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Voice of America, 00-03-02

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

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





    INTRO: President Clinton is defending administration plans - already under attack in Congress - to request an additional two-point-six billion dollars this year to support U-S peacekeeping operations in Kosovo. V-O- A's David Gollust reports from the White House.

    TEXT: The administration request - unveiled at an unusual late-Wednesday meeting with Senate leaders - touched off immediate criticism in Congress, where key Republicans said U-S allies should be under-writing a larger share of the Kosovo expenses. But in a talk with reporters here, Mr. Clinton defended the supplemental budget measure, saying the United States is paying for a "minority" of the cost of the NATO-led peacekeeping operation, and that it is worth the expense to prevent further strife in the Balkans.


    It would be a good thing if we can prove that we can end ethnic cleansing and slaughter in the Balkans, and nobody else has to be dragged back there to fight in another war.

    /// END ACT ///

    NATO -- which had been drawing down the Kosovo force K-FOR -- had to send additional troops there late last month after ethnic trouble erupted in the northern city of Mitrovica. About 53-hundred of the nearly 40-thousand soldiers in Kosovo are from the United States. (Signed) NEB/DAG/gm 02-Mar-2000 16:53 PM EDT (02-Mar-2000 2153 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Nearly one-year ago -- in the course of NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia -- alliance jets struck Kosovar-Albanian refugees who they were trying to save from Serbian persecution. The NATO pilots thought they were hitting a military target, but instead they killed 83 civilians by mistake. A year ago, V-O-A's Ron Pemstein reported on the bombing from NATO headquarters. This year, he visited the village of Korisha in southern Kosovo to see what has changed.

    TEXT: It is the weekend, but construction workers are busy rebuilding Korisha's primary school.

    /// SOUND - CEMENT MIXER ///

    They are mixing concrete.

    /// SOUND - HAMMERING ///

    And, they are hammering wooden beams into shape. Teacher Sefer Rehxa, speaking through an interpreter, says the reason for the rush is to get Korisha's school ready to receive 630-students.


    We have to work because the students are waiting for us, so we have to work hard.

    /// END ACT ///

    The German government and the European Union are financing the re-building of the school. This village in southern Kosovo gets this international attention - not because of its five-thousand-700 residents, but because of what happened on the night of April 14th of last year. NATO pilots followed what they thought was a Serbian military convoy that had been burning houses of Kosovo Albanians. Instead they hit the civilians. The Albanians' tractors and trucks had been forced off the main road into a parking lot on the edge of Korisha. At least 83 of the Albanians were killed, the highest civilian toll in one place during NATO's 78-days of bombing Yugoslavia. The parking lot still bears the scars of burning. Pieces of a tractor and a pair of children's shoes are the only other lasting evidence of what happened in this spot one-year ago. The bombing caused immediate confusion at NATO headquarters in Brussels. NATO issued a statement the next day saying - it appears that one of our aircraft mistakenly dropped a bomb on a civilian vehicle in a convoy yesterday. Other than blaming Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's policies for the mistake, NATO gave out no other information. Four days later, U-S Air Force General Daniel Leaf tried to give reporters in Brussels a better picture of what happened.

    /// LEAF ACT ///

    First, there were two separate incidents, separated geographically and in time. Second, we are now convinced that in the first incident, we struck a valid military target. It was a vehicle directly involved in the burning of homes. In the second incident, the one we have been referring to all along, there was a confused picture. We engaged a large convoy with a mixture of Serb military and civilian vehicles. In that second incident we may well have caused damage to a civilian vehicle and unintentional harm to civilian lives.

    /// END ACT ///

    Even this delayed statement by a NATO officer underplayed the extent of the damage and loss of life. The Kosovo Albanians believe the civilians were placed in this parking lot in a deliberate attempt by the Serbs to deceive the NATO pilots. The teacher, Mr. Rexha, says through an interpreter, there is no bitterness in this village toward NATO. He says it was all a trick by Serbian police.


    It is not the NATO's fault that they bombed the convoy in Korisha. They did not know about that, we admire what NATO did for us and we respect them.

    /// END ACT ///

    The village of Korisha suffered its own agony apart from the NATO bombing of the refugees parked next to the highway. Mr. Rexha says Serb paramilitary forces killed eight residents and burned down 148-houses in the village. This village located 12-kilometers north of Prizren is getting ready for spring planting one-year after the war. No seeds have been donated, but Mr. Rexha says residents here will manage through their own efforts. Nearby warehouses are well supplied with concrete produced in Kosovo, and bricks and lumber brought in from neighboring Macedonia. The prices are high, but warehouse managers are confident people whose houses were burned will get assistance funds from abroad to buy their supplies. By May, Korisha's 630-students will have a re-built school to attend -- just in time for their summer vacation. (SIGNED)
    NEB/RDP/JWH/RAE 02-Mar-2000 10:39 AM EDT (02-Mar-2000 1539 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Rising tensions between Serbs and ethnic Albanians living in southern Serbia are alarming U-N officials. Lisa Schlein in Geneva reports the U-N refugee agency says more people are fleeing into Kosovo to escape increased harassment.

    TEXT: The U-N-H-C-R says ethnic tensions are rising in Serbia's Presevo area, just outside of Kosovo. It reports an increasing number of ethnic Albanians are arriving at its office in the Kosovo town of Gnjilane asking for help. U-N spokesman, Ron Redmond, says there have been repeated attacks on various minorities in Kosovo during the past few weeks. He says the violence appears to have spread to southern Serbia as well.

    /// REDMOND ACT ///

    Minority Albanians living in Serbia are now reporting increasing harassment, and in some cases there have been beatings reported. People are reported being forced out of their homes, there is an increasing Serb military presence and police in that region of southern Serbia adjacent to Kosovo.

    /// END ACT ///

    Between 60-thousand and 70-thousand ethnic Albanians live in southern Serbia. The U-N Refugee Agency believes about six-thousand Albanians from that region have fled into Kosovo since last June. The Agency says the influx into Kosovo slowed for a time. But, appears to be picking up again. Mr. Redmond says more than 100 ethnic Albanians registered with the U-N-H-C-R during the past week. But he says he believes many more people than that have gone directly to the capital, Pristina. He says the agency thinks there may be a link between the increasing harassment of Albanians in southern Serbia and recent ethnic unrest in the northern Kosovo city of Mitrovica.

    /// 2ND REDMOND ACT ///

    That is one of our concerns, that it is coming on the heels of recent disturbances in Mitrovica, and it may be no accident that the Albanian minority in southern Serbia is feeling under increasing pressure.

    /// END ACT ///

    The U-N Refugee Agency is calling for Western governments to pressure Albanian and Serbian leaders to put an end to the cycle of violence and revenge attacks. It is also urging U-N peacekeepers to take more robust action to prevent further violent flareups. (SIGNED)
    NEB/LS/GE/RAE 02-Mar-2000 09:43 AM EDT (02-Mar-2000 1443 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is traveling to Lisbon, Portugal, today (EDS: departure at 3 pm EST) where she will meet with European Union officials and hold talks with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. V-O-A's Kyle King has this report.

    TEXT: The secretary's meetings with the Russian foreign minister are expected to focus on the situation in Chechnya and ongoing arms talks between the two countries. The United States has been demanding a Russian investigation into reports of human rights abuses in Chechnya. On the subject of arms control, Russia has been resisting U-S proposals for amendments to the Anti- Ballistic Missile Treaty that would allow the United States to build a missile defense system. Ms. Albright will also be taking part in the U-S / European Union foreign ministers meeting during her visit to Lisbon. On Sunday, the Secretary will travel to Prague, where she will hold talks with President Vaclav Havel and take part in celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of the first Czech president. Ms. Albright, who was born in Czechoslovakia, said Wednesday that she is flattered by suggestions she run for the Czech presidency, but her spokesman says she is not considering the idea. Next week, the secretary will make a stop in Sarajevo to review the implementation of the Bosnian peace agreement. Municipal elections in Bosnia are scheduled for next month, and officials are hoping the defeat of nationalists in Croatia will encourage voters to choose less hard-line candidates in Bosnia. Ms. Albright returns to Washington March 11th, following two days of talks in Brussels. (signed)
    NEB/KBK/JP 02-Mar-2000 12:09 PM EDT (02-Mar-2000 1709 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: U-S stock prices were mixed in lackluster trading today (Thursday), as Wall Street waits for a key inflation report. V-O-A correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York:

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average went up 26 points, two-tenths of one percent, to 10-thousand-164. The Standard and Poor's 500 index gained two points. The Nasdaq composite dropped six-tenths of one percent, as investors took profits from this week's run-up in technology stocks. Trading was cautious on the eve of a U-S jobs report due on Friday. Wall Street keeps a close eye on that data. So does the Federal Reserve Board (central bank), which meets this month to consider raising interest rates. The latest on the U-S economy shows its record expansion will likely continue for the foreseeable future. The leading economic indicators are all pointing up. Interest rate concerns apparently did not dampen the U-S consumer's zest for shopping. Retailers report sales last month were in line with, or better than, expectations.

    /// REST OPT ///

    Sales of new homes in the United States dropped over four percent in January to their lowest level in four months, adjusting the annual rate to about 890- thousand homes. Higher interest rates are said to have made a difference for homebuyers. Analyst Joseph Lavorgny does not characterize the decline as a soft spot in the U-S economy, which he expects, anyway, to slow to about a four percent growth rate in the current quarter:

    /// LAVORGNY ACT ///

    Even with home sales, anything north of (above) 700-thousand is consistent with G-D-P (Gross Domestic Product) growth around four percent. So while you're down from the peak, you're still very, very strong. And again, soft is just relative -- from booming to almost booming.

    /// END ACT ///

    In more market news, shares of Palm, the leader in the hand-held computer market, surged on Wall Street one day after its initial public offering. A spin-off from the Three-Com Corporation, Palm shot up nearly 300 percent on its first day of trading before cutting its gains in half. Analysts say it is the latest example of the public's enthusiasm for wireless and Internet technology. (signed) NEB/NY/EJ/LSF/JP 02-Mar-2000 16:37 PM EDT (02-Mar-2000 2137 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The shooting death of a six-year-old girl in a Michigan elementary school, shot by a six-year-old classmate, is filling the nation's editorial pages with comment. A close second for attention is the nation's increasingly intense presidential primary race, as voters prepare for next week's Super Tuesday contests in several states. Other commentaries take on the issues of a new director for the International Monetary Fund; the latest political developments in Austria; and the debate over more anti-drug and insurgency aid for Colombia. Now, here with a closer look and some quotes is _________ and today's Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: A little boy, from a home where illegal drugs were sold and loaded guns were left out, shot a classmate in the neck Tuesday in a suburb of Flint, Michigan. She died half-an-hour later, and the nation is joining editorial writers in reflection and recrimination. Wednesday's "Flint Journal", pleading for sympathy and calmness in the community, said in part:

    VOICE: Kayla ... Rolland went to school Tuesday to learn from her teacher, to play with her friends, to have another day of happy childhood on her way to an adulthood of unknowable accomplishments. ... The age of the boy who shot her, also six, has compounded the tragedy. It has made us feel bewildered, helpless and angry that a child so young could do such a thing, let alone have access to a deadly weapon.

    TEXT: Today's "New York Times" included a second shooting incident in its lamentations about the on- going gun violence plaguing the nation.

    VOICE: It just keeps getting more senseless. On Tuesday a first grader in Michigan shot and killed a ... classmate. [Tuesday] an adult gunman in Pennsylvania shot a worker at his apartment building, then fired on customers at two fast-food restaurants, killing two people and wounding three. ...These new eruptions of violence, coming just a day apart, only confirm the urgency of solving the nation's gun problem.

    /// OPT ///

    ... The need for stronger gun control laws has never been plainer. /// END OPT

    TEXT: In South Carolina, Charleston's "Post and Courier" adds:

    VOICE: Concurrent waves of horror and disbelief engulf the nation's collective soul. ... This random act of murderous schoolhouse madness, in and of itself, should not be viewed as an indictment of modern American society. But what about the ominous pattern of school shootings over the past few years? Is something fundamentally wrong - - perhaps something that defies any corrective measures of government? ... comforting answers are elusive.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: Looking beyond the immediate problem of loaded guns so easily accessible to children, today's "Hartford [Connecticut] Courant" acknowledges:

    VOICE: ... the tragedies that visited Michigan and Pennsylvania this week should force all Americans to think beyond the destructive prevalence of guns. The terrible features of such crimes include illegal drugs, emotionally abandoned children, the absence of healthy family values - as well as guns.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Turning to U-S presidential politics, several papers are commenting on Texas Governor George W. Bush's wins in the Virginia and Washington State primaries and the North Dakota this week, and the fading campaigns of Arizona Senator John McCain and Democrat Bill Bradley. Today's "Providence [Rhode Island] Journal" says despite the victories, the picture is still mixed.

    VOICE: What all this means in the long run, nobody can say. Six-months ago, George Bush was said to be the stronger candidate against Al Gore; now he is perceived to be the weaker. Next month, who knows? Governor Bush has been castigated in the press for appealing to the right in South Carolina, but he clearly felt he was doing what any G-O-P candidate should do: solidifying his base, and inducing his foe to veer leftward.

    TEXT: In Georgia, "The Augusta Chronicle" says:

    VOICE: John McCain's campaign . has grown desperate when he lambasted Pat Robertson and the Reverend Jerry Falwell on the eve of the Virginia and Washington primaries. ... Many religious voters realized that [Mr.] McCain was doing what Democrats often do: Using the Robertson and Falwell names as a metaphor to put down a segment of the voting public that is largely fundamentalist or evangelical in their Christian views - and militantly pro-life.

    TEXT: "The Dallas Morning News" feels that [Senator] McCain's calculated criticism may backfire, while today's "San Francisco Chronicle" is endorsing him and Bill Bradley in next Tuesday's primary, part of the Super-Tuesday elections in a dozen states. Turning to international topics, the question of a new director for the International Monetary Fund intrigues "The Washington Post", which laments a current stalemate in the selection process, and assesses the men and their chances.

    VOICE: For varying reasons, none of the candidates proposed so far is ideal. Caio Koch- Weser, the official European candidate, is regarded by many within the I-M-F as insubstantial, and the Clinton administration's justified opposition to him is a severe handicap. Eisuke Sakakibara, the Japanese entrant, is clever, but his record as a booster of Japanese-style capitalism suggests wayward judgment. San Fischer, who is supported by several developing countries, is highly regarded as the I-M-F'' number two and de facto policy chief ... But his American nationality would complicate the diplomatic task ahead of him...

    TEXT: As regards this week's resignation of Joerg Haider from the leadership of his far right, Freedom Party in Austria, today's "Portland [Maine] Press Herald" suggests his party - still bears watching.

    VOICE: Joerg Haider's resignation ... demonstrates the nonviolent power of international approbation, but it remains to be seen whether Austrian far-right extremists really get the message. ... The E-U [European Union] should continue to monitor developments in Austria and make sure that [Mr.] Haider's resignation signals a real change in the Freedom Party's direction. People come and go; it is the institutionalized intolerance that must be reformed.

    TEXT: The debate over whether the United States should contribute additional millions of dollars in aid to Colombia to help that nation fight both insurgency and narcotics-trafficking continues. "The Providence [Rhode Island] Journal" suggests passage with some changes.

    VOICE: The Clinton administration is asking congress to approve a one-point-six billion- dollar package of military and economic aid for Colombia, the main center of the drug trade aimed at the United States. It is expected [to take] ... months to go through the legislative mills. But in the end, it undoubtedly will - - and should - - pass, although not necessarily in the precise form advocated by the White House. ... Colombia needs our help, and it is only fair that we provide it, since most of the drugs originating there are eventually used here.

    TEXT: "The Houston Chronicle" is upset at the slow pace of international help for the southern African nation of Mozambique devastated by floods.

    VOICE: Hundreds of people have lost their lives, hundreds more have been rescued after the rains of Cyclone Eline pounded the country, and the waters are expected to rise further. A pitiable shortage of rescue helicopters has served to dramatize the tragedy. ... The need for help from the international community is obvious while the inundation is taking place. When the waters recede, the need for seed, equipment and assistance to take advantage of Mozambique's brief planting season will be important if the world does not want to witness an even greater tragedy come next harvest season.

    TEXT: Lastly, "The Washington Times" salutes the latest Papal visit, a historic journey to Egypt.

    VOICE: Pope John Paul the Second has never been one to care about taboos. So it was not surprising when he put almost a millennium of division behind him last week by making the first visit ever by a Roman Catholic pope to Egypt and meeting with Pope Shenouda the Third - the highest Egyptian Christian figure for the Coptic Orthodox church. ...In his own non- aggressive way, the pope has brought to Egypt a spotlight on religious reconciliation.

    TEXT: On that note we conclude this sampling of comment from the editorial columns of Thursday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/RAE 02-Mar-2000 11:11 AM EDT (02-Mar-2000 1611 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Britain has decided to let former Chilean leader Augusto Pinochet go home on the grounds he is medically unfit to stand trial. Spain had requested his extradition to face charges of crimes against humanity. V-O-A Correspondent Laurie Kassman in London reports the former general is expected to leave for home as soon as possible.

    TEXT: The ruling says Britain will not continue with the extradition proceedings against the former Chilean leader. That means General Pinochet is free to leave the country, barring any legal challenges. Home Secretary Jack Straw's announcement that he would release Augusto Pinochet came just a few minutes past eight in the morning. Spanish lawyers faxed an appeal to stop General Pinochet's departure, but the Spanish government says it will respect Britain's decision. Last month, Home Secretary Straw had said he was inclined to release General Pinochet on the grounds he was medically not fit to stand trial after suffering two strokes. That decision was challenged by Belgium, France, Switzerland, and the Spanish lawyers seeking to prosecute Mr. Pinochet. But Mr. Straw has decided to uphold his earlier ruling and says criticism of the medical findings is irrelevant. Pinochet supporters already are celebrating in Chile but human rights activists like Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth are disappointed for victims of human rights abuses. But, Mr. Roth stresses that the case has set an important principle that former dictators can be prosecuted for crimes against humanity.

    /// ROTH ACT ///

    We are clearly disappointed because you have to think of this from the perspective of victims who may have themselves been tortured or seen their family members picked up in the middle of the night, disappeared, and never to be seen again. These people justifiably want justice and want justice from this man Pinochet. But that said, we still have established the important precedent and that precedent still lives on.

    /// END ACT ///

    Chilean General Pinochet has been under house detention in a London suburb since his arrest in October of 1998, after a Spanish judge requested his extradition. The judge wanted the former Chilean ruler to stand trial for crimes against humanity during his 17-year rule. But now Mr. Pinochet is free to go home. (Signed)
    NEB/LMK/JWH 02-Mar-2000 05:04 AM EDT (02-Mar-2000 1004 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Britain's top law official has ruled that former Chilean ruler Augusto Pinochet should not be extradited to Spain because he is not medically fit to stand trial. Spanish lawyers wanted to prosecute the general for crimes against humanity. V-O-A Correspondent Laurie Kassman reports on the mixed reactions in London.

    TEXT: The announcement sparked celebrations among Pinochet supporters in Chile. But human rights activists in London express disappointment on behalf of thousands of victims of human rights abuses during Mr Pinochet's 17-year-rule in Chile. Still, Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch says the extradition case has set an important precedent for other legal battles.

    /// ROTH ACT ///

    We've seen just in the last month a decision in Senegal to prosecute the former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre, very self-consciously applying the Pinochet principle. We've seen in Chile while Pinochet's crimes have been swept under the rug for decades, suddenly there are many judicial cases against not only Pinochet but his associates. And these atrocities are coming back to life and being examined. And for the first time, I think it's possible to say that democracy and the rule of law has arrived in Chile.

    /// END ACT ///

    General Pinochet was arrested in London in October of 1998 after a Spanish judge requested his extradition to face charges of crimes against humanity. The extradition case sparked protests from Chile's government. British relations with Santiago soured temporarily after Chile imposed economic and diplomatic sanctions that were later lifted. Now that a decision has been made on the extradition case, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook says he expects relations with Chile to improve. He says he will be in touch with Chile's foreign minister to discuss the latest developments.

    /// COOK ACT ///

    We have had a good open dialogue and throughout this we have remained resolved that relations between our two countries will remain strong.

    /// END ACT ///

    Human rights activists in London now expect legal actions will proceed against General Pinochet back home in Chile. But that may be complicated by his immunity from criminal prosecution as a senator for life. (Signed)
    NEB/LMK/JWH 02-Mar-2000 06:23 AM EDT (02-Mar-2000 1123 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America
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