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Voice of America, 00-06-13

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

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





    INTRO: At the United Nations today (Tuesday), the top U-N official for Bosnia Herzegovina, Jacques Klein, said the international community has an historic opportunity to end the instability that has characterized the region. Correspondent Barbara Schoetzau reports from the United Nations.

    TEXT: Mr. Klein says Bosnia Herzegovina must not be confined to the fringes of Europe. Instead, the U-N envoy says, Bosnia needs to be given the attention and mentoring required to become a stable and self- sustaining member of the wider European region. Currently, Mr. Klein says, the people of Bosnia Herzegovina are living in a "no-man's land," unsure of their identity and their place in the modern world.

    //// KLEIN ACT ///

    Everything we are trying to do depends on making a credible commitment, now, to Bosnia and Herzegovina's entry into Europe. From refugee return (why would any refugee want their children to grow up in a no-man's land?) through to keeping youth in country and not in visa queues, from seriously attacking cross-border crime through to breaking the hold of extremist politicians and partitionist tendencies; it all depends on changing the optics (point of view) of this country, and of its neighbors, away from parochial sectarian divisiveness by giving them regional identity and inclusiveness.

    //// END ACT ///

    Mr. Klein says that five sets of internationally-run elections in five years have not overcome Bosnia's ethnic and ideological divisions. He says solutions that have worked inside of Western Europe to defuse ethnic separatism should be applied to Bosnia Herzegovina. U-N envoy for Bosnia Jacques Klein says progress has been made in the areas of police training and judicial reform. But he urges the international community to provide the resources needed for social reconstruction, namely the development of a national university and efforts to restore religious tolerance. (Signed) NEB/NYC/bjs/LSF/PT 13-Jun-2000 15:32 PM EDT (13-Jun-2000 1932 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Allegations of widespread corruption during the administration of the late President Franjo Tudjman of Croatia are worrying many policy-makers in Washington. V-O-A's Barry Wood reports the Washington Post newspaper gave front-page treatment Tuesday to the charges that were revealed in Zagreb recently by reformist President Stipe Mesic.

    TEXT: The reformist government in Zagreb is alleging that billions of dollars were plundered from the national treasury by President Tudjman and his associates. Thousands of transcripts and tape recordings found in the former president's office reportedly chronicle widespread abuse in Croatia's privatization agency, which disposed of 18-hundred state enterprises between 1993 and 1999. Taped conversations between President Tudjman and aides also reportedly tell of companies being handed almost free of charge to political cronies, of secret bank accounts, and the existence of phony companies to disguise the use of government money for private gain. Officials say the sensitive material was never meant to be made public and would not have been had President Tudjman not died last December and his party been defeated in subsequent parliamentary and presidential elections. Tom Dawson, the International Monetary Fund spokesman, says as yet there is no evidence that I-M-F loans to Croatia were misused.

    /// Dawson Act ///

    The concerns that were described in the newspaper reports this morning are serious ones, but we have no evidence of any direct involvement of the nature you cite by the Fund. But clearly, governance issues of the sort identified are of serious concern to us.

    /// End Act ///

    Mr. Dawson says no I-M-F money has been lent to Croatia for three years. David Frye, an economist who analyzes Croatia at the Planecon consultancy in Washington, says it will take years for the Croatian economy to recover from the massive loss of revenue that resulted from official corruption.

    /// Frye Act ///

    It's not surprising. There were a lot of claims even while the Croatian Democratic Union (C-D-U) was in power that there was a great deal of corruption. That to some extent the C-D-U was looting the treasury. But it appears now it was to an even greater extent. And this is going to impose some pretty substantial fiscal costs. The government, say, is going to have to clamp down on social spending over the next few years in order to devote far more money to cleaning up the banking sector and towards restructuring state enterprises.

    /// End Act ///

    Mr. Frye says the new government in Zagreb is working strenuously to root out corruption and reestablish financial discipline. Foreign direct investment is being encouraged and the government is seeking improved relations with Western Europe and the I-M-F. Croatia's long stagnant economy is expected to register two-and-a-half percent growth this year. (signed)
    NEB/BDW/JP 13-Jun-2000 16:34 PM EDT (13-Jun-2000 2034 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: U-S stock prices closed higher today (Tuesday), as new data pointing to a slowing U-S economy eased concerns about more interest rate hikes. VOA correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York:

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 57 points, one-half of one percent, to 10-thousand-621. The Nasdaq composite gained more than two percent. The Standard and Poor's 500 index closed 23 points higher. The latest on the U-S economy shows retail sales in May unexpectedly fell for the second straight month. And April sales were revised downward for a bigger loss than initially reported.

    ///BEGIN OPT///

    Economist Pierre Ellis says if the aim of six interest rate hikes by the U-S central bank was to slow the economy, then it appears to have been achieved:

    ///ELLIS ACT///

    We had a monthly round of data that got soft very, very suddenly. It looked odd in that respect. But now we're going through the second round of monthly data, we're back to retail sales again, and it's confirming what we've seen the first time around. So there does seem to have been either a slowdown, or else the growth before was overstated. In either case, you've got a less rapidly expanding economy than anybody thought.

    ///END ACT///

    Some experts are skeptical about the latest data. They see it more as a pause than a trend, after robust consumer spending in the first quarter of this year.

    ///END OPT///

    So, the betting is on. Is the central bank finished raising interest rates? Federal Reserve Board chairman Alan Greenspan has dropped no hints either way. With the uncertainty, many investors are still holding back. And, there is some concern that a cooler economy could mean smaller profits for U-S businesses.

    ///REST OPT///

    Hewlett-Packard was a drag on the market, costing the Dow Industrials about 40 points. Its stock was downgraded on concern that revenue at the world's number two computer maker will fall below expectations. Hewlett-Packard ended the day six percent lower. (signed) NEB/NY/EJ/LSF/PT 13-Jun-2000 16:48 PM EDT (13-Jun-2000 2048 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Regional papers throughout the United States are commenting this Tuesday on the death of Syrian President Hafez al-Assad. Other popular topics include the two Koreas summit underway in Pyongyang; and a disturbing study of U-S death penalty cases. There are also comments on Greece's inability to combat terrorism /// OPT /// the Elgin Marbles debate

    /// END OPT ///

    and the latest revelations about campaign fund-raising. Now, here with a closer look and some excerpts is ____________ and today's Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: Monday the nation's largest daily papers had their say about Hafez al-Assad's death, and now from around the country, it is the turn of the regional and local dailies. In Ohio, the [Akron] Beacon Journal writes:

    VOICE: Hafez Assad cunningly and brutally cultivated power. What did he do with it? He didn't achieve peace. [He] rejected peace.

    TEXT: The Seattle Times, noting that a new generation is taking over in the Middle East, says of the dead leader:

    VOICE: [He] died consumed by a grudge against Israel as personal as they come. He was defense minister when Syria lost the Golan Heights to Israel in the 1967 Middle East war. [Mr.] Assad's pride was as much an impediment as his fierce Arab nationalism. His burial today will allow the two countries to discuss the strategic plateau without the personal rancor that doomed all previous efforts.

    TEXT: Today's Orlando [Florida] Sentinel says Assad's death leaves "storm clouds on [the] peace horizon" adding "more uncertainty" to the "already-uncertain Middle East." However, the Denver [Colorado] Post is more positive, suggesting:

    VOICE: It's tempting to say ... [Assad's] death ... is a setback to the ... peace process. While that is probably true in the short run, it's doubtful that any future Syrian leader could ultimately prove more obdurate in his opposition to peace than [President] Assad ...

    TEXT: The Oklahoman in Oklahoma City headlines its commentary: "After Assad - - His Death Gives Hope for Change," while Pennsylvania's Greensburg Tribune- Review, after offering condolences to the people of Syria, goes on to call Mr. Assad a tyrant who: " ... rode roughshod over neighboring Lebanon and attempted to do the same with Israel. His state was no better than a Leninist police state that has kept Syria's 17- million people ... in economic backwaters.

    /// OPT ///

    Florida's St. Petersburg Times says "after the death ... Syrians need time before continuing the peace process" while today's San Jose [California] Mercury News suggests: "The death ... creates near-term uncertainties but long-term possibilities of peace in the Middle East." Georgia's Augusta Chronicle calls the dead leader: " oppressive tyrant whose lifelong goal was to unite the Arab world and isolate, if not destroy, Israel. Yet oddly enough ... [Mr.] Assad was a stabilizing his Mideast neighborhood"

    /// END OPT ///

    In Michigan, the Detroit Free Press hopes the new "Assad has [a] vision for peace," and it also mentions the changing of the guard in the Middle East, noting Mr. Assad is the region's "fourth leader to die in the past 14 months." And, lastly, this comment from today's Dallas [Texas] Morning News.

    VOICE: As an ophthalmologist, Bashar al-Assad helps to preserve people's eyesight. But his own vision is what most concerns Middle East watchers.

    TEXT: Turning to Asia, the historic meeting of the two Korean leaders in North Korea's capital, Pyongyang, is "a ray of hope" according to Jacksonville's Florida Times-Union, because:

    VOICE: ...there is reason for optimism because North Korea seems to be shedding its "hermit kingdom" image. Its participation in the summit alone is quite remarkable since it refused until recently even to talk with the South ... Also, Kim Jong-il's regime recently opened diplomatic relations with Italy and Australia -- and it may soon also exchange ambassadors with traditional enemy Japan, which not long ago it was threatening to obliterate with nuclear weapons.

    TEXT: The New York Times, calling the meetings "an encouraging change in ... relationship" is also pleased, but notes:

    VOICE: Never before have North and South Korea come this close to a normal, peaceful relationship. ... Unfortunately, North Korea's government remains one of the world's most opaque and unpredictable. Expectations for specific agreements coming out of the meetings should not be set too high.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: Boston's Christian Science Monitor is also intrigued by the summit, adding:

    VOICE: With so much military tension, it's a sign of courage that the North's Kim Jong Il and the South's Kim Dae Jung plan to meet today. Even if they just agree to open mail service for divided families, this first-ever Korean summit will have been a triumph of hope over despair.

    /// END OPT ///

    Domestically, the big story is a new study, by a group of lawyers and criminologists at Columbia University, of more than two decades of death penalty cases around the United States. The study concludes that many of the cases had serious flaws and were overturned by higher courts. Today's Los Angeles Times writes:

    VOICE: If state and federal appeals courts have felt compelled to overturn two-thirds of death penalty convictions they reviewed over the past 20 years, what does that say about the flaws of the criminal justice system? This astoundingly high reversal rate is the key finding of a sweeping study released Monday that would intensify uncertainties about the penalty among some elected officials and the public. ... Those who support the death penalty see this as evidence that the system works, that appellate review sifts out the errors and the innocent. However, for many others, the high reversal rates ... provide glaring evidence of widespread error at the trial level that should clear the way for reform at trial as well as appeal.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is also upset by the study's findings.

    VOICE: ... a system in which two-thirds of the verdicts are shown to be seriously flawed does not inspire confidence that all of the remaining third are error-free, particularly as legislatures hasten executions.

    TEXT: On now to a decades old debate, over the removal of the "Elgin Marbles," or the "Parthenon Marbles," famous statuary taken from Greece by a British nobleman and one-time ambassador, Thomas Bruce. Monday afternoon's San Francisco Examiner says:

    VOICE: The British should rectify a long-ago act of art pillage by returning to Greece the statuary stolen by Lord Elgin. ... Instead of punishment in an era when theft of bread in London was a capital crime, Britain's ambassador to the Ottoman Empire has been honored ever since with the most popular gallery in the British Museum. It displays the damaged 25- hundred year-old Grecian sculptures that Elgin ripped from the Parthenon.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: In yet another controversy of a far more damaging nature, today's Hartford [Connecticut] Courant is calling for U-S help to Russia in safely scrapping more than "150 aging Russian nuclear submarines." The paper says the old boats:

    VOICE: ... languish untended and rotting in their berths, exposed to theft and sabotage. Spent fuel assemblies and whole reactors are inadequately secured. The decaying submarines represent in the words of Representative Doug Bereuter of Nebraska, "the most imminent environmental danger in the world today."

    TEXT: The paper calls on the Senate to hurry and pass a bill already passed by the U-S House, that would aid the Russians in carefully dismantling the unused boats.

    TEXT: And lastly, a lament from the Waterbury [Connecticut] Republican-American that most U-S newspapers are ignoring the latest revelations about irregularities in fund raising for the last presidential campaign.

    VOICE: Documents regarding Democratic fund-raising abuses in 1996 were finally made public last week by the House Government Reform Committee. They included memos from F-B-I Director Louis Freeh and Charles LaBella, the prosecutor [Attorney General Janet Reno] assigned to run [the Justice department's] campaign- finance investigation, urging Ms. Reno to name an independent council to investigate Mr. Gore. She steadfastly refused. ... Mr. LaBella [wrote]... "If these allegations involved anyone other than the president, vice president, senior White House or D-N-C and Clinton/Gore '96 officials, an appropriate investigation would have commenced months ago without hesitation. ... the media downplayed or ignored the story. /// OPT /// The New York Times bumped its account off page one in favor of stories about space mapping and the "ethnic crisis in Fiji," and then failed to report Mr. Freeh's most damaging statement: Mr. Gore "was an active participant in the core group's fund-raising efforts ... he was informed about the distinctions between `hard' and `soft' money, and ... he generally understood there were legal restrictions against making telephone solicitations from federal property." /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: On that note, we conclude this sampling of editorial comment from Tuesday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG 13-Jun-2000 12:15 PM EDT (13-Jun-2000 1615 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Italy's president has pardoned the Turkish gunman who shot Pope John Paul the Second 19 years ago. As Sabina Castelfranco reports from Rome, the Pope had already publicly forgiven him.

    TEXT: The Italian president on Tuesday pardoned the gunman who made headlines on May 13th, 1981 when he wounded Pope John Paul in Saint Peter's Square as the Pope was waving to a crowd of followers from an open car. But the gunman, 41- year-old Ali Agca, will not be a free man. Italian authorities will extradite him to Turkey where he will serve a sentence for a separate killing. Agca, a member of a shadowy right-wing called the Grey Wolves, was caught moments after shooting the Pope and was later sentenced to life in prison. The gunman has spent the past 19 years and one month in an Italian jail. He repeatedly asked for clemency from Italian authorities after the Pope publicly forgave him and even went to visit him in prison in 1983. Questions still remain as to whether the Turkish gunman acted alone or was part of a conspiracy to kill the Pope. One of the prosecutors who investigated the attempt on the Pope's life said that he is convinced the whole truth about the matter has not been revealed. He said Agca was -- in his words -- "a link in a chain, but being the last link, he did not know everything." The prosecutor added that the act of clemency was a "wise decision." NEB/SC/JWH/ENE/KBK 13-Jun-2000 13:27 PM LOC (13-Jun-2000 1727 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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