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Voice of America, 00-03-21

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

From: The Voice of America <gopher://gopher.voa.gov>


CONTENTS

  • [01] KOSOVO / DEPLETED URANIUM (L-ONLY) BY LISA SCHLEIN (GENEVA)
  • [02] NATO / KOSOVO (L-ONLY) BY RON PEMSTEIN (BRUSSELS)
  • [03] CROATIA / WAR CRIMES (L ONLY) BY LAUREN COMITEAU (THE HAGUE)
  • [04] TURKEY / KURDS (L-ONLY) BY AMBERIN ZAMAN (ANKARA)
  • [05] TURKEY / DERVISH BY AMBERIN ZAMAN (USKUDAR DISTRICT, TURKEY)
  • [06] E-U SUMMIT (L-O) BY RON PEMSTEIN (BRUSSELS)
  • [07] NORTHERN IRELAND BY LAURIE KASSSMAN (BELFAST)
  • [08] NY ECON WRAP (S&L) BY ELAINE JOHANSON (NEW YORK)
  • [09] TUESDAY'S EDITORIALS BY ANDREW GUTHRIE (WASHINGTON)

  • [01] KOSOVO / DEPLETED URANIUM (L-ONLY) BY LISA SCHLEIN (GENEVA)

    DATE=3/21/2000
    TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
    NUMBER=2-260442
    CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:

    INTRO: The United Nations Balkans Task Force says NATO has confirmed for the first time that it used weapons made from depleted uranium during the Kosovo conflict. Lisa Schlein in Geneva reports, a group of scientific experts says the information it has received is not sufficient to assess the health impact on people in the area.

    TEXT: The Balkans Task Force says NATO fired about 31-thousand rounds of depleted uranium against Yugoslav tanks and other armored vehicles. It says the ammunition was used in 100 missions flown by United States fighter planes. Some specialists believe as many as nine-and-one-half tons of depleted uranium - a by-product produced when natural uranium is "enriched for use in nuclear reactors -- may have been used during the 78-day bombing campaign. The head of the Balkans Task Force, Pekka Haavisto, welcomed NATO's data, but he says it is not enough to assess the environmental and health impacts in Kosovo.

    /// OPT HAAVISTO ACT ///

    If special field assessment is prepared, so we are in need of more precise information of the exact locations. Then the field examinations should be limited in some of those cases where the ammunition was used most, and where you really could make a scientific measurement work of these places.

    /// END ACT ////// END OPT ///

    Depleted uranium, which is slightly less radioactive than natural uranium, is much denser than lead. Used in bullets or shells, it can pierce heavy armor. Mr. Haavisto says it is believed at least 10 times as much depleted uranium was used during the Gulf War as in Kosovo. Some experts believe this metal is harmful to the environment and health. The U-S Defense Department contends that depleted uranium carries only minimal risks. The subject is controversial and is under research.

    // OPT //

    The World Health Organization is expected to publish a report on the health effects of depleted uranium in mid-May. Britain's Royal Society also will produce a report on the topic later this year. // END OPT // Mr. Haavisto says the new information on depleted uranium should not cause widespread alarm. However, he says certain precautions should be taken.

    /// 2ND HAAVISTO ACT ///

    If such weapons were used, people should be protected. ... These areas should be marked clearly, especially for the toxicity risks, especially for the risks, for example, that the small children go to play in these areas, taking [in] some uranium dust or even some part of the ammunition which might be left at these sites. There certainly are these toxicity risks.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr. Haavisto says most of the depleted uranium was used near the Albanian border. He says peacekeeping troops from Germany, Turkey and the Netherlands, who are protecting that area, have been informed about the situation, as have U-N agencies working in Kosovo. (Signed)
    NEB/LS/GE/WTW 21-Mar-2000 13:39 PM EDT (21-Mar-2000 1839 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America

    [02] NATO / KOSOVO (L-ONLY) BY RON PEMSTEIN (BRUSSELS)

    DATE=3/21/2000
    TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
    NUMBER=2-260441
    CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:

    INTRO: NATO is marking this Friday (March 24th) as the first anniversary of its air strikes against Yugoslavia. The alliance's secretary-general, George Robertson, is marking the occasion with a visit to Kosovo (on Friday). Mr. Robertson has issued an assessment of the air strikes and NATO's nine-month- old presence in Kosovo. Ron Pemstein reports from Brussels, NATO is warning the Kosovo Albanians they could be losing international good will.

    TEXT: Secretary-General Robertson believes NATO was right to intervene in Kosovo, but he says it is time for the majority Albanian population there to set ethnic hatred aside.

    /// 1st ROBERTSON ACT ///

    They most now demonstrate that they, too, are committed to a democratic and multi-ethnic Kosovo. There are, of course, understandable strong feelings and there must be some desire for revenge, but those who lead the Kosovo Albanian people have a responsibility to show how destructive and counter-productive these emotions are. We will not tolerate troublemakers and extremists spreading disorder and violence inside Kosovo.

    /// END ACT ///

    That will be the message NATO's secretary-general is bringing to Kosovo to mark the first anniversary of the alliance's air strikes. NATO peacekeepers in eastern Kosovo have been trying to disarm Albanian militias that have been operating along and across Kosovo's border with Serbia. Other peacekeepers have been contending with feuding Serbs and Albanians in the divided city of Mitrovica, in northern Kosovo.

    // OPT //

    The secretary general has a warning for Serbs not to try to partition Kosovo.

    /// 2ND ROBERTSON ACT ///

    We will not allow ethnic extremists from whatever community to divide cities like Mitrovica in the hope that they can divide Kosovo itself.

    /// END ACT ////// END OPT ///

    Mr. Robertson blames Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic for stirring up further trouble in Kosovo, but he says it was never NATO's task to overthrow the Yugoslav leader.

    /// 3RD ROBERTSON ACT ///

    The next chapter will be written by the people of Serbia themselves, when they get the opportunity, and I believe they will sweep away Milosevic and his cronies, to where they deserve to be.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr. Robertson ridicules the Yugoslav leader, saying he once ruled a country stretching from Austria to Greece, and now has charge of little more than the suburbs of Belgrade. One year after NATO's air strikes, the alliance's report says Kosovo needs more police and judges and the continued presence of NATO troops for the foreseeable future. (Signed)
    NEB/RP/GE/WTW 21-Mar-2000 13:14 PM EDT (21-Mar-2000 1814 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America

    [03] CROATIA / WAR CRIMES (L ONLY) BY LAUREN COMITEAU (THE HAGUE)

    DATE=3/21/2000
    TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
    NUMBER=2-260425
    CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:

    INTRO: A former Bosnian Croat paramilitary leader has been flown to the U-N war crimes tribunal where he is wanted on charges of leading an ethnic cleansing campaign against Muslims in the southern Bosnian city of Mostar. Lauren Comiteau in The Hague reports the move is being hailed as a sign of cooperation between Croatia's new government and the tribunal.

    TEXT: The extradition of the suspect -- Mladen Naletilic, also known as Tuta -- ends months of legal wrangling between the tribunal and Croatian government officials in Zagreb. Although Mr. Naletilic was indicted more than one year ago, the government of the late Croatian President Franjo Tudjman refused to hand him over. That was one reason the tribunal reported Croatia to the U-N Security Council for failing to cooperate with the court. Croatia eventually agreed to the extradition, but delayed the transfer because of Tuta's poor health. Last month, tribunal doctors found Mr. Naletilic fit to travel. Tribunal spokesmen say the flight to The Hague went smoothly, and Tuta is now at the prison hospital undergoing medical tests. At the tribunal, Mr. Naletilic joins his co-accused -- Vinko Martinovic, or Stela -- who also is charged with the murder, persecution, and torture of Muslims in Mostar in 1993 and 1994. Prosecutors had demanded the extradition of Tuta all the more strenuously since Stela was handed over last August. Stela has pleaded not guilty to all the charges, and prosecutors want the two men tried together. Tribunal spokesman Jim Landale is calling the extradition of Mr. Naletilic a "good sign." The new Croatian government has pledged to cooperate fully with the tribunal. But officials say there is still no sign that Croatia is ready to hand over documents the court is seeking regarding the so-called "Operation Storm." That was the 1995 Croatian military offensive which took back Serb-held land in Croatia and led to the expulsion of at least 200-thousand Serbs. (Signed)
    NEB/LC/JWH/KL 21-Mar-2000 10:04 AM EDT (21-Mar-2000 1504 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America


    [04] TURKEY / KURDS (L-ONLY) BY AMBERIN ZAMAN (ANKARA)

    DATE=3/21/2000
    TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
    NUMBER=2-260438
    CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:

    INTRO: Tens of thousands of Kurds in Turkey have gathered around bonfires, singing Kurdish songs to celebrate their New Year, called Newroz [pron: nev- `ROOZ]. As Amberin Zaman reports from Ankara, Turkey's government has officially permitted the festivities for the first time in years.

    TEXT: In the largest Kurdish city, Diyarbakir, men and women gathered in a huge open space designated by local authorities to celebrate the Kurdish New Year, amid tight security measures. The city's popular young mayor, Feridun Celik, helped light a huge bonfire and called for peace, brotherhood, and freedom, as hundreds of police -- backed by armored personnel carriers -- looked on impassively. Elsewhere across the country, similar scenes were repeated. Newroz, which means "new beginning" in Kurdish, marks the start of the spring season. Until recently, it also marked the beginning of the spring offensive by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, the P-K-K, against government security forces in the forbidding mountain ranges of Turkey's largely Kurdish southeastern region. As the 15-year rebellion raged on, Newroz became a platform for nationalist Kurds to express their sympathy for P-K-K rebels. In 1992, at least 80 demonstrators died in two southeastern towns (Cizre and Sirnak) in a showdown with the security forces. Ever since, local government officials have banned Newroz celebrations. But the capture last year of P-K-K leader Abdullah Ocalan, followed by his call for an end to his supporters' armed separatist campaign, has led to a dramatic decline in rebel violence. Buoyed by the budding climate of peace, Turkish officials have begun to relax some of the security measures. And this year's Newroz celebrations are the first to be officially sanctioned in a long time.

    /// REST OPT ///

    Still, there have been minor problems. Officials from the pro-Kurdish People's Democracy Party, or Hadep, said authorities in Istanbul barred them from holding Newroz celebrations, because they used the Kurdish rather than the Turkish spelling for Newroz in their application. Restrictions on use of the Kurdish language remain in force. Easing of bans on broadcasting and education in the Kurdish language are demands embraced both by Hadep and the P-K-K, as well as by the European Union, which Turkey wants to join as a full member. (Signed)
    NEB/AZ/JWH/WTW 21-Mar-2000 12:41 PM EDT (21-Mar-2000 1741 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America

    [05] TURKEY / DERVISH BY AMBERIN ZAMAN (USKUDAR DISTRICT, TURKEY)

    DATE=3/21/2000
    TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT
    NUMBER=5-45689
    CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:

    INTRO: With their flowing white robes, conical hats and mystical dances, the whirling dervishes are one of the better known symbols of Turkey. Amberin Zaman recently traveled to Istanbul's Uskudar district to visit a tekke, or dervish convent, which has provoked heated debate by including women in the ritual dancing.

    TEXT: /// ACT CHANTING, FADE UNDER /// An ode to Allah and to the Muslim prophets Muhammed and Ali, and also to Ataturk, the founder of modern, secular Turkey. To millions of Turks, Kemal Ataturk is a deity in his own right. At the ancient dervish convent in Uskudar, scores of faithful offer their devotion.

    /// ACT CHANTING TWO ///

    The chanting escalates as the whirling dervishes enter a frenzied trance. Allah, Allah, they cry, shaking their heads from side to side. Then there is the haunting sound of the "ney," the Turkish flute. Several members of the congregation have donned their robes and slowly they start to whirl.

    /// ACT, CHANTING THREE ///

    They are following a tradition begun centuries ago when the Mevlevi order of dervishes was first founded by Mevlana Celaledin Rumi. These semazens - as the dervishes are known - are seeking to achieve union with God by their ceremonial whirling, hypnotic dancing. This group of whirling dervishes is called the Contemporary Lovers of Mevlana. What sets them apart is that they include women semazens, and they wear brightly colored robes rather than the traditional white. The inclusion of women into what has traditionally been a male dominated ceremony has provoked sharp criticism from more orthodox followers of Mevlana. But the group's spiritual leader, Hasan Cikar, says there were women dervishes as early as the seventeenth century.

    /// BEGIN CIKAR ACT IN TURKISH, FADE UNDER ///

    Hasan Cikar insists there is nothing unusual about his group and that it is in keeping with the spirit of Mevlana. Mevlana, who was born in Afghanistan, preached tolerance, forgiveness and enlightenment. He said God welcomed everyone. Like all other Islamic brotherhoods, the Mevlana was officially banned in Turkey in 1925 shortly after Kemal Ataturk became the country's first president. But like many other Muslim sects, the order has continued to thrive in Turkey. Hasan Cikar's sect, with its modern interpretation of Islam and reverence of Ataturk, has begun to attract foreign devotees as well. Tuesday Frindt is a young American who teaches English. She is among the group's star performers.

    /// ACT FRINDT ///

    Well, I came to Turkey as a tourist a few times before I met them and I was here on a summer program to learn Turkish the first time I saw. And I had been reading Mevlana daily for three years so when I saw female semazens, I was very excited. After that summer I decided to move here.

    /// END ACT ///

    Miss Frindt says the religion she feels closest to is Islam and she now identifies herself as a Mevlevi, or follower of Mevlana. Hasan Cikar says that had Ataturk lived to see his dervish group he would have been proud. Kemal Ataturk is credited with having given Turkish women greater rights than women have been given in other parts of the Islamic world.

    /// ACT CIKAR, FADE UNDER ///

    Mr. Cikar says that, in the eyes of God, men and women are equal. In the words of Mevlana, they were created to love one another and above all to love God. (Signed)
    NEB/AZ/GE/KL 21-Mar-2000 08:20 AM EDT (21-Mar-2000 1320 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America

    [06] E-U SUMMIT (L-O) BY RON PEMSTEIN (BRUSSELS)

    DATE=3/21/2000
    TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
    NUMBER=2-260422
    CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:

    INTRO: European leaders are to meet this week in an effort to match the United States in employment and new technologies by the end of the decade. Ron Pemstein reports from Brussels on some of the targets the Europeans are setting for their meeting Thursday and Friday in Lisbon.

    TEXT: They are calling this European Summit meeting the "dot.com summit" because the leaders are looking to make the Internet accessible to all European schools by next year. They plan to have all teachers trained to use the Internet by 2002 and all European citizens able to cope with the Internet by 2005. If Europe adapts to these new technologies, the long- term goal is to match the United States in employment and competitiveness by the end of the decade. The European Commission is telling the leaders the first step to be taken this year is to start competition among telephone companies to bring down the high local-access charges that Europeans have to pay to get on the Internet. Commission President Romano Prodi showed reporters a graph illustrating that 51-percent of Americans have access to the Internet, while only 23-percent of Europeans in the 15 E-U countries are connected. Speaking through an interpreter, Mr. Prodi says these charges must come down.

    /// PRODI W/ INTERPRETER ACT ///

    You can see where...the United States is up there, they are way ahead of us in the knowledge society, way above the E-U (European Union) average, much greater access to Internet.

    /// OPT ///

    In fact, we have been getting better. The access costs, however, are still much greater in Europe. If you compare the U-S figure and the European figure, you see that there is an enormous difference here. And this, in fact, will be one of the issues that we will look at at the summit, what sort of policies can we introduce which will help us catch up on the U-S as far as the knowledge economy is concerned. /// END OPT ///

    /// END ACT ///

    The point of training Europeans to use the new technology is to bring down unemployment. The European Union has a 10-percent unemployment rate compared to four-percent in the United States. The European Commission says there is a gender gap as well, only half of European women are in the work force compared to two-thirds in the United States. The commission says information technology can reduce long-term unemployment by making the European labor force more adaptable. But European leaders have to agree in Lisbon to make investments in education and training. President Prodi says, through an interpreter, that for everyone to have access to the Internet, Europeans have to have computers.

    /// PRODI ACT ///

    /// OPT ///

    We have not talked about the information highways here. In fact, this was an important aspect in the American strategy to promote Internet access. /// END OPT /// The Americans strongly encouraged investments in hardware so that people could have access and I think this is problem that we face, and we are going to have to tackle with the instruments that we have at our disposal.

    /// END ACT ///

    These include aid funds the European Union gives to poorer regions. Mr. Prodi warns countries wanting to join the Union to match programs, such as connecting all schools to the Internet, if they want to stay current with E-U developments. (SIGNED)
    NEB/RP/GE/RAE 21-Mar-2000 10:13 AM EDT (21-Mar-2000 1513 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America

    [07] NORTHERN IRELAND BY LAURIE KASSSMAN (BELFAST)

    DATE=3/21/2000
    TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT
    NUMBER=5-45692
    CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:

    INTRO: Northern Ireland's peace process can make or break business prospects for its population of one- and-one-half million. The economy is growing, but as we hear from Correspondent Laurie Kassman in Belfast the future will depend on securing political stability and improving Northern Ireland's international image.

    TEXT: Construction cranes dominate the skyline of Belfast. Six new hotels are planned and several communications centers are relocating to the city. The region's manufacturing output topped six-percent last year. Revenue from tourism has increased 15- percent since the Good Friday Peace Agreement was signed two-years ago. That is the good news. Deputy Editor of the "Nationalist Irish News", Noel Doran, says it could be a lot better.

    /// DORAN ACT ///

    The economy has improved but not as much as it needs to. Unemployment is at its lowest level for many years. There has been some investment, but not anywhere near the level there needs to be.

    /// END ACT ///

    The rate of unemployment averages less than six- percent, half of what it was six-years ago. But business leaders say that is still too high. Belfast's shipyard - famous for having built the Titanic ocean liner nearly a century ago - may have to lay off many of its 18-hundred workers if new contracts are not signed soon. Jobs in the traditional industries like textiles and agriculture are on the decline. To stay competitive, Northern Ireland is making the transition to service industries, ranging from computer technology to communications centers. That requires better education for the next generation of workers and retraining for those who find their jobs in traditional areas drying up. Most agree that transition also depends a lot on peace in Northern Ireland. Stephen Kingon is Chairman of Belfast's Chamber of Commerce Economic Committee. He also helps run an international accounting firm in Belfast.

    /// KING ACT ///

    To get economic growth, political stability is a pre-requisite.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr. Kingon says the business community is counting on home-rule powers to build the political stability that will ease investor concerns.

    /// KINGON ACT TWO ///

    The [home rule] assembly will give us a lot more local accountability. It will allow us to tailor our solutions much more to the needs of Northern Ireland than would have been the case under a direct rule scenario.

    /// END ACT ///

    The suspension of the home-rule assembly in February leaves a critical vacuum in the region's economic policy-making process. But Northern Ireland is trying to get out the message that it is already safe for investment. The Deputy Chief Executive of Northern Ireland's Tourist Board, Mark Alexander, says changing Northern Ireland's image is tough, as long as the 1998 Good Friday Peace Agreement is not fully implemented.

    /// ALEXANDER ACT ///

    You probably would not need to create an awareness of Northern Ireland anywhere in the world, but normally that awareness is for the wrong reasons.

    /// END ACT ///

    The business community is not sitting still while the politicians thrash out their differences. Tourism official Mark Alexander says the push is to get the word out that Northern Ireland is safe for investment and the world's image no longer matches the reality. Gone are the miles of barbed wire, ominous police roadblocks, army helicopters and armored vehicles that once patrolled the region. The news now is mostly about political wrangling, not sectarian bloodbaths. International investors are lining up to check out investment possibilities, but Northern Ireland's promoters acknowledge a prolonged political stalemate in Northern Ireland would discourage them. (SIGNED)
    NEB/LMK/GE/RAE 21-Mar-2000 12:52 PM EDT (21-Mar-2000 1752 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America

    [08] NY ECON WRAP (S&L) BY ELAINE JOHANSON (NEW YORK)

    DATE=3/21/2000
    TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
    NUMBER=2-260451
    CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:

    INTRO: U-S stock prices closed sharply higher today (Tuesday), despite an announcement by the Federal Reserve Board of a 25-basis-point increase in short- term interest rates. V-O-A correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York:

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 227 points, about two percent, to close at 10-thousand- 907. The Standard and Poor's 500 index went up 37 points. The technology-weighted Nasdaq composite struggled most of the day but turned around in the last hour for a two percent gain. Analysts said market reaction to the expected interest rate hike was very subdued. Investors just kept right on doing what they've been doing since last week - adding strength to the long-neglected Dow Jones "blue- chip" stocks. The U-S central bank has signaled repeatedly that interest rates will keep going up until the U-S economy slows. The latest on the economy shows the U-S trade deficit grew to a record 28-billion dollars in January as oil prices soared.

    /// REST OPT ///

    Economist Steve Cochran says U-S prosperity is the underlying cause of the widening deficit.

    /// COCHRAN ACT ///

    The only reason the deficit continues to widen right now is that the economy is really very healthy. And in a sense we can afford the high price of oil that we're paying right now. It's not slowing oil consumption very much.

    /// END ACT ///

    The widening trade gap does not seem to be hurting major American businesses. General Electric - one of the 30 Dow Jones companies - says it will easily beat Wall Street's first-quarter earnings forecast. General Electric says it is experiencing broad acceptance of its products and services in all regions of the world. Order rates, as a result, are running about 20-percent higher than last year's levels. B-A-S-F, Europe's largest chemical maker, has agreed to buy the farm-chemicals unit of American Home Products for three-point-eight billion dollars. The move will more than double B-A-S-F's annual crop business and make it the fourth largest company in that industry. American Home will now focus on its drug and consumer- products businesses. The U-S Supreme Court ruled in favor of "big tobacco" and against a Clinton Administration anti-smoking initiative. It voted five-to-four that the government cannot regulate tobacco as an addictive drug. Most tobacco shares traded higher on the news. (Signed) NEB/NY/EJ/LSF/gm 21-Mar-2000 16:50 PM EDT (21-Mar-2000 2150 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America

    [09] TUESDAY'S EDITORIALS BY ANDREW GUTHRIE (WASHINGTON)

    DATE=3/21/2000
    TYPE=U-S EDITORIAL DIGEST
    NUMBER=6-11736
    EDITOR=ASSIGNMENTS
    TELEPHONE=619-3335
    INTERNET=YES CONTENT=

    INTRO: The election on Taiwan continues to draw comment from papers around the United States this Tuesday. The popular domestic topic is a move by the nation's largest gun producer to increase safety devices on pistols. More violence in Nigeria, and the latest developments in the Mideast are also noted; as is the problem of violence in Yugoslavia's Kosovo province. Rounding out the editorials are thoughts about dealing with Iran, and telling the truth about the Waco cult fire. Now, here is ____________ with a closer look and some excerpts, in today's Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: The loss of the presidency by the Nationalist Chinese Party, the Kuomintang, in Taiwan's weekend election draws comment from the nation's regional dailies today. Calling it "truly historic," the Providence Journal says:

    VOICE: This display of the electorate's free will should be a source of great pride for citizens of Taiwan. Unfortunately, the election is also causing tensions in Taiwan itself, where the Nationalists' unprecedented electoral defeat is stirring anger and anxiety.

    TEXT: In South Carolina, the Charleston Post and Courier calls the election result a "rebuff to China and a welcome signal that the island will not willingly submit to coercion from the mainland."

    TEXT: Far out in the Pacific, one of this nation's largest Asian dailies, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin says:

    VOICE: Overshadowed by concern about China's threats to attack Taiwan in response to the election of opposition candidate Chen Shui-bian is the significance of his victory as a triumph of democracy. This may be the first democratic election of an opposition figure as a national leader in China's long history. ...If the crucial test of a democracy is the ouster of the ruling party by peaceful, democratic means, Taiwan has passed that test.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: From Florida, we get this view in the St. Petersburg Times.

    VOICE: The Clinton administration has a vital role to play in calming the tensions between China and Taiwan that followed the election of a new Taiwanese president. China has reason to cooperate, too. ... The "one-China" policy that has allowed Taiwan to coexist with China is a fiction that Taipei, Beijing and Washington have agreed to share as a way of buying time - - time measured in decades, not days or weeks. Powerful forces at work within China and around the globe are systematically prying loose the Beijing regime's grip on power, and approval of the W-T-O [World Trade Organization] agreement would be an important step toward opening China to the world. Taiwan crossed a historic democratic milestone with the election of Chen Shui-bian. With a bit more patience, the mainland may continue evolving to the point that a genuine "one China" can be re-established based on shared principles of openness, honesty and democracy.

    TEXT: Two large regional dailies, the Boston Globe and the Dallas Morning News are both calling for restraint in the war of words between the two Chinese entities. The Globe suggests:

    VOICE: Because of Beijing's belligerent and foolish attempts to intimidate voters on Taiwan, the victory of Chen Shui-bian in the island's presidential election Sunday creates a security crisis for the leaders of mainland China, Taiwan, and the United States. All three governments will have to act sagely, avoiding the temptation to indulge in bravado. Difficult as it may be to place the pragmatic need for restraint above a show of principle, this is precisely what the current perilous situation calls for.

    TEXT: The Dallas Morning News adds that "despite [the] election, moving closer is [the] key to progress," and it urges:

    VOICE: China and Taiwan need to stop the operatic posturing and to start ... talking about improving relations. The U-S is rightly concerned about the testy turn of events between the two, America's fourth- and-seventh-largest trading partners respectively, and needs to encourage their talks.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: The top domestic topic of the day is a decision by Smith and Wesson, the nation's largest firearms makers, to place safety locks on all the new pistols the company makes. Boston's Christian Science Monitor calls the company's agreement with the federal government "a cause for hope."

    VOICE: The deal struck by the British-owned company ... should serve as a model for other firms inclined to follow suit. Notably, Smith & Wesson agreed to exercise tighter oversight of dealers and distributors. The company's "code of conduct" will demand that dealers complete background checks on gun purchasers no matter how long that takes.

    TEXT: The Los Angeles Times is also pleased with the agreement, calling it a "crack in the gun wall."

    VOICE: Two things are clear in Smith & Wesson's agreement ... to a wide array of handgun restrictions. The action by one of the nation's oldest and largest handgun makers should be broadly applauded and quickly emulated. But, make no mistake, it was bottom-line fears stemming from pending lawsuits - - not a change of heart - - that led the company to take this step. Lawsuits that pose the threat of millions of dollars in liability have a way of getting businesses to act responsibly, something the current well-bought Congress apparently can't do.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: Florida's Miami Herald is also pleased, calling the agreement "a watershed event."

    VOICE: It's a praiseworthy victory for federal and local officials ... With its decision, Smith & Wesson breaks ranks with the gun industry's myopic view that it is powerless to do anything about handgun violence in America.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Back to international topics, the New York Times is watching the violence in Nigeria with concern, fearing it:

    VOICE: ... threatens to unravel a year-old experiment in democracy in Africa's most populous nation. The crisis was years in the making and underscores the difficulty of forging a stable, accountable government after decades of rapacious military rule. ... President Olusegun Obasanjo has failed to provide the leadership needed to resolve this dangerous situation.

    TEXT: Turning to the Middle East, the Washington Post has this comment on the latest round of Israeli- Palestinian talks getting under way in Washington today. The paper expresses the hope that the crisis in Israeli / Palestinian relations has eased:

    VOICE: The crisis was overstated, just as the new timetable for the talks - - one under which a framework agreement on final status is to be completed by May and a full agreement by September - - may be overly ambitious. The dynamics of the Israeli- Palestinian track, in which both parties are committed to the process yet also need to display toughness to domestic constituencies, tend to encourage hyperbole.

    TEXT: As for the Balkans, today's Wall Street Journal notes an anniversary that is otherwise going unheeded, and wonders whether there is anything worth celebrating.

    VOICE: This week marks the first anniversary of the start of NATO's bombing campaign over Kosovo. And as with many anniversaries, there's some difference of opinion over what - - or even whether - to celebrate. A year on, Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic remains in power. The northern Kosovar city of Mitrovica has become a microcosm of Balkanization, where KFOR peacekeepers do little more than try to separate ethnic factions bent on the other's destruction. Still further to the north, ethnic Albanian guerrilla forces have been making raids into Serbia proper in an effort to incur a harsh Serb reaction, presumably on the thesis that NATO will intervene on the Albanians' behalf. ... All this, it has been argued, should give those of us who jaw-jawed for NATO intervention last year cause to reconsider our original view. So we have reconsidered. But we see little reason to revise that view. Kosovo's troubles do not mean the West shouldn't have waged war.

    TEXT: Back in the Middle East, today's Atlanta Constitution talks of the difficulty in dealing with Iran, riven as it is by the opposing forces of reform and orthodoxy. It praises Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's speech signaling what it feels is a "welcome course correction" in Clinton administration policy toward Teheran.

    VOICE: The Clinton administration is right to encourage the reform movement in Iran, demonstrated last month by the third straight election in which the hard-liners lost seats in parliament. The relaxed trade sanctions announced by [Secretary] Albright may seem modest, but they mean a lot to entrepreneurs in Iran who are in the forefront of those seeking change.

    TEXT: Lastly, there is yet another call, this time from the Fort Worth Star Telegram, for the U-S government to tell the truth about the attack, in the early nineties, by federal agents on the Branch Davidian religious cult outside Waco, Texas. Almost 90 people, including about two dozen children, died in the fire that resulted from the attack.

    VOICE: It's time to lift the veil of secrecy surrounding [the] Branch Davidian standoff. ... From the onset of those last fatal hours until this day almost seven years later, the involvement by F-B-I personnel has been shrouded in secrecy. ... the perception hanging over this investigation isn't good. it gets no better when judges and government officials move to keep information away from the people.

    VOICE: On that note, we conclude this sampling of editorial comment from Tuesday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/KL 21-Mar-2000 12:31 PM EDT (21-Mar-2000 1731 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America


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