pale beside the physical threats to the president's security in a nation that, willingly or not, harbors violent Islamic radicals.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: The success of P-P-L, a Scottish bioengineering company with a branch in Virginia, at cloning pigs that someday might produce organs compatible for human transplanting, draws this qualified approval from The Los Angeles Times.

    VOICE: It's a major achievement, marking the fourth kind of mammal ever to be cloned, and moving scientists closer to growing pigs with gene-altered organs that can be transplanted into people. Still, in its breathless enthusiasm, P-P-L is making claims that the public, investors and government regulators should not simply accept -- forgive us -- whole hog [EDS: U-S slang for accepting an idea without reservations, and used here for the purpose of humor.] ... Xenotransplantation [EDS: animal to human organ transplantation] is one of many exciting new frontiers in genetic science ... But the technique is full of peril as well as promise and should be implemented carefully and thoughtfully.

    TEXT: Ever-increasing gasoline prices in the United States are coming in for increasing comment in editorials, even as independent truckers drive their trucks into Washington today in a second protest over the cost of diesel fuel. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette objects to the rising cost being politicized:

    VOICE: There is no denying that Americans have felt sticker shock when paying their heating bills this winter and will be outraged when having to shell out [EDS: pay] close to two dollars-a-gallon [about 50 cents a liter] at the gas station pumps this summer. But there is still something a bit disingenuous about Republicans, who normally can be counted on to defend the free market, deriding President Clinton's administration for not "doing something" to keep down the price of oil. Commodity prices rise and fall, and the less Uncle Sam tries to interfere, the better off we all are in the long run.

    TEXT: Several newspapers, among them The Omaha [Nebraska] World-Herald and The San Francisco Chronicle, are complaining about the lengthy U-S presidential campaign now that the two leading candidates have emerged earlier than ever before. And in today's Christian Science Monitor, the newspaper raises the issue of Vice President Al Gore's character, relevant to the campaign finance scandals of the last Clinton-Gore campaign.

    VOICE: Consider this week's news. Mr. Gore tried to stake out a reformist position on campaign finances. That brought a gleam to Mr. Bush's eye... [wasting] no time in bringing up the excesses of 1966 -- [Mr.] Gore's fund- raising trip to a Buddhist temple, his money- grubbing phone calls from the White House and the conviction of his '96 fund-raiser, Maria Hsia. [Vice President] Gore's defense is that he admits his errors and is now committed to changing not only himself but the system. ... If [Mr.] Gore sticks it out and forces [Mr.] Bush to articulate more clearly his own stand on campaign-finance reform, all to the good.

    /// BEGIN OPT ///

    TEXT: Today's Manchester [New Hampshire] Union Leader is even less forgiving about those lapses.

    VOICE: Al Gore knew full well when he made those 45 campaign calls from his White House office ... they were improper. And he knew full well that his visit to the California temple that netted him 100-thousand dollars from a group of impoverished monks and nuns ... was a fund-raiser. He now admits it in his come- clean, meet-the-new Al Gore mea culpa [EDS: plea for forgiveness]. ... How repulsive.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Several more newspapers are commenting on Pope John Paul's apology for the past sins of the Roman Catholic Church. The Topeka [Kansas] Capital-Journal calls the apology "A healing ointment", while the Houston Chronicle says: "the pope conveyed a willingness by the church to expose its past and to begin the new millennium fresh with greater tolerance, cooperation and understanding of others." And in Florida, The St. Petersburg Times says: "His apology ... will strengthen the church's moral authority in the new millennium."

    TEXT: Lastly, The Boston Globe is pleased at the aggressive stance now being taken by NATO peacekeepers against the former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army in Yugoslavia's Kosovo province.

    VOICE: This is a proper message to send, and the administration's attempt to take preemptive measures against another eruption of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo or southern Serbia is commendable.

    TEXT: On that note, we conclude this sampling of comment from Thursday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/JP 16-Mar-2000 12:02 PM EDT (16-Mar-2000 1702 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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