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Voice of America, 00-04-28

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

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





    INTRO: The president of the United Nations Security Council, Canada's ambassador Robert Fowler, says he was disappointed by a meeting in Belgrade this week (Wednesday) between the U-N ambassadors from China and Russia and Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. V-O-A Correspondent Breck Ardery reports from the United Nations.

    TEXT: Mr. Fowler says he is disappointed that Russian Ambassador Sergey Lavrov and Chinese representative Shen Guofeng left the Security Council mission to Kosovo to visit with President Milosevic in Belgrade.

    /// FOWLER ACT ///

    I object to the meeting with Milosevic, an indicted war criminal. I am not objecting to the fact that Ambassador Shen and Ambassador Lavrov would visit Belgrade. They had told me they would visit Belgrade, I knew they would visit Belgrade and nobody said they could not visit Belgrade. I just found it personally disappointing that they would choose to meet with [President] Milosevic in these circumstances.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr. Fowler says he does not think the meeting will make U-N Security Council deliberations on Kosovo any easier. Both China and Russia have been critical of the way the U-N mission in Kosovo is being conducted. Russia says the sovereignty of Yugoslavia in Kosovo is not being made clear. Ambassador Fowler, who has headed the Security Council during Canada's presidency this month (April), says he does not think the question of limited autonomy for Kosovo will be discussed in the Council in the foreseeable future. (Signed) NEB/UN/BA/LSF/WTW 28-Apr-2000 17:00 PM EDT (28-Apr-2000 2100 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: A Bosnian Serb former who once commanded a prison camp has pleaded not guilty to all 80 counts of war crimes against him. Dragan Nikolic entered his plea before a judge at the Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. Lauren Comiteau has this report.

    TEXT: Dragan Nikolic was the first man ever to be indicted by the War Crimes Tribunal. That was six years ago. On Friday, the 43-year old former aluminum factory worker pleaded not guilty to all 80 counts of rape, torture, and murder against him - the highest number of charges brought against any one person by the court. Prosecutors say Mr. Nikolic commanded the Susica detention camp in Eastern Bosnia near Srebrenica, where as many as 8 thousand non-Serbs passed through during the five months the camp was open in 1992. Mr. Nikolic is charged with murdering eight of them - two of whom he allegedly clubbed to death with wooden sticks. He is also accused of raping four women, torturing several others, and imprisoning and persecuting at least 500 Muslims. His arrest by NATO-led troops in Bosnia means the tribunal now has 39 men in its custody - a sign, says NATO, that justice is being done. (Signed)
    NEB/LC/GE/KL 28-Apr-2000 08:06 AM EDT (28-Apr-2000 1206 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The European Commission, the European Union's executive body, has accused a Japanese video-game maker, Nintendo, and seven of its distributors in Europe of price-fixing. Ron Pemstein reports from Brussels on the possible legal trouble ahead for the video game giant.

    TEXT: Europeans spend millions every year on video games and the European Commission, according to Competition Commissioner Mario Monti, wants to make sure they are not being swindled. The commission has opened formal legal proceedings against the Japanese video-game maker saying it appears to be in breach of European Union anti-trust rules by artificially keeping prices higher. The commission believes Nintendo and seven importers of its products in Europe operated a cartel to try to partition the European single market. By dividing the market and imposing export bans, Nintendo kept the prices high and prevented Europeans from benefiting from cheaper imports. Mr. Monti's spokesman, Michael Tscherny, says Nintendo appears to have been price-fixing.

    /// TSCHERNY ACT ///

    The evidence that we have so far points to behavior by Nintendo and its distributors, which was intended, we fear, to keep prices for those game consoles artificially high, so it's a pretty straightforward accusation.

    /// END ACT ///

    European children are dependent on Nintendo's game consoles and games compatible with them, including the hand-held Game Boy. Sales in Europe in 1998 were an important share of the company's 3 point 8 Billion-dollar turnover. Nintendo creates the games for each of the consoles it makes, featuring characters such as "Super Mario." Ten million European households have them. Spokesman Tscherny says the European Commission is using its anti-trust power to protect European children.

    /// TSCHERNY ACT ///

    It demonstrates once more that the Commission is very keen to ensure that the competition rules are obeyed in the interest of the consumer and the consumer is people like you and me and our children.

    /// End Act ///

    Nintendo has two months to prepare a written reply to the commission's accusations, and to have an oral hearing one month later. Only after that process is completed can the European Commission make a final decision that could impose fines on the creator of Super Mario. (Signed)
    NEB/RP/GE/KL 28-Apr-2000 10:20 AM EDT (28-Apr-2000 1420 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The presidents of 11 nations in central and eastern Europe have been meeting (today/Friday) in Hungary. The summit talks outside Budapest focused on the prospects for greater European unity, but Stefan Bos reports the leaders of the region's former Communist states are concerned about delays in their attempts to gain membership in the European Union.



    In tropical temperatures, the 11 presidents shook hands with enthusiastic crowds in the town of Szekesfehervar, 80 kilometers southwest of Budapest. Hungarians shouted, "Long live Romania!" - signaling the easing of the two countries' long-running border dispute.

    // OPT //

    In a sign of reconciliation, Romanian President Emil Constantinescu presented his Hungarian counterpart, Arpad Goncz, with the Star of Romania, the highest state award for a foreigner, to honor the Hungarian leader, who will step down in August. // END OPT // Despite the enthusiastic greetings, dinners with fine Hungarian wines and a planned boat trip in Central Europe's largest lake, Lake Balaton, the heads of state attending the summit were not in a happy mood. During round-table discussions and interviews with reporters, the presidents of central Europe's former Communist countries expressed their concern about what they see as the slow pace of European Union expansion. Seven of the leaders at the summit are talking to Brussels about joining the E-U. Two participants who are already members, Germany and Austria, are facing calls at home to delay further expansion of the 15- nation European alliance. German business leaders said this week that the goal of E-U membership by (the year) 2003 is unrealistic, even for the front-running candidates. Austria's finance minister, Karl-Heinz Grasser, is threatening to use his country's veto powers to block E-U decisions, including enlargement of the alliance, if the European Union continues to isolate his country. The E-U says there can be no business as usual with Austria as long as the far-right Freedom Party remains a member of the ruling coalition in Vienna. Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel told reporters he hopes the expansion talks can reach a successful conclusion soon. However, the front-running E-U candidates from the former east bloc -- Hungary, Poland, Slovenia and the Czech Republic -- are not convinced. (Speaking through an interpreter,) Czech President Vaclav Havel warned Germany and Austria not to delay the enlargement process.


    It's a very short-sided kind of statement. Because going that way would turn out to be suicidal for Europe. Europe is one entity, and it would not be advisable to divide it into two parts as a matter of program. And as far is Austria is concerned, I would say that giving the historic experience that Europe has made in the cause of the 20th century, Europe has every right to be concerned.

    /// END ACT ///

    Other former Communist states are worried they will be left out if the European Union puts off action on existing applications for membership.

    /// REST OPT ///

    Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma says he is disappointed that Ukraine has not yet been named an associate member of the E-U:

    /// KUCHMA ACT ///

    From the Ukrainian point of view, this is creating an additional division line in Europe.

    /// END ACT ///

    Croatian President Stipe Mesic told the summit his country has suffered the consequences of war and aggressive nationalism recently. (Speaking through an interpreter,) Mr. Mesic said Croatia wants to find its way back into the European mainstream, by respecting human rights and borders.


    We cooperate with the International [War Crimes] Court in The Hague, where I also turned up as a witness. We respect the territorial integrity of neighboring Bosnia-Herzegovina. And we support a discrimination-free return of refugees and also the return of Serbians to Croatia. We want to mitigate the tensions in the region, which we have not been able fully to achieve.

    /// END ACT ///

    The eastern European presidents were scheduled to discuss a more peaceful, 21st-century future for this region during their summit. But analysts say difficulties with the European Union have dominated the talks so far. The summit is ending on Saturday. (Signed)
    NEB/SJB/WTW 28-Apr-2000 16:49 PM EDT (28-Apr-2000 2049 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: U-S stock prices were mixed Friday, as inflation and interest-rate concerns lingered for "old economy" investors. V-O-A correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York:

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 154 points, one-point-four percent, closing at 10- thousand-733. The industrials are down one percent for the week. The Standard and Poor's 500 index dropped 12 points, less than one percent. However, the NASDAQ composite gained over two percent. The technology-weighted index is up six percent for the week. "Blue-chip" stocks continued to feel pressure from inflation fears, following Thursday's larger-than- expected rise in the employment-cost index. Meanwhile, investors in the technology area remained focused on good earnings reports.

    // OPT //

    Chuck Hill, a corporate profits analyst, says the big question is whether interest-rate hikes this year will affect the earnings momentum generated in the first quarter. But for now, he says, everything for "corporate America" is looking very good:

    /// HILL ACT ///

    Right now the forecasts are terrific. And at least the first half of the year is going to be extremely strong for earnings in the aggregate and technology in particular.

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

    Nearly 75 percent of U-S companies that have reported earnings so far have exceeded expectations. Analysts say it looks like the strongest quarterly showing in several years.

    /// REST OPT ///

    Shares of Starbuck's slipped over 18 percent. The U-S coffee retailer reported profits in line with expectations, but a leading investment firm trimmed its outlook on the company. Starbuck's also announced an aggressive expansion plan to open hundreds of new stores domestically. The coffee chain has nearly three-thousand outlets in North America and 400 sites abroad. Starbuck's president says eventually he expects to have more international than domestic stores. Telecommunications equipment maker Ericsson of Sweden propelled its stock value in global markets after reporting first-quarter pretax profit soared over 350 percent, far exceeding analysts' expectations. The world's number-three cellphone maker, also a leading supplier of phone infrastructure, says earnings surged as a result of a better than 40 percent increase in sales and lower costs. The Swedish company says it expects sales for the year to go up by more than 25 percent, beating earlier estimates. The latest on the U-S economy shows Americans took some time off from shopping in March. Consumer spending rose a lower-than-expected five-tenths of one percent, while personal incomes grew a stronger-than- expected seven-tenths of one percent. Analysts say March spending was held back by a late- April Easter holiday. (Signed) NEB/NY/EJ/LSF/WTW 28-Apr-2000 17:07 PM EDT (28-Apr-2000 2107 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The editorial papers of Friday's U-S dailies are discussing the crackdown on the press in Iran; the Ethiopian famine; Haiti's quest for democracy; and the Mexican presidential election. Domestic topics include comments on the potential breakup of the giant computer software company, Microsoft. Now, here with a closer look and some excerpts is ____________ and today's U-S Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: The backlash against the victory of reformers in Iran's recent parliamentary elections remains a concern for the U-S press. The papers say that Iran is slipping away from the reform movement that began with the election, two years ago, of a reform-minded president. We begin in Texas, with the Houston Chronicle, which writes:

    VOICE: A free press is essential to a free and open society and, almost always, to a prosperous society. Yet the hard-liners in Iran, despite the desire of many of their compatriots to reintegrate their country into the society of nations, continue to defy this truism in the name of maintaining strict control. A media crackdown in Iran intensified this past weekend. ... Why does press repression in Iran matter to this country? Even a casual look at the map of the Persian Gulf region and a cursory scan of late 20th century history will show how a more progressive, open, constructive Iran is in American's [and] Iran's interest.

    TEXT: Turning toward the Horn of Africa and continuing concern over the famine in parts of Ethiopia and neighboring regions, Long Island, New York's, Newsday calls for aid:

    VOICE: /// OPT /// ... [in] Ethiopia ... nearly ten million people are threatened with starvation after crop failures brought on by a three-year drought. Severe food shortages are facing eight million more people in neighboring countries - - Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, Djibouti, Kenya and Uganda. /// END OPT /// All the signs -- agricultural failure, war and civil conflicts, cross-border hostilities -- point to a repeat of the scenario that cost more than a million lives in 1985, before a massive international relief effort ended the deaths from hunger. ... There are [however] basic ethical questions involved in aiding these warring nations. What obligations do rich nations have to help if [some of] these [nations] are squandering their meager resources on war instead of helping their own people survive? ... These are valid issues, but they pale beside the urgency of staving off hunger for millions.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: The Sun in Baltimore agrees that aid should be sent, though admitting that the Ethiopian-Eritrean border war has made the situation worse.

    VOICE: The United States and non-government agencies should not stint or place conditions. Most of the food needed has been pledged. Relatively little has been delivered. ...[However] short-term aid must be accompanied by strong pressure for a settlement between two countries, whose geography and kinship demand cooperation. Neither the long-term solution nor immediate relief can succeed otherwise.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Domestically, the big topic of the day is the potential break up of the giant computer software company Microsoft, which a federal court found guilty of anti-trust violations. Papers are coming down on both sides of this issue. The New York Times, in affirming the break-up plan, says:

    VOICE: ... the inconvenient truth is that less drastic remedies are apt to be less effective and might involve government or court officials taking a permanent oversight role in the American software industry, hampering its evolution.

    TEXT: But the big, national daily USA Today, published in a Washington, D-C suburb, says a breakup of the company is "overkill."

    VOICE: The thinking is that the applications [software] business, on its own, will offer its products to more operating systems, creating some competition for [Microsoft operating software, universally known as] Windows. Perhaps. But a breakup still is overkill with dubious consumer benefits. It's unlikely to accomplish anything more than what a strict set of conduct remedies - - agreed to by both parties - - would achieve without costly, time- consuming legal wrangling.

    TEXT: In one other domestic note, the continuing struggle by the courts to keep U-S politics and religion separate, has caused a new controversy. The official state motto of Ohio, "In God, all things are possible," has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal appeals court in Cincinnati. The Los Angeles Times says the court:

    VOICE: ... waded into a silly little whirlwind of a dispute and got itself twisted up. ... the Ohio motto case goes to a ridiculous extreme. What's next? Should we reprint U-S currency because the bills say, "In God We Trust?" ... The Ohio decision is just the latest legal nonsense-making over religion.

    TEXT: Back overseas, and to the Caribbean where Haiti's tortuous path toward more democracy is taking another small step, according to Jacksonville's Florida Times-Union, with parliamentary elections next month.

    VOICE: ...[President Rene] Preval says he will allow parliamentary elections May 21, with runoffs to follow on June 25. That was unexpected. [Mr.] Preval's mentor, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, is running for president in November and, barring a major upset, will be elected by a landslide. Most analysts thought the parliamentary vote would be postponed until then to help [Aristide's] party win a majority of those seats. ... The beleaguered country desperately must hope that those who go to the polls [in May] have the collective wisdom to choose wisely.

    TEXT: Still with elections, the Mexican presidential vote, coming soon, appears likely to be the freest in seven decades, according to the Dallas Morning News.

    VOICE: Mexico is undergoing a peaceful rebellion. Its political opposition is making its best attempt ever to erase the dominance of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which has governed Mexico since 1929. ... No matter the outcome, the process is bound to be good for Mexico, which only in the last decade or so has begun to enjoy the fruits of robust political competition. The rebellion was on display Tuesday night during the first presidential debate of the two-thousand campaign. Vicente Fox of the center- right National Action Party presented a stark choice between his vision of dynamic change and the P-R-I's [Institutional Revolutionary Party] stultifying continuity. ... Yet longtime Mexico handicappers know ... it would be premature to dismiss the ruling party ...

    TEXT: This is the quarter century anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, and many papers, Boston's Christian Science Monitor among them, are reflecting about that most divisive of conflicts.

    VOICE: Many Americans, especially those who fought and those who protested, are still divided about a conflict that took over 58-thousand U-S lives. The nation has yet to collectively resolve whether the U-S was fighting communists or nationalists. Was it just a small civil war, with North Vietnam trying to reunite with South Vietnam? Or was it rather a proxy war against Communist China and the Soviet empire? (OPT) TEXT: Lastly, a thought or two from The Augusta [Georgia] Chronicle, on one of the most remarkable finds of recent years in science, the actual fossilized heart of a dinosaur, which has challenged many long-established theories about the giant reptiles.

    VOICE: For decades conventional wisdom held that these prehistoric creatures, who "ruled' the Earth for many millions more years than humans have, were basically oversized cold-blooded reptiles, whose distant descendants may be crocodiles or lizards. Then this month ... North Carolina researchers found in South Dakota a fossilized, grapefruit-sized heart of a plant-eating dinosaur estimated to have died more than 65 million years ago... Not only was this ... a rare find, it also yielded some highly valuable, and surprising, information. ... the heart was revealed to have had four chambers and an aorta. What this means, say scientists, is that this vegetable-eating dinosaur ... had warm oxygen-rich blood coursing through its veins. It was not an overblown, cold- blooded reptile dependent on the environment for its body heat, but was a warm-blooded mammal, not unlike humans. ... what does all this dinosaur research matter ... well ... what we learn about our ... predecessors and why they inexplicably became extinct may help us protect our own species from suffering a like fate. (END OPT)

    TEXT: On that note, we conclude this sampling of comment from the editorial pages of Friday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/KL 28-Apr-2000 12:35 PM EDT (28-Apr-2000 1635 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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