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Voice of America, 00-05-15

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

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





    INTRO: A political struggle between the Clinton Administration and the Republican-controlled Senate is heating up over Kosovo. Defense Secretary William Cohen says (Monday) he will ask for a presidential veto if Congress tries to set a limit on the time U-S troops can continue peacekeeping duties in the troubled Serbian province. V-O-A's Jim Randle reports from the Pentagon.

    TEXT: In a letter to Senator Ted Stevens, head of the powerful appropriations committee, Defense Secretary William Cohen says he is "deeply troubled" by legislation that would pull American troops home from Kosovo next year. Last week, the committee approved a measure that would cut off money for the 59-hundred U-S troops in Kosovo unless the next president gets specific approval from Congress. The full Senate is now considering the plan, and a vote could come as soon as Tuesday.

    // OPT //

    The House of Representatives has considered and rejected a similar measure, but could take up the issue again this week. // END OPT // Supporters of U-S efforts in Kosovo say such a deadline would make it clear to the enemies of peace that they need only patience to defeat peacekeeping efforts. But many members of the U-S Senate, from both political parties, say there is little hope that 37- thousand NATO-led troops can bring a durable peace to Kosovo. Senators complain the Clinton administration did too little to consult with Congress on this issue, and they argue that European nations are not delivering to Kosovo all the troops, police and materials they have promised. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner says since U-S forces handled most of the air war, European nations should take a larger role enforcing the peace on the ground. Last year's 11-week NATO bombing campaign drove Yugoslav forces out of Kosovo, ending a campaign of arson, terror and murder aimed at the Serb province's Albanian-speaking majority. On a recent visit to Kosovo, local commanders told Defense Secretary Cohen some violence continues between ethnic Serbs and ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, but the peacekeepers' efforts have greatly reduced the number of casualties. In interviews with V-O-A, many soldiers in the large American camps in Kosovo said overcoming the centuries of hate between Kosovo's ethnic groups is a tough job one that will take a long time to finish. (Signed)
    NEB/JR/TVM/WTW 15-May-2000 17:00 PM EDT (15-May-2000 2100 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: China and the European Union have resumed talks in Beijing on China's accession to the World Trade Organization. V-O-A correspondent Roger Wilkison reports the absence of a deal with the E-U is the only major obstacle to China's entry into the body that makes the rules for global trade.

    TEXT: E-U Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy sat down for 90 minutes with Chinese Foreign Trade Minister Shi Guangsheng Monday after calling for greater Chinese flexibility in the negotiations. China has been reluctant to grant the E-U bigger concessions than it gave the United States in a market-opening deal last November. But Brussels has insisted that the China / U-S deal only satisfies about 80 percent of its concerns. Specifically, the E-U wants more concessions in telecommunications, financial services - including insurance - and automobiles. Before leaving Brussels, Mr. Lamy said he would press China to allow foreign mobile-phone operators to take stakes of at least 50 percent in joint ventures and indicated he would not budge from that stand. Under the U-S / China deal, foreigners can take a 49 percent stake in mobile phone services - but only after China has been a W-T-O member for five years. As is the case with the U-S / China pact, any concessions Mr. Lamy may obtain from China would apply to all other W-T-O members. If China and the E-U strike a deal this week, it could have an impact on a crucial upcoming vote in the U-S Congress. As part of last year's U-S / China trade agreement, Washington must end its annual review of China's trading status and permanently grant Beijing the same low-tariff access to the U-S market that nearly every other country enjoys. Otherwise, U-S firms will be unable to reap the benefits of the concessions obtained from China by U-S negotiators. Although the legislation is expected to pass in the Senate, members of the House of Representatives - concerned about a loss of U-S jobs and China's human rights situation - have expressed strong opposition to the bill. The Clinton Administration, which has lobbied hard for the package, acknowledges that the vote, scheduled for next week, is too close to call. (Signed)
    NEB/RW/JO/KL 15-May-2000 07:41 AM EDT (15-May-2000 1141 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Two international observers are in Northern Ireland to begin monitoring hidden arms depots of the Irish Republican Army. As V-O-A's Evans Hays reports from London, former Finnish President Martii Ahtisaari and South Africa's Cyril Ramaphosa, a former African National Congress leader, were selected as arms inspectors by the I-R-A.

    TEXT: The two arms inspectors began their day in London, where they were briefed by British Prime Minister Tony Blair. They traveled to Belfast where they conferred with senior British minister Peter Mandelson and with Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen about the mandate they have been given. Mr. Ahtisaari and Mr. Ramaphosa were picked by the Irish Republican Army last week to inspect hidden depots containing arms and ammunition that the I-R-A has promised not to use. The two observers will make repeat visits to the hidden sites to insure that the weapons are still locked away. Northern Ireland's largest Pro-British party, the Ulster Unionists, wants assurances that the I-R-A is disarming before it again joins in a power-sharing government. The deadlock over arms has been a key issue holding up full implementation of the Good Friday peace accord worked out two-years ago. (SIGNED)
    NEB/EH/JWH/RAE 15-May-2000 09:48 AM EDT (15-May-2000 1348 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Stock prices in the United States moved higher again today (Monday) despite continuing nervousness about a U-S central bank meeting on Tuesday. V-O-A's Joe Chapman reports from New York.

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average moved up 198 points, nearly two percent, to 10-thousand-807. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite closed 78 points higher to three-thousand-607. The Standard and Poor's 500 closed up 31 points to finish at one-thousand-452. Technology stocks were lower through most of the trading day, then picked up some strength with the resurgence of some Internet stocks. Analysts say any interest rate increase approved Tuesday by the U-S central bank is already reflected in stock prices. Traders expect a so-called "relief rally" after the central bank decision is announced, with most concern focused on what the central bank says about the future.


    Ted Weisberg, an investment firm executive, said he believes if interest rates rise as expected, market indexes will continue to come under downward pressure.

    /// WEISBERG ACT ///

    The consensus is that interest rates are certainly going up 25 basis points or perhaps 50 basis points (one quarter of one percent or one half of one percent). The problem we will have at the end of the day is: Can the market sustain these levels in the environment of ever higher interest rates? You know it's sort of the 64- dollar (major) question.

    /// END ACT ///

    If the central bank raises interest rates as expected, it will be the sixth time since last June. One analyst says investors continue to delude themselves that the U-S central bank is near the end of a cycle in raising interest rates to cool the economy. But the central bank itself released a report showing that the U-S economy continues to be robust. Industrial production leaped nearly one-percent for its biggest jump in more than a year. Analysts also say that investors may continue to be nervous about highly-priced technology stocks with little or no earnings and inflated revenue estimates. But they also say there are some genuine bargains in companies with real earnings and good revenue expectations. (Signed) NEB/JMC/LSF/TVM/gm 15-May-2000 16:39 PM EDT (15-May-2000 2039 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Mothers demonstrated across the country Sunday, calling for stricter gun control laws. In the largest event, hundreds-of-thousands of people gathered in Washington to get the attention of Congress. Several editorials in today's papers are commenting on their cause. There were also several counter demonstrations, with women demanding that they be allowed to carry guns for protection. The announcement by five huge pharmaceutical firms that they will drastically cut the price of AIDS drugs to Africa, where the disease has reached epidemic or pandemic proportions is another popular topic. There are commentaries on the Russians being allowed to probe their own human-rights violations in Chechnya; the civil war in Sierra Leone; various aspects of U-S relations with Cuba; and more on the China trade debate. Now, here with a closer look and some examples, is _____________ and today's U-S Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: To Wisconsin's capital first, where Madison's Capital Times is contrasting Sunday's Mother's Day march for gun control with other demonstrations in the nation's capital.

    VOICE: On any given day, there is a demonstration in Washington. And the organizers invariably claim that the turnout ... is an indication of broad public sentiment on behalf of their point of view. Yet the Million Mom March was different. ...[march organizer Donna] Dees-Thomases and her allies tapped into something real: a rage at congressional inaction on basic questions of public safety and ... maternal common sense. ... Crowd estimates in the hundreds of thousands far exceeded the prediction that planners ... had been toying with just a few days before the march began.

    TEXT: In today's Wall Street Journal, columnist Lisa Schiffren takes issue with the idea that principal march organizer Donna Dees-Thomases is "just another mom" as she has been portrayed in much of the American press.

    VOICE: Mrs. Dees-Thomases is not precisely a housewife. She is currently on leave from her job as a publicist at C-B-S [Columbia Broadcasting System] where she ... previously worked for [C-B-S main news reader] Dan Rather. ... It also happens that she is the sister-in- law of Susan Thomases, Hillary Clinton's closest friend, long-time political strategist, heavy- handed enforcer, and frequently attorney of record. ... my guess is that Donna Dees- Thomases did not act alone: The event was a White House put-up (orchestrated) job.

    TEXT: In Hawaii, Saturday afternoon's Honolulu Star- Bulletin feels: "The movement is putting pressure on politicians to show support for [gun] controls." And today's New York Times leads its editorial column with the topic, noting:

    VOICE: The surge of energy was palpable hundreds-of-thousands of marchers gathered on the Mall in Washington to demand stiffer gun control measures - and additional crowds joined in the demonstration ... around the country. ... There is real hope that the seed planted by this march could blossom into a movement that could change the dynamics of the national struggle to achieve sensible gun control.

    TEXT: Turning from guns to AIDS, another killer of children and adults, there is a good deal of comment on a proposal by five global drug firms to dramatically lower the price of anti-AIDS drugs to the poor countries of Africa where the illness has reached epidemic proportions. The Atlanta Constitution praises the move, but calls it "Only a small step in [the] battle."

    VOICE: Even with the drastic price cuts, these drugs may run two-dollars a day for a single patient, far more than most African patients or their governments' public health budgets can afford. That is why these companies must brace themselves for generic competition, whether they cut prices or not. // OPT // Horrifying as Africa's AIDS statistics are, with eleven million dead and another 32-million H-I-V- infected, it is but the epicenter of this catastrophe. Its destabilizing effects also are being felt increasingly in South and Southeast Asia, in ... the former Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe - all of which should suggest, even to the most obtuse of the U-S Congress' isolationists, that AIDS is a potential national security threat. // END OPT //

    TEXT: In Wisconsin, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is also concerned about the complexity of administering the drugs in Africa, once the cost issue has been resolved.

    VOICE: ... effective therapy required more than affordable drugs; the protocol is complex and must be followed with painstaking care not only by patients, but also by trained therapists. Affordable drugs will not mean much unless money is spent to train doctors, nurses and other practitioners, and to educate the public about AIDS treatment and H-I-V prevention.

    // OPT //

    TEXT: The New York Times shares many of the same concerns as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

    VOICE: Cheaper drugs by themselves will likely have little immediate impact. There are still far too few doctors and nurses in these regions, and health care facilities are hopelessly inadequate. The powerful drug cocktails that can prolong life cast as much as 15-thousand dollars a year for a single American patient. Even reducing prices by 90-percent would leave the drugs unaffordable for most Africans. ... The drug companies' announcement came a day after the Clinton administration issued a long overdue executive order saying the United States would not interfere with African countries that violate American patent law to provide AIDS drugs more cheaply, either by licensing local companies to produce generic versions or by importing lower cost drugs. Resources and political will in many afflicted nations are still inadequate ... But the price decision by the drug companies is cause for hope.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Today's Boston Globe says it dislikes a decision by the Council of Europe that will allow Russia to investigate its own alleged human-rights abuses in the Chechen war. The paper says in an effort to not to offend Russia, or to be forced to suspend it for war crimes, the council has backed down.

    VOICE: Council of Europe foreign ministers meeting ... in Strasbourg set a new standard for hypocrisy when they declared their satisfaction with a Kremlin plan to conduct its own investigation of Russian human-rights violations in Chechnya. ... Reports from independent human- rights organizations ... make it plain that Russian forces have committed terrible war crimes against Chechen civilians.

    TEXT: As for the fighting in Sierra Leone, The Cleveland, Ohio, Plain Dealer says it was foolish of the United Nations to believe it could reason with rebel leader Foday Sankoh.

    VOICE: [Mr.] Sankoh expressed contempt for U-N peacekeeping forces before they arrived. Once they were there, he balked at disarming his 20- thousand men and drug-addicted boys. (His army often pumped drugs into kidnapped youngsters and turned them into soldiers.) His forces control the country's lucrative diamond mines, and he has no intention of giving them up for the good of his country. Instead, he has taken advantage of the departure of a long-serving contingent of Nigerian peacekeepers and the slow arrival of U- N troops. ... if [U-N Secretary General Kofi] Annan hopes to sell the world on the benefits of keeping the peace, the United Nations will have to show there is more to it than fighting a war.

    TEXT: The Los Angeles Times is pleased at what it sees as yet another positive development in the slowly changing relationship between the U-S and Cuba.

    VOICE: Last week the Senate Appropriations Committee passed a bill to permit the sale of food and medicine to Cuba, and a similar bill is under consideration in the House of Representatives. The issue of doing business with Cuba is politically charged, but one whose time has come. Restoring a commercial bridge to Cuba now should east tensions when Fidel Castro leaves the scene.

    TEXT: On the controversy over granting China permanent, normal trading status with this country, the St. Paul, Minnesota, Pioneer Press says the move makes sense, despite some local Minnesota, opposition.

    VOICE: is increasingly unrealistic and even damaging to the American economy to pretend that the huge and growing Chinese market should be singled out for harsh and humiliating trade terms. // OPT // On a very practical level, if the United States does not normalize trade fully and support China's integration into the W-T-O, the farmers and businesses of other countries will gladly sell their grain, technology, cars, and consumer goods there on better terms. // END OPT //

    TEXT: On that note, we conclude this sampling of comment from the pages of Monday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/RAE 15-May-2000 12:46 PM EDT (15-May-2000 1646 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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