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Voice of America, 00-05-03

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

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





    INTRO: NATO's new military commander says he will work hard to repair relations with Moscow that were badly strained by disagreements over Kosovo. U-S Air Force General Joseph Ralston took command of the alliance's powerful forces in a ceremony Wednesday in Mons, Belgium. V-O-A's Jim Randle reports.

    TEXT: Last year, forces from most of NATO's 19 nations launched hundreds of planes and missiles to pound Serb targets all across Yugoslavia. It took 78 days and nights of bombing, but they eventually forced Serb-led troops and police to stop a bloody campaign of repression, arson and killing in Kosovo and leave the province. The NATO air campaign came over loud protests from Moscow, which has close cultural and religious links with the Serbs and is a traditional ally. Angry Russian leaders froze relations with NATO, cutting off cooperation on many military issues. Four-star General Joseph Ralston says new people in key places in both the alliance and Moscow might be able to repair the badly strained relations.


    I think we have an opportunity to see what we can do with our relationship with the Russians, and with the Russian military. I think that's going to be key to where NATO goes in the future. And perhaps we have a window of opportunity with (Russian) President (Vladimir) Putin taking over. I look forward to meeting with my Russian military counterparts, and seeing what we can do to build a better foundation for our relations.

    /// END ACTUALITY ///

    Speaking to reporters on a flight to Europe, General Ralston said U-S critics of NATO's current peacekeeping operations in Kosovo need to be more patient. Members of the U-S Congress complain about the costs and perceived futility of keeping thousands of U-S troops in Kosovo, trying to prevent violence sparked by ethnic tensions that have been festering for centuries. But General Ralston says a four-year peacekeeping operation in neighboring Bosnia is beginning to show results -- even though two-thirds of the initial 60 thousand-member force have gone home.


    That's progress on the military side and it's progress when you look around Bosnia and you see how people are having a much more normal life than they had four years ago. We sometimes miss how much progress we have made in Bosnia, somehow. Kosovo is a different situation but we are very early into the game because it hasn't been a year yet.

    /// END ACTUALITY ///

    General Ralston is a fighter pilot who flew 147 missions during the Vietnam War. He taught other pilots the difficult and dangerous task of hunting down and attacking North Vietnamese anti-aircraft defenses. Since then, he has commanded larger and larger combat units and taken on Air Force-wide management jobs. Before taking over the NATO command, General Ralston was the second highest-ranking officer in the U-S military. General Ralston took command of all U-S forces in Europe on Tuesday in a ceremony in Stuttgart, Germany. It is an additional job traditionally held by NATO's top officer. He replaces U-S Army General Wesley Clark -- a Rhodes Scholar who was decorated for valor in Vietnam and who is credited with helping negotiate the Dayton Peace Accords that stopped the fighting in Bosnia. (SIGNED)
    NEB/JR/JP/WD 03-May-2000 05:43 AM EDT (03-May-2000 0943 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The London and Frankfurt stock markets have confirmed that they will merge, creating the world's second-largest stock market, after New York. Together, the London Stock Exchange and Germany's Deutsche Boerse will be called I-X, standing for International Exchanges, and will be equally owned by both partners. As Lourdes Navarro reports from London, the exchanges also confirmed plans to join forces with the U-S NASDAQ exchange in a joint venture involving high-tech stocks.

    TEXT: The new entity will be headquartered in London where shares in more traditional companies will be traded. High-tech firms will be traded in Frankfurt. Both parts of the exchanges will use Frankfurt's advanced electronic trading system. The new chairman of the I-X, Don Crushank, told British radio (B-B-C) that the merger will rival the recently formed Paris-Brussels-Amsterdam exchange and will help their European customers.

    /// ACT CRUSHANK ///

    There is a demand for rationalization of trading securities across Europe at a lower price and this move not only merges with Frankfurt, but the joint venture with NASDAQ is designed to serve all our customers. And it will also have the effect of improving the efficiency of European capital markets, which will help all the economies of Europe.

    /// END ACT ///

    The new exchange will be headed by current head of the Frankfurt exchange, Werner Seifert, and will be begin operating later this year. The Anglo-German agreement also includes a joint venture with the European subsidy of the technology heavy U-S market, the NASDAQ. Analysts say that pressure on Europe's national stock markets to consolidate has intensified due to increased competition from U-S markets and the introduction of the European single currency, the euro. Last month, stock markets in Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam merged. They, along with the stock exchanges in Milan and Madrid, have been invited to start merger negotiations with the newly formed I-X. For the moment, the new exchange will allow companies to be quoted in either euro's or British pound sterling, because the United Kingdom has yet to join the single currency. But, Mr. Crushank says that the day may not be far off when all the companies will be quoted in the European currency.

    /// ACT CRUSHANK 2 ///

    If a company wishes to be quoted in euro's then our systems will support that, if it wishes to be sterling then our systems will support that. One can imagine in the very long term that there might be consultation on whether the euro becomes standard.

    /// END ACT ///

    Analysts say quoting British stocks in euros as well as pounds will make them more appealing to European investors. But it may have the effect of pushing a reluctant Britain even closer to joining the ailing single European currency. (SIGNED)
    NEB/LN/GE/RAE 03-May-2000 10:45 AM EDT (03-May-2000 1445 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: London will be getting its first-ever directly elected mayor when residents of the British capital go to the polls Thursday. The person elected London mayor will have the biggest personal mandate of any politician in Britain, with responsibility over the capital's transport, economic development, planning, and culture. Lourdes Navarro in London takes a look at the issues and the personalities surrounding the race for what has been dubbed "the second most important job in British politics."



    A busy road in central London. Eight-million people live and work in this bustling city -- one of Europe's largest. But, since 1986, when then Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher abolished the Greater London Council, or G-L-C, London has not had any single person or group overseeing its affairs. Instead the capital is divided into 32 boroughs, each of which control many of its own area's issues. Critics of the system, who include many disgruntled Londoners, say that they are glad the time has come to have someone represent the city.


    It needs someone overall controlling but I think more of a businessman than a politician, 'cause London is big business it generates a lot of income, a lot of money. Well for the transport, it definitely needs sorting out. If someone in office can just concentrate on issues of London to make it work better, basically.

    /// END ACTS ///

    The idea to grant Londoners a mayor is part of British Prime Minister Tony Blair's project known as devolution. The central government is slowly giving up power and granting greater autonomy to other regions -- so far, notably Scotland, Wales, and briefly Northern Ireland. For the first time in their history, Londoners will get to choose by popular vote a leader for their city. But this race has turned into a political nightmare for Prime Minister Blair because of one man -- Ken Livingstone. Mr. Livingstone was the head of the old leftist- controlled G-L-C that was abolished by Margaret Thatcher. Also know as `Red Ken' for actions during that time, Mr. Livingstone was the popular candidate for the Labour Party nomination for London mayor. The only problem was that Labour's leadership, most vocally Mr. Blair himself, did not want him for the job. Mr. Livingstone then decided to run as an independent and was thrown out of the Labour party. Of the 11 candidates running, he is now the favorite, with polls showing him getting about 51 percent of the vote. London School of Economics professor Patrick Dunleavy says the Labour party's official candidate, former British Health Secretary Frank Dobson, has very little hope of winning, and this will be a major embarrassment for Mr. Blair.

    /// DUNLEAVY ACT ONE ///

    Tony Blair has committed himself to a candidate for the Labour party who is not going to do very well. If Ken Livingstone wins as the current opinion polls suggest, then there will be an acute problem inside the Labour party. And people will hold the prime minister personally responsible for getting the party into a rather difficult position where an overwhelmingly popular candidate is not selected and then goes on to win the election and is expelled from the Labour party.

    /// END ACT ///

    But the path for the Conservative Party has also not been smooth. The leading Conservative candidate, millionaire novelist Jeffery Archer, withdrew in disgrace after he was shown to have perjured himself in court. The current Conservative candidate, Steven Norris, is running in the opinion polls at only 17 percent. Professor Dunleavy says that all the drama and confusion has been caused because in Britain, party bosses usually control the nominations. Quite simply, the British are not used to the politics of personality.

    /// DUNLEAVY ACT TWO ///

    The London mayor is a direct import from America. And also we have imported the separation of powers from America. So certainly, the London mayor will be the first directly elected presidential type of person ever in British politics.

    /// END ACT ///

    The challenges for the mayor are big. And the director of a London research group, Tony Travers, says this experiment with American style democracy will stand or fall on how successful the new mayor is.

    /// TRAVERS ACT ///

    The mayor will live or die by how things run in London. There are two giant institutions in London. The London transport system and the metropolitan police which are not particularly performing at top- notch volume.

    ///END ACT///

    Also up for election Thursday are 25 council members who will act as a mini-parliament to the mayor's office. But analysts say that now that the Labour has effectively lost the London mayoral race, the government will be keeping a close eye on local elections taking place all over the country on Thursday as well. With more than one-third of local council seats up for election, analysts say that the Labour government has much more to lose than London.
    NEB/LN/JWH 03-May-2000 06:37 AM EDT (03-May-2000 1037 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Concerns about the U-S economy and higher interest rates triggered a sell-off on Wall Street today (Wednesday). Stock prices fell across-the- board. VOA correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York

    TEXT: All three major indexes gave up more than two percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 250 points, closing at 10-thousand-480. The Standard and Poor's 500 index closed 31 points lower. And the Nasdaq composite dropped 78 points. Shares of A-T and T hit another 52-week low. A-T and T stock fell sharply Tuesday after the U-S long- distance phone company projected lower earnings for this year. Shares of leading retailer Wal-Mart, another Dow component, traded lower, after a major investment firm lowered its ratings on more than a dozen U-S retailers, saying it expects consumer spending to slow down in the second half of the year. However, new factory orders in March rose more-than- expected - a sign that the U-S economy is still growing, despite five interest rate hikes since last June.

    ///REST OPT for long///

    Analyst Mark Bronzo says investors, basically, are anxious about the economy that, so far, is resisting efforts to cool it down:

    ///BRONZO ACT///

    I think when we came into this year people felt that by now you'd see the economy beginning to slow down. We haven't seen those signs yet. And I think people are getting nervous that the "Fed" is going to need to tighten more than originally anticipated. And, of course, that's not a good thing for the market.

    ///END ACT///

    On Friday, new data will come out on jobs and wages. The Federal Reserve Board - the U-S central bank - monitors this information closely to gauge inflationary pressures in the economy. Market-watcher Ed Lavarnway believes those pressures are already there:


    We've seen in the latest few releases evidence of inflation leeching out from just energy into other parts of the economy. So, average hourly earnings, in particular, will be a sensitive statistic.

    ///END ACT///

    In other news, leading soft-drink maker Coca-Cola is entering the world of cyberspace. Coke has signed a multiyear agreement with America Online to market its products on the Internet. A-O-L has been eager to align itself with traditional off-line names. It already has a marketing alliance with retailers Sears Roebuck and Wal-Mart, and with auto-maker General Motors. Outside of its normal trading activity, Wall Street was watching closely a huge development in overseas markets. Europe's two largest stock exchanges - London and Frankfurt - have announced a merger, and a link next year with the U-S Nasdaq market. This will give investors the opportunity to trade by industry rather than by country. Investing will be easier and, presumably, cheaper. (Signed) NEB/NY/EJ/LSF/PT 03-May-2000 16:44 PM EDT (03-May-2000 2044 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Newspapers around the world are honoring their fallen comrades on World Press Freedom Day. In the Washington, D-C suburb of Arlington, Virginia, the names of 40 journalists killed last year will be added to a Freedom Forum Memorial. The editorial columns of several newspapers are also calling attention to the ultimate sacrifice many journalists make to keep the people informed. Other topics under discussion include a view of Vietnam, 25-years after the end of the war; The struggle to revive the Northern Ireland peace process; the confrontation on the Caribbean island of Vieques; Mexico's presidential election; and a comparison of three world leaders allegedly masquerading as democrats. Now, here is __________ with a closer look and some quotes in today's U-S Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: The Fort Worth [Texas] Star-Telegram reminds its readers, that while the job of a reporter in this country can be difficult, in many other nations it can be lethal.

    VOICE: The daily grind of the American journalist ... is not always a picnic ... although newspeople working in the States rarely have to worry about dying in the course of covering a story. Forty journalists were killed worldwide in 1999 while doing their jobs. Their names will be added today to the ... Memorial in Virginia, a somber tribute to the 13-hundred-69 reporters, editors, photographers and broadcasters killed from 1812 through 1999 in pursuit of the truth.

    TEXT: The Chicago Tribune singles out some of the worst offending nations for treatment of journalists.

    VOICE: Sierra Leone stood apart for the murder of 10-journalists there, more than any other country, while China distinguished itself by becoming the world's largest jailer of reporters. At the start of this year, 18 Chinese journalists were behind bars, of whom six were convicted because of their use of the Internet.

    TEXT: And in Georgia, The Augusta Chronicle selects a few of the journalistic martyrs to personalize their lives.

    VOICE: Jaime Garzon, shot down amid a fusillade of bullets while driving to his Bogota, Colombia, radio station. Ahmet Taner Kisali, killed in front of his Ankara, Turkey, home by a bomb planted by Moslem fanatics. Slavko Curuvija, shot 17-times outside his Belgrade, Yugoslavia, apartment. These three crusading journalists were among [those] killed around the world last year in the line of duty. ... Freedom-loving people everywhere must never forget these martyrs. ... This newspaper is proud to join ... in recognizing the many human sacrifices made in the worldwide struggle for press freedom.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: Closing out the remembrances, today's Detroit Free Press laments that only about 30 countries in the world, home to fewer than one-billion of the world's people, boast a truly free press.

    /// END OPT ///

    One country where the press is by no means free is Vietnam, and a quarter century after the war with the United States, The Washington Post reminisces.

    VOICE: The communist victory in Vietnam ... brought the usual Communist political brutality. Thousands of political "enemies" were killed; many more `boat people" died trying to flee by sea. Tens-of-thousands were herded into "reeducation" camps. Today Vietnam is attempting to rejoin the world economy, and the worst of the postwar human-rights abuses have ended. .... Yet Vietnam remains a one-party state whose leaders seem hesitant about how far they want economic reform to go; rampant corruption retards foreign investment, and a key trade agreement with the United States remains in limbo pending Hanoi's approval.

    TEXT: On the other side of the world, the struggle to re-start the peace process in Northern Ireland draws this comment from today's Washington Times.

    VOICE: It has been more than a month since Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble spoke at the national Press Club...on St. Patrick's Day, once again pushing his message of peace in an atmosphere where neither the Roman Catholic Sinn Fein nor Protestant hard-liners within his own party were willing to compromise. But he has not given up on the Good Friday accords that set up a power-sharing government. The people of Northern Ireland, who voted to approve the accords, should not be ready to forget the peace process either. ... Sectarian violence must not be considered a plausible alternative to peace.

    TEXT: In the Caribbean, off Puerto Rico, a confrontation continues between federal agents and Puerto Rican protestors over a U-S Naval aviation bombing range on Vieques Island. The Miami Herald sympathizes with the protesters, noting "The Navy would not conduct such exercises on the Florida Keys or Martha's Vineyard." However, The Herald adds:

    VOICE: ... a deal is a deal. And the one agreed to by the U-S and Puerto Rican governments in January stipulated that the Navy could resume limited training on its Vieques range this month, while Vieques residents would vote to decide if the Navy could stay or leave after 2003. The compromise was reasonable, and both governments must deliver. That means that protesters trying to stop the Navy from resuming its training must leave Navy property, we hope peacefully.

    TEXT: In Mexico, where the presidential race is the freest ever, and the opposition PAN party's candidate Vicente Fox is doing well, the forth Worth Star- Telegram feels he won the country's first televised debate.

    VOICE: [Mr.] Fox scored a resounding victory. ... [accomplishing] what many thought to be an insurmountable feat. He distinguished himself in a crowded six-man format. ... the English- speaking, cowboy-boot-wearing candidate, is surging, and ... threatens to turn over not only Mexican presidential politics but decades of P- R-I rule as well.

    TEXT: Half a world away, an on-going conflict sees black, Zimbabwean squatters, with President Robert Mugabe's approval, occupying the nation's large, white-owned commercial farms. The Milwaukee [Wisconsin] Journal Sentinel sees it as a crisis.

    VOICE: For years, [President] Mugabe realized that racial peace and economic prosperity in Zimbabwe required the cooperation of all its citizens, black and white. That is why he sought to help, not demonize, the country's agricultural leaders. Now, he has sided with the farmers' adversaries, probably to distract political attention from Zimbabwe's numerous economic woes. ...South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu says [Mr.] Mugabe has become "a caricature of all the things people think black leaders do. He seems to be wanting to make a cartoon of himself." In fact, Zimbabwe is not becoming a cartoon, but a disaster.

    TEXT: Boston's Christian Science Monitor criticizes Mr. Mugabe, Peru's Roberto Fujimori, and the Islamic hard-liners of Iran for pretending to be democrats, while denying fundamental rights to their people.

    VOICE: ... the next few weeks or months will determine whether autocratic rulers in these countries can get away with using devious, often violent means to cling to power, despite national votes that reveal their unpopularity.

    TEXT: The Los Angeles Times says it is worried about a Lebanese proposal to have the U-N force in Southern Lebanon move into the Israeli-controlled security zone when Israeli troops pull out.

    VOICE: ... that is asking for more than UNIFIL the U-N Interim Force in Lebanon, has ever been able to deliver, although it may have some useful part to play once Israel's army goes home. UNIFIL can not substitute for the Beirut government's own assertion of sovereignty. That requires sending in the Lebanese army, with the specific task of making sure that Hezbollah, the radical Iran-backed Islamic group whose attacks were decisive in forcing Israel out of Lebanon, curbs its militancy.

    TEXT: With that apprehension over a key, international border issue, we conclude this sampling of editorials from Wednesday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/RAE 03-May-2000 11:12 AM EDT (03-May-2000 1512 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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