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Voice of America, 00-06-30

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

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





    INTRO: After months of political wrangling, the U-S House of Representatives has approved legislation that provides billions of dollars to fight drugs in Colombia and support peacekeeping in Kosovo. V-O-A's Paula Wolfson reports the Senate is expected to follow suit later today (by close of business Friday) and send the bill to the President, who has pushed hard for the funds.

    TEXT: The money is part of an eleven-point-two billion-dollar emergency spending bill that began its path through Congress early in the year. The House approved its initial version in March, but the legislation bogged down in the Senate. It took steady pressure from Colombian leaders and the Pentagon to get Senators to move on the measure. Even then, there were differences in language between the House and Senate that took weeks to resolve. The compromise bill includes one-point-three billion dollars to help Colombia battle drug producers. It also allocates two billion dollars to pay for peacekeeping operations in Kosovo.


    The Colombia aid has been a priority for House Speaker Dennis Hastert and the White House. But there has been substantial opposition from lawmakers who fear the United States could get dragged into another country's civil war. Much of the money will be used to purchase military equipment and train special anti- drug troops that will operate in the guerilla controlled regions of the country. By putting the money for Colombia into a bill that also provides emergency funds for many congressional districts, House Republican leaders assured its passage. The vote in support of the compromise legislation was substantial. Three-hundred-six members voted for the bill, 110 voted no. (Signed)
    NEB/PW/KBK 29-Jun-2000 22:06 PM EDT (30-Jun-2000 0206 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: There are increasing indications that diplomats are seriously considering the idea of allowing Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to avoid prosecution for war crimes if he goes into exile. What some analysts consider a trial balloon to test reaction to the idea appeared in the New York Times last week (6/19). Since then, there have been official denials but very little criticism. V-O-A's Pamela Taylor has the details.

    TEXT: U-S Secretary of State Madeleine Albright repeated the call for President Milosevic to step down from power during a speech in Berlin Thursday (6/29). She also repeated the official U-S position that Mr. Milosevic should face war crimes charges before an international court in The Hague. But policy makers and officials close to the U-S administration believe the idea floated in the New York Times to allow President Milosevic to leave office and move to a third country is a serous one. It is being considered, they say, largely because no one sees any hope for change in the Balkans until the Yugoslav leader is out of power. The New York Times report says the idea came up in talks between President Clinton and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow earlier this month. Greece is another country named as a possible place of exile for Mr. Milosevic. All three governments have denied any such discussions are going on. Senator Gordon Smith, chairman of the European Affairs Subcommittee of U-S Senate, says if such a deal is being discussed, even informally, it is wrong:

    /// SMITH ACT ///

    Justice is not served by setting him up in a dacha (Russian summer home) somewhere so he can thumb his nose at the international community and somehow sweep under the rug all the crimes he has committed.

    /// END ACT ///

    Senator Smith calls the idea a "deal of desperation" that is only being considered because many see no exit strategy for U-S troops in the Balkans as long as President Milosevic remains in power. A Balkan analyst with ties to the administration agrees the suggestion of such a deal sends a very bad message. Charles Ingrao is a professor of history at Purdue University:

    /// INGRAO ACT ///

    The function of justice is deterrence. It's not revenge. We don't punish war criminals to make ourselves feel good. We punish people in western jurisprudence in order to act as a deterrent to future criminals. Deterrence would be destroyed if we were to tell the international community that people can commit war crimes and then walk away if they can cut a good deal. What about other war criminals? What about a society that has bred this kind of reprehensible behavior?

    /// END ACT ///

    Professor Ingrao agrees with the assessment that it is a "deal of desperation." He says it has been discussed in back channels for some time, but was only recently deliberately leaked to a leading American newspaper:

    /// INGRAO ACT ///

    My theory is that it was leaked by people in the State Department who don't want a deal to be cut. Within the State Department, there are many people who have floated this balloon, not as a trial balloon but rather to torpedo the project before it goes any further.

    /// END ACT ///

    But apart from activists in the human rights community, Professor Ingrao says there has been remarkably little outrage in the United States. He says this is partly because the Balkans has dropped from the radar screen of most Americans, but also because few policy makers see a realistic alternative. And that seems to be the consensus among analysts and diplomats who say no matter how morally reprehensible it might seem to allow Mr. Milosevic to avoid war crimes prosecution, it is a "real politik," pragmatic option. George Freedman of the on-line intelligence report "Stratfor-dot-com" says information he has analyzed shows the idea is being taken very seriously on both sides of the Atlantic:

    /// FRIEDMAN ACT ///

    What we're trying to do is create a dynamic in Belgrade for the departure of Milosevic, having abandoned the attempt to destabilize the government as a whole because of the failure of the opposition. The point of the New York Times article had to do with taking a temperature check of what the reaction would be among public opinion, human rights activists etc., if a deal were to be made -- to test whether it would be politically feasible, and I think the answer is "yes, it is politically feasible." The article on the whole met with relative indifference.

    /// END ACT ///

    George Friedman believes time is of the essence because Mr. Milosevic may feel he has a better chance to escape justice in the waning days of the current U- S administration than if such a deal became a campaign issue between now and November. (Signed)
    NEB/PAM/JP 30-Jun-2000 13:28 PM EDT (30-Jun-2000 1728 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Turkish authorities recently have stepped up pressure on Turkey's largest legal pro-Kurdish party, Hadep. This follows a pledge by Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit not -- as he put it -- to allow the Kurds to carry their battle onto the political field. Amberin Zaman interviewed Hadep chairman Ahmet Turan Demir in Ankara and filed this report.

    TEXT: Pressure is nothing new for Turkey's largest legal pro-Kurdish party, Hadep. Over the past few years, leading party officials have been arrested and jailed. The party headquarters has been raided and shut down, and thousands of its members beaten and detained. With Turkey's acceptance as an official candidate for full membership by European Union leaders in Helsinki last year, both Western governments and human-rights groups have expressed hopes that Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit's coalition government will take concrete steps towards fulfilling Kurdish demands for greater rights. If anything, analysts say Turkish authorities have stepped up pressure on Kurdish groups. Over the past week alone, scores of Hadep members were detained, for protesting against the death penalty handed down a year ago to Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party, better known as the P-K-K. Many Kurds say they see a link between the arrests and recent comments by Mr. Ecevit during his trip to the largely Kurdish city of Diyarbakir earlier in June. Mr. Ecevit indirectly accused Hadep of being what he termed a "racist" party, and described Kurdish attempts to win rights through political means as even more dangerous than the P-K-K's often ruthless 15-year armed campaign for Kurdish independence. Hadep chairman Ahmet Turan Demir is an ethnic Circassian from the central Anatolian province of Sivas. He denies that his party has a racist agenda.


    Mr. Demir says neither he nor his party take Prime Minister Ecevit's comments seriously. Mr. Demir sees the current crackdown on Hadep as part of a broader struggle between those who favor democracy and European Union membership, and those within what he terms the "deep state," who stand to lose their power base if the status quo is disrupted. Mr. Demir picks his words carefully, for he, too, is facing five separate legal cases in which he is charged with separatism. He has already been sentenced convicted to four years in prison for various speeches he made in which he touched upon the Kurdish problem. Mr. Demir acknowledges, however, that his party does have an image problem. He says that most Turks see Hadep as a party that struggles only for Kurdish rights. That image has resulted in a legal move to close the party on charges that it is acting as the political arm of the P-K-K.


    Mr. Demir says Hadep is seeking to become what he terms a party for the whole of Turkey, and is holding talks with different political parties, labor unions and other non-governmental organizations to find ways to work together to help promote democracy. Still, Mr. Demir says that Hadep's core mission must and will remain campaigning for greater rights for the country's estimated 12-million Kurds.


    Mr. Demir warns that should the Turkish state fail to take concrete steps in the near future toward meeting Kurdish demands -- whether for broadcasting, or education in their own language, or for economic investment in their poverty stricken regions -- the armed rebellion called off by Abdullah Ocalan last year could resume. (Signed)
    NEB/AZ/GE/WTW 30-Jun-2000 12:30 PM EDT (30-Jun-2000 1630 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The secretary general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, has met with Hungarian officials to discuss Hungary's treatment of its Roma, or Gypsy, population. Mr. Annan spoke to reporters on Friday, at the end of a three-day visit to Budapest. From the Hungarian capital, Stefan Bos has the story.

    TEXT: U-N-Secretary General Kofi Annan made it clear that one of the major reasons he came to Hungary was to urge government officials to respect the rights of Gypsies and other minorities. In addition to expressing the U-N's concern about the treatment of the Roma, Mr. Annan said he was aware that the European Union as well as human rights organizations have also expressed concern about the status of Hungary's Roma. According to official estimates, as many as 600- thousand Roma live in Hungary, although some place the figure closer to one million, which would mean they make up nearly 10 percent of the Hungarian population. Although there are many Roma in Hungary, they are not well-represented in the country's educational or political systems. The only area where they rank high is in the lists of the country's unemployed. In addition, human rights watchdogs and E-U diplomats say a disproportionately high number of Romani children are assigned to schools for the mentally handicapped. Mr. Annan told reporters that he brought up the issue of discrimination against Roma with Hungarian officials, as well as with Roma leaders.

    /// ANNAN ACT ///

    I had very good discussions with the Roma representatives and of course the Minister of Justice. But I also discussed it with the highest level of Hungarian leadership, with the President (and) the Prime Minister. And I was very encouraged to know that they recognize there is a problem and they are taking steps to do something about it.

    /// END ACT ///

    Hungary's treatment of its Roma population is likely to play a large role in the country's efforts to join the European Union, which it hopes to do within three years. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who joined Mr. Annan at an earlier news briefing, urged the international community to give his country more time. He said decades of Communism and his country's troubled history were to blame for many of the difficulties of Hungary's Roma community.


    "I think that everybody must understand that a handicap of about 100 and 150 years can't be made up in a matter of a few years," Mr. Orban says. But he adds: "I think we have found two important channels to proceed: Job opportunities for the adult population (and) obligatory education for the children." While in Hungary, UN-Secretary General Annan and his wife, Nanne Annan, also expressed their deep feeling for the Hungarian Jewish population. Mrs. Annan is a niece of the Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who saved the lives of tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews during World War Two. The U-N leader and his wife visited a statue in honor of the Swedish diplomat, who perished in the Soviet Union under mysterious circumstances. The Annan's also reportedly met with survivors of the Holocaust, in which 600-thousand Hungarian Jews died. Mr. Annan told reporters that he believed Hungary has learned from its troubled past and could become a beacon of stability for the Balkans and the other former Communist countries in Eastern Europe. (Signed)
    NEB/SB/KL 30-Jun-2000 19:46 PM EDT (30-Jun-2000 2346 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The French farmer who became a symbol of the movement against globalization has gone on trial for the act of vandalism that made him famous: damaging a McDonalds fast food restaurant under construction in the south of France. As Paul Miller in Paris reports from Paris, the trial is being used to rally opposition to global trade.

    TEXT: French farmer Jose Bove [pron: boe-`VAY] readily admits that he damaged the McDonalds restaurant last year, as a symbolic gesture that he says is part of a struggle between small farmers and big agri-businesses. That feeling is certainly shared by many of the 30- thousand people who have come to the southern French town of Millau to support Mr. Bove. They have turned the market town into a fair, filled with banners, bands and boutiques dispensing organic food and literature about a variety of causes. Mr. Bove and nine co-defendants arrived for their court date in a wagon pulled by a tractor, as a crowd of trade unionists, environmentalists and others applauded. Jose Bove says he has so much public support he doubts a court would convict him. If it does, he faces a possible sentence of five years in jail and a 70- thousand-dollar fine. He also predicts there could be violence if the verdict goes against him. That is the kind of controversial remark that has helped make him a celebrity. He has gone from growing sheep and producing Roquefort cheese (-- one item in a food dispute between the United States and France --) to what his supporters see as a hero of the struggle against multi-national corporations, particularly American ones. Among other things, he has written a book called "The World Is Not for Sale." The trial is expected to last two days. (Signed)
    NEB/PM/JWH/WTW 30-Jun-2000 10:48 AM EDT (30-Jun-2000 1448 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: U-S stock prices were higher today (Friday) across-the-board, as the year's second quarter officially came to a close. The "blue-chip" stocks, down most of the day, rebounded finally in hectic late-day trading. VOA correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York:

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 50 points, one-half of one percent, at 10-thousand-447. The Industrials gained fractionally this week - up 43 points. The Standard and Poor's 500 index closed 12 points higher - a gain of less than one percent. The technology-weighted NASDAQ composite gained over two percent. Leading computer maker I-B-M put pressure on the Dow Industrials. Its shares moved four percent lower, after analysts predicted weak quarterly earnings for the company. Many experts expect the market to stay "range-bound" - not a lot of movement in either direction -- as investors focus on earnings news, as well as interest rate uncertainties. Investors worry that a slowing U-S economy -- which is what the central bank wants to achieve -- will cut into corporate profits.

    /// REST OPT ///

    However, Larry Wachtel, an analyst with the Prudential Securities firm, believes second quarter earnings overall will be good, despite the profit warnings:

    /// WACHTEL ACT ///

    What's coming up is that the earnings will affect the market positively. We'll begin the earnings (announcements) around July 10th. They'll run through the next three weeks. They should be affirmative. We had a pretty rough pre-announcement season. But I think the whole body of earnings will simulate what we saw in the first quarter, which was pretty good.

    /// END ACT ///

    In other news - after a two-year slump, Nike may be on the comeback trail. The world's largest maker of athletic shoes and apparel expects its quarterly profits to jump 39 percent over this time last year. Nike says strong international sales have offset sluggish sales in the United States. Nike's biggest gains were in apparel. Its shoe division apparently is still under-performing, though the company says that, too, is poised for a rebound. Nike will introduce a new line of sneakers later this year called "Nike Shocks." Troubles for Xerox keep rolling in. The copier giant says the U-S Securities and Exchange Commission has begun a probe into accounting issues at its Mexican unit. Xerox reported problems collecting unpaid bills in Mexico as part of the profit warning it issued two weeks ago. The investigation is another blow to Xerox, coming after a series of earnings shortfalls and massive layoffs. Xerox says it will cooperate fully with the probe. (Signed) NEB/NY/EJ/LSF/KL 30-Jun-2000 17:27 PM EDT (30-Jun-2000 2127 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Mexico's presidential election Sunday comes in for plenty of attention in the editorial columns of American newspapers, even as the United States readies for its Fourth of July holiday weekend marking independence from Britain. Several Supreme Court decisions are also popular topics for commentary, especially one about the Boy Scouts and homosexuality. The AIDS epidemic in Africa gets attention, as does the international problem of people smuggling. Now, here is _________ with a closer look in today's U-S Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: Mexicans go to the polls Sunday in what the U-S press is suggesting will be the cleanest presidential election in the nation's history. It will probably also be the closest, with a former state governor and soft drink executive Vicente Fox of the P-A-N party mounting the strongest challenge ever to the long- dominant P-R-I party. As The Seattle Times puts it, this vote is really different.

    VOICE: Mexico's presidential election Sunday comes with something unexpected: suspense. No one can say who will win. For 71 years, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (P-R-I) swept elections in good times and stole them in bad times. This election truly matters. The weakness of Mexico's democracy, the health of its economy and the reach of official corruption are felt in the United States. /// OPT /// Illegal immigration, indifferent drug enforcement and economic stability are all bound up in the political stability of the ruling party across the border. /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Calling a change from P-R-I rule "overdue," The New York Times says a victory for Mr. Fox would be "a healthy development for Mexican democracy." While The Los Angeles Times describes the election as a "Watershed" for Mexico," adding:

    VOICE: Mexico is two days from what will certainly be the freest and fairest -- and the most competitive -- presidential election in the country's restive history. ... The old assurance of a P-R-I victory has been swept away by a clean and steady wind. Democracy awaits if the Mexicans will embrace it. /// OPT /// ... Today, the P-R-I faces a level of opposition unimaginable a few years ago. The two main opposition parties ... govern in almost half of Mexico's 31 states and in more than half of the state capitals.

    TEXT: Today's Chicago Tribune calls it "A genuine election in Mexico," while The San Francisco Chronicle notes:

    VOICE: That it is time for a change is a gross understatement in a country where the old guard in the P-R-I is commonly referred to as "the dinosaurs." ... Sunday's election will signal the extent to which Mexicans -- and especially its poor -- are willing to break from the past, and embrace a new century.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Domestically, a Supreme Court decision upholding the right of the Boy Scouts of America to ban homosexual members continues to generate enormous comment. In Connecticut, Waterbury's Republican- American is delighted:

    VOICE: Rarely has a U-S Supreme Court ruling been so devastatingly lucid ... The court upheld the right of the Boy Scouts ... to continue its mission of providing character-building experiences to America's youth.

    TEXT: Calling the ruling "sound," Salt Lake City's Deseret News suggests:

    VOICE: A negative ruling ... would not only have been a terrible blow to the Scout program but to communities around the globe.

    TEXT: In New Jersey, where an exemplary Boy Scout who became a local Scout official was ousted after declaring his homosexuality, The [Trenton] Times worries the ruling is a "Pyrrhic victory."

    VOICE: The Boy Scouts of America ... "won" its court case ... But in a larger sense, it has lost something of great value. The ... Scouts claimed the right -- indeed, the need -- to exclude gay men and boys from membership, not because of what they DO, but because of what they ARE. By asserting this right, [the Scouts] defined itself as a discriminatory organization that rejects the kind of tolerance and acceptance of diversity that are so basic a part of the American idea.

    TEXT: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, pondering the implications, suggests now that the Boy Scouts have been declared a private organization, they may lose their tax-exempt status; their access to public buildings and many other benefits they have long enjoyed. And a clearly angry San Francisco Examiner calls the Court's rational for its decision "chilling nonsense," adding:

    VOICE: ... the Scouts are headed for history as a relic like slavery, denying women the vote and working children to the bone in sweatshops. All of the above have about the same humanitarian impulse -- and as much relevance to the world of today and tomorrow.

    TEXT: The saga of the six-year-old Elian Gonzalez has ended with his return home to Cuba with his father. He lived seven months in the United States after being rescued at sea, and became the center of an international custody battle. The [Cleveland, Ohio] Plain Dealer feels some good may have come from the boy's ordeal.

    VOICE: ... one little boy's brief stay in South Florida may well have a lasting impact on U-S- Cuban relations that could not have been predicted or intended by Fidel Castro or his political foes among the Miami exiles. That impact was felt early Tuesday, when House Republicans negotiated a deal to allow U-S companies to sell food and medicine to Cuba. ... the move, opposed by G-O-P leaders, was historic as a step toward ending four decades of sanctions against Cuba. ... We believe ... the link between the legislation and Elian Gonzalez is [more than]... coincidental.

    TEXT: The Seattle Times is sorry that Cuban-Americans cannot join with the majority of U-S residents who are glad the boy is reunited with his father.

    VOICE: Instead of celebrating this outcome as a victory for the primacy of family ties, and for the due process of law, Cuban-Americans and other who detest Cuba's political system have been denouncing it as a capitulation to President Fidel Castro and his communist regime. It is nothing of the sort.

    TEXT: In Connecticut, Waterbury's Republican-American points to anger at what the newspaper feels is the boy's political fate.

    VOICE: After a brief celebration and reunion at the Havana airport, Elian was whisked off to a boarding school with his family, some of his classmates and teachers. After two or three weeks, he supposedly will return to his hometown of Cardenas. According to a Cuban government statement, these first weeks will be spent "undertak(ing) the master work of making him a model child." Oh. Another word comes to mind: brainwashing. ... In ... Havana, this is serious business. Elian is a danger and an opportunity. As a good little communist, profoundly and passionately loyal to the Castro regime, he's a most valuable commodity because he "proves" the righteousness of the revolution. He's the boy who tasted America, found it sour and returned to the sweet life in Cuba.

    TEXT: On to the troubling issue of the AIDS epidemic in Africa and what can be done about it. On New York's Long Island, Newsday calls it an "African Apocalypse."

    VOICE: Most African nations found it easier to ignore the crisis than to start strict prevention programs. So now, 20 years into the epidemic, time has run out. The disaster has arrived with shocking force in southern Africa - - and yes, it is awful beyond all previous predictions. This week UNAIDS, which is coordinating the global fight ... released some statistics: In Botswana, 36 percent of all adults are infected with H-I-V (EDS: human immunodifficiency virus). In relatively well off South Africa, the figure is 20 percent. In Zimbabwe it is 26 percent. ... In all, reckons a U-S intelligence report, 25 percent of southern Africa's population could die before the epidemic runs its course. The area could devolve into perilous chaos as armies are sapped and work forces die away.

    /// BEGIN OPT ///

    TEXT: The New York Times draws something hopeful from the grim statistics.

    VOICE: UNAIDS has reported considerable success in Uganda and Senegal, where advertising campaigns and educational efforts have lowered infection rates. The key to such improvements is recognition by the African governments that the AIDS crisis is a priority. Domestic commitment and international support are critical to saving Africa's next generation.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Today's Atlanta Constitution is discussing the recently approved one-point-three-billion dollar aid package for Colombia to help that nation in its struggle against insurgencies and drug trafficking. Says the Constitution:

    VOICE: Unfortunately, there's a strong possibility that even one-point-three-billion dollars won't be enough to turn the tide in Colombia. That's not an argument for U-S military intervention; such a step would be a disaster, as most people in Washington understand very well. Policy-makers are simply hoping that U-S financial and military aid will dampen the chaos in Colombia enough to allow local institutions to reassert themselves. In other words, while we're helping to provide the resources, the Colombians are going to have to reclaim their country themselves.

    TEXT: As to the increasing problem of international smuggling of people, as recently headlined in the death of 58 Chinese men and women at the English Port of Dover, The Augusta [Georgia] Chronicle worries:

    VOICE: The numbers are staggering. Smuggling people into the United States and several other countries has emerged as the fastest-growing business of organized crime, and it is being run by a shadowy new crime network that has sidelined traditional criminal syndicates. According to a report by the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, these traffickers are handling as many as 200- million people. ... Talk about human rights violations. This is the biggest one in the world today.

    TEXT: With that comment from Augusta's Chronicle, we conclude this sampling of editorial comment in Friday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/JP 30-Jun-2000 11:38 AM EDT (30-Jun-2000 1538 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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