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Voice of America, 00-07-06

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

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





    INTRO: Yugoslavia's parliament has approved constitutional changes that could make it possible for President Slobodan Milosevic to seek re-election when his term expires next year. Stefan Bos reports from Budapest that opposition parties and the small Yugoslav Republic of Montenegro have accused Mr. Milosevic of establishing a dictatorship.

    TEXT: Opposition leaders and Montenegro's pro-Western Government condemned constitutional changes approved by the parliament. They said President Slobodan Milosevic is trying to become Yugoslavia's head of state for life. Analysts say they are not surprised by the amendments, because staying in power is a way for Mr. Milosevic to avoid prosecution by the Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal, which has indicted him for alleged war crimes because of his actions in Kosovo. But in an angry statement the opposition group Democratic Alternative said that the President - is wrong if he thinks that constitutional changes would guarantee asylum and continuation of his rule. The Parliament approved constitutional changes would give Mr. Milosevic an opportunity to run again for re- election when his term expires next July. In addition, Yugoslavia's President will no longer be elected by the parliament, but directly by the people. Although Mr. Milosevic's popularity is believed to have plummeted since the war in Kosovo and last year's NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, analysts say he may win the elections because of a divided opposition, which has failed to agree on a single candidate to oppose him. The Milosevic government has also increased its power base by cracking down on independent media. The police force has arrested hundreds of political opponents. Yugoslavia's Parliament is considering an anti terrorist bill that may give Mr. Milosevic even more power to fight political dissent. The Yugoslav deputies also agreed to possibly downgrade the position of the pro-Western republic of Montenegro, which along with Serbia makes up the Yugoslav federation. The lawmakers approved an amendment instituting direct election of deputies in the influential upper chamber of the Yugoslav parliament, which includes 20 representatives from Montenegro and 20 from Serbia. Under a direct election system, many Montenegrin candidates would stand little chance since their republic has only 600-thousand people compared with Serbia's 10-million. Montenegro's reformist leadership has already taken several steps towards independence from Yugoslavia, and the republic's government and parliament are expected to vote against the new election rules Friday. With federal and municipal elections in Yugoslavia expected by the end of this year, opposition parties fear the new constitutional changes will bring the country to the brink of absolute dictatorship under a Milosevic government. (SIGNED) NEB/SB/GE/ENE/RAE 06-Jul-2000 14:46 PM EDT (06-Jul-2000 1846 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: An uneasy calm has descended on Northern Ireland after a fourth-night of Protestant demonstrations turned violent. Lourdes Navarro reports the protests are aimed at forcing authorities to allow a parade by the Orange Order - Northern Ireland's once dominant Protestant brotherhood - through a mainly Catholic neighborhood.

    TEXT: British troops were on the firing line in Belfast when a crowd of young people began throwing rocks, fireworks, and gasoline bombs. Masked rioters tossed gasoline bombs at armored cars and hijacked vehicles after thousands of hard-line Protestants blocked more than a dozen roads at evening rush hour. The violence follows a ban on an Orange Order parade through a largely Catholic neighborhood in Portadown, an overwhelmingly Protestant town. Leaders of the Orange Order insist they are not responsible for the violence. The most senior member of the Protestant Orange Order, Robert Saulters, is calling for an end to the riots and more peaceful protests. The British army deployed about 100 soldiers from the Royal Marines and Royal Green Jackets regiments into north Belfast to support police units there. British army headquarters reported that security forces had contained 61-riots in the previous 24- hours. An army communique said that represented more protests than had happened in Northern Ireland throughout all of 1999. (SIGNED)
    NEB/LN/GE/RAE 06-Jul-2000 11:15 AM EDT (06-Jul-2000 1515 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: U-S stock prices were mixed today (Thursday), with investors cautious as they await key economic data to close out the week. V-O-A's Elaine Johanson reports from New York:

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped two points, a fractional loss, closing at 10-thousand-481. But the Standard and Poor's 500 index gained 10 points, three-quarters of one percent. And the Nasdaq composite closed more than two percent higher. Both indexes were supported by bargain hunting in technology shares. However, computer maker I-B-M continued to pressure the Dow Industrials for a second straight day, its shares down another three percent. Analysts say investors in general seemed uncertain ahead of Friday's jobs report that could show inflationary pressures in a tight U-S labor market. Also, people are not so sure anymore that corporate earnings will be as positive as some had predicted.

    /// BEGIN OPT ///

    Analyst Stephen Frank believes some pre-announcements of disappointing quarterly earnings are taking their toll on investor confidence:

    /// FRANK ACT ///

    It remains a sort of choppy and somewhat tentative market. I think people are relatively comfortable that the "Fed's" [central bank's] stance on interest rates has resulted in some slowing of the economy. But some of the earnings start to filter out here. The ones that are disappointing are really taking it on the chin (their stocks are trading lower).

    /// END ACT ///

    /// END OPT ///

    U-S businesses start making their quarterly profit reports next week.

    /// REST OPT ///

    The latest on the U-S economy shows new orders to factories rose in May to their highest level in over seven years. They went up four-point-one percent on the strength of increased demand for electronics and transportation equipment. Meanwhile, the U-S retail picture for June was mixed. Retail sales rose only modestly, as many Americans apparently stayed away from shopping malls because of higher gasoline prices. Analysts say higher interest rates also dampened the consumer spirit. (signed) NEB/NY/EJ/LSF/ENE/JP 06-Jul-2000 17:03 PM EDT (06-Jul-2000 2103 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Newspapers in the United States continue to praise the political turnaround in Mexico, where opposition presidential candidate Vicente Fox defeated the entrenched Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, that had been in power for 71 years. Another popular editorial topic is the new Camp David summit meeting, called by President Clinton Wednesday. So is the controversial verdict against 10 of 13 Iranian Jews accused of espionage for Israel. There are other comments about current gasoline prices in the United States and a Saudi Arabian move to change things, the civil war in Chechnya, more sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, and more excitement about the prospect of water on the planet Mars. Now, here is _________ with a closer look and some excerpts in today's Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: Sunday's political earthquake in Mexico, where National Action Party (PAN) candidate Vicente Fox defeated the long-ruling political machine of the PRI, continues to draw comment from U-S newspapers. The Savannah Morning News in Georgia calls it: "A new day in Mexico," and praises the current president for his reforms.

    VOICE: ... the election might have turned out differently were it not for the reform efforts of lame-duck President Ernesto Zedillo and some of his like-minded PRI members, who were willing to put country ahead of party. Mr. Zedillo helped democratize Mexico's elections and rooted out some of the corrupting elements in his government.

    TEXT: Newsday, on New York's Long Island, agrees, headlining its commentary: "[Mr.] Zedillo's election reform opened the door; now it's up to [Mr.] Fox to bring about real change."

    /// BEGIN OPT ///

    VOICE: The economic and political reforms that [President] Zedillo began must continue while [Mr.] Fox works to rid Mexico of crime and corruption. ... the crackdown on crime [Mr.] Fox promises cannot help but have a salutary effect on cross-border relations.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: In the Pacific, The Honolulu Advertiser says good riddance to the PRI.

    VOICE: [The] PRI was more than just a government, touching on nearly every aspect of Mexican life in the 20th century. Although it brought peace in the wake of the brutal Mexican Revolution of 1910-17, it also built an intricate, closed system involving peasant, worker and business organizations. ... Although lacking in the general terror characteristic of the Soviet or Chinese systems, it was described by Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa as "the perfect dictatorship," with vast powers cloaked in democratic processes, including regular elections.

    /// BEGIN OPT ///

    TEXT: Pennsylvania's Greensburg Tribune-Review says: "It appears Mexico's long national political nightmare is over," while Salt Lake City's Deseret News says the election:

    VOICE: "... is a huge step toward a true democracy and an encouraging sign for relations between the United States and its southern neighbor.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: The announcement by President Clinton Wednesday that he is calling a Mideast summit meeting next week at Camp David outside Washington is already drawing comment. Charleston's [South Carolina] Post and courier says it is a "very necessary summit."

    VOICE: Yasser Arafat's weekend announcement that he is prepared to declare Palestine a state without coming to a formal agreement with Israel made the summit meeting ... by President Clinton an urgent necessity. Every effort must be made to get a final settlement of the conflict before the September 13th settlement deadline in order to avert Mr. Arafat's dangerous step. ... there can be no doubt that if this opportunity to lay the foundations for a lasting peace is missed, there is no knowing when, or if, it will be repeated.

    TEXT: Today's Washington Post calls the summit a "gamble," adding this advice:

    VOICE: Mr. Clinton's main objective ... should be to push Mr. Arafat toward realism -- even as he encourages Mr. Barak's flexibility. It is just possible that, if the two leaders are skillfully cajoled and pressed by Mr. Clinton, the summit could serve to defuse the short-term crisis. That will be hard enough. The larger goal -- a detailed agreement ... is harder still.

    /// BEGIN OPT ///

    TEXT: The New York Times agrees with Mr. Clinton's assessment that:

    VOICE: ... standing still is not an option in the quest for Middle East peace. Like Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel and President Anwar el-Sadat of Egypt when they gathered at Camp David at President Carter's invitation 22 years ago, Mr. Barak and Mr. Arafat must summon the courage to make difficult compromises or risk losing a historic opportunity to end the half-century-old conflict.

    TEXT: In Missouri, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch calls it "The last-chance peace summit," adding:

    VOICE: President ... Clinton has nothing to lose and everything to gain by holding [the] ... summit at Camp David next week. ... the risk of failure is great. But, without a summit, the chance of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement by that date is even more remote. The president deserves credit for trying to conclude a process that has dragged on for seven years. ... The Israelis and the Palestinians need the engagement of the American president to shepherd the peace process. The reality is clear: If it's not Mr. Clinton now, it is unlikely to be any president for some time to come.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: The New York Post is most pessimistic about the summit's chances of success.

    VOICE: The problem is that [Mr.] Arafat and company have shown no sign that they're willing to show flexibility. ... Their positions on all the key issues -- statehood, Jerusalem, settlements, the so-called "Right of Return" -- have hardened in recent weeks. ... This summit is a prescription for disaster unless ... President [Clinton] is prepared to call [Mr.] Arafat's bluff.

    TEXT: There is more outrage at what much of the U-S press is calling a "kangaroo court" [EDS: American slang meaning a court in which the verdict is predetermined, regardless of the facts] in Iran that recently convicted 10 of 13 Jews accused of spying for Israel. California's San Francisco Chronicle suggests:

    VOICE: Iran's swirling politics, pitting hard- liners against reformers, may explain the unfair conviction of 10 of 13 Jews accused of spying. Or it may be anti-Semitism, hatred of Israel, or an outrageously low standard of justice. In any case, the kangaroo court verdicts ... have shamed Iran. It wants to emerge from a decades- long shell of religious isolation, but its legal system undercuts this intention.

    TEXT: More editorial anger from the Midwest and the Chicago Tribune.

    VOICE: The recent conviction of 10 Iranian Jews by a Revolutionary Court in Iran ... has been condemned around the globe as a miscarriage of justice. And by all appearances, it is. Iran would argue otherwise, that the defendants were, in fact, spies. But the rest of the world is supposed to accept Iran's word on that, because absolutely everything about this case is shrouded in mystery.

    /// BEGIN OPT ///

    TEXT: In Texas, the Houston Chronicle calls the proceedings a: "Show Trial: [in which] Iran makes [a] mockery of justice,[and] human rights."

    VOICE: It is recognized that this show trial is part of larger political wrangling within Iran between hard-liners and more moderate elements that would reach out to the outside world. Until human rights are respected and the wrongs represented by this sham of a trial are righted, Iran will remain a political outcast.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Americans continue to grumble about high gasoline (petrol) prices hovering just under 53 cents a liter in some sections of the country. So Maine's Portland Press Herald is pleased at the announcement by Saudi Arabia that it will begin producing 500- thousand more barrels of crude a day.

    VOICE: Over the short term, they'll benefit from increased sales at prices that will remain well above the cost of a barrel last year. Long term, the Saudis could drive world-wide prices down enough to stave off damage to the economies of oil-consuming nations. ... During the 1970's, OPEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) ... found it didn't pay to drive buyers out of the market.

    TEXT: In Connecticut, The Waterbury Republican- American is upset with Congress that it doesn't permanently abolish the nearly four cents-a-liter gasoline tax.

    VOICE: At a time of record pump prices and historically high federal taxation, congressmen should be falling all over each other trying to "do something" about the tax; instead, they are hesitant. They ... worry that damming this tributary of the federal revenue stream would require finding a "new way" to pay for highway construction and maintenance. ... They don't want to do anything that might jeopardize funding for highway projects because transportation aid is the most succulent pork [EDS: "pork" in this context means federal government money for local projects of questionable value] they dish out every year.

    TEXT: Internationally, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is calling the civil war in Chechnya "Russia's self- inflicted wound," and, noting the recent upturn in fighting with Chechen guerrillas, calls for a negotiated settlement, suggesting "Russia's [military] future in Chechnya is bleak." Regarding another international trouble spot, Northern Ireland, today's [Trenton, New Jersey] Times wants to see cancellation of the Irish Protestant "Orange Order" parades through Roman Catholic areas.

    VOICE: This Protestant fraternal group finds its pleasure in conducting in-your-face marches ... through predominantly Catholic neighborhoods ... Leaders of the biggest Protestant-supported party, the Ulster Unionists, to their credit, have denounced the Orange Order's provocations and called on [them] to end their resistance. ... If not, the authorities must stand firm.

    TEXT: More excitement about the prospect of water on the planet Mars from Rhode Island and the Providence Journal, which notes:

    VOICE: Where there's life, there's hope, and where there is water, there is at least the hope of life. And so it is with Mars, long assumed to be the most likely place in the solar system besides Earth to find life. ... the discovery should help re-energize the space program, which has had its public relations problems lately. As we have again just been reminded, the intellectual and economic payoffs for extraterrestrial exploration might be immense.

    TEXT: With that view, we conclude this sampling of editorial comment from the editorial pages of Thursday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/JP 06-Jul-2000 11:49 AM EDT (06-Jul-2000 1549 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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