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Voice of America, 00-07-20

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

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





    INTRO: One of President Clinton's goals during his last six months at the White House is to see Slobodan Milosevic removed as president of Yugoslavia. U-S officials are examining several scenarios to make that happen, including one floated last month to grant Mr. Milosevic immunity from prosecution for war crimes if he gives up power and goes into exile. But that idea has been replaced with another that is more attractive to U-S policy makers as well as many inside Serbia. V-O-A's Pamela Taylor has more in this background report:

    TEXT: The latest idea floating around the State Department to get Slobodan Milosevic out of office would involve opposition groups establishing their own centers of power within existing Yugoslav state institutions. The man considered the architect of the shadow government proposal is Purdue University Professor Charles Ingrao. Professor Ingrao, who has been acting as liaison between Serbian opposition groups and Western diplomats, says there are really only two options currently available to the Serbian people:

    /// INGRAO ACT ONE ///

    They either have to engage in force or I would suggest that the Yugoslav opposition come together and forge a parallel government, ignoring many of these politicians who have discredited themselves. People who still have credibility, whose hands are not sullied by doing deals with Milosevic, to come together and decide they no longer recognize the Milosevic government, form their own government and appeal to the international community to recognize and support them.

    /// END ACT ///

    But before granting such support, U-S officials are waiting to see whether elections go forward in Serbia this year and if so, how well opposition candidates do. Professor Ingrao says international support will come only after Serbs take matters into their own hands:

    /// INGRAO ACT TWO ///

    There is the potential for European countries and the United States to support such a provision, such as a parallel regime made up of a truly united opposition. But the problem is this kind of initiative has to come from within Serbia itself.

    /// END ACT ///

    One of the leading spokesmen for Serbs in the diaspora, American businessman Michael Djordjevic came to Washington this week to discuss the proposal with officials at the State Department and in Congress. He agrees with Professor Ingrao that the plan must not be generated by outsiders:

    /// DJORDJEVIC ACT ///

    That government has to be homegrown; it cannot be imposed from the outside. The Serbian Orthodox Church in July of last year called for the formation of a government of national salvation. This is essentially what we were recommending in 1997. If we would create a group of people that would be accepted by consensus that they are the people, the best and brightest in Serbia at this moment, out of that would emerge a leader.

    /// END ACT ///

    Other Balkan analysts question whether such a leader or leaders will in fact emerge in what they say is the demoralized atmosphere of today's Serbia. But there is widespread agreement that a shadow government cannot be imposed from the outside. Yugoslavia remains important to Washington because of the possibility the United States could be drawn into yet another Balkan conflict. European officials are concerned the entire Balkan region will remain unstable as long as Slobodan Milosevic is in power. But without a move to replace him, Mr. Milosevic could control Yugoslavia for a long time. Recently, he changed the federal constitution so he can remain in power for at least one more term. Many experts inside Serbia now speculate he will change current election laws to insure his re-election. (Signed)
    NEB/PAM/JP 20-Jul-2000 15:33 PM LOC (20-Jul-2000 1933 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The European Union, or E-U, is taking American tobacco firms to court. V-O-A's Ron Pemstein reports from Brussels that the tobacco firms are accused of smuggling cigarettes into the European Union.

    TEXT: The European Commission, the European Union's executive board, has agreed in principle to sue the American tobacco companies for alleged smuggling of cigarettes to avoid paying customs charges. The Commission -- for legal reasons -- will not say which companies are involved, where and when the smuggling took place, or in which court in the United States it plans to open the suit. But it will be a civil case for now, not a criminal one. The European Union wants to recover the lost tax and customs charges. Commission spokesman, Luc Veron, says a lot of money is at stake.

    /// Veron Act ///

    I can only tell you that it is big because, obviously, cigarette smuggling generates big fraud -- billions, billions over years, billions, name it, euro or dollars, billions.

    /// End Act ///

    The Commission says cigarette smuggling is the biggest single fraud against the European Union's budget. In one shipping container of cigarettes, a million euros or dollars are paid in taxes. If the European Union wants to recover billions of dollars in American courts, it must prove how many containers have avoided paying taxes and customs charges and that the U-S tobacco firms are at fault. Mr. Veron says there are several thousands of truckloads every year in all 15- member states that avoid paying these charges.

    /// Veron Act ///

    You have to imagine that several tons of cigarettes -- not counterfeit cigarettes, but real ones, brand (i.e. brand name) cigarettes -- are smuggled and when in some countries this represents 10 percent of the local market, you can imagine that the companies are aware of the quantities that they are selling.

    /// End Act ///

    The European Commission is the guardian of E-U treaties and is responsible for the Union's budget. That is why responsibility for pursuing the civil court case in the United States is given to the Commission president, Romano Prodi, and budget commissioner, Michele Schreyer. (Signed)
    NEB/RP/GE/JP 20-Jul-2000 09:56 AM EDT (20-Jul-2000 1356 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The U-S stock market made solid gains all around today (Thursday), boosted by stronger-than- expected corporate earnings and some reassuring words about the U-S economy from Federal Reserve Board chairman Alan Greenspan. V-O-A correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York:

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average went up 147 points, more than one percent, to 10-thousand-843. The Standard and Poor's 500 index gained 13 points, about one percent. The technology-weighted NASDAQ composite closed three percent higher. So far so good, says Federal Reserve Board chairman Alan Greenspan. He told Congress Thursday the U-S economy is showing signs of slowing. His remarks boosted a stock market rally already in progress, on the strength of good news from I-B-M. The computer giant beat earnings expectations and said revenues look very good for the second half of the year, and beyond. But it was the easing concern over rising interest rates that apparently ensured a sustained market climb.

    /// REST OPT ///

    Economist Richard Hoey says the central bank may make another move on interest rates. But he believes the phase of aggressive credit tightening is over:

    /// HOEY ACT ///

    What's pretty likely is that we won't get the big further tightening that many people had feared. And in some sense, whether they do another 25 or so [basis points] is probably not that crucial. The key is they're not going to do another 100 or 150, the way many people were afraid of a month or two ago.

    /// END ACT ///

    The Federal Reserve Board meets on August 22nd. Meanwhile, market-watcher James Maguire notes Thursday's rally was built on increasing volume -- investors coming back with new confidence. That is almost always a healthy sign. But he cautions there may still be a hurdle or two left before the market gets an all-clear signal:

    /// MAGUIRE ACT ///

    It may still be a little too early to tell because we do have some economic data coming out between now and the August meeting of the "Fed." And I think people are also going to want to take a look at that, just for confirmation. But barring any surprises there, we could be out of the woods at the moment.

    /// END ACT ///

    The latest economic data seems to point to a slowdown. New home construction in the United States fell two- point-six percent in June, a much steeper decline than had been predicted. Mr. Greenspan did not give the U-S economy a clean bill of health. He said inflation is creeping up and the central bank will remain vigilant. However, the "Fed" chairman also said he believes U-S productivity gains are sustainable. To many economists, that is a key factor. (Signed) NEB/NY/EJ/LSF/WTW 20-Jul-2000 16:51 PM EDT (20-Jul-2000 2051 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: U-S newspapers continue to comment on last week's huge jury award in Florida against the nation's tobacco industry -- almost 145-billion dollars. A revolution in the way political campaigns are financed is also drawing attention, as is the U-S economic boycott of Cuba. There is also comment about automobile drivers distracted by mobile telephone calls as well as the opinions about the U-S trade agreement with Vietnam. Other editorials deal with the plans of Mexico's president-elect, genocide in Africa and the death of a popular U-S senator from the state of Georgia. Here now is __________ with a closer look at these issues in today's U-S Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: Comments continue to come in from last Friday's huge court ruling in favor of a group of Florida cigarette smokers judged to be harmed by their habit. The jury awarded punitive damages of almost 145- billion dollars against several of America's largest tobacco companies and related organizations. The Atlanta Constitution however, suggests that heavier penalties may be necessary.

    VOICE: The tobacco industry is like a cockroach. Whacked by a two-by-four [EDS: a large piece of wood] or hit with a 145-billion dollar verdict, it still won't die. Analysts predict ... the record-breaking judgement ... will either be reduced [by an appeals court] ... or paid off through higher cigarette prices. Then it will be business as usual for this renegade industry. /// OPT /// ... elected officials still seem intent on rewarding tobacco companies for their deadly deceit. Many states, including Georgia, have passed laws designed to shield the industry from its sins and insulate it from public outrage. /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Whereas, Alabama's Birmingham Post-Herald is worried about the validity of the legal liability process in U-S courts.

    VOICE: No one, not even the plaintiffs' attorneys in their deepest fantasies, expects the 145-billion dollar verdict ... to stand up on appeal, a telling comment in itself on the credibility of the tort system. And the jury's brisk deliberations -- less than five hours after a trial of two years -- doesn't exactly inspire confidence in the amount of thought that went into its verdict.

    TEXT: U-S-A Today, published in a Washington suburb, notes that complaints continue that money is corrupting the U-S political process, and that the current presidential and congressional campaigns are awash in huge amounts of corporate money. Presumably, U-S-A Today says, these corporate donors will expect favors from government in return. Now three states are publicly funding candidates, and the newspaper is pleased.

    VOICE: /// OPT /// Nationally ... serious campaign reform remains blocked by lawmakers who claim that voters never will support public financing for political campaigns. But that excuse is being exposed as a self-serving dodge ... /// END OPT /// In Maine, more than 100 publicly funded candidates already have run in and won their primaries. Arizona and Vermont campaigns start later, but nearly 60 candidates already have applied for public financing. ... Under these pioneering ... laws, candidates forgoing private contributions get a campaign fund from the state pegged to the average cost of comparable campaigns in recent years.

    TEXT: Looking to international issues, some newspapers are calling for an end to the U-S travel ban to Cuba. The Charleston [South Carolina] Post and Courier feels it's outmoded.

    VOICE: Last weekend there were three U-S senators in Havana, part of a steady stream of American visitors to the Cuban capital. Along with legislators on official business, corporate executives ... artists ... academics and students ... Yet ordinary Americans are banned from visiting Cuba, under regulations that are at last being strongly challenged. ... Cuba is just over 145 kilometers off the coast of Florida, a 20-minute flight from Miami. The American people should be allowed to go and see for themselves how a failed policy is helping to keep [Cuban President Fidel] Castro in power.

    /// BEGIN OPT ///

    TEXT: Commenting on this week's defection of Cuban baseball star Andy Morales, who landed by boat in Florida, The Wall Street Journal points to the on- going flow of Cuban refugees.

    VOICE: ... He is far from unique: Over a five- day period from July 5-10,three overloaded vessels filled with desperate refugees fleeing Fidel's regime washed up on dry, free land. ... there will be no champagne opened at the White house. Indeed, that Cubans continue to arrive at all only underscores the human price paid for Bill Clinton's Cuba policy.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: There are now so many Americans with telephones in their cars, a new federal government study shows distracted drivers are becoming a menace on the highways. The Los Angeles Times agrees.

    VOICE: The danger is clear: Drivers need to focus their eyes, hearing and minds on the road, not on wireless gizmos [Editors: devices such as mobile telephones, or computers].

    TEXT: There is also comment from Ohio's Akron Beacon Journal on last week's announced trade pact between the United States and Vietnam, four years in the making.

    VOICE: The ... agreement suggests that Vietnam recognizes it can no longer remain aloof. It must grow to absorb new workers. In doing so, it is also likely to absorb new ideas, the kinds that allow former adversaries to prosper together.

    TEXT: A proposal from Mexico's new president-elect, Vicente Fox, to have an open border with the United States, draws this objection from Florida's Times- Union in Jacksonville.

    VOICE: As [Mr.] Fox notes, there is a surplus of workers in Mexico and a shortage in the United States. To claim those jobs, however, Mexican nationals often must migrate illegally ... It would be more humane to allow them to follow the jobs legally. That could not happen overnight, of course. ... As one think tank [EDS: research institute] put it, "if the border opened now, we'd get three-quarters of Mexico moving up here. ... But Mexico clearly is headed in the right direction. ... [And] the United States ... should . do whatever is reasonable to help Mexico with its recovery.

    TEXT: In California, the San Jose Mercury News turns its attention to mass killings in the African nation of Rwanda.

    VOICE: The 1994 attack launched by Hutu extremists against the Tutsi minority and moderate Hutus succeeded with stunning accuracy. In the end, the 90-day campaign of genocide in Rwanda left hundreds of thousands dead. Now comes a damning report on ... the global community's shameful head-in-the-sand [EDS: deliberately ignoring] response. The United States and other countries knew about the ethnic strife ... and did nothing to stop it, according to "Rwanda: the Preventable Genocide."

    TEXT: Finally, several newspapers are mourning the death at 61 of Senator Paul Coverdell of Georgia. Jacksonville's Florida Times-Union says of him, he:

    VOICE: ...avoided the egocentric tendencies that typify many of today's politicians and concentrated on getting the job done ... His style ... will be missed.

    TEXT: While in Georgia, the Augusta Chronicle says Senator Coverdell's death means the loss of a "principled statesman with a strong work ethic ... who ... was also a gentle man - and a gentleman." And the Savannah Morning News says of the former Peace Corps director, his was "a life well lived." On that note, we conclude this sampling of comment from the pages of today's U-S press. NEB/ANG/ 20-Jul-2000 12:28 PM LOC (20-Jul-2000 1628 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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