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Voice of America, 00-08-17

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

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





    INTRO: Thousands of people gathered Thursday in Turkey's northwest provinces to mark the (first) anniversary of the devastating earthquake that shook the region last August 17th. From Ankara, Amberin Zaman has details.

    TEXT: At least 17-thousand people perished in the quake, a jolt of seven-point-four intensity [on the Richter scale], which has been described by Turkish officials as the worst disaster of the century here. According to unofficial estimates, the number of dead may have been as high as 40-thousand. Car horns and sirens wailed from 3:02 A-M onward -- the exact time when the tremor struck one year ago, leveling thousands of homes and offices in Turkey's most densely populated and heavily industrialized region. Many citizens wept. Others prayed, as Islamic clerics led services in the towns of Golcuk, Adapazari and Izmit, where the 40-second-long earthquake pulverized entire neighborhoods and left thousands of families homeless. Anger over the Turkish government's failure to build permanent accommodation for those who lost their homes was widespread among the grieving crowds. Analysts say the country's top political leaders, including Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, kept away from the observances for fear of being booed. At least 26-thousand earthquake victims continue to live in tents. Another 150-thousand are in prefabricated homes. Residents complain they are bitterly cold in the winter and stiflingly hot in the summer. And there is still no word whether permanent homes, currently under construction, will be completed in time for the next winter. Many victims have expressed anger over the government's failure to prosecute the contractors whose shoddy building practices contributed to the earthquake's high death toll. There is also anger over the fact that millions of dollars in foreign aid, plus special "quake taxes" introduced after the disaster, are being used instead to finance the government's chronic budget deficit. Mr. Ecevit spoke out Thursday in defense of his government, reading a long list of statistics on the number of hot meals and other free services provided to quake victims during the past year. However, the government's initial response to the disaster was widely seen as sluggish. This prompted an unprecedented wave of public fury. Even Turkey's much-respected military came under fire for carrying out rescues at the Golcuk naval base last year before helping ordinary citizens. The government responded swiftly and effectively to a second killer earthquake last year, in the western province of Bolu. Nearly 800 people died last November in that tremor, which also left thousands of families homeless. (Signed)
    NEB/AZ/WTW/KL 17-Aug-2000 14:28 PM EDT (17-Aug-2000 1828 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: A United Nations committee is urging European countries to end human rights abuses against millions of Gypsies, also known as Roma. Lisa Schlein in Geneva reports the committee issued a series of recommendations at the end of a two-day public debate on the situation of Europe's 10 million Gypsies.

    TEXT: This is the first time the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has held a public debate on Gypsy rights. Members of the committee say the aim of the meeting was to alert the world to what they say is the plight of the Gypsies. (OPT) They note society prefers to look the other way whenever anyone brings up the problems endured by these people. (END OPT) The debate examined the ill treatment, rejection, exclusion and discrimination that Gypsies have been subjected to for centuries. Committee Member Michael Parker Banton says this kind of victimization persists to this day.

    /// BANTON ACT ///

    There are in parts of Europe significant increases in the number of reported racial attacks. In parts of Central and Eastern Europe, there have been significant increases in Roma unemployment and in aggression against Roma associated with the economic transition from command economies to market economies. One of the most alarming dimensions to this is the health situation.

    /// END ACT ///

    (OPT) A U-N report finds Gypsies across all of Europe are still generally poor, uneducated and discriminated against in practically every aspect of life. It says they are victims of persecution, open acts of racism and violence. (END OPT) The Committee is calling on governments to enact programs and laws to protect the rights of the Gypsies. One of its recommendations urges governments to acknowledge wrongs done to the Gypsy community during World War Two. An estimated half a million Gypsies were exterminated by the Nazis. But unlike Jews and other victims of the Holocaust, most Gypsies have not received compensation. Committee member Ion Diaconu says the U-N Committee believes nations have an obligation to find some way to compensate the Roma.

    /// DIACONU ACT ///

    The situation is different in different countries. You know that the Roma people now live in Germany, in the Czech Republic, in Poland, in Russia, in Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria in other countries as well. Some of them have been suffering from deportation and extermination. So one has to see what forms states will find to compensate for that.

    /// END ACT ///

    The committee urges countries to take measures to ensure Gypsy children receive the same education as other children. It recommends governments enact laws to prohibit discrimination in employment and housing and to make sure Gypsies get equal access to health care. (Signed)
    NEB/LS/GE/KL 17-Aug-2000 09:34 AM EDT (17-Aug-2000 1334 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: On Wall Street today (Thursday), the stock market closed up with semiconductor, biotech and oil shares leading the way. Correspondent Barbara Schoetzau reports from New York.

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 47 points at 11-thousand-55 -- less than one-half of one percent. The broader Standard and Poor's was up 16 points, a little over one percent. A rally in technology stocks pushed the Nasdaq Composite Index up about two percent after four days of modest gains. Wall Street observers say Thursday's low level of trading was typical of a summer day in August. Oil stocks climbed after a Saudi-controlled newspaper said OPEC sees no need to raise oil production. Natural gas stocks also rose after a Goldman Sachs analyst predicted the stocks would continue to benefit from high gasoline prices.

    /// REST OPT ///

    Fiber optic companies like Ciena Corporation and Corning Incorporated reported strong earnings. Analysts say the companies are benefiting from the movement of telephone and data networks into fiber optics. Ciena Corporation reported third quarter earnings up eight-point-two percent. Ciena's chief operating officer Gary Smith says the insatiable demand for next-generation optical networks is driving the industry.

    //// SMITH ACT ////

    What is driving Ciena specifically is we are proving that we can pay attention to the fundamental business models, which are very strong at Ciena, and still lead this new generation of optical networks.

    //// END ACT ////

    Corning -- which makes glass used in fiber-optic networks - announced a three-for-one split. Corning chairman Roger Ackerman says he expects fiber optic products to continue to climb.

    //// ACKERMAN ACT ////

    There is enormous pent up demand for telecom networks. In China, there is one phone per hundred people. There are one-point-two-billion people. In the United States there are 50 phones per 100 people.

    //// END ACT ///

    Specialty retailer The Sharper Image beat Wall Street expectations for the second quarter, reporting revenues up 38 percent. Chairman Richard Thalheimer (tall heimer) says he expects the popularity of the company's small scooter to continue into the Christmas holiday season. But he says The Sharper Image's growth is coming from several different categories.

    //// THALHEIMER ACT ////

    The Internet is accounting for a lot of our improvement. The overall product mix that we make ourselves has done great for six months.

    //// END ACT ///

    The U-S Labor Department reported 313-thousand people filed unemployment claims last week - 14-thousand more than the previous week. (Signed) NEB/NYC/bjs/LSF/PT 17-Aug-2000 17:09 PM EDT (17-Aug-2000 2109 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Vice President Al Gore was formally nominated for president last night (Wednesday) and his running mate Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut accepted the vice presidential nomination. Now in its fourth day, the Democratic National Convention in California continues to hold center stage in U-S editorial columns. Other topics being discussed are the recent trip to Iraq by Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, and the Russian Submarine disaster. Here is _______________ with a closer look and some excerpts in today's Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: The Democratic convention has formally affirmed Vice President Al Gore as the party's presidential candidate. His running mate, Senator Joseph Lieberman addressed the nation for the first time to accept the Democratic vice presidential nomination. U-S newspapers are offering their views on both candidates as the convention draws near to an end. The Philadelphia Inquirer says Vice President Gore must prove to the public that he can be a leader, despite the celebratory mood created at the convention this week.

    VOICE: Al Gore has staged this week's Democratic Convention to depict himself as a vital player in the administration's successes, but an innocent bystander to the ethical failures of his boss (President) Bill Clinton. ... Overall, Mr. Gore was a working partner in Clinton accomplishments that have earned strong public support. He was an unusually engaged, effective vice president, yet much of the public doesn't seem to appreciate his contributions on issues ranging from environmental protection to relations with Russia. ...What seems clear is that Americans are looking for a strong leader who seems to know who he is, to have a stable core from which his positions and decisions flow. Mr. Gore has not conveyed that so far.

    TEXT: The New York Times agrees, but believes Senator Joseph Lieberman, who is the first Jew to be nominated for vice president by a major party, can help Mr. Gore ease doubts among voters.

    VOICE: ...A vice presidential candidate can help establish an aura of confidence around a ticket. Mr. Gore's supporters can hope that the selection of Mr. Lieberman attests to the ability of their nominee to think originally, shatter the old barriers of prejudice and feel comfortable with challenging ideas. The selection of Senator Lieberman has worked well for Mr. Gore, giving Mr. Gore credibility as a risk-taker and tightening the polls. ...But if Mr. Gore is to make an impression on the public this week and walk out of the shadow of Mr. Clinton and the waves of nostalgia that have washed over the convention since last weekend, that work still belongs to mainly one person.

    TEXT: Turning to other news, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez defied the United States this week by visiting Iraq. President Chavez maintains his visit with Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, was centered on expanding the role of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The Washington Times sees an ulterior motive.

    VOICE: Mr. Chavez has managed to scare away most foreign investors with incendiary rhetoric and misguided policies. He is, therefore, keen to turn Venezuelans' attention outward. Mr. Chavez's visit to Iraq achieved just that, in the short term. Last year, the Venezuelan economy contracted an alarming 7 percent, even as oil prices surged. The contraction is all the more painful in a country where over half of the population already lives in poverty. ...Mr. Chavez's tete-a-tete (face to face meeting) with a detestable tyrant will distract Venezuelans for only so long. Soon his people will demand more than unkept promises and anti-imperialist bravado. They will want their president to address more substantive concerns, such as safer streets and job creating, economic growth.

    TEXT: And finally, after a half-dozen unsuccessful attempts to rescue the crew of a disabled Russian nuclear submarine just above the Arctic Circle, the Russians have accepted British aid. The Dallas Morning News in Texas believes the case of the Russian submarine shows that nations should not be so reluctant to accept help from each other.

    VOICE: As word of the weekend accident spread through the international community, both the United States and Britain immediately offered their assistance in evacuating the trapped sailors from the submarine. For whatever reason, however, the Russians were slow to accept assistance. However the incident is resolved, Russian authorities should clarify why they waited so long to ask for help. The delay made a bad situation even worse. It may be that the Russians were too confident of their own ability to address the emergency, or too distrustful to accept the help of countries that were, a decade ago, their Cold War adversaries. If the latter is true, then it would seem that the Cold War has not yet thawed and continues to jeopardize human lives. It appears U-S leaders still have work to do to convince the Russians that in a new century, in a new era of international cooperation, former adversaries can come together for a humanitarian cause.

    TEXT: On that note, we conclude this sampling of editorial comment from the Thursday's U-S newspapers.
    NEB/ENE/KBK 17-Aug-2000 14:38 PM EDT (17-Aug-2000 1838 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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