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Voice of America, 00-08-08

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

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





    INTRO: The Yugoslav Army is holding two Britons and two Canadians on charges of entering Yugoslavia illegally to launch terrorist activities. Correspondent Laurie Kassman reports from London that the British government summoned the Yugoslav representative to protest.

    TEXT: The Foreign office is demanding immediate consular access to the British policemen. London has also lodged an official protest over the detention of the two men. The Britons were working in Kosovo for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe when they were arrested in the neighboring Yugoslav republic of Montenegro. Foreign Office Minister Keith Vaz says Britain is now waiting for Belgrade to respond to its demands. He complains that London has never been officially informed of the arrests or the charges against the British police trainers and two Canadians businessmen arrested with them.

    /// VAZ ACT ///

    The two policemen were working for humanitarian causes in Kosovo, mandated by the United Nations and had simply gone to Montenegro on holiday last weekend. There was no basis for their arrest and certainly no justification for them to be paraded on Serbian television.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr. Vaz also warns Belgrade against using the four men's detention for political purposes. Reports from Montenegro now say the two police officers, the Canadian construction engineer, and his nephew all have been transferred to Belgrade where they are to stand trial in a military court. Mr. Vaz says he has asked the Yugoslav representative in London to confirm the reports.

    /// VAZ ACT TWO ///

    We have heard reports that they will appear shortly before a military court but we have had no confirmation of that.

    /// END ACT ///

    Yugoslavia has charged all four men with illegally entering Montenegro and carrying military material intended for terrorist activities. If convicted, they face up to 15-years in prison. The four men were arrested without proper visas during a weekend visit to Montenegro. Yugoslav authorities say that wires and other tools found in their car were intended for use in terrorist activities. A lawyer for the men says they deny all charges. (SIGNED)
    NEB/LMK/GE/RAE 08-Aug-2000 08:38 AM EDT (08-Aug-2000 1238 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Yugoslavia's arrest of two Britons and two Canadians on charges of terrorism is seen by many as a political boon for President Slobodan Milosevic ahead of the September presidential vote. So is the failure of the opposition to united behind one candidate. Correspondent Laurie Kassman takes a closer look at the implications.

    TEXT: The photos of two British police trainers and two Canadian businessmen were plastered across Serb television within hours of their arrest in the Yugoslav republic of Montenegro. Now the men are charged with attempted terrorism. Britain has protested the arrests and demanded their release. Foreign Office Minister Keith Vaz warns Serb authorities against using the men for political propaganda.

    /// VAZ ACT ///

    They were there on a U-N mission, which had civil and humanitarian causes. They were not there for any other reason. We can see no reason why they should be used in any political way, and that is why today we pressed for additional consular access.

    /// END ACT ///

    But Balkans expert Christopher Cviic, in London, says the arrests are part of an overall strategy to demonize the West for its actions against President Slobodan Milosevic in Kosovo. It also presents a political bonus ahead of the September presidential and parliamentary elections, which Mr. Milosevic is determined to win.

    /// 1 st CVIIC ACT ///

    I think that the Milosevic people, the Yugoslav army who are stationed in Montenegro and military police under his command, have been looking out for something like that. It is too good an opportunity to miss. And, in this case, the idea would be such people would be presented as agents undermining Yugoslavia, and especially it's Montenegro and their connections to Kosovo is a bonus. It's a pre- election ploy.

    /// END ACT ///

    Another pre-election bonus for President Milosevic is the failure of the Yugoslav opposition to unite behind one candidate. Vuk Draskovic, who heads the Serbian Renewal Movement, has named the mayor of Belgrade as his party's choice. But the 15-party opposition coalition has put forth a rival candidate. Even the U-S State Department publicly expressed its disappointment over the disunity. Analysts agree the multiplicity of candidates will split the vote and give President Milosevic the edge he needs to remain in power. British journalist Tim Judah has written several books on Yugoslavia. He suggests the disunity could turn out to be an advantage in the long term. He sees Mr. Draskovic as a controversial figure who is tainted by allegations of corruption and his past collaboration with the Milosevic administration, despite his avowed opposition to it.

    /// JUDAH ACT ///

    It's possible we'll see Draskovic's reputation will be so low that after the election he will emerge significantly weakened and no longer a significant force within opposition politics, while the united opposition will emerge as a much stronger force.

    /// END ACT ///

    A Milosevic victory could also have unpredictable repercussions for the republic of Montenegro, whose president has called for a boycott of the September elections. Author Tim Judah says Montenegro's reform- minded leaders could find that a Milosevic win strengthens their efforts to break the political link with Belgrade. And that, he says, would mean the final disintegration of Yugoslavia. Analyst Christopher Cviic agrees an election win could also provide a way out for Slobodan Milosevic, who has been indicted as a war criminal by the International War Crimes Tribunal.

    /// 2 nd CVIIC ACT ///

    First, it could enable [Mr.] Milosevic to eventually negotiate a deal with the West, with the aid of the Russians and the Chinese, which would alllow him a way out of the situation - a sort of safe haven. The other possibility would be to strengthen forces within Serbia to try to get rid of him by some means.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr. Cviic suggests Mr. Milosevic's staying power is still uncertain. But analysts and diplomats agree the events of recent days have certainly provided him a tactical advantage over his opponents, both inside and outside the country. (SIGNED)
    NEB/LMK/WTW/KBK 08-Aug-2000 13:59 PM EDT (08-Aug-2000 1759 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: A car bomb explosion in Spain's northern Basque region Tuesday has killed a local businessman said to be a critic of the Basque separatist group ETA. Gil Carbajal reports from Madrid, the attack came less than a day after another explosion killed four men believed to be ETA members.

    TEXT: The latest victim of terrorist violence in northern Spain was a Basque businessman known for his vocal criticism of the separatist organization ETA. Jose Mari Korta was the 52-year-old owner of a machine-tool factory in the town of Zumaya, near the coastal town of San Sebastian. As president of a local businessmen's association, he had often accused ETA of being an obstacle to the Basque country's prosperity, and was a staunch advocate of dialogue between all political parties. A bomb set off by remote control just after noon killed Mr. Korta as he was about to start his vehicle, parked in front of the entrance to his company. The attack took place less then 14 hours after another explosion in Bilbao killed four suspected terrorists. An estimated 30 kilograms of explosives blew a car to pieces and scattered the victims' remains over a 100- meter radius. A number of people were in the area, including teenagers playing ball, but no one was seriously injured. Police say the victims were either transporting explosives or about to carry out an attack. Nearby were the offices of three major newspapers, El Correo, Deia and El Mundo. Found among the debris were four handguns and evidence that one of the victims was Patxi Rementeria, one of the most wanted members of ETA. Police say he was head of the Vizcaya Comando, which has carried out a number of operations since ETA called off a 14-month truce in December. He narrowly escaped capture in January and he was last believed responsible for two car bombs set off earlier this summer in the town of Getxo, near Bilbao. A militant member of ETA for nearly 20 years, Mr. Rementaria had been accused of taking part in the kidnapping and murder three years ago of a young Basque town councilman, Miguel Angel Blanco, whose death brought millions of Spaniards out on the streets to protest terrorism just three years ago.

    /// REST OPT ///

    A spokesman for ETA's political wing (Euskal Herritarrok), Arnaldo Otegi, says the four dead men were, in his words, "four young Basque patriots who struggled for independence of their country." Carlos Irtugaiz, regional leader of Spain's ruling Popular Party, calls the deaths lamentable, but says the victims were carrying out an operation aimed at killing people. (Signed)
    NEB/GC/WTW/FC 08-Aug-2000 14:05 PM EDT (08-Aug-2000 1805 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: U-S stock prices were mixed today (Tuesday). Correspondent Larry Freund reports from New York:

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up nearly 100 points, one percent, closing at 10-thousand-976. The broader Standard and Poor's 500 index was up three points, one-quarter of one percent. And the technology-weighted Nasdaq composite was down 14 points, a loss of one-third of one percent. The day's major economic news came from Washington, in a government report indicating that worker productivity in the United States during the second quarter of the year - April to June - was ahead at an annual rate of five-point-three percent. Thanks to the higher-than-expected increased productivity, explains the senior economist at Moody's Investor Service, John Lonski, U-S labor costs actually declined.

    /// LONSKI ACT ///

    From the first to the second quarter, we had a very steep increase by hourly compensation. But because of the big gain in productivity - that is, workers providing more output per hour of work - we actually had unit labor cost dip.

    /// END ACT ///

    Productivity is a measure of non-farm output per hour worked.

    /// REST OPT for long ///

    Analysts say the productivity gain together with last week's report that the nation's unemployment remained level at four percent suggest that inflation is under control and the Federal Reserve Board, meeting in two weeks, will see no need to increase interest rates again to cool the economy. Robert Gasser, head of U-S equity trading at the J-P Morgan financial services firm, says that is good news for stocks.


    I think the employment data cleared away some of the negative sentiment. Between now and the Fed meeting, I think it's tough to come up with an argument against stocks, particularly Nasdaq stocks. I think there is a very good possibility we'll test the highs.

    /// END ACT ///

    In business news, Verizon Communications, the largest local telephone company in the United States, announced its second-quarter profits were up, but not as high as analysts had expected. The company also reduced its growth expectations for this year. At the same time, 87-thousand unionized workers at Verizon have been on strike since Sunday. One of the key issues in the strike is union access to jobs in the company's fast-growing wireless operation. The company's stock was down 11 percent. And closely-watched Cisco Systems - the leading maker of computer networking equipment - announced after the close of trading that it earned 16 cents per share during the last quarter, just above analysts' expectations. (Signed)
    NEB/LSF/TVM/PT 08-Aug-2000 17:26 PM EDT (08-Aug-2000 2126 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: From one end of this country to the other, daily papers are generally hailing Vice President Al Gore's choice of Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman as his Vice Presidential running mate. In other editorials, there is discussion of press censorship in Iran; the recent setback for the theory of creationism in Kansas schools; concerns about Vladimir Putin's Russia; Fidel Castro latest outbursts; and the campaign to seat Taiwan in the United Nations. Now, here with a closer look and some excerpts is ___________ and today's U-S Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: Although the official announcement is set for today in Tennessee, the news of Joseph Lieberman's choice leaked out of the Gore campaign early Monday, causing a flood of commentary in Tuesday's papers. Mr. Lieberman, an orthodox Jew, is the first of his religion proposed for a spot on the national ticket of a major political party. Most papers are discussing his religion, but above all, his unblemished character and his attacks on President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. In his home state, The Hartford [Connecticut] Courant says in a lengthy editorial:

    VOICE: Once the reality of Mr. Lieberman's being on the national ticket sinks in, the idea will make a lot of sense. ... he has built a distinguished record... He does not exude charisma. He won attention the hard way by doing his homework, speaking from his heart instead of reciting party dogma and emphasizing the moral and ethical aspects of politics.

    TEXT: In Waterbury, Connecticut, The Republican- American is not nearly as admiring.

    VOICE: Connecticut's junior senator has a habit of seemingly struggling with his conscience on major issues only to vote the liberal party line in the end. ... Even today he gives a prime example of his chameleon-like approach to issues - either that, or he keeps re-inventing himself, which is practically idea for the running mate for Al Gore.

    TEXT: The paper cites what it says is Senator Lieberman's total reversal on the issue of allowing some people to invest part of their Social Security funds in the market. But in the rest of the nation, from East to West, most dailies are hailing the appointment. In Maine, The Portland Press Herald notes:

    VOICE: ...[Mr.] Gore's selection ... demonstrated maturity and competence that should do much to enhance the vice president's standing with the voters.

    TEXT: More than five-thousand kilometers away, The Honolulu [Hawaii] Advertiser emphatically suggests:

    VOICE: It is about time. We hope that is the last we hear - especially in tolerant Hawaii - on the subject of [Senator] Lieberman's religion. Let these candidates stand or fall on their records and ...on their positions on the issues. [Senator] Lieberman, like ... Dick Cheney, is a solid pick.

    TEXT: The Boston Globe calls the Senator - an independent thinker, often with a moral edge. Detroit papers, The News, and The Free Press, say the senator strengthens the Gore campaign with his morals and integrity. San Francisco's Chronicle calls him a top- notch choice for Vice President, while The St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the choice neutralizes - the Lewinsky factor - for Mr. Gore. In Cleveland, Ohio's Plain Dealer declares Mr. Lieberman - a well-tuned second fiddle - to Mr. Gore. And, in West Texas, The El Paso Times says Mr. Gore, in escaping President Clinton's shadow has chosen an "impressive" running mate:

    /// OPT ///

    VOICE: ... Yale graduate, author and nearly 30- years in public service. And there is the issue of maturity that has surfaced in both races. At 58, [Senator] Lieberman is older than [Mr.] Gore, who is 52, possibly a response to G-O-P presidential candidate George Bush's choice of the older Dick Cheney as running mate. ... the race is on - and it ought to be interesting.

    TEXT: Colorado's Denver Post proclaims Senator Lieberman a fine choice, while The Dallas [Texas] Morning News says it is a wise choice of a moral, centrist. The New York Times proposes this choice is the most dramatic move he [Gore] has made in his presidential campaign, and adds:

    VOICE: ... [it] may turn out to be one of the smartest. ... Mr. Lieberman's selection announces a redoubled effort on Mr. Gore's part to separate himself from Mr. Clinton's personal shortcomings.

    TEXT: The Washington Post says his selection puts integrity on the ticket, while The Los Angeles Times calls him [Mr.] Gore's counterweight.

    /// END OPT ///

    Only on the Op Ed page of The L-A Times do we find total dissent, in the column of contributing editor Robert Scheer, who calls the Connecticut Senator - an ... obnoxious ... preening moralizer - and goes on to say;

    VOICE: What a gutless wonder Al Gore is turning out to be. Instead of rising to the defense of an administration that deserves to be celebrated, he turns for his running mate to ... Senator Lieberman, a carping Clinton critic. It is a misguided attempt to distance the Gore campaign from Bill Clinton, but what [Vice President] Gore has never understood is that it is Clinton people like, and [Mr.] Gore who bores them to tears. ... there is to the man [President Clinton] an infectious ebullience implying optimism and change that, by comparison, makes [Mr.] Gore seem asleep at the wheel. ... [Mr. Gore] did not need another prude at his side. He already had [his wife] Tipper.

    TEXT: Internationally, on press censorship in Iran, The Los Angels Times laments:

    VOICE: Iran's ruling hard-line clerics may feel compelled to tolerate free elections, but they have drawn the line at allowing a free press. ... This week authorities closed another pro- reform newspaper, the 22nd since April to be silenced. ... Even more ominous was [Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei's order to parliament to drop consideration of a bill to amend the harsh press code.

    TEXT: The New York Times looks to the future, grimly suggesting.

    VOICE: For now, the clerics have again prevailed. But the large majority of Iranians who have consistently voted for change have every reason to be angry and frustrated. With less than a year remaining in President Khatami's four-year term, his efforts to change the system appear to be dangerously stalled ...

    TEXT: In the United States, one of the longest running social controversies involves the differing views of creation, whether the strict interpretation of God creating the earth in six-days, or the scientific, Darwinian explanation of gradual evolution of species, from single-celled organisms. In Kansas, citizens have just elected to the State Board of Education candidates who favor teaching Darwin's theory of evolution, reversing a decision of last year's board, which favored creationism. The vote is hailed by the San Francisco Examiner, which says:

    VOICE: Kansas voters [have] decided ... to return their state's schoolchildren to the mainstream of science education and rebuff an effort by religiously motivated officials to downgrade the teaching of evolution...

    TEXT: The St. Petersburg [Florida] Times adds:

    VOICE: Ignorance should not be equated with faith. Creationism does not belong in a biology class.

    TEXT: Internationally, The Los Angeles Times notes both good and bad news from Russia, and the Putin administration.

    VOICE: President Vlaldimir ... Putin Monday signed into law a radical overhaul intended to simplify Russia's complicated and contradictory tax laws and restructure an ineffective collection system. Investors were jubilant, and the stock market soared. Confidence in [President] Putin, however, may well be premature. With the same political skill that led to the enactment of the tax law, [Mr.] Putin is usurping regional political powers and moving against privately owned media companies. It is too soon to tell where he is headed, but the signs are ominous.

    TEXT: In Cuba, Fidel Castro has called the two major, U-S presidential candidates - boring and insipid - drawing this terse response from The Florida Times- Union in Jacksonville.

    VOICE: It is hard to imagine that the United States could ever field candidates that would be more so than [President] Castro himself.

    /// OPT ///

    The San Antonio Express-News adds:

    VOICE: [President] Castro's latest attack on the United States leads us to believe again that he is not serious - perhaps he has never been - about renewing diplomatic relations with Washington.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Monday's Honolulu Star-Bulletin ponders Taiwan's bid to enter the United Nations, supported by the nations that recognize the Republic of China as a sovereign state.

    VOICE: /// OPT /// ... Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian ... has now reasserted Taiwan's de facto independence by continuing the effort of the previous regime to gain admission to the United Nations. .../// END OPT /// The government in Taipei argues that the island's population of 22-million [people] ... larger than ... many U-N members ... is unrepresented in the world organization. ...It is one of the anomalies of the age that a country of the size and importance of Taiwan is barred from the United Nations. You can not blame [President] Chen for trying to break through that barrier.

    TEXT: Lastly, The Seattle Times, mourns the passing of one of the great actors of the past century, Sir Alec Guinness.

    VOICE: The range of his acting skills was limited only be the imagination of the writers whose work he brought to life.

    TEXT: While the San Francisco Chronicle says of him: He was a consummate actor, who absorbed his roles so completely that he became one with the characters he played... That tribute concludes this sampling of comment from Tuesday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/RAE 08-Aug-2000 12:01 PM EDT (08-Aug-2000 1601 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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