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Voice of America, 00-02-10

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

From: The Voice of America <gopher://gopher.voa.gov>


CONTENTS

  • [01] AUSTRIA PART ONE - HAIDER PROFILE BY ANDRE DE NESNERA (WASHINGTON)
  • [02] NORTHERN IRELAND (L-ONLY) BY LAURIE KASSMAN (LONDON)
  • [03] NY ECON WRAP (S&L) BY ELAINE JOHANSON (NEW YORK)
  • [04] THURSDAY'S EDITORIALS BY ANDREW GUTHRIE (WASHINGTON)

  • [01] AUSTRIA PART ONE - HAIDER PROFILE BY ANDRE DE NESNERA (WASHINGTON)

    DATE=2/10/2000
    TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT
    NUMBER=5-45424
    CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:
    /// EDS: This is the first of a four-part series on Austria's Freedom Party and its leader Joerg Haider.
    ///

    INTRO: Austria's extreme right wing Freedom Party is now part of the country's coalition government, causing dismay and anger among Vienna's European Union partners. In this first of four reports on the Freedom Party, correspondent Andre de Nesnera profiles the party's leader, Joerg Haider, and looks at what draws voters to the Freedom Party.

    TEXT: Fifty-year old Joerg Haider and his far-right Freedom Party have completely transformed Austria's political landscape and ended 30 years of domination by the country's Social Democrats. By becoming part of the new coalition, the Freedom Party has entered the government "by the front door" - so to speak - quite a feat for a party that was very much on the margins of Austrian politics just a decade ago. And the rise of the Freedom Party is directly linked to Joerg Haider. A lawyer by profession, Mr. Haider joined the Freedom Party in the late 1960's and headed its youth league. Moving up through the ranks, he took over the party's leadership in 1986 at a time when the Freedom Party received only about five percent of the vote. Since that time, the party's fortunes have blossomed, culminating in last October's elections in which Mr. Haider's party received 27 percent of the votes - a figure that propelled the Freedom Party into a coalition government formed just a few days ago. To Mr. Haider's admirers, he is a breath of fresh air a charismatic leader who will bring much-needed political and economic reform. To his detractors, he is a political opportunist, a xenophobe and a threat to democracy - a dangerous man who uses rhetoric reminiscent of a much darker past. It is not easy to characterize Mr. Haider and it is very difficult to pinpoint exactly what he stands for, since many of his positions are ambiguous. Some experts have described him as a "political chameleon." Richard Luther is writing a biography of Joerg Haider and he is a professor of European politics at Britain's Keele University (in Staffordshire). Professor Luther says a good part of Mr. Haider's popularity is due to the perception by many Austrians that the country's political system is in need of fundamental reform. He says since 1945, Austria has been ruled by two main parties: the conservative People's Party and the Social Democrats.

    /// LUTHER ACT ///

    And the socialist party has had the chancellorship since 1970. And these two parties have - between them - divided resources of the state; they have divided positions in the bureaucracy. And this - while it was initially a very beneficial form of rule for Austria because it stabilized Austria in the immediate post-war period when it was seeking to move from a post-authoritarian state to a liberal democracy - while it stabilized Austria then, it has increasingly been seen as inefficient and corrupt. And it is on the back of this dissatisfaction with Austrian politics and the way in which it is conducted that Haider has managed to achieve this level of support.

    /// END ACT ///

    While acknowledging the need for reform of the Austrian political system, Mr. Haider's detractors point to what they consider to be the racist and inflammatory rhetoric he has used to attract disaffected voters. Mr. Haider's anti-European Union stance has been coupled with strong opposition to immigration - and verbal attacks on foreigners. And he has expressed support for some aspects of Nazi rule statements that he has since retracted. (EDS: Haider's controversial statements and the notion whether the Freedom Party is a neo-Nazi party will be dealt with in the second report). Dominique Moisi is deputy-director of the (Paris- based) "French Institute of Foreign Relations." He says Mr. Haider represents various trends.

    /// MOISI ACT ///

    On the one hand, he is a modernist thinker in economic terms. He is an ultra-liberal (EDS: in the European sense, i.e, an ultra-conservative). He is suggesting for the Austrian economy what the conservative right wing should have been suggesting a long time ago. On the other hand, he is a populist leader flattering the worst instincts of the Austrian people and he is in a way a sophisticated, revisionist thinker. And from that point of view, he is very dangerous.

    /// END ACT ///

    Experts say since Mr. Haider took over the leadership of the Freedom Party in 1986, his strategy has been all-out opposition to Austria's ruling political elite. And Mr. Haider's strategy has involved the use of strident rhetoric to garner more votes. Haider biographer Richard Luther:

    /// LUTHER ACT ///

    And in pursuing that goal of vote maximization, he's been very ruthless in the kinds of sentiments which he has used to mobilize support. And he has been very indiscriminate in his attacks on minority groups. The problem he now has is that having pursued this all-out oppositional strategy since 1986, he has now achieved a level of strength - namely about 27 percent in the polls (making the Freedom Party) technically the second largest party in Austria - which enables him to enter government. But his reputation precedes him. And the all-out opposition - and in particular the indiscriminate attacks on minority groups, foreigners and so on - has left him beyond the political pale for most of the countries that are partners of Austria within the European Union.

    /// END ACT ///

    The 14 other countries of the European Union have reacted swiftly to the inclusion of the Freedom Party in the Austrian coalition government. Although Mr. Haider is not a member of that government, the European Union has limited its contacts with Austrian officials - and more boycotts may follow. (Eds: The E- U reaction will be discussed in the third part of this series). So is Mr. Haider someone who uses inflammatory rhetoric only to get to power and is a staunch democrat at heart? Or is he indeed a dangerous individual, a man who believes his words and is masquerading as a reformer? Experts say now that the Freedom Party is in government, it will be easier to judge the exact orientation of the party by its actions - not just words. (Signed)
    NEB/ADEN/JP 10-Feb-2000 12:31 PM EDT (10-Feb-2000 1731 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America

    [02] NORTHERN IRELAND (L-ONLY) BY LAURIE KASSMAN (LONDON)

    DATE=2/10/2000
    TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
    NUMBER=2-259020
    CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:

    INTRO: In Northern Ireland, last-ditch efforts continue to try to avert the suspension of the power- sharing assembly, which was set up eight-weeks ago. The dispute is once again over the timing of paramilitary disarmament. Correspondent Laurie Kassman reports on the latest developments from London.

    TEXT: Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble, who also heads Northern Ireland's executive council, has held crisis talks in Dublin with Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern. Earlier this week, he met with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. So did Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams. The consultations are aimed at averting the collapse of Northern Ireland's assembly. It was Mr. Trimble's threat to resign over the disarmament issue that sparked the latest crisis. Mr. Trimble has insisted the Irish Republican Army (I- R-A) must start handing over weapons. But the special commission on decommissioning says the I-R-A has not made such a gesture. Gerry Adams, who heads the I-R- A's political wing, says the Good Friday Agreement sets the deadline for disarmament in May. Sinn Fein also argues that disarmament applies equally to both nationalist and loyalist para-military groups and British forces still based in Northern Ireland. Last week, Britain's top minister for Northern Ireland asked Parliament to pass legislation to suspend the assembly until the dispute is sorted out. Mr. Trimble is trying to soften the impact of that decision.

    /// TRIMBLE ACT ///

    No one can predict exactly how things will develop over the next few days. We know the problems. We will continue to work on the problems. But I do have to emphasize they are just problems and people are wrong to regard this as a terminal crisis in the agreement.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr. Trimble is due to meet his party leadership on Saturday and has threatened to resign if the I-R-A has not made a concrete gesture toward disarmament by then. And Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has also threatened to pull out of the peace process if the power-sharing assembly is suspended. (SIGNED) NEB/LMK/GE/LTD/RAE 10-Feb-2000 08:55 AM EDT (10-Feb-2000 1355 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America

    [03] NY ECON WRAP (S&L) BY ELAINE JOHANSON (NEW YORK)

    DATE=2/10/2000
    TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
    NUMBER=2-259035
    CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:

    INTRO: U-S stock prices were mixed today (Thursday), with the technology sector re-gaining strength. VOA correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York:

    TEXT: Once again, it was a tale of two markets on Wall Street - with technology taking a dominant position. The Dow Jones Industrial Average moved within a narrow trading range, finally closing down 55 points, one-half of one percent, at 10-thousand-643. The Standard and Poor's 500 index added five points. The Nasdaq composite rallied to a record high after Wednesday's huge losses with a gain of nearly three percent. Analysts said there seemed to be no compelling reason for investors to buy stocks outside of technology:

    ///BEGIN OPT///

    Market-watcher James Maguire believes money simply went where it has performed the best in recent months:

    ///MAGUIRE ACT///

    It's a pretty broad-based decline of course, with the exception of the "tech" sector. The way some people are explaining it I think the tech sector has been the leader in the market before. It's been the sector that's outperformed and that's where people are putting their money.

    ///END ACT - END OPT///

    Shares of M-C-I WorldCom - the U-S telecommunications giant - traded higher, after the company beat expectations with profits that nearly tripled in the fourth quarter. Earnings were up on the strength of growing Internet and data sales.

    ///REST OPT for long///

    Shares of Microsoft and computer chip-maker Intel went up. Both are among the 30 companies in the Dow Jones and just about the only bright spots in an otherwise negative index. The Dow industrials have fallen about nine percent from their January 14th record of 11- thousand-722. Microsoft regained some lost ground, after taking a hit Wednesday on the news that European regulators were looking into whether Microsoft's latest operating system gives it an unfair advantage over its competitors. (signed) NEB/NY/EJ/LSF/pt 10-Feb-2000 17:06 PM EDT (10-Feb-2000 2206 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America

    [04] THURSDAY'S EDITORIALS BY ANDREW GUTHRIE (WASHINGTON)

    DATE=2/10/2000
    TYPE=U-S EDITORIAL DIGEST
    NUMBER=6-11675
    EDITOR=ASSIGNMENTS
    TELEPHONE=619-3335
    CONTENT=

    INTRO: The withdrawal from the Republican presidential race by millionaire magazine publisher Steve Forbes is the day's most popular editorial topic. It is closely followed by comment on the unprecedented attacks this week on various Internet companies by hackers, people, assaulting e-commerce businesses with evil intent. Other topics of interest include: U-S aid to Colombia; the skyrocketing price of oil; and increasing aid to Africa. Now, here is __________ with a closer look and some excerpts in today's Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: The Republican presidential race has narrowed to only three candidates, Texas Governor George Bush, Arizona Senator John McCain and radio talk-show host Alan Keys. The publisher of "Forbes" magazine, a respected business and financial weekly, Steve Forbes, says he's dropping out. Mr. Forbes has been running almost continuously since the last presidential campaign, spending an estimated 60-million dollars of his personal fortune, with little to show for it. No paper is more disappointed than the "Manchester [New Hampshire] Union Leader", which had heartily endorsed Mr. Forbes.

    VOICE: Our man Steve Forbes is out of the running ... and a few of our readers have reminded us that despite the many gripes as we have had with George W. Bush and John McCain, we would prefer them to having Al Gore or Bill Bradley in the White House. Granted... But now that it appears either [Mr.] Bush or [Mr.] McCain will be the nominee, a simple question must be asked of each of them. To Bush, do you have the innards [strength] to be President, and to [Mr.] McCain, what is your philosophy of government - aside from campaign finance reform?

    TEXT: "The Oklahoman" in Oklahoma City laments that: "In a different day and time, Steve Forbes might have become president." But the paper concludes, he was [The "Right Man, [at] Maybe [the] Wrong Time." Less charitably, "The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel" scoffs:

    VOICE: Conservative publisher Steve Forbes is a dilettante who, in the last two presidential elections, has demonstrated only that he has nothing to say to voters. It is hardly a surprise, therefore, that voters want nothing to do with him. /// OPT /// ... In the end, [Mr.] Forbes' self-indulgent quest for fame, fun, and the presidency did little but waste money - - some 66-million dollars of his 440-million dollar personal fortune, by one estimate. His accountant is probably glad ... [and] The messages of Forbes' G-O-P rivals will no longer be diluted by his blathering... /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: The day's other big issue is the attacks against various commercial web sites on the Internet's World Wide Web, the global computer network of information sources and businesses. The attacks were carried out by so-called - Hackers. They are people with extensive knowledge of computers. In this case they overloaded Websites with nonsensical messages, so legitimate users could not use them. In Hawaii, the "Honolulu Star Bulletin" says stronger security measures are needed to stabilize Internet sites.

    VOICE: A computer data assault immobilized Yahoo! the Internet's most popular search engine and information portal, for nearly three-hours Monday. The next day, hackers attacked e-Bay, Amazon-dot-com, Buy-dot-com, and C-N-N-dot-com, raising questions about the security of other sites on the World Wide Web. The attacks caused much inconvenience for Internet users. While the financial effects were negligible, it showed the potential for significant damage on the new e-commerce battlefield. ... The hackers were believed to include a group in Portugal and a teenager in Virginia.

    TEXT: "The San Francisco Chronicle" is not amused:

    VOICE: The charmingly precocious renegade image that many people have of computer vandals has got to go. ... These cyber-thugs can invade private sites and cause the loss of millions of dollars to businesses and individuals. Yet they enjoy a certain stature among others of their techno-ilk ...

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: In Southern California, "The Los Angeles Times" is distressed, but also frustrated that so many Internet Web companies ignored earlier warnings of just such an eventuality.

    VOICE: The F-B-I's National Infrastructure Protection Center warned last December that programs capable of disrupting large Web sites were readily available and said it had developed software to identify and block them. ... companies will certainly listen more closely now.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Turning to international issues, the potential breakdown of the peace process in Northern Ireland continues to draw attention. "The New York Times" is upset that the Irish Republican Army is refusing to give up its weapons.

    VOICE: It would be tragic if the Irish Republican Army undermined the nearly two-year- old peace settlement in Northern Ireland by refusing to turn in even a small component of its arsenal. Yet that is just what the I-R-A seems determined to do, despite pleas from the Irish government, Northern Ireland's largest Catholic party, and the Catholic bishop of Londonderry to begin disarming. Even Gerry Adams, the leader of the I-R-A's political wing, Sinn Fein, sounds despairing at the prospect of a new crisis that could return the province to direct British rule.

    TEXT: In Minnesota, "The [Minneapolis] Star Tribune" feels that former British Prime Minister John Major, and the present P-M, Tony Blair, have to answer for part of the latest breakdown, by failing to take into account how much the I-R-A has given up.

    VOICE: British Prime Minister Tony Blair has warned he will suspend Northern Ireland's home rule on Friday if the I-R-A does not begin giving up ... its weapons. ... The I-R-A, so the story goes, refuses to move ahead with disarmament as envisioned in the Good Friday Agreement and in the creation of the new government two months back. But that is not a fair telling of the story. The republican side also has given up a lot - especially its dream of uniting Ulster with the Irish Republic. ... Now the Unionists are threatening to pull out because, after only six-weeks, the I-R-A has not agreed to give up its guns? That is unreasonable.

    TEXT: Today's "Washington Post" is coming out for an increase in aid, both financial and military to Colombia, amounting to one-billion-300-million dollars to help combat both civil war and narco-trafficking. Sums up the "Post":

    VOICE: The best reason for the aid, however, is that it will help in the search for a negotiated settlement to the war, which is the strategic objective of both President Pastrana and President Clinton.

    TEXT: Africa's problems attract the attention of several papers, including "The Florida Times-Union" in Jacksonville, which comments:

    VOICE: It would be naive to think hostilities will end in the Horn of Africa as a result of the Kenyan quest for peace. But by calling for peace, President Daniel arap Moi at least focuses attention on it - - and that alone could be a positive development. /// OPT /// ... [President] Moi certainly has a direct stake. Kenya borders on Sudan, where a civil war has raged the past 17 years; on Somalia, torn by a decade of lawlessness; and on Ethiopia, which has been at war with Eritrea since 1998. ... All sides need to work together. The consequences are too great to do otherwise, not just to the warring parties but to the entire region. /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: The civil war Congo-Kinshasa with the involvement of six foreign armies, and numerous militias, is worrying "The San Francisco Chronicle".

    VOICE: ...the conflict is a vortex of get-even fights ... and transplanted civil wars ... Finding peace will not be easy. ... one cease- fire has collapsed already, and the lack of a dominant country invites more fighting. It will take pressure from the developed world to force a cease-fire and separate the combatants. ... as the world's paramount power, the United States is expected to show leadership in ending warfare. . The conflict can be a turning point for Africa. Achieve a durable peace, and the region may implant democracy and develop its mother lode of natural riches. Or the region can fall farther into bloodshed and lose any claim on international help or sympathy.

    TEXT: In Maine, today's "Portland Press Herald" is upset at the sudden, dramatic rise in gasoline and home heating oil prices, and takes issue with President Clinton's reluctance to release part of the government's emergency stores to force down prices.

    VOICE: This sudden embrace of laissez-faire economics ignores that fact that the market is manipulated by a cartel of oil-producing nations that prefer to conspire rather than compete.

    TEXT: On that note, we conclude this sampling of comment from the pages of today's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/RAE 10-Feb-2000 12:15 PM EDT (10-Feb-2000 1715 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America


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