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Voice of America, 00-05-16

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

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





    INTRO: Officials say the United States is deeply upset that Russia allowed Yugoslav Defense Minister Dragoljub Ojdanic -- who has been indicted on war crimes charges -- to make an official visit to Moscow. Correspondent Nick Simeone has details.

    TEXT: U-S officials say that under its United Nations obligations, Russia would have been required to arrest the Yugoslav official once he set foot on Russian soil because he is wanted by the U-N war crimes tribunal in the Hague. Instead, he was invited to Russia, stayed for several days and was allowed to leave, something State Department spokesman Richard Boucher calls deeply dismaying, and the matter that is being raised with Moscow on an urgent basis.

    /// BOUCHER ACT ///

    To remind them of the obligation, should they think of having him over again, we think they should arrest him.

    /// END ACT ///

    Russian officials haven't explained why they didn't arrest Mr. Ojdanic. Moscow opposed last year's NATO bombing of Serb forces for abuses in Kosovo and went as far as suspending contacts with the military alliance. (SIGNED)
    NEB/NJS/JP 16-May-2000 16:21 PM EDT (16-May-2000 2021 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The general who ran the air war for Kosovo has urged American lawmakers not to impose a deadline on the peacekeeping mission in the Yugoslav province. V-O-A's David Swan reports, the Senate could vote on the plan as soon as tomorrow (Wednesday).

    TEXT: Former NATO commander Wesley Clark met with senators behind closed doors (Tuesday) to argue against a potential pullout of U-S troops. The measure being considered would require American ground combat forces to leave Kosovo by July of next year unless Congress authorizes their presence. Democratic Senator Carl Levin, who opposes the idea, says the general warned of renewed instability if the withdrawal plan passes.

    // Levin act //

    He feels that that language could embolden (Yugoslav President Slobodan) Milosevic, could create real problems in terms of both the Albanians and the Serbians feeling that then we're pulling out and begin to become more fully armed, attack each other.

    // end act //

    But Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner, one of the proposal's sponsors, rejects that logic. Mr. Warner points out that U-S non-combat troops could stay - and in any case, Americans make up a relatively small part of the peacekeeping army.

    // Warner act //

    For General Clark to say that the whole thing, the sky's going to fall in is sort of saying to the other 85-percent of the troops from NATO and other nations - I think there are over 30 - that you don't count. Now to me, that is not a good tactic to take for General Clark.

    // end act //

    The chairman predicts a close vote on the measure. Its opponents acknowledge they may not be able to stop it now on the Senate floor but say they should have more than enough votes to sustain a presidential veto. (Signed) Neb/ds/PT 16-May-2000 18:12 PM EDT (16-May-2000 2212 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: A former judge was sworn in Tuesday as Turkey's 10th president. As Amberin Zaman reports from Ankara, the new president, Ahmet Necdet Sezer, pledged to move Turkey closer to Europe.

    TEXT: Turkey's new president told the 550-member parliament that the country needs to embrace democratic values if it wants to become a full member of the European Union. E-U membership has been among Turkey's top foreign policy objectives In his previous job as chief of Turkey's constitutional court, President Sezer was a frequent critic of legal curbs on free speech and other anti- democratic practices which are among the main reasons cited by E-U governments for denying Turkey's membership request so far. In his speech, Mr. Sezer also stressed his commitment to the secular principles laid down by the founder of modern Turkey, Kemal Ataturk. He said Islam could not be mixed with politics. Mr. Sezer replaces Suleyman Demirel, a charismatic right-wing politician who served a record seven times as prime minister before being elected president in 1993. Mr. Demirel is widely credited with preventing a military takeover in 1997 by persuading Turkey's first Islamic government to step down of its own accord. Turkey's new president is 58 years old. He does not speak any foreign languages and has no experience either in domestic politics or foreign affairs. But analysts say that his untainted reputation and commitment to human rights should make him just as popular abroad as within Turkey itself. (Signed) NEB/AZ/JWH/ENE/KL 16-May-2000 13:25 PM EDT (16-May-2000 1725 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    /// Re-running w/correct number ///

    INTRO: The U-S central bank raised key interest rates by one half of one percent today, but the major stock averages moved upward in a so-called "relief rally". VOA's Joe Chapman reports from New York.

    TEXT: News of the interest rate increase by the central bank had little negative effect on the major stock averages with the Dow Jones Industrial Average moving up 127 points, more than one percent, to finish at 10-thousand-934. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite closed 110 points higher to three-thousand-3717 for a three percent gain. The Standard and Poor's 500 closed up 13 points to finish at one-thousand-466. The one-half percent increase in what are called the fed funds rate and the discount rate came as no surprise to Wall Street. Most analysts agreed investors had already factored in the increase. But the central bank contributed to some market nervousness by warning that it sees a risk of future inflation due to an imbalance of supply and demand. In particular, the central bank is known to be concerned about the tight U-S labor market.

    ///rest opt FOR LONG ///

    Donald Ratajczak, a prominent economic forecaster, says he expects the central bank -- known as the Fed - to keep a tight rein on both credit and money supply until it sees some signs of an easing in the labor markets and at least a bit of slowing in U-S economic growth. Donald Ratajczak

    /// Ratajczak Act///

    I think the fed is going to be doing more of both until it sees concrete evidence that labor demand is slowing down and so far there's no evidence whatsoever that labor demand is easing.

    ///end act///

    The U-S Labor Department reported that the consumer price index, one of the key measures of inflation, was flat during April in line with expectations. But other economic indicators suggest there is some upward pressure building on prices. (Signed) NEB/NY/JMC/LSF/ENE/PT 16-May-2000 18:31 PM EDT (16-May-2000 2231 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The editorial pages of Tuesday's U-S dailies have many comments on Sunday's so-called Million Mom March for stricter gun control laws. The biggest march took place in Washington, D-C, but there were similar pro-gun control marches in many other U-S cities. Most of the editorials are supportive, while a minority say the women are misguided. The big congressional vote on normalizing trade relations with China nears, and commentaries on it continue. Sierra Leone's civil war is also a popular topic, as is the new fighting in the Horn of Africa. Now, here is _________ with a closer look and some excerpts in today's Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: A massive demonstration on the Mall in Washington, D-C on Sunday drew hundreds of thousands of people seeking stricter gun control laws. Ohio's [Akron] Beacon Journal says supporters of strong gun- control laws could present a formidable challenge to the nation's gun lobby, but only if they display staying power. The paper writes that the marchers:

    VOICE: demonstrated the intensity of purpose most often brought to this discussion by the National Rifle Association and its supporters. Which prompts questions and comparisons: Will those who want to make communities safer be there tomorrow, lobbying Congress? (The N-R-A [National Rifle Association] will be.) ... The N-R-A is always there. ... To do so successfully ... mothers ... will have to ... make their voices heard with the same insistence of the N- R-A.

    TEXT: The San Francisco Chronicle, discussing the gun-control march that took place in that city, calls it "an extraordinary success," getting across the message that:

    VOICE: Enough is enough. Here in the Bay Area, 5- thousand people braved weather that alternated between drizzle to torrential rain to attend one of the most memorable peaceful protests in recent history. ... The image of Sunday's demonstrations will be a powerful reminder to all the politicians who have been waffling or scoffing on gun control.

    TEXT: On the other side of the debate, the Greensburg [Pennsylvania] Tribune Review quotes from American statesman Benjamin Franklin, as it laments the fact that the marchers are willing to give up a constitutionally guaranteed right to bear [fire] arms.

    VOICE: "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." The sentiments expressed by Mr. Franklin have survived for two-and-a-quarter centuries. They pay homage to this great republic's founding and to the bedrock constitutional principles that must be in place for our liberties to survive. ... We can ill afford to forget that it must be our laws that we use to protect us against those who might misuse weapons, not our liberties.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: And syndicated columnist Linda Bowles, writing in The [Oklahoma City] Oklahoman, says:

    VOICE: The numbers involved in the ... march were overstated and the cause for which the moms marched was overrated. Also, the event was overreported in that it had less to do with solving a problem than it had to do with advancing a political agenda. Fortunately, piling a few more gun laws onto the thousands that already exist is not a priority with most thinking Americans.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: And lastly in opposition, the New York Post points out that the woman organizing the march, Donna Dees-Thomases, a self-proclaimed "ordinary mom" who said she had previously not been politically active, was not telling the truth.

    VOICE: ... not only is she the sister-in-law of Susan Thomases, Hillary Clinton's close political adviser, but she also worked as an assistant press secretary to two Democratic senators from 1979 to 1983... The rally's message is contradicted by the fact that, despite the intense media coverage of tragedies like [school shootings in] Columbine [High School near Denver, Colorado,] and Jonesboro, [Arkansas] gun violence in America is down significantly in recent years. And this is so despite the fact that, under Clinton and Gore, prosecutions of gun-law offenders are virtually non-existent.

    TEXT: Internationally, the debate over normalizing China trade relations continues as the vote nears in Congress, the Grand Forks [North Dakota] Herald says normalizing trade would held Middle Western farmers.

    VOICE: One in every five people in the world lives in China. A bill now pending in Congress would permanently open up that one-point-two-billion-strong market to U-S goods. Talk about a no-brainer [Editors: slang for a very obvious decision]. And that's especially true where farm products are concerned. For this and many other reasons, North Dakota and Minnesota lawmakers should give the China trade bill an enthusiastic "yes."

    TEXT: Far to the south, a similar argument is put forth by the St. Petersburg [Florida] Times.

    VOICE: Free trade with China would bring profits to America's industries, including Florida's citrus, phosphate and high-tech businesses. ... Based purely on economics, Florida's congressional delegation has every reason to support the China trade bill.

    TEXT: Lastly on this, today's Philadelphia Inquirer headlines its commentary "Open Trade with China," adding: "In the long run, normalizing relations will improve the chances for democracy." And it opposes the idea of maintaining the yearly re-certification of China's trading status.

    TEXT: Regarding Sierra Leone's civil war, today's Trenton [New Jersey] Times says:

    VOICE: Sierra Leone has been one more textbook case of how the international community should not go about keeping the peace. The fact that the rebel Revolutionary United Front now has released some of the 500 United Nations soldiers it stripped of their weapons and took prisoner earlier this month does nothing to mitigate the disastrous lapses of judgment that got them into their fix in the first place.

    TEXT: The Washington Post agrees with the Trenton Times that making any kind of deal with rebel leader Foday Sankoh was and is ridiculous.

    VOICE: The RUF [Revolutionary United Front] is a criminal gang, soaked in the blood of thousands of civilians whose limbs have been hacked off or who have been killed outright by Mr. Sankoh's thugs. The U-S- U-N effort to restore the peace agreement that he has shredded would leave Sierra Leoneans at his mercy indefinitely. Instead, the United States, Britain, and the United nations should be encouraging and assisting Sierra Leoneans and their neighbors ... to take the fight to Mr. Sankoh and ensure that his bandits are eliminated as a viable fighting force. ...

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: Across the continent, new fighting between Ethiopia and Eritrea brings this comment from the New York Times.

    VOICE: The causes of the war resist rational explication. It is ostensibly a border dispute ... but [it]] ... has inflamed deeper issues of mistrust and nationalistic passions that have ruptured what was once an uneasy alliance between two guerrilla armies that fought side by side in Ethiopia to bring down the dictatorship of Mengistu Haile Mariam. ... The leaders of the two countries ... bear responsibility for perpetuating the war.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: A very large forest fire continues to burn in and around Los Alamos, New Mexico, after having destroyed more than 260 homes. Intentionally set by the U-S Park Service to burn dangerous, dry undergrowth to prevent a possible, and more dangerous, spontaneous fire, the government action is now being widely debated in the press. Says the Augusta Chronicle of the decision:

    VOICE: If the Park Service had listened to the weather forecasters in the first place, the blaze would have never been started. The service was warned in early May that it would be unwise to set a "controlled fire" at that time because of the dry conditions and high winds. ... The victims deserve ... full compensation. The government should be no less accountable for making destructive irresponsible decisions that a private firm would be.

    TEXT: Adds the San Francisco Chronicle:

    VOICE: Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt has properly promised that heads will roll [Editors: staff will be fired] if an inquiry finds blame for the grievous miscalculations. But he should not rule out controlled blazes. The reasons are plain as sunrise: Fire has a natural role in clearing out debris, enriching the soil and triggering seed dispersal.

    TEXT: On that note, we conclude this sampling of comment from the editorial columns of Tuesday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/KL 16-May-2000 12:29 PM EDT (16-May-2000 1629 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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