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Voice of America, 00-07-13

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

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





    INTRO: Members of the United Nations Security Council expressed concern today (Thursday) about attacks on Serbs and others in Kosovo as the province moves toward municipal elections. Correspondent Larry Freund reports from New York.

    TEXT: The United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, Hedi Annabi, spelled out in considerable detail for the Security Council incidents of ethnic violence in Kosovo over the past weeks. He also discussed measures by the U-N mission in Kosovo to curb violence. He said the United Nations mission - UNMIK - is moving ahead with plans for municipal elections in Kosovo, despite the acknowledged refusal of Kosovo's minority communities to register for the voting.

    /// ANNABI ACT ///

    Kosovo Serbs and Kosovo Turks should be encouraged to register, to participate and to understand that UNMIK is determined to continue the process of building democracy and the best possible institutions in Kosovo, in accordance with the mandate entrusted to it by this council.

    /// END ACT ///

    However, Russia's U-N representative, Sergey Lavrov, said that the security situation in Kosovo continues to deteriorate. Speaking through an interpreter, he repeated his country's opposition to holding elections this year.


    We're not against holding the elections in principle, but we cannot close our eyes to the fact that so far not even the minimum of necessary conditions has been created for them to become really free, fair and democratic.

    /// END ACT ///

    The U-S representative on the Security Council, James Cunningham, said the level of violence in Kosovo remains unacceptable, but he said there are no quick and easy fixes for the situation.

    /// CUNNINGHAM ACT ///

    We continue to believe that in addition to strengthening the rule of law, the solution to the violence lies in the political process and the determined support of the international community. Elections and a responsible governing structure are the best way to temper passions.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr. Cunningham said the United States is encouraged that more than 800 thousand people have been registered for Kosovo's municipal elections. Registration is scheduled to end Saturday. (signed) NEB/NY/LSF/AMAHL/PW 13-Jul-2000 15:02 PM EDT (13-Jul-2000 1902 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The European Commission is adopting stricter standards for accepting genetically modified organisms (G-M-Os) into the European Union. Ron Pemstein reports from Brussels on a possible way to end the European Union's de facto moratorium against approving genetically modified products.

    TEXT: It is not a formal moratorium but it works the same way. The European Union last approved a genetically modified food product in October 1998. The 18 products approved before that time are less than a third of those that were approved by the United States in the same period. There are 14 more applications pending approval, but in fact they have no prospect of getting a license by the European Union until a new standard for approval is set. Austria, Luxembourg, France, Germany and Greece have banned the marketing of approved genetically modified products in their countries on the basis of safety. The European Commission has ruled that the information those member states supplied does not justify their bans. To break this deadlock, the European Commission is proposing to replace the existing legislation by requiring the sellers of genetically modified products to comply with strict standards of labeling and tracing their product's effect on the environment and health. The European Commissioner for Health, David Byrne, says the biggest problem the commission faces is that European consumers are scared.

    /// Byrne Act ///

    Consumers were asked the question, would they consume a G-M-O vegetable even if there was an assurance of quality? Sixty-six percent of the people said they would resist that. They answered "no" to that question. In that same survey, people were asked, did they feel that they had adequate information in relating to this particular technology, 81 percent said, "no."

    /// End Act ///

    Commissioner Byrne says he is convinced there is a correlation between those two negative statistics. The challenge for the European Commission is to get scientific information out to Europeans. The commission says genetically modified organisms are neither risky nor safe. That depends on the characteristics of the gene that has been inserted, the organism that is produced and what application is made of it. There is no scientific evidence, the Commission says, that the technology itself is unsafe. While this technology has been used safely around the world, public concern has made the use of genetically modified products in food and agriculture less widespread in Europe. The European Commissioner for Environment, Margot Wallstroem, says the commission has to change policy to avoid possible legal action by the companies seeking approval for genetically modified organisms.

    /// Wallstroem Act ///

    There is no legal basis for the current standstill. The companies seeking authorization could, if they so wished, take the commission to the (European) Court of Justice for failure to undertake our responsibilities. /// Opt /// Although this is unlikely to happen in the short term, there is a risk that this could happen if the commission does not take action on this sensitive issue. /// End Opt ///

    /// End Act ///

    Another problem of delay for Europe is that it will fall behind the rest of the world in using the advantages of biotechnology. The de-facto moratorium has caused trade friction with the United States, which sees Europe's health precaution as an excuse to create a barrier to trade.

    /// Opt ///

    The commission's plan is to bring its stricter license procedure before the European Parliament and the member states later this year and to start issuing licenses for genetically modified organisms again by early next year without waiting for formal approval by parliaments in each of the 15 countries. /// End Opt /// Environment Commissioner Wallstroem says the expedited procedure is needed to avoid years of delay.

    /// Wallstroem Act ///

    Moratorium is illegal and not justified and I think that we cannot stop advances in technology by refusing to act, leaving it to international developments to dictate the pace. And I think if we have an opportunity to ensure a higher level of protection to human health and environment, why shouldn't we use that opportunity and at the same time achieving this balanced approach in Europe, also allowing us to take advantage of the benefits.

    /// End Act ///

    The European Commission hopes the stricter rules for labels and monitoring of these products -- along with a public information campaign -- will bring the benefits of biotechnology to Europe again. (Signed)
    NEB/RP/GE/JP 13-Jul-2000 13:59 PM EDT (13-Jul-2000 1759 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: U-S stock prices were higher today (Thursday), buoyed by second-quarter corporate earnings results. Technology companies again led the market rally, while the "blue-chips" had a quiet session. VOA correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York:

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose a modest five points, a fractional gain, to 10-thousand-788. The Standard and Poor's 500 index closed three points higher. The technology-weighted Nasdaq composite was the star of the market once again, pulling ahead nearly two percent. General Electric - the world's largest company in terms of market capitalization - reported record second-quarter revenues and a 20 percent jump in earnings. And it says it's on target for record annual profits this year. G-E's businesses range from jet engines to financial services and broadcasting. Another Dow Jones component reported better-than- expected earnings. J-P-Morgan, the fourth largest U-S bank, says profits were up eight percent.

    /// REST OPT ///

    Analysts agree the stock market seems infused once again with confidence. Volume is strong, which means investors have come off the sidelines, and that is normally considered a positive factor. Investment strategist Gene Peroni sees the market rally continuing:

    /// PERONI ACT ///

    I don't think this is going to be just a brief rally that is some sort of a knee-jerk reaction to the second-quarter earnings. I really think this is part of a recovery process for both the Dow and the Nasdaq, and I think by the end of the year both of those indices will be at new highs.

    /// END ACT ///

    Motorola stock climbed, one day after the number two cell-phone maker reported earnings in line with expectations and said the third quarter will also be good. Motorola has been locked into a tense competition in Europe with rival Nokia of Finland. Motorola's European sales are down. It is now official. U-S long-distance telephone companies WorldCom and Sprint are going their separate ways. It was not unexpected, after the U-S Justice Department said it would block their planned merger. William Esrey, Sprint's chief executive officer, denies news reports saying his company is looking for a new partner:

    /// ESREY ACT ///

    We're talking to no one. We have talked to no one. Sprint is not for sale. We're back focusing with our employees on the opportunities that lie ahead in this wonderful industry.

    /// END ACT ///

    Analysts do not necessarily take Mr. Esrey's words as the final statement on Sprint's future. It is still early days. Deutsche Telekom, the German telecommunications giant, had been reported as a potential suitor. The German company is very eager to penetrate the U-S market. (Signed) NEB/EJ/LSF/TVM/PT 13-Jul-2000 16:42 PM EDT (13-Jul-2000 2042 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Editorial writers in this country continue to write about the International AIDS conference underway in Durban, South Africa. They are also focusing on the Camp David Summit, and the Protestant march-induced violence in Northern Ireland. There are other editorials on the disapproval of Peru's president; and environmental concern over a new U-S anti-drug plan for Colombia. Now, here is _________ with some excerpts in today's U-S Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: The full extent of the AIDS pandemic in sub- Saharan Africa continues to amaze and worry editorial writers at many U-S newspapers. Today's comments are headed by this from Ohio's Akron Beacon Journal.

    VOICE: The 13th International AIDS Conference picked...Durban, South Africa, for its biennial meeting. South Africa, where 20-percent of adults are H-I-V-positive and whose president, Thabo Mbeki, doubts rock-solid evidence that H- I-V causes AIDS, has been called the epicenter of the deadly disease. [Mr.] Mbeki's assertions - that malnutrition and tuberculosis cause AIDS, not the H-I-V virus - only distract. Too bad. Combating AIDS, especially in sub- Saharan Africa, is too crucial to be hijacked by old arguments over what precisely causes the ailment. ... Fighting AIDS must move beyond a war of words.

    TEXT: On New York's Long Island, Newsday suggests - it will not be easy, but the world's wealthy nations must try to prevent an AIDS calamity. And in Colorado, The Rocky Mountain News' senior foreign affairs columnist, Holger Jensen notes that the deadly illness is not the continent's only problem.

    VOICE: Two African summits this week catalog the sorry state of affairs on the only continent that has regressed since colonial times. One is an AIDS summit ... whose appalling statistics suggest Botswana President Festus Mogae may be right in saying - we are threatened with extinction. ... The other summit, equally depressing, was that of the Organization of African Unity in Lome, the capital of Togo, where the O-A-U's [Organization of African Unity] 53-member nations showed yet again how disunited they really are. The leaders of Congo, Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Liberia - all involved in wars of their own or those of other nations - boycotted the event, limiting efforts to resolve some of Africa's worst conflicts...

    TEXT: Still with African affairs, a recent report from the O-A-U blaming the United States, France, Belgium and others for ignoring the genocide in Rwanda earlier this decade, draws this response from today's Kansas City [Missouri] Star.

    VOICE: Just the U-S role, said one member of the panel's two-year investigation, "Is an almost incomprehensible scar of shame on American foreign policy." That is true enough, and indeed officials in our government from President Clinton down have expressed remorse about not doing more at the time. ... those governments and institutions that were in a position to reduce or stop the 1994 genocide must carefully examine what happened and learn from it so they never again become complicit in this kind of horrendous crime.

    TEXT: Turning to the Middle East peace talks underway at Camp David in Maryland, The Seattle [Washington State] Times suggests there is reason for hope, because:

    VOICE: [Mr.] Barak was elected directly. His standing with the Israeli people is far stronger than his fragile parliamentary position suggests. [Mr.] Arafat knows that a declaration of independence outside the framework of a comprehensive settlement, though politically gratifying, will bring few lasting benefits. Both know that the next U-S president will be occupied with domestic affairs for the better part of his first year.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: In Wisconsin, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel picked up on the televised images of an outwardly friendly Israeli and Palestinian leader jostling each other to get in the Camp David lodge door, and suggests:

    VOICE: The Tuesday tussle, we have learned, was a friendly as official accounts made it out to be. The smiles of [Mr.] Barak and [Mr.] Arafat were genuine. But why ... did neither man want to go first? The answer is both mundane and compelling. ... The two Mideast leaders ... had just been informed that [President] Clinton himself had prepared a luncheon for them. While the two leaders were prepared to make heroic sacrifices on behalf of peace, neither was quite ready to give up his stomach for the cause.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: From peace talks to violence, with comments on the ugly protests again gripping Northern Ireland this week, the peak of the so-called Marching Season. This week, Orangemen Protestants remember their 1690 victory over Catholics at the battle of the Boyne [river, north of Dublin.] The Washington [D-C] Times suggests how very counter-productive the trouble is.

    VOICE: ...Just weeks after Northern Ireland First Minister David Trimble led the pro-British Unionists into a shared government which included the Catholic Sinn Fein, a faction of hard-liners is challenging the very heart of Protestant loyalism. ... Which makes one wonder to which cause these militants think they are being loyal. // OPT // ... They are only a small contingent of Protestants, but the Orange Order's violence threatens to stall the progress both sides were making in the Northern Irish government. // END OPT // If there is to be hope for a peaceful Ulster in the future, Orangemen cannot stay rooted in the hatred of the past.

    TEXT: Taking a slightly more sanguine view is The New York Times, which suggests, despite the violence of the past few days:

    VOICE: ... even the recent disturbances have been overshadowed by a common desire among Protestants and Catholics to strengthen a still- fragile peace. This year's marchers ... are fewer in number and less violent than in the past. /// OPT /// They are also more marginalized, criticized even by their traditional allies for their intransigence. /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: In Latin American affairs, there is a Los Angeles Times comment on how the world is closing in on Peru's strongman president, Alberto Fujimori. He was recently re-elected to another four-year-term, but in a very questionable vote.

    VOICE: The O-A-S [Organization of American States] reasonably asked [Mr.] Fujimori to strengthen Peru's justice system and ensure separation of powers. It called for balancing human rights and freedom of speech with Peru's legitimate security needs. ... [President] Fujimori has ignored ... the recommendations ... A next step against the Peruvian leader is in order. The OAS ... should impose sanctions against the government ... his hemispheric counterparts should keep the pressure on.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: Still with Latin American affairs, today's Washington Post is commenting on a proposal for a borderless North America from Mexico's new president- elect, Vicente Fox.

    VOICE: His thoughts about building a borderless, European Union-like zone of freely moving capital and workers, complete, someday, with a common currency, are, to put it mildly, politically unrealistic. But that does not mean they do not contain a kernel of validity. ... Plainly ... lifting Mexico, whose current per- capita income is about four-thousand-dollars a year to anywhere near the same economic level as the United States and Canada is a hugely expensive proposition, even if the assistance were spread out over decades - and even if it were not the case that aid can never be the sole, or even primary, factor in making Mexico rich.

    TEXT: And finally, about the still controversial issue of aid to Colombia in fighting narcotics trafficking, The Boston Globe, in another editorial, finds fault.

    VOICE: The latest twist in the U-S government's wrongheaded effort to wage its war on U-S drug abuse in Colombia - at the expense of detox and rehab units here - is a plan to sic a deadly fungus on the coca plants and poppies that are the raw material for cocaine and heroin. This would be on top of the one-point-three billion for anti-drug helicopters and training that Congress just agreed to provide to Colombia. The basic flaw in this strategy is that, regardless of what is done on hillsides in South America, drugs will flow into the United States from some corner of the globe as long as there is a strong market for them here. .../// OPT /// Environmentalists are so concerned about the impact that the coca fungus ... might have on an area's ecosystem that they blocked testing of a similar fungus ... in Florida. /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: On that note, we conclude this sampling of editorial comment from Thursday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/RAE 13-Jul-2000 12:17 PM EDT (13-Jul-2000 1617 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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