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Voice of America, 00-06-28

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

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





    INTRO: The European Union has followed the U-S Justice Department's move in prohibiting the merger of the giant American telecommunications firms, World-Com and Sprint. Ron Pemstein reports from Brussels the European Union acted even though the firms had decided to withdraw their notification to Europe of the merger.

    TEXT: They may be two American telecommunications firms, but Europe sees their proposed merger as a threat to competition on the Internet. Mario Monti, the European Commissioner in charge of competition, made the announcement less than 24-hours after a similar move by the U-S Justice Department.

    /// MONTI ACT ///

    The Commission has decided to prohibit the merger, as it would have created a company with a dominant position in the market for global Internet backbone service. In other words, this merger would have created a dominant company in the transmission of information over the Internet with the implication of potentially higher prices, lower quality and less innovation for Internet service providers and Internet users around the world, including Europe.

    /// END ACT ///

    The American Justice Department banned the merger of WorldCom and Sprint because it would have reduced the big three of companies in charge of American long- distance telephone service from three to two. Mr. Monti says the European Union and American anti-trust authorities will cooperate whenever they have similar interests. The two American companies announced Tuesday that they were withdrawing notification of their merger to Europe because of indications the European Union planned to reject it. But Commissioner Monti says he decided to act anyway because WorldCom and Sprint have not formally canceled their 129-Billion-dollar merger.

    /// MONTI ACT ///

    The Commission felt compelled to take a formal decision as the review of the merger had come to an end and the Commission can only accept such a withdrawal of the notification if the merger deal itself is no longer legally binding for the parties. This is not the case here. In fact, the companies did not say that they have cancelled their merger agreement, only that they will not implement it.

    /// END ACT ///

    The companies can challenge the European Union's move in court, just as they can go to American courts to oppose the U-S Justice Department. The decision against the giant telecommunications merger by the United States and Europe may have implications for another mega-merger, America Online's takeover of Time-Warner. Anti-trust authorities on both continents appear to be setting the limits to mega- mergers in telecommunications. (SIGNED)
    NEB/RP/GE/RAE 28-Jun-2000 10:28 AM EDT (28-Jun-2000 1428 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: U-S stock prices were higher today (Wednesday), as the U-S central bank - the Federal Reserve Board - announced it was leaving interest rates unchanged for now. But the market rally had less momentum than Wall Street was looking for. VOA correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York.

    TEXT: Triple-digit gains by the "blue-chips" following the interest rate announcement fizzled quickly. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 23 points, closing fractionally higher at 10-thousand- 527. The Standard and Poor's 500 index edged up four points. The technology-weighted Nasdaq composite did better, closing two percent higher. Analysts say the Dow Industrials most likely were more deeply affected by the central bank's warning on inflationary pressures in the U-S economy. This keeps open the possibility that the "Fed" may not be finished raising rates this year. The latest on the economy shows factory orders for durable goods rose a stronger-than-expected six percent in May on robust demand for electronic equipment and automobiles. This contradicts recent data showing an economy that is starting to cool off.

    ///REST OPT///

    So, is the economic slowdown people are talking about for real? Experts are divided. Analyst Clark Yingst from the Prudential Securities firm is skeptical. He says the signs are not clear, and that is why he expects stock market rallies to be short-lived, at least until after the next central bank meeting in August.

    ///YINGST ACT///

    Well, that's the big issue. And I don't think, unfortunately, that there's going to be any conclusive evidence one way or the other for some time. And, lacking any clarity on the degree to which the economy is slowing down, therefore lacking any real clarity as to just how high rates ultimately will go, we would tend to believe that any rallies in the market are likely to be unsustainable, lasting perhaps a few to several days, but nothing more than that for the time being.

    ///END ACT///

    The outlook for Coca-Cola seems to be improving since its stock hit a low in March. The world's largest soft-drink maker says second-quarter earnings will be higher. Coke expects volume worldwide to climb five to six percent and earnings will be in line with Wall Street forecasts. Coca-Cola says its new marketing strategy and economic stability around the world are helping turn the company around. I-B-M shares also moved up, after the world's second- largest computer software maker said it will spend one-billion dollars and hire about hundreds of people next year to boost its project to create and sell software that runs Web sites. I-B-M is investing about the same amount this year for the project. (Signed) NEB/NY/EJ/LSF/ENE/KBK 28-Jun-2000 17:27 PM EDT (28-Jun-2000 2127 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The election in Zimbabwe that saw President Robert Mugabe's majority in parliament drastically reduced is a popular topic in today's U-S editorial columns. The cataloging of the Human Genome, the so- called instruction book for a human being, is also drawing much attention, as is a Supreme Court decision on the rights of those charged with crimes. As Elian Gonzalez prepares to return home, there is a good deal of comment on relations with Cuba. Vice President Gore gets attention, as does progress in the Irish peace process. Now, here with a closer look and some excerpts, is __________ and today's Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: The main opposition party in Zimbabwe - the Movement for Democratic Change -- made huge inroads on the parliamentary majority of long-time strongman President Robert Mugabe in this past weekend's elections. The U-S papers are pleased and call on Mr. Mugabe to include opposition views in his governing. The Seattle [Washington State] Times says Zimbabwe's leader should heed the opposition voices.

    VOICE: [President] Mugabe cannot draw much comfort from this situation. In the election campaign, he had portrayed the leaders and followers of the [opposition] as ...traitors determined to subvert his plan to redistribute confiscated white farms to landless peasants. The election results show otherwise. The [Movement for Democratic Change] emerged as a broad coalition of Zimbabweans frustrated by high unemployment, runaway inflation ... and a standard of living that has been in steady decline since the country's independence in 1980.

    TEXT: The Chicago Tribune lauds the opposition's success this way:

    VOICE: Democracy has a way of raising its voice above the terror and confusion of tyranny. It can't always shout down a dictator, but in Zimbabwe it has, at least, commenced to clear its throat. ... [The] vote ... was an unprecedented showing against a leader who has ruled with his party virtually unchallenged since independence from white-minority rule in 1980.

    TEXT: The Sun in Baltimore hails the results as meaning Zimbabwe is "no longer a one-party state..." while Boston's Christian Science Monitor says its: "good news for the often-difficult evolution of Africa toward democracy." And in Texas, the Dallas Morning News says the ballot boxes' message is one of: "utter dissatisfaction with the autocratic reign of President Robert Mugabe."

    TEXT: The big scientific news of the week, the unveiling of the almost complete map of genetic composition that creates a human being continues to draw awe and amazement, plus some concern, from editorialists. From the heartland of America, the Kansas City [Missouri] Star exclaims:

    VOICE: Much cause for celebration is found in the recent announcement that a draft of the human genome the three-point-one billion subunits of D-N-A that contain instructions for human life -- is complete. ... But there is also a potential dark side to this discovery. We face countless ethical questions, from whether parents should order designed-gene babies to who should have access to an individual's genetic information.

    TEXT: The Tulsa [Oklahoma] World knows it is a huge moment in science, but struggles to figure out how huge.

    VOICE: Depending on who you listen to, the decoding of the human genome is the equivalent of landing man on the moon or the greatest scientific discovery in history. Either way, it's enough to take your breath away. ... [What] an exhilarating start to the 21st century.

    TEXT: The Denver [Colorado] Post salutes the discovery also, but then warns:

    VOICE: ... [It] also could create consumer nightmares as people are denied jobs, credit and insurance. ... The law is behind science terribly. The answer is ... for Congress and state legislatures ... to enact meaningful privacy laws.

    TEXT: Searching for an appropriate analogy, the Chattanooga, Tennessee Free Press chooses the invention of the airplane.

    VOICE: /// OPT /// On December 17th 1903, at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Orville Wright was able to stay aloft for 12 seconds in the first power-driven, controlled, "sustained" flight of an airplane. ... Who then could have predicted that today, less than a century later, millions of people would be crowding airports for jet flights around the globe ... /// END OPT /// We mention ... powered flight ... [as] a ... grossly inadequate comparative illustration of the wonders that may come ... from ... deciphering ... the human genetic code. ... it may lead to the marvelous conquest of many ... of the major diseases that plague mankind ... but as wonderful as that would be, it may only scratch the surface beneath which lie wonders we cannot even imagine today.

    TEXT: But the Savannah Morning News warns of the down side of the discovery:

    VOICE: ...tinkering with the human blueprint - - and acquiring the foresight that allows us to virtually predict what kind of person a fetus will be... also presents a host of potential abuses.... Today it's not unusual, for example, for fetuses with cleft palates to be aborted. Genome research would greatly expand the checklist and create more ethical and moral dilemmas.

    TEXT: The other big domestic story involves a Supreme Court decision reaffirming the so-called "Miranda Warning." That is the advisory police must give to arrested people that they have the constitutionally granted right to remain silent. It is designed to stop police from coercing confessions from people against their will. California's San Jose Mercury News is pleased.

    VOICE: Now we can exhale. For too long, there's been legal uncertainty over whether the protection derives from a person's Fifth Amendment right against self- incrimination or mere congressional laws. Monday the court ruled that it's a constitutional safeguard.

    TEXT: But Salt Lake City's [Utah] Deseret News calls the decision "Ridiculous."

    VOICE: Ridiculous? Yes, considering so many alternatives exist today to make sure a confession is not coerced. The Miranda warning may have "become part of our national culture," as Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote on behalf of the ... majority, but it also has allowed many guilty people to go free on a maddening technicality. ... As it was written 34 years ago, Miranda practically begs a suspect to remain silent.

    TEXT: Elian Gonzalez could very well be going home to Cuba today. And in the editorial columns, there is plenty of comment on how relations between this country and Cuba have changed because of the young boy who was shipwrecked off the coast of the United States. The Chicago Tribune suggests:

    VOICE: Elian Gonzalez won't notice the change when he gets back to Cuba. He's just a boy, after all. But the relationship between his homeland and his temporary home has changed irrevocably in the seven months he has been in the U-S. It's about time. Congressional opponents to any easing of the trade embargo with Cuba acknowledged defeat Tuesday as a deal was reached to allow the first direct shipments of American food in nearly four decades. This is a clear victory for U-S farm and business groups, which stand to benefit from increased trade.

    TEXT: In Maine, the Portland Press Herald points out justification for the changes: VOICED: In the 1960s, when Cuba presented a threat not only to this country, but to others in the Western hemisphere, the policy didn't just make sense - - it worked. Today, however, it does neither. [President] Castro's revolution failed long ago, and the ongoing embargo hurts only the people trapped in a discredited economic and political system.

    TEXT: Vice President Gore continues to draw attention, now that it appears he will not be subjected to an independent counsel investigating his fundraising during the last presidential campaign. However, Pennsylvania's Greensburg Tribune-Review is upset that most U-S media are ignoring another potential scandal in Mr. Gore's "closet."

    VOICE: ... [Where] have the mainstream media been in reporting on a Gore oil deal that's not only slippery but downright slimy? Nowhere to be found. The Washington Times reported ... that the vice president's "push to privatize a federal oil field added tens of thousands of dollars to the value of oil stock owned by the Gore family, which has been further enriched by skyrocketing gasoline prices." ... The 1998 Occidental [Petroleum Company] deal is not Al Gore's first. And the Gore-Occidental nexus has been long and profitable - for both family and company.

    TEXT: Lastly, praise for the latest breakthrough in the Northern Ireland peace process, the revealing by the Irish Republican Army guerillas of some hidden weapons caches to international observers. The Dallas Morning News says:

    VOICE: The unprecedented and historic goodwill gesture should satisfy Protestants that the guerrilla group means to seek a peaceful solution to the conflict and give Protestants the confidence they say they need to fully implement all provisions of the 1998 Good Friday peace accord.

    TEXT: On that note, we conclude this sampling of editorial comment from Wednesday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/KL 28-Jun-2000 12:37 PM EDT (28-Jun-2000 1637 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: President Clinton and Armenian President Robert Kocharian met at the White House Tuesday to discuss prospects for ending Armenia's long running territorial dispute with neighboring Azerbaijan. Correspondent Deborah Tate reports from the White House. Text: Administration officials say Mr. Clinton told Mr. Kocharian he believes Armenia and Azerbaijan have the opportunity to end their bitter conflict over the mountainous enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh if they want to. Mr. Clinton assured his Armenian counterpart the United States would do its part to support a durable settlement. A cease-fire was signed in 1994, but disputes remain over independence claims by Nagorno-Karabakh, a mostly ethnic Armenian enclave located within Azerbaijan. The United States - which enjoys close ties with Armenia, and is home to a sizeable Armenian-American population - has been deeply involved in the search for an end to the dispute. The United States, Russia and France co-chair an Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe effort to find a settlement to the conflict. An OSCE team is to travel to the region next week. Mr. Clinton - who discussed Nagorno-Karabakh with Azerbaijan's President Heydar Aliyev in February - also used his 35-minute meeting with Mr. Kocharian to underscore the link between peace and economic reform. Fighting broke out in Nagorno-Karabakh in 1988 after the region's ethnic Armenian majority tried to break away from Azerbaijan's rule, when both states were still Soviet republics. Some 35-thousand died. Mr. Kocharian rose to power on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. He is a former leader of the enclave, and was elected Armenia's President in 1998 after the army forced his predecessor, Levon Ter-Petrosian, to resign. Military officials had suspected Mr. Ter- Petrosian was preparing a compromise with Azerbaijan. Stability in the region has become a priority for the United States, which supports a planned pipeline to carry Caspian sea oil, being extracted by U-S and European companies, across Azerbaijan to the Mediterranean at Ceyhan, Turkey.

    // rest opt //

    Mr. Kocharian is on a five-day visit to Washington, which concludes Thursday. On Monday, he met with Vice President Al Gore at an official dinner at the State Department. On Wednesday, the Armenian leader will meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, including Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott. Later, he will hold talks with officials at the International Monetary Fund. Neb/dat/KBK 27-Jun-2000 20:06 PM EDT (28-Jun-2000 0006 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: President Clinton is calling on all paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland with secret weapons stockpiles to follow the lead of the Irish Republican Army and allow inspections of the arms. Correspondent Deborah Tate reports from the White House. Text: Mr. Clinton used a wide-ranging White House news conference to praise this week's inspections of I-R-A weapons dumps by international envoys. He called the inspections a hopeful step in the Northern Ireland peace process.

    /// Clinton actuality ///

    It would be a good thing for all the paramilitaries with secret arms caches to follow the lead of those who are doing what has been done. I think this is a great deal. This is a very, very hopeful development.

    /// end act ///

    The envoys, former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, and former Secretary-General of South Africa's African National Congress, Cyril Ramaphosa, confirmed the inspections Monday. The inspections fulfilled a pledge the IRA made May following demands it move toward dismantling its arsenal in exchange for Britain's restoring the authority of the new power-sharing government in Northern Ireland. It was suspended in February over earlier I-R-A inaction on weapons inspections. Mr. Clinton expressed hope the development would have a positive impact on the start of the annual marching season beginning next month - when pro-British Protestants commemorate centuries-old victories over Catholics in marches that have often been marred by violence.

    /// Clinton actuality ///

    People who are going to do their marches ought to do it mindful of the context in which they are doing it, and the diminished tension and enhanced hope for long-term peace, and the institutions are working again, all of that.

    /// end act ///

    The President has made peace in Northern Ireland a top foreign policy objective, and keeps in close contact with the parties involved in the peace process. (signed) Neb/dat/KBK 28-Jun-2000 18:49 PM EDT (28-Jun-2000 2249 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America
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