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Voice of America, 00-06-22

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

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





    INTRO: Hong Kong's chief administrative officer, Anson Chan, has been making a European tour to promote the region's economic interests. Ron Pemstein reports from Brussels that Hong Kong's experience in dealing with illegal immigration is of special interest to Europe.

    TEXT: The death of 58 Chinese migrants discovered in a truck in the British port of Dover has revived interest in Europe in ways to stop the trade in illegal migration. Hong Kong has special experience in dealing with smugglers and the subject came up when Anson Chan met European Commission officials, including Justice Commissioner Antonio Vittorino and External Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten. The meeting with Commissioner Patten was a meeting between old friends. Mrs. Chan was the chief civil servant when Mr. Patten was Hong Kong's last governor general before the hand-over to China in 1997. Mr. Patten says new attention is being paid to what Europe needs to do to stop the smuggling of illegal asylum seekers.

    /// Patten Act ///

    One of the lessons we have to take from Dover is the importance of moving further and faster on the conclusions of the Tampere European Council in areas like cooperation between member states and Interpol, in areas like beefing up the sentences against those who traffic in human beings in this disgusting way.

    /// End Act ///

    Last month, the European Union said the "one-country, two systems" principal continues to work well in Hong Kong. Commissioner Patten says Hong Kong can play a more valuable role as China adapts its economy to joining the World Trade Organization (W-T-O).

    /// Patten Act ///

    An example of that is that Hong Kong through years of experience already knows a good deal of what is required by W-T-O entry, of what sort of regulatory requirements it has to meet. And one thing we are very anxious to do is to help the authorities in China develop their administrative capacity to cope with W-T-O entry.

    /// End Act ///

    Mrs. Chan told a Brussels business luncheon that China's entry into the W-T-O will make state-owned enterprises become more efficient and profitable and the freer trade in goods and services will lead to greater openness and higher standards of accountability. In her visits to Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, Mrs. Chan has been trying to win visa-free entry for Hong Kong's business travelers carrying passports issued by the Special Administrative region. She tells reporters she is optimistic.

    /// Chan Act ///

    I do not detect that there is fundamentally any concern as insofar as Hong Kong's own immigration policies and passport-issuing regime is concerned. I do appreciate that there is some way to go, but I am reasonably optimistic that we will get there.

    /// End Act ///

    The European Union is Hong Kong's third largest trading partner after China and the United States. Last year, trade between the E-U and Hong Kong was valued at more than 45-billion dollars. (Signed)
    NEB/RP/GE/JP 22-Jun-2000 13:42 PM EDT (22-Jun-2000 1742 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: U-S stock prices were lower Thursday, led down by technology issues, as investors sold off the shares that have rallied the most this week. Analysts say uncertainty about interest rates has come back to haunt the market. V-O-A correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York.

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 121 points, one percent, to 10-thousand-376. The Standard and Poor's 500 index fell 27 points, almost two percent. And the NASDAQ composite lost over three percent, ending a five-day winning streak. Despite the day's drop, momentum seems to have come back into the NASDAQ market, following the steep sell- off that began in March. While this wave of momentum does not quite have the same exuberance behind it, analysts say it is notable because it signals renewed investor confidence.

    /// BEGIN OPT ///

    Market strategist Al Goldman notes, however, the momentum this time seems a lot healthier:

    /// GOLDMAN ACT ///

    The momentum I'm seeing right now is much more fundamentally-based, and hasn't reached nearly the speculative level that we saw up until the first part of March. And I think it probably is going to stay less speculative, and I think folks are going to be more selective about what momentum stocks they're going to follow.

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

    Meanwhile, many experts predict stocks, in general, will not be adding significant gains before the U-S central bank meets next week to consider raising interest rates again.

    /// REST OPT ///

    Uncertainty about short-term rates is shadowing Wall Street activity, even though those concerns are greatly diminished. Many analysts now believe the central bank will leave rates unchanged this time, while it sorts out whether the economic slowdown in the United States is mirage or reality. (Signed) NEB/NY/EJ/LSF/WTW 22-Jun-2000 16:52 PM EDT (22-Jun-2000 2052 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: As the presidential election in Zimbabwe draws closer, editorial writers in this country are paying closer and closer attention. The growing problem of people smuggling, thrust into the headlines again with the death of 58 Chinese discovered at Dover in Britain, is another popular topic. There are also editorials on: the scheduled execution of another inmate in a Texas prison, and capital punishment's relationship to the presidential campaign: the Cuban embargo debate: the latest moves in the Northern Ireland peace process and: security problems at the Los Alamos National Nuclear laboratory. Now, here with a closer look and some excerpts is __________ and today's Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: Things in Zimbabwe appear to be going from bad to worse as this weekend's presidential election draws closer. Long-time president Robert Mugabe is doing everything he can to assure victory, while the rest of the world condemns his campaign against white farmers as racist, and violence against his black opponents as anti-democratic. Today's San Francisco Chronicle puts it this way.

    VOICE: ... President ... Mugabe is fighting for his political life, so it is not surprising that he is using every trick in the book to make sure he wins ... Not satisfied with condoning unconscionable acts of violence on the campaign trail, his government this week denied accreditation to representatives of any foreign non-profit organization ... which [previously] concluded that "conditions do not exist for credible elections" in Zimbabwe. ... As a result, it is likely ... there will be no independent monitors in many parts of the vast country. /// OPT /// By excluding them, [Mr.] Mugabe clearly hopes to fool the outside world into believing that the majority of his people still support him. /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: The New York Times writes:

    VOICE: Mr. Mugabe has responded to the prospect of defeat with demagoguery, violence and intimidation. ... The balloting and vote count may be flawed, as the government is limiting the number of election observers. The outside world, especially South Africa and Zimbabwe's smaller neighbors, must press Mr. Mugabe to end the violence, hold a clean vote and vote count and abide by the results. ... /// OPT /// The United States, Britain, the European Union and the Commonwealth nations should warn Mr. Mugabe that he and his cronies will lose visas for foreign travel and their overseas bank accounts if Zimbabwe's democracy dies.

    TEXT: But the Washington Post says that any election, at this point, is better than none.

    VOICE: ... opposition ... leaders correctly perceive that even this highly flawed process is better than none - and that as long as the voting and the ... count are subject to at least some independent scrutiny, they could gain dozens of seats in parliament. Barring a post-election coup by Mr. Mugabe, he may well have to deal with an independent opposition in parliament for the first time.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: In Europe, the on-going problem of people smuggling, is back in the headlines after the discovery of 58 young Chinese who died in a truck aboard a ferry that landed this week at Dover, England. The Tulsa [Oklahoma] World says migrants the world over, being smuggled into richer nations in a quest for a better life, all too often end up dead.

    VOICE: In gruesome terms, the deaths reveal how large the global problem of smuggled humans has become. The Chinese men and women are not the first illegal migrants to die en route to what they hoped was an improved existence. In our own country, numerous illegal aliens, fleeing from Mexico and south and Central America, have met similar fates in the airless cargo areas of ships and trucks.

    TEXT: And in Boston, The Christian Science Monitor has similar misgivings about the breadth of the problem.

    VOICE: The ... immigrants who perished ... only hint at the volume of people smuggling in Europe and North America. This traffic in human beings has become a legal and humanitarian dilemma. ... Nothing short of a globally coordinated effort is going to stem this tide.

    TEXT: The State of Texas is scheduled to execute Gary Graham today for the murder of a man in a store parking lot in 1981. His case has focused attention on the large number of Texas prisoners executed during Governor George Bush's tenure, and on the failings of the justice system nationwide in handling death sentences. USA Today, the national daily published in a Washington, D-C suburb calls Mr. Graham's situation a "Troubling case for clemency." The paper admits Mr. Graham was a 17-year-old criminal, probably guilty of several other crimes, including kidnapping and rape of an older woman, but adds:

    VOICE: ...his case [demonstrates] the inadequacies of clemency systems in death-penalty states such as Texas, where the system ... inspires public doubt. [Mr.] Graham's clemency request is to be decided today, just hours before his scheduled execution, and although most prisoners maintain their innocence, his case is rich with reasonable doubt. /// OPT /// He was convicted on the basis of a single eyewitness ... and ... his court-appointed lawyer failed to ...tell the jury ... the gun Graham had with him was not the murder weapon. /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: In its second, consecutive editorial on the case, The New York Times notes:

    VOICE: ... the case ... has demonstrated to the nation the serious deficiencies in a capital punishment system that Governor George W. Bush defended again yesterday as "fair and just." Mr. Graham's situation has also exposed the timidity of both Governor Bush and his Democratic presidential opponent, Al Gore, in addressing the risks of wrongful execution of inmates who have been deprived of fair trials.

    TEXT: Another popular topic is the issue of ending the U-S embargo on trade with Cuba, now that a somewhat similar embargo against North Korea has been lifted by President Clinton. He acted after last week's unexpectedly cordial and historic pan-Korean summit. The Los Angeles Times joins a growing list of dailies suggesting an end, or at least a relaxation of this policy.

    VOICE: /// OPT /// The American Farm Bureau estimates that sales of U-S grains and medicine to Cuba could bring in one-billion-dollars-a-year. Were it not for the 1961 ... trade embargo against Fidel Castro's Communist state, the Florida Straits would have become a highway of commerce long ago. /// END OPT /// The boycott made political sense in the 1960's, but Castro no longer is a threat. He remains in power, but before long will join his erstwhile sponsor, the Soviet Union, on the dark pages of history.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: The San Francisco Chronicle reminds readers:

    VOICE: For 38-years a U-S embargo has contributed to the impoverishment of the Cuban people without dislodging Fidel Castro. In fact, the boycott has given Mr. Castro a handy alibi to cover his own government's many abject failures. ...Common sense and humanitarian concerns demand that Congress take a hard look at the embargo and determine if it is accomplishing anything positive and, if not, to move promptly to lift the sanctions.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Turning to the Northern Ireland peace process, the Portland [Maine] press Herald is upset by the latest threats from Ulster Unionists, specifically a militia called the Protestant Ulster Freedom Fighters who are threatening to resume attacking Catholics. Says the Press Herald:

    VOICE: This ... underscores the fact that paramilitary activity is not just a Catholic problem. ... There should be a new commitment on the part of the Northern Irish government ... that all paramilitary groups disarm and disband.

    TEXT: Domestically, the barrage of criticism against the leadership of the Los Alamos National [Nuclear] Laboratory, and Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson continues in the wake of lost computer discs. The Los Angeles Times points out in its headline that even the small, 24-hour grocery stores in this country, monitor customers with video security cameras, but the nuclear lab did not. The Washington Post has similar thoughts:

    VOICE: Whether Mr. Richardson goes or stays, it is clear security around the nuclear program needs further attention. Commercial firms seem able to protect their inventory with a combination of bar codes, video cameras, and other electronic surveillance; there is no reason why high-tech wizards of the nuclear labs cannot use the same gadgetry effectively.

    TEXT: And lastly, on the long drawn out, and some say, politically motivated, process by which the Food and Drug Administration is making the French abortion pill RU-486 available to American women, The Los Angeles Times complains:

    VOICE: [The pill's] ... very advantages have ensnared the F-D-A's approval process in fierce politics between antiabortion and pro-choice forces. As a September 30th deadline for action looms, the F-D-A, which had inched toward approval, appears to be backtracking, suggesting unwarranted and nonsensical restrictions on the use of the pill. ... Science should govern the F-D-A's decisions on RU-486. There should be no more waffling.

    TEXT: On that note of frustration, we conclude this sampling of editorial comment from the pages of Thursday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/RAE 22-Jun-2000 12:21 PM EDT (22-Jun-2000 1621 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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