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Voice of America, 99-09-24

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

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





    INTRO: The World Bank Friday hosted a conference on rebuilding the Balkans, a follow-on meeting from July's summit in Sarajevo where a major aid program for the region was unveiled. V-O-A's Barry Wood reports.

    TEXT: Chris Patton the new European Union External Affairs commissioner hailed the Stability Pact for the region as a way of integrating the Balkans into the European economy. Development must take place throughout the region, he said, and not just in individual countries. The World Bank vice president for Europe, Johannes Linn, said that means Serbia must rebuild its economy. But he added that the World Bank and western donors are not prepared to assist Yugoslavia as long as Slobodan Milosevic remains in power. Rory O'Sullivan, the newly named World Bank special representative for Southeast Europe, said building trust among the region's rival ethnic groups is a critical goal. He said the absence of trust in Bosnia Herzegovina was sadly apparent when he recently said his farewells to rival political leaders after a nearly four year assignment in Sarajevo.

    //O'Sullivan act//

    This was a final, kind of tell the truth discussion taking place between me and them, and each one of them spent time telling me how dreadful the others were. It was quite sad, really. Because four years after the Dayton agreement, the relatively booming economy of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and here at the end of it all still an immense lack of trust one for the other.

    //end act//

    Another economist who spends time in the Balkans, Johns Hopkins University professor Steve Hanke, says there is no trust and no rule of law anywhere in the Balkans. Mr. Hanke, just back from Montenegro, says the West should do more to support Montenegro as it contemplates separation from Serbian dominated Yugoslavia.

    //Hanke act//

    I think to avoid bloodshed is to support the full independence of Montenegro if the people of Montenegro take that route. If this is not given to them, this means that Milosevic will really decide the fate of Montenegro. This is the fix the West has left the Montenegrins in.

    //end act//

    The European Union is committing about five billion dollars to Balkan reconstruction. Much of that will go to Kosovo but there are substantial aid programs in the works for Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Romania. Another aid donors conference will take place in Europe at the end of October. (signed)
    NEB/BDW/AG/PT 24-Sep-1999 17:25 PM LOC (24-Sep-1999 2125 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America


    VOICED AT: Intro: The Clinton Administration reiterated Friday it does not support full independence for Kosovo. The comments followed a news report that U-S officials increasingly see the secession of the territory from Yugoslavia as inevitable. VOA's David Gollust has more from the White House. Text: Administration officials say that while achieving the goal will be difficult, the United States continues to support political autonomy for Kosovo and not a formal separation of the mainly- Albanian province from the rest of Yugoslavia. The comments came in response to a Washington Post report from Kosovo which said that senior U-S officials had privately dropped their opposition to a complete split for the territory, and that the Administration increasingly sees that outcome as inevitable. Officials here reacted with unusual vehemence to the Post report, which they stressed also included a denial of any Kosovo policy change by President Clinton's national security adviser, Sandy Berger. White House spokesman Joe Lockhart castigated the newspaper for giving more prominence to quotes from unnamed officials than to those of Mr. Berger. He said the administration continues to support the international plan under which the NATO peacekeeping force in Kosovo would give way to a U-N civil administration and finally autonomy for the area:

    ///Lockhart actuality///

    No one is under any illusion that this is easy work. The difficulties in Kosovo and in the Balkans are legendary in their complicated nature and how hard it is. But we have a plan which is in place with the international community that is moving toward the ultimate goal of an autonomous self-governed Kosovo.

    ///end act///

    Earlier, in an N-B-C television network interview, the U-S ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke said that Serb authorities in Belgrade have - for the time being -- forfeited their right to have any say in the destiny of the people of Kosovo. Mr. Holbrooke said the final disposition of Kosovo would have to be worked out under United Nations auspices, though a State Department spokesman later said any suggestion the Administration has altered its policy on the future of Kosovo is, quote, wrong and incorrect. (Signed)
    NEB/DAG/AG/PT 24-Sep-1999 16:40 PM LOC (24-Sep-1999 2040 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Stock prices in the United States were down modestly today (Friday) in a volatile session. V-O-A Business Correspondent Breck Ardery reports from New York.

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 10- thousand-279, down 39 points. For the week, the Industrial Average lost 524 points, or five percent. The Standard and Poor's 500 index closed Friday at 12- hundred-77, down three points. The NASDAQ index lost three-tenths of one percent. Major stock averages were down all day but they recovered from session lows in the last hour of trading. Analysts say traders are still worried about the recent weakness in the U-S dollar, which could cause some international investors to withdraw from U-S financial markets. In addition, there is the continuing concern that the Federal Reserve Board - the U-S central bank - will raise interest rates early next month.

    /// REST OPT ///

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average has now declined about 10 percent from its August 25th high. But despite the recent turmoil in the U-S stock market, some analysts, such as Alan Ackerman of the Fahnestock investment company, remain optimistic for the longer term.

    /// ACKERMAN ACT ///

    I do look for a year-end rally once we get through the "Fed" meeting October 5th, and get the news on third-quarter earnings. But right now, we have a market that just does not seem to want to lift [rise], for lack of leadership and momentum.

    /// END ACT ///

    Technology stocks have been leading the market this year, and concern about over-valuation in that sector has brought prices down. There is also a fundamental reason why some technology stocks are weak. The recent earthquake in Taiwan has caused the shut-down of plants which supply microprocessors and other parts for U-S computer makers. Existing home sales in the United States fell in August, and analysts say higher mortgage interest rates are having an effect. The stock of the Allstate Insurance company fell more than 16 percent after it issued a profit warning. Allstate blames higher catastrophe losses connected with Hurricane Floyd. An insurance industry group estimates the hurricane has created a total liability of one-point-three-billion dollars for all U-S property and casualty insurers. The second- and third-largest long-distance telephone companies in the United States are rumored to be discussing a merger, but the companies have no comment. Analysts say a combination of M-C-I Worldcom and Sprint would be a powerful competitor to A-T-and-T, the industry leader. Rite Aid, the recently troubled U-S drug store chain, says it will cut 330 jobs in a cost-saving move. Rite Aid, which has fallen short of Wall Street profit expectations, is also being sued by the state of Florida for deceptive trade practices. In Britain, the Bank of Scotland has made a stunning 34-and-one-half-billion-dollar hostile takeover bid for the National Westminster Bank. If completed, it will be the largest domestic acquisition in British history. Despite the recent malaise in the U-S stock market, there is still an appetite for new issues of some internet-related companies. The stock of Interspeed began trading Friday, and immediately gained almost 70 percent. Interspeed products enable high-speed data transmission on existing copper wire connections. (Signed) NEB/NY/BA/LSF/WTW 24-Sep-1999 17:10 PM EDT (24-Sep-1999 2110 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Newspaper editorials in the United States are reacting with a variety of views to the U-S government lawsuit filed this week against American cigarette- makers. Other popular editorial topics this Friday include: the Taiwanese earthquake; a new probe into the loss of U-S nuclear secrets to China; Russian economic and corruption problems; President Clinton's veto of a tax cut; and the death of one of the great U-S actors of the 20th century, George C. Scott. Now, here is _____________ with a closer look and some excerpts in today's Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: The U-S government on Wednesday filed suit against the largest cigarette-makers in this country, seeking payment of billions of dollars the government has spent in health care for people allegedly sickened by smoking. Although cigarette smoking is widely and routinely criticized in the press, as are cigarette- makers, this lawsuit is not universally applauded. The Chicago Tribune feels it is the wrong way to go about fixing the problem.

    VOICE: Not only does this lawsuit . insult the intelligence of any thinking person, but it also continues the corruptive practice of using litigation to achieve ends that duly-elected lawmakers have declined to legislate. That is a dangerous road for a democratic policy to begin traveling.

    TEXT: The lawsuit is not very popular at Georgia's Atlanta Journal either.

    VOICE: [The Department of] Justice's claims are based on one law . designed to recover medical costs in isolated cases, and on federal racketeering statues. The first is merely a reach in legal terms. The second is almost a morbid joke. .. There is almost nothing honest about [President] Clinton's crusade against this industry and, more important, against the rule of law. . The hypocrisy of attacking a business while simultaneously depending on it for huge chunks of federal revenue is also blatant.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: In Ohio, after cataloguing the industry's sins, The Akron Beacon Journal admits that "this latest legal assault falls out of bounds."

    /// END OPT ///

    However, The Washington Post supports the action, explaining:

    VOICE: The . suit . offers a rare opportunity for a national accounting of the damage . the industry has done to the nation's health. Unlike the previous private class-actions and suits by the states, a suit by the federal government treats the problem of the multi-decade scheme by the companies to misrepresent the addictive qualities of nicotine and the adverse health consequences of smoking as a national one . It is . wrong for Congress to use the appropriations process to interfere with the suit.

    TEXT: In Maine, The Portland Press Herald is also pleased, noting:

    VOICE: Big tobacco has a long history of deceit. The tobacco industry knows it cannot defend itself against the gargantuan lawsuit . filed Wednesday, so it has resorted to one of its old tricks and set up a smokescreen. The industry . is claiming . the federal government has been complicit in encouraging people to smoke.

    TEXT: Turning to international news, there are more comments on the huge earthquake to hit Taiwan. The Houston (Texas) Chronicle notes that "Not even [the] earthquake has relieved China tensions," adding:

    VOICE: Not even the violent shaking of the Earth, however, can rattle the political wall that has hardened in recent months between the . People's Republic of China and . Taiwan. The quake gave the communist mainland government a chance to make a grand humanitarian gesture, and Chinese President Jiang Zemin offered sympathy .... But the gesture of some limited money and aid was mostly of a token nature and the goodwill seems to have been very mercurial and heavy on both sides with innuendo and political symbolism.

    TEXT: Taking a different approach, Ohio's Akron Beacon Journal reminds readers: "Building codes can save lives."

    VOICE: Taiwan's quake could have been more devastating. Its earthquake-readiness building standards were more strictly enforced than Turkey's. Hence, the Lego-like toppling of many buildings, instead of the collapse into dust that marked the earlier quake. That is an important reminder of tough code enforcement for American cities near seismic fault zones.

    TEXT: Domestically, the F-B-I is again investigating the loss of U-S nuclear weapons secrets to China from several U-S weapons laboratories, especially the Los Alamos (New Mexico) facility. It draws this comment from The San Francisco Chronicle.

    VOICE: The F-B-I's decision to reopen its choppy investigation of nuclear weapons security is cause for both relief and worry. The original inquiry produced one suspect, still not charged, and a heap of alarmist speculation that was hard to prove either way. . The F-B-I now has a chance to get it right.

    TEXT: The Los Angeles Times is even more critical, commenting under this lead headline: F-B-I's Bungled Spy Probe:

    VOICE: The wider inquiry . promised might produce something more definitive. /// OPT /// But if nothing further can be discovered linking Wen Ho Lee to spying, then this alleged prime suspect is due an apology and restitution. /// END OPT /// This spying inquiry seems to have been characterized more by zealotry than by rigor. That is no way to run a counter-espionage investigation.

    TEXT: As regards another investigation, this one into alleged money laundering in Russia, with a possible Bank of New York connection, The Omaha World Herald gives a Nebraska perspective, suggesting:

    VOICE: /// OPT /// Corruption and criminality have become so widespread in Russia that even level-headed observers of U-S foreign policy are saying it's time to halt U-S aid to that country. . One result of that corruption is a dramatic rise of Russian money laundering in U-S banks. New statues making such operations more difficult will surely win approval this year. /// END OPT /// . Maybe nothing can save Russia from itself. But the sooner it learns that foreign aid will no longer be available to buttress a corrupt system, the greater the possibility that the country will find leaders who will stand firm against criminality.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: Turning to a serious problem in this hemisphere, the drug trafficking and insurgency threatening Colombia, The San Jose [California] Mercury News thinks a requested huge U-S aid payment to Colombia is excessive.

    VOICE: Colombian President Andres Pastrana's . government is in its worst economic crisis since the Depression and mired in a civil war with drug-growing guerrillas. The currency is falling and unemployment has risen to almost 20 percent. [Mr.] Pastrana's desperately seeking three-point-five-billion dollars in international assistance. . Given that the lucrative U-S market for cocaine and heroin drives the Colombian sub-economy, it may not be a bad idea for this country to provide some economic assistance to deal with the troubles Americans help cause. Still, our hunch is that military aid could deepen the chaos.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: President Clinton's veto of the Republican tax cut bill draws an angry response from The Detroit News, which accuses the President of "Vetoing the American Dream."

    VOICE: President bill Clinton poured on the demagoguery in vetoing the tax cut bill.. Never mind that high taxes are wrecking the American family. The president and his liberal allies in Congress simply can't stand the idea that taxpayers should be allowed to share in the surplus.

    TEXT: There is a sorrowful note to many editorials this Friday, as papers around the nation begin to mourn the loss of film and stage actor George C. Scott, one of the most successful and dominant U-S actors of this century. The Record, in northern New Jersey, says of his most famous performance as General George S. Patton:

    VOICE: The image was electrifying: George C. Scott, at attention in jodhpurs and riding boots, topped by a tight-fitting, shiny military helmet, holding a riding crop, and standing in front of a massive backdrop of the Stars and Stripes. . Mr. Scott went onto win an Oscar for his portrayal of the fabled and flamboyant military leader. . Mr. Scott . performed notably in many memorable - and not so memorable - movies and plays. But he will forever be known as Patton.

    TEXT: And lastly, music from the very distant past catches the attention of the Boston Globe, as it writes:

    VOICE: The high, thin notes of a nine-thousand-year- old flute trill from the destop computer speaker - a Stone Age concert played for the information age. The recording can be heard on the Web site of the journal Nature . which this week published an article on what is believed to be the wold's oldest playable instrument at the Jiahu archeological dig in China's Henan province. .The music is eerie, breathy, thin, and seems to be traveling across millennia. Still, it resonates with the modern listener, for musical instruments, no matter how old, touch the soul. That is why they are made.

    TEXT: On that note, we conclude this sampling of comment from Friday's editorial pages of some U-S daily papers. NEB/ANG/rrm 24-Sep-1999 11:05 AM EDT (24-Sep-1999 1505 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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