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Voice of America, 00-05-04

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

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






    INTRO: One of Turkey's unique archeological sites is soon to be submerged by the waters of the Euphrates River. A huge lake is beginning to fill behind the completed Birecik Dam in the southern province of Gaziantep. Amberin Zaman recently traveled to the history- filled region where thousands of locals have been displaced by the dam and filed this report.

    TEXT: It is a race against time in this small corner of the lush Euphrates river valley. A handful of archeologists are trying to salvage whatever treasures they can before the waters trapped behind the massive Birecik Dam, only 500 meters away, engulfs the site. Huge columns are being hauled away. Delicate statuettes of the Greek goddess Aprodite are handled with more care. The ruins are those of Zeugma, an ancient city built by the Romans more than 2 thousand years ago as a strategic link along the Silk Road, the trading route from Europe to China. Experts have known of the city's existence for nearly 20 years. But it was not until 1992 that Turkish archeologists from the nearby Gaziantep museum in southern Turkey were alerted to its significance. That is when a local villager accidentally discovered the remains of a villa with a splendid mosaic floor depicting the mythological scene of the Wedding of Dionysus and Ariadne. Further excavations revealed more villas and further mosaic panels, each more stunning than the previous. But it was also around 1992 that news began to circulate that the Birecik Dam would be built and that it would swallow up Zeugma together with scores of other ancient sites. Eight villages and an entire town are also set to disappear displacing thousands of locals and depriving them of their livelihoods. Hakki Alhan is the director of Gaziantep museum. He says he and his colleagues made repeated appeals to the Culture Ministry in Ankara to try to halt the project.

    /// Alhan Act in Turkish, fade under///

    Mr. Alhan says that nothing was done and that the dam was built. With few resources of its own, the museum had to rely on handouts from the local governors' office. Catherine Abadie Reynal is a French archeologist who has dug at Zeugma for many years. She says Zeugma is an extremely important site that is on a par with Ephesus in Western Turkey and Pompeii in Italy.

    ///Reynal Act in French, fade under///

    Dr Reynal describes the now imminent disappearance of Zeugma as a tragedy, and one that could have been avoided had the dam been built further downstream. A few hundred meters away from the dam, the last remaining inhabitants of Belkis village are loading their furniture and animals on to trucks. In just a few weeks, the waters of the dam will engulf the village. One of the residents of Belkis is Nusret Ozdemir, the man who accidentally discovered Zeugma. He says that leaving his village for the city is like as he puts it putting a lion in a cage.

    ///Ozdemir Act in Turkish, fade under///

    Like many in Belkis, Mr. Ozdemir complains that the Turkish government failed to provide his family with alternative accommodation in time for the evacuation. And like many, he says he was not adequately compensated for his lands. Further east, in the ancient town of Hasankeyf, which straddles the Tigris River, local mayor Vahap Kusen ponders the future amid news that Turkey's second largest dam will be built in the largely Kurdish area. Mayor Kusen says he hopes that the Turkish authorities will not repeat the mistakes of Birecik and do its utmost to preserve Hasankeyf's unique medieval sites. Turkish officials say they have earmarked millions of dollars to do just that. But they are angered by claims that the new dam is being built in order to erase all traces of Kurdish culture from the region. Mayor Kusen, who is a Kurd, agrees that the claims made by Kurdish nationalists living in Europe are unfounded.

    ///Kusen Act in Turkish, fade under///

    The archeological remains in his town include a huge stone bridge across the Tigris, several medieval mosques and a Shiite tomb. Mayor Kusen says they reflect what he calls the cultural mosaic that is Turkey. And that is why he says it in everyone's interest - be they Turks or Kurds - to ensure that this shared heritage does not suffer the fate of Zeugma. (Signed)
    NEB/AZ/GE 04-May-2000 05:58 AM EDT (04-May-2000 0958 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Londoners are going to the polls today/Thursday in an election that will see the creation of the capital's first directly elected mayor. And an independent candidate is considered the clear frontrunner out of the 11 candidates running for what has been called the "second most important job in British politics." Lourdes Navarro in London reports that local elections across England are also underway.

    TEXT: For the first time, Londoners will be able to participate in a direct election for a completely new position. It is also the first time that an electronic counting system is being used. And another first is the expected win of such a high profile position by an independent candidate. Opinion polls earlier in the week show independent candidate Ken Livingstone with 51 percent of the vote, well ahead of his 10 competitors. The new mayor will oversee the city's budget, police force, transportation, fire and emergency services. For British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the elections, which are taking place not only in London but all over England, amount to the biggest test of public opinion since he was elected into office three years ago. But in the most highly visible contest -- for London mayor - Mr. Blair's candidate, former health secretary Frank Dobson is expected to lose to Mr. Livingstone. The idea for a mayor for Britain's capital city came from Mr. Blair's project known as devolution, where the central government is slowly giving up powers to local and regional authorities. But the race that should have been the crown jewel in the devolution process has turned into a nightmare for the prime minister. Mr. Livingstone is also known as "Red Ken" for his liberal policies when he headed London's last metropolitan government, the Greater London Council. He was a member of the prime minister's Labour party until he was kicked out after running against Labour's official candidate for London mayor. Mr. Blair has been actively opposed to Mr. Livingstone for the position of London mayor. And Mr. Livingstone has promised that if he gets elected to the top job he will take on the national government, especially over the area of transport. Analysts say that Mr. Livingstone has the potential to not only be a visible thorn in the prime minister's side but also to split the Labour party. Elections are also being held for members of the new 25 person Greater London Assembly. More important for Tony Blair, though, is the fate of three thousand seats in local councils across England, which are also being decided.

    /// OPT ///

    Results are expected early Friday morning.

    ///END OPT///

    NEB/LN/GE/KL 04-May-2000 11:26 AM EDT (04-May-2000 1526 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: U-S stock prices were mixed today (Thursday) in cautious trading, as investors waited for Friday's release of key employment data. Once again, volume was extremely light. V-O-A correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York:

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 67 points, less than one-percent, closing at 10-thousand- 413. The Standard and Poor's 500 index lost five points. The Nasdaq composite closed 13 points higher - a gain of one-third of one percent. The major indexes fluctuated between negative and positive territory throughout the trading session, but without a lot of movement in either direction. The latest on the U-S economy shows worker productivity was up a less-than-expected two-point- four percent in the first quarter. It was a big disappointment for the U-S markets, which are worried about wage inflation and higher interest rates. A lot of people think the U-S central bank will push rates up half a point during its May 16th meeting, instead of a quarter point - as it did five times since last June.


    Goldman Sachs economist William Dudley believes a more aggressive approach toward interest rates is warranted. He says the financial markets need more discipline.

    /// DUDLEY ACT ///

    I think a 50-basis-point rate hike (half a point) is appropriate because if they don't hike by 50 basis points, they'll basically be encouraging the stock and bond markets to rally. And I don't think the "Fed" really wants to do that. I think the "Fed" wants to restrain financial conditions. And to do that, they have to keep the pressure on the financial markets.

    /// END ACT ///

    For now, investors are cautious as they wait for the central bank meeting. Analysts say the prospect of a change in the U-S inflation picture short-term has people worried about their expensive stock holdings. In other news, U-S retailers were under continued pressure after their stock was downgraded Wednesday. K-Mart, the huge discount chain, reported a drop in sales for April and warned earnings for the quarter will fall short of expectations. Wal-Mart shares edged lower for a second straight day, despite a 10-percent increase in April sales for the leading U-S retailer. (Signed) NEB/NY/EJ/LSF/gm 04-May-2000 16:28 PM EDT (04-May-2000 2028 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: A small island off the coast of Puerto Rico is a popular editorial topic in U-S newspapers this Thursday, as protesters on the island are seeking to stop the U-S Navy from using it to test weapons. Other topics include: comments on the Elian Gonzalez saga and the trial of a group of Jews in Iran charged with spying for Israel. Now, here with a closer look and some excerpts is ___________ and today's U-S Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: Vieques is a small island off Puerto Rico whose residents share their island with a U-S Naval bombing range. Last year, a bomb went astray and killed a Puerto Rican range guard; since then, many Puerto Ricans have been demanding the bombing range be closed. The navy and the Puerto Rican government reached a deal months ago to close the range within several years when an alternative can be found. However, a group of protesters who are unhappy with the agreement have camped out on the range, preventing its use for target practice. Now, F-B-I agents, backed by Marines, are removing them, and several editorials are remarking on the controversy. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram wonders why the protesters are upset. The paper says they got a good deal from the Clinton administration. A 40-million dollar payment now for allowing the navy to resume bombing with non-explosive bombs, and another 50- million dollars later if they allow live fire training to resume. Otherwise, the navy must clean up the range and leave the island by two-thousand and three. Says the Star-Telegram:

    VOICE: Some people don't know how to play a winning hand. [The] Puerto Rican protesters ... present a classic case of players in a high-stakes game who don't know when to hold `em [continue playing] and when to fold `em [to stop while they are ahead]. ... The problem is that over the years, the effort to remove the navy from Vieques has become a political crusade for some Puerto Ricans and a political opportunity for others.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: The Washington Post seems to agree with that assessment, adding:

    VOICE: The protesters insist "peace for Vieques" must come now but say they'll go quietly if the federal government moves to arrest them. But they also plainly relish a confrontation that would lead to more unrest in Puerto Rico and create an election-year furor for Puerto Rican voters on the mainland.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: The Sun in Baltimore also finds the protestors position hard to understand, summing up:

    VOICE: Some demonstrators, not content with winning, refuse to take yes for an answer.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: The saga of Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban boy rescued from the waters off the Florida coast, continues to attract attention. Now reunited with his Cuban father at a temporary residence in Maryland, there are comments about how reaction to his forceful removal from relatives in Florida is playing in Congress. The Detroit [Michigan] Free press says some valid points about the U-S government raid by armed agents, to remove the boy, are getting lost.

    VOICE: Funny how matters of principle evaporate in the face of political reality. Republicans [in Congress] last week were righteous in their call for hearings into the justice Department raid to retrieve Elian ... [But] that was before the people, through polls, said they supported the raid. Now the G-O-P appears cowed, fearing ... the ...hearings would only come back to haunt them in November. [However] there is value in having the government explain itself after breaking down citizens' doors...

    TEXT: Today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette agrees, suggesting that "Nervous Republicans in [the] Congress [are deserting] little Elian because:

    VOICE: ... Republican leaders have realized ... their righteous indignation over the raid ... is a political loser with the American people.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: In the Middle East, meanwhile, the case of 13 Iranian Jews accused of spying for Israel and other nations draws this comment from today's Boston Globe.

    VOICE: In a state based on a genuine rule of law, innocent citizens are not accused of preposterous crimes in order to make a political point. But that is what has happened to the accused Jews in the city of Shiraz. ... The plainly coerced confession from three suspects, who had no access to any state secrets, represents a shameless effort by hardliners to justify their persecution of the 13 citizens.

    TEXT: Now, comment on another matter related to the Middle East, the bombing of a Pan Am jetliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, eleven years ago. Two Libyans are now on trial in the Netherlands for the crime. The Honolulu Star-Bulletin says of the trial that began yesterday:

    VOICE: Although long overdue, the trial offers an opportunity to achieve a measure of justice. It is also a rare example of international pressure succeeding in forcing an outlaw regime to change its policy and turn over the accused for prosecution. ... The trial could serve as a precedent for future terrorist trials.

    TEXT: The Portland [Maine] Press Herald says the forthcoming congressional vote on normalizing trade relations with China "should be an easy one."

    VOICE: ... given China's size, permanent position on [the] U-N Security Council and its status as a nuclear power, efforts to isolate it would be futile and do nothing to further human or labor rights there.

    VOICE: And lastly, for all the worriers in our audience, something new to furrow your brow over, from a skeptical Milwaukee [Wisconsin] Journal Sentinel.

    VOICE: Unfazed by a disaster-free New Year's Day, the folks quick to read doom in calendar dates ... are now pointing to this Friday [when] ... the six innermost planets of our solar system (which include, of course, the third rock from the sun [Earth]) are slated to line up with each other and the sun and the moon. So expect earthquakes, a meltdown of polar icecaps, a drastic rise in sea level, the disappearance of California and assorted other cataclysms, the doomsayers say anew. ... Trouble is, the line the planets form won't be straight enough to please a drill sergeant. And if it were, the alignment would lift the ocean just an extra twenty-fifth of a millimeter... Who knows? Our doom may lie in the sky ... But odds are that this Friday, the end-of-the world prophets will continue to bat zero [Editors: "be wrong."]

    TEXT: And on that note we conclude this sampling of comment from the editorial columns of Thursday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/KL 04-May-2000 12:10 PM EDT (04-May-2000 1610 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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