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Voice of America, 99-12-23
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From: The Voice of America <gopher://gopher.voa.gov>
 NY ECON WRAP (S&L) BY ELAINE JOHANSON (NEW YORK)DATE=12/23/1999
INTRO: Stock prices were in record territory across- the-board today (Thursday) as investors engaged in some last-minute shopping on Wall Street. The U-S stock market is closed Friday for the Christmas holiday. V-O-A correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York:
TEXT: All three major indices finished with record highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average shot past its old record of last August, going up 202 points - more than one and one-half percent - to close at 11- thousand-405. The Standard and Poor's 500 index gained 22 points. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq composite added eight-tenths of one percent - giving the technology-led index its longest streak of weekly gains in more than 10 years. In early trading, the Nasdaq crossed over the four- thousand mark for the first time, but then backed off on profit-taking. Analysts say this is a seasonal rally that happens around Christmas time just about every year.
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Source: Voice of America
 THURSDAY'S EDITORIALS BY ANDREW GUTHRIE (WASHINGTON)DATE=12/23/1999
TYPE=U-S EDITORIAL DIGEST
INTRO: The threat of some kind of terrorist attack either in the United States, or against Americans abroad, continues to find a high place in the nation's editorial columns. Other topics this Thursday before Christmas include: a scathing series of criticisms against the government for its handling of native American assets in an Indian trust fund; the Vermont supreme Court ruling on homosexual couples; and the catastrophe in Venezuela. Rounding out the commentary sections of many papers are thoughts on Mid-East peace, now that Syria is again taking part; a Sri Lankan election and new efforts to curb auto pollution. Now, here is __________ with a closer look in today's Editorial Digest.
TEXT: Several papers continue to ruminate about the possibility of terrorism marring the Christmas and New Year's festivities in the United States. Today's "Orlando Sentinel" warns:
VOICE: "Considering the potential threat that exists for terrorist activities, it is essential that an alert public join in the campaign to thwart extremists. .. Law enforcement can not win the war against terrorists without help from the public.
TEXT: "The Miami Herald" adds some concerns for balancing civil liberties with the increased anti- terrorist activity.
VOICE: Clearly, authorities' vigilance is warranted and necessary, but within the context of our open society. The rest of us must be alert, but not on the verge of panic. . we are at all times vulnerable to catastrophic attack from within and a broad. . Just as important, though, is what must not be done. Immediately after the federal building was bombed in Oklahoma City in 1995, no dark-skinned person of Arab ethnicity was safe from authorities' overly assertive interrogation. That cannot happen this time.
TEXT: Lastly, "The Akron Beacon Journal" calls what is going on Necessary vigilance, adding -- the White House would rather avoid the I-told-you-so's.
TEXT: Another prominent topic is a scathing finding by a Federal Judge in a lawsuit brought by Native Americans that the U-S government, and specifically the Bureau of Indian Affairs, has badly managed a trust fund of their assets, losing millions, if not billions of dollars, from oil leases and other income. "The St. Petersburg [Florida] Times" says:
VOICE: Because the Bureau of Indian Affairs mismanaged land given to tribes in compensation for throwing them off reservations, Indians who might have had a healthy income . from oil, timber, mining and grazing leases, and royalties instead received virtually nothing and lived in poverty. The mess the Interior Department made of its Indian land trust program has been magnified by its incompetent attempts at putting things right.
TEXT: "The Los Angeles Times" is also horrified, but holds out hope that with continuing oversight by the court, the government will correct things and pay the Indians what they are owed.
VOICE: // OPT // Judge Lamberth rejected the Indians' request to appoint a special master to supervise reforms . saying . the government has an obligation by law to fix the fund. But, given the government's past behavior, he will supervise the reforms for five-years and use his judicial powers to force [Interior Secretary Bruce] Babbitt and his successors to clean up the mess. // END OPT // Considering Washington's poor record, however, it may well be necessary to appoint an independent overseer of the fund when the five -years is up. A century of carelessness and disregard is not easily overcome.
TEXT: Still another domestic topic, a Vermont State Supreme court decision, granting to homosexual couples, virtually all the protection and benefits given to married couples, continues to generate debate. "The Chicago Tribune" agrees with the New England jurists:
VOICE: The . ruling . regarding equal benefits for same-sex couples was right on two counts. It ruled - without qualifications - that to deny gays and lesbians benefits available to heterosexual couples violated the state constitution's Common Benefits Clause and was thus illegal. Equally proper was the court's decision to leave it to the legislature to fix the problem, either by granting conventional marriage licenses to gay couples or by creating a system of "domestic partnerships." . Such relationships, of course, have existed since time immemorial - but in a legal and societal limbo.
TEXT: Strongly opposing the court decision is Pennsylvania's "Greensburg Tribune-Review" which calls the ruling: Vermont's folly.
VOICE: Vermont's decision, and any subsequent legislation, will not affect any other state; Congress already has passed the Defense of Marriage Act. That measure denies federal recognition of same-sex marriages . but Vermont's ruling has emboldened those who want full recognition of same-sex marriages. The U-S Supreme Court needs to restore some sanity to this rapidly evolving landscape by affirming that the institution of marriage should not be sacrificed to the issue of gay rights.
TEXT: Turning to international affairs, the carnage from floods and mudslides in Venezuela continues to draw horrified comments from the press, like this from Ohio's "Akron Beacon" Journal.
VOICE: It is hard to comprehend a disaster in which death counts vary by tens-of-thousands of people. Yet that is the scale of the human tragedy in Venezuela.. No matter the actual toll; this is the country's worst natural disaster this century. . The imprecision reflects the chaos born of any disaster. Primitive communications in the South American country and the poverty of many of the victims only compound the confusion. The disaster also underscores the fickleness of weather; this was supposed to be Venezuela's dry season.
TEXT: On to the Middle East, where there is growing optimism of a broader peaceful settlement now that Israel and Syria are preparing to begin earnest peace talks in West Virginia. As "The Florida Times-Union" from Jacksonville, points out:
VOICE: Both sides need an agreement. Syria has never been this close to regaining the [Golan] heights and, having allowed its military to deteriorate substantially in the past 15-years, it has no reasonable hope except through negotiations. Israel needs real security from terrorists, and that probably will never come about until all of the occupied lands are returned. Also, it wants to get this issue out of the way so it can concentrate on its economy.
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TEXT: In another comment on the Middle East, the "Houston Chronicle" is upset at the way Saddam Hussein continues to win a game of what it calls political cat and mouse at the United Nations over the arms inspection issue.
VOICE: It has been more than a year since Saddam kicked the last bunch of arms inspectors out of Iraq. During their long absence, he most likely has had time to develop and hide weapons of mass destruction, such as Scud missiles equipped with deadly biological warheads. Looking for such things with the limited freedom U-N inspection teams have been afforded in the vast expanses of Iraq is like looking for a moving needle in a haystack. .. As long as Saddam rules Iraq, neither his Middle East neighbors nor the Western world can rest comfortably.
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TEXT: Moving to the sub-continent, and a call by today's "Boston Globe" for an international peacemaking initiative in Sri Lanka. The paper says the time is ripe, following Tuesday's presidential re- election of Chandrika Kumaratunga, with a "dramatically reduced" majority of only 51-percent from her previous term.
VOICE: All the humanitarian justifications for saving lives in Kosovo, Bosnia, East Timor, and Chechnya apply in the conflict between the Sinhalese majority in Sri Lanka and the Tamil minority. Civilians, conscripts, and victims of terrorist bombings all deserve to be saved from a senseless repetition of murder and mayhem that can be ended only by a negotiated solution. . The war in unwinnable. The time has come for third-party mediation.
TEXT: That concludes this sampling of comment from
the editorial columns of Thursday's U-S press.
23-Dec-1999 11:15 AM EDT (23-Dec-1999 1615 UTC)
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