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Voice of America, 00-06-08

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

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





    INTRO: Britain's military attache in Athens was ambushed and killed Thursday by two unidentified gunmen. Police suspect a Greek terrorist group, known as November 17, was responsible for the killing. Correspondent Laurie Kassman has reaction from London.

    TEXT: Two gunmen on a motorcycle shot at Stephen Saunders as he was driving near the diplomatic suburb of Athens early Thursday morning. The 52-year-old father of three died in the hospital a few hours later. Foreign Secretary Robin Cook has expressed his anger over the murder.

    /// COOK ACT ///

    We're all shocked by this brutal, totally pointless attack.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr. Cook told British radio Britain will cooperate with Greece to bring the guilty to justice. He was speaking from Sierra Leone, where he is on an official visit.

    /// COOK ACT TWO ///

    What makes it doubly tragic is there is no conceivable motivation or point to this attack.

    /// END ACT ///

    No group has claimed responsibility for the murder. Police have set up roadblocks in and around the capital and are searching for the killers. Greek police suspect the terrorist group November 17 of carrying out the killing. Last year, the group claimed responsibility for a rocket attack on the German ambassador's residence in Athens. A security official told Greek radio the style of Thursday's attack points to the group, which is named after a 1973 student uprising against the military regime ruling Greece at the time. During the past two decades, November 17 has claimed responsibility for the assassination of Greek officials, American and Turkish diplomats, and the 1975 murder of the U-S Central Intelligence Agency's station chief in Athens. No member of the group has ever been caught.

    /// OPT ///

    The U-S State Department recently listed Greece just after Colombia on the list of countries with the highest number of terrorist incidents. /// END OPT /// (Signed)
    NEB/LMK/GE/KL 08-Jun-2000 10:28 AM EDT (08-Jun-2000 1428 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The outgoing military commander of NATO, General Wesley Clark, is defending the alliance against accusations that some of its bombing of Serbia last year amounted to war crimes. The accusations were made by the human rights group, Amnesty international. V-O-A's Pamela Taylor reports General Clark made his defense today/Thursday at a Washington public policy institute (Brookings).

    TEXT: Using charts and computer-generated graphics, General Clark defended the NATO war effort he directed last year. He said the Kosovo campaign of April 1999 was a success in that it achieved its objective: ousting the Serb forces that were ethnically cleansing or attacking Albanian civilians. Referring to the report this week by Amnesty International, which criticized NATO's bombing of civilian targets, the General had this to say:

    /// CLARK ACT ONE ///

    We very much regret civilian casualties, on all sides. We especially regret the 10-thousand or more Albanians who were murdered by the Serbs in this campaign. And so I think you have to look at the tragedy in balance. We did the absolute minimum in terms of bombing to set right and meet NATO's objectives. And we're all sorry that any civilians died of any ethnic group, but we did our best to prevent civilian casualties.

    /// END ACT ///

    The general said the Kosovo campaign was not a war, but what he called "coercive diplomacy," or diplomacy backed up by military threat and actions. He said it was the politicians from NATO's 18 member nations who told the military what to do. But General Clark said the decision to carry out the bombing from high altitudes, which many critics have said led to more civilian casualties, was made by the pilots themselves:

    /// CLARK ACT TWO ///

    It would be difficult for a military analyst to believe that we caused more collateral (civilian) damage by flying from a higher altitude. The weapons we were delivering were precise from that altitude. Secondly, its hard for me to accept the proposition that there is some sort of fair balance in war where we have to let Americans die to prove that we're sincere.

    /// END ACT ///

    General Clark called the much-criticized bombing of the Belgrade headquarters of the state-run television a necessary attack on Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's propaganda machine. Sixteen people died in the attack -- an attack the Amnesty International report called a "war crime." The Amnesty International report came less than a week after Carla Del Ponte, the chief prosecutor for the War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the Hague said her investigation had found no basis for charging NATO with war crimes. Ms. Del Ponte told the U-N Security Council that although NATO made some mistakes, there was no deliberate targeting of civilians or unlawful military targets. (Signed)
    NEB/PAM/JP 08-Jun-2000 13:13 PM EDT (08-Jun-2000 1713 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Election results in Romania indicate that country's former Communists and other left-wing opposition groups have won the first round of nationwide municipal elections. This week's ballot was seen as a key test of public opinion before general elections scheduled later this year. As Stefan Bos reports (from Budapest), the leftists' gains are seen as a danger sign for Romania's current center-right government.

    TEXT: The Central Electoral Bureau, which supervised the vote, says the party of former President Ion Iliescu received around 25 percent of the ballots cast on Sunday. Although second-round [run-off] voting lies ahead, analysts say Mr. Iliescu's Party of Social Democracy, which includes former Communists, is likely to win a dominant share of Romania's mayoral posts and council seats. In addition to their victories at the village, town and provincial level, the leftists are likely to take control of local government in Bucharest (the capital) for the first time in eight years. Voting results released Thursday show none of the four parties that make up Romania's center-right coalition received more than 10 percent of the vote. Analysts are predicting a further decline in the ruling parties' popularity before presidential and parliamentary elections, due later this year. Opinion polls indicate former President Iliescu could defeat the current head of state, President Emil Constantinescu, an outspoken Christian Democrat. These political developments come at a time of growing disillusion with politics, a decade after Romania abandoned communism. Elderly people can be seen burning candles and whispering prayers near the grave of former dictator Nicoleau Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, who were overthrown and executed during a bloody revolution in 1989. An increasing number of Romanians have been protesting against what they see as empty promises by politicians, in a nation where the average income is still less than 100 dollars per month. The International Monetary Fund has extended a standby loan of nearly 540-million dollars to Romania until next February, but the country is under pressure to continue tough reforms, despite social consequences.

    /// REST OPT ///

    As poverty increases, many desperate Romanians have tried to strike it rich in shaky investment schemes. More than one-thousand people who had invested in a fund that collapsed clashed with riot police this week outside government headquarters in Bucharest, where they were gathered to demand the return of their money. Romania's difficult road toward a market economy have also forced families to abandon their children. Aid workers estimate at least two-thousand children are now living on the streets, and an estimated 100- thousand children have been brought to state- controlled institutions in the last decade. Analysts say a new government will face the difficult and almost impossible of improving social conditions as Romania tries to join NATO and the European Union. (Signed)
    NEB/SJB/WTW 08-Jun-2000 19:26 PM LOC (08-Jun-2000 2326 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: U-S stock prices were lower across-the-board Thursday. Corporate profit concerns led to a day-long sell-off among the "blue-chips." V-O-A correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York:

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 144 points, over one percent, to 10-thousand-668. The Standard and Poor's 500 index closed nine points lower. And the technology-weighted NASDAQ composite lost 13 points - about four-tenths of one percent. The drop in the Dow industrials was largely the fault of Procter and Gamble. It led the decline. The household products giant projected flat quarterly earnings after previously saying they would be up 15 to 17 percent. The company's chairman has stepped down.

    /// BEGIN OPT ///

    Some analysts believe the traditional companies, in general, will start to show a downturn in profits as the U-S economy starts cooling off. And investors, once again, will turn to technology to lead the stock market higher. Among those analysts is investment strategist Tom Galvin:

    /// GALVIN ACT ///

    All things equal, had we gotten into September, October, I think people would have looked at earnings growth next year, which for the industrial companies is clearly going to materially slow because the economy is slowing. So I think you want to be in technology because it's the strongest growth pocket in our economy. There's a lot of cash on the sidelines, and they're going to come back to where the organic growth will be next year.

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

    Microsoft shares bounced between gains and losses before ending up lower, one day after a federal judge ordered a breakup of the company. Shares of Linux- related companies -- all Microsoft rivals -- also lost ground.

    /// REST OPT ///

    Trading volume once again was very light. Analysts say the onslaught of economic data coming out before the next central bank meeting, in late June, has made investors more cautious than usual. Investors look to each report for signs that recent interest-rate increases are having their intended effect: to curb inflationary pressures in the U-S economy. The latest on the economy shows import prices rose in May. But taking oil costs out of the equation, import prices actually fell two-tenths of one percent -- the first decline in almost a year. On Friday, the producer price index comes out. This measures inflation at the wholesale level and is considered a key bit of information for the central bank. (Signed) NEB/NY/EJ/LSF/WTW 08-Jun-2000 17:11 PM EDT (08-Jun-2000 2111 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: A federal judge in Washington has ordered the breakup of Microsoft, the huge, Washington state-based computer software company, on anti-trust grounds and the editorials are beginning to pour into the papers. There are also comments about Monday's Supreme Court decision limiting the rights of grandparents to see their grandchildren. Political turmoil in Israel is another popular topic, as is the U-S economic embargo against Cuba. There are also comments on Peru's election; Mexico's coming election; Fiji's coup and Ukraine's disposal of a deadly nuclear relic. Now, here is ___________ with a closer look and some excerpts in today's Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: Near the home of Microsoft in Redmond, Washington, the Seattle Times reacts:

    VOICE: /// OPT /// The hammer has dropped on Microsoft. /// END OPT /// Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson yesterday formally ordered a breakup of the (Microsoft) company into two parts, one for the Windows operating system and another for everything else. What once was unthinkable is a now a court order. ... [Judge] Jackson saw little choice, given the facts and the law. But ... have to ... wonder whether antitrust law adequately deals with matters such as when two products can be stitched into one with a few programmer's key strokes. .... The company vows an appeal, so this fight will go on, perhaps for years.

    TEXT: The New York Times says that although the content of the ruling was not surprising:

    VOICE: ... the tone was startlingly stern. Microsoft, (Judge Penfield) says, has been "not credible," "untrustworthy," "disingenuous." /// OPT

    /// And he added, "There is credible evidence ... to suggest that Microsoft, convinced of its innocence, continues to do business as it has in the past and may yet do to other markets what it has already done."

    /// END OPT ///

    Judge Jackson sided completely with the government in part because he mistrusts the company. Yesterday Microsoft reaped the well-deserved consequences.

    TEXT: The Los Angeles Times says Judge Jackson "deserves praise for his determination" but calls the proposed breakup "a clumsy means of remedying the company's so-evident wrongs." And today's Washington Post worries that:

    VOICE: ... the judge's remedy is too drastic. Microsoft has serious questions to appeal.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: The Detroit [Michigan] Free Press calls the decision "well founded" but wants a speedy appeal directly to the Supreme Court, adding:

    VOICE: ... very likely, this changes everything in the highly competitive high-tech industry. ... this is just as likely the beginning of the end of Microsoft as we know it.

    TEXT: Across town, /// END OPT /// The Detroit News is furious at the decision:

    VOICE: ... the government's victory constitutes a stunning defeat for consumers and the American free enterprise system. A full reversal by a higher court is in order. ... the so-called remedy poses a far greater danger to market competition than any of Microsoft's admittedly tough tactics. ... A breakup of Microsoft is only justified if the core principles of free enterprise are abandoned.

    TEXT: Another popular topic also involves a Supreme Court ruling this Monday limiting the visitation rights of grandparents with their grandchildren. Today's San Jose [California] Mercury News points out that grandparents still have rights to visit their grandchildren, but those rights now have limits, and with good reason.

    VOICE: During the last two decades many states have gone overboard in giving grandparents the legal muscle to win visitation over parental objections. These laws often don't require the grandparents to show that the mother or father is unfit - - or even that the grandparents had a significant role in raising the child.

    TEXT: To the Middle East now, where a political crisis, in the form of a call for new Israeli elections, is facing Prime Minister Ehud Barak on the eve of a new peace initiative. In Denver's [Colorado] Rocky Mountain News, foreign affairs columnist Holger Jensen says, "Israel's internal squabbles may put peace out of reach."

    VOICE: The Mideast peace process, now at its most critical juncture, hinges on political infighting in Israel that has nothing to do with peace at all -- at least on the surface. It involves funding for a bankrupt, scandal-ridden Jewish Orthodox school system run by Shas, second strongest party in Prime Minister Ehud Barak's governing coalition. [When] ... he refused to cave in to Shas' fiscal demands, it joined the opposition in voting to dissolve parliament. ... (That) could freeze the peace process for months. And it could unravel [Mr.] Barak's coalition...

    TEXT: The New York Times is also upset, noting: "Regrettably, Mr. Barak must now divert attention from peacemaking to repairing his coalition."

    TEXT: Turning to affairs of this hemisphere, today's Grand Forks [North Dakota] Herald joins a growing list of papers calling for an end to the U-S economic embargo against Cuba.

    VOICE: The case against the embargo can be made on humanitarian grounds. It can be made on the basis of consistency ... [or] by pointing out that the embargo has failed... Or by noting that engagement helps change minds much more often than estrangement. ... But another argument rings more clearly in this part of the continent. Cuba is potentially a big market for American farm products.

    TEXT: Still with Latin American affairs, Peru's questionable, one-candidate presidential election poses a thorny dilemma for the Clinton administration according to the Providence [Rhode Island] Journal.

    VOICE: Alberto Fujimori's victory ... was tainted, to say the least ... [but] ... Peru's leader has done much that would please officials in Washington ... especially the Pentagon and the White House's anti- drug czar... /// OPT /// And even many of those who don't particularly like him would be upset about the United States throwing its weight around - - within the Organization of American States, for example -- in a way that would be portrayed as intervening in others' domestic affairs. /// END OPT /// This is a tricky - - and potentially hazardous -- situation for American diplomacy.

    TEXT: Elsewhere, Mexico's uncharacteristically competitive presidential campaign draws this cheer from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which suggests: "Democracy is the winner with a real race in Mexico.

    VOICE: Mexico has changed dramatically in recent years, thanks in part to the North American Free Trade Agreement, and the P-R-I's [Spanish acronym for The long-governing "Institutional Revolutionary Party"] internal democratization reflects these changes. Also in this election cycle, Mexicans have been engrossed in a series of presidential debates. Time was when opposition candidates couldn't get on television at all, let alone share the stage with the P-R-I man.

    TEXT: Unrest out in those supposedly idyllic South Pacific Islands is bothering the Wall Street Journal, which advises:

    VOICE: /// OPT /// Toss out those old copies of National Geographic that depict the islands of the South pacific as amiable outposts ... Nothing could be further from today's truth. Paradise, in fact, is going to the dogs. /// END OPT /// In ... Fiji and the Solomon Islands, armed thugs asserting ethnic claims have taken the prime ministers hostage. /// OPT

    /// In Fiji, Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry was imprisoned in the parliament building on May 19th ... His counterpart in the Solomon Islands, Bartholomew Ulufa'alu, was seized just as unceremoniously, by rebel gunmen on Monday. .../// END OPT /// Fiji is ... a compelling study in how fomenting racial hyper- consciousness can be a disastrous business. ... in Fiji (or the Solomon Islands), the outcome is likely to be calamitous. ... The Indo-Fijian population is not the "enemy." Fiji's true foe is Mr.[George Speight, the ethnic Fijian businessman who is leading the coup in Suva] Speight and his ideas.

    TEXT: Lastly, The Los Angeles Times bids farewell to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant that spewed out huge amounts of radioactive material back in 1986.

    VOICE: This week Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said he will meet his commitment to shut down the remaining Chernobyl reactors [by] December 15th ... [However] Chernobyl's full consequences have yet to unfold. The reactor explosion ... polluted millions of [hectares] with tons of radioactive strontium, cesium and plutonium. ... much of western Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Europe were exposed to fallout. ... Cases of thyroid cancer in children living downwind from the plant are rising. ... [and] a 1995 U-N report warned, the tragedy could have many years to run.

    TEXT: On that note, we conclude this sampling of editorial comment from Thursday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/KL 08-Jun-2000 11:48 AM EDT (08-Jun-2000 1548 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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