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Voice of America, 00-07-18

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

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





    INTRO: Spain is reeling from a series of terrorist attacks blamed on the Basque pro-indepdence group E-T- A. Gil Carbajal reports from Madrid, that Spaniards have reacted with demonstrations in cities throughout the country, capped by a massive rally in the southern city of Malaga, where a city councilman was killed two days earlier.

    TEXT: In a period of ten days four attacks attributed to the Basque terrorist organization E-T-A have been carried out in various parts of Spain. Spaniards reacted with demonstrations in the country's major cities. But the biggest took place in southern city of Malaga where 50-year-old town councilman Jose Maria Martin Carpena was shot dead in front of his wife and daughter as they were on their way to dinner Saturday night. He was a member of the Popular Party which currently rules Spain under Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar. The assassin escaped into the crowded streets of the city which was celebrating its annual fiesta. An estimated 300,000 people converged on Malaga's townhall Monday evening chanting "Basta Ya" or "enough's enough" and clapping rhymically in Andalousian style.


    The current wave of terrorist attacks began on July 7th when police deactivated a bomb placed under a Basque businessman's car near the northern city of San Sebastian. Early Wednesday morning a carbomb exploded in Madrid's commercial center. On Sunday a van loaded with 20 kilos of explosives blew up next to a civil guard barracks in the sleepy north-central town of Agreda. No one was killed in eithter of the blasts, because of the time of day. But the attacks clearly demonstrate that E-T-A is able to operate in different parts of the country. Spanish Interior Minister Jaime Mayor Oreja maintains that E-T-A used the 14-month long truce it called off in December to prepare a series of operations that have left six people dead. The terrorists have targeted security forces, journalists, Popular Party and Socialist politicians, and Basque businessmen from whom they demand what they call a "revolutionary tax". The recent wave of attacks has put tremendous pressure on the pro-independence but conservative Basque Nationalist Party, or P-N-V, to break with E-T-A's political wing with whose parliamentary support it has been ruling the regional government. The P-N-V's Secretary General, Xavier Arzallus, reacted to the latest attacks blaming the central government for using police measures to deal with E-T-A. The Interior Minister replied that that allegation proved that the P-N-V has been a willing accomplice of the terrorists. (SIGNED)
    NEB/GC/KBK 17-Jul-2000 21:55 PM EDT (18-Jul-2000 0155 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: U-S stock prices were lower today (Tuesday), getting almost no help from a procession of better- than-expected corporate earnings reports. Investors took profits and focused again on the latest economic data. VOA correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York:

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 64 points, less than one percent, to 10-thousand-739. The Standard and Poor's 500 index closed 16 points lower - about one percent. The Nasdaq composite fell more than two percent to profit-taking, in advance of earnings reports from technology giants, including Intel and Microsoft. Among the companies showing better-than-expected results Tuesday are number one auto-maker General Motors, drug company Johnson and Johnson, and tobacco giant Philip Morris. The latest on the U-S economy shows consumer prices in June rose at their fastest pace in three months. Most of that, however, was higher gasoline prices. Taking out energy costs, analysts say the numbers do not indicate a serious inflation threat. Still, the consumer price index appears to have added a negative tone to Tuesday's trading.

    /// REST OPT for long ///

    Market-watchers sense a continuing concern among investors about more interest rate hikes. The Federal Reserve Board, the U-S central bank, meets in August to consider raising rates for a seventh time since June of 1999. Analyst Al Goldman of the A-G Edwards investment firm believes those interest rate fears are exaggerated. He thinks the central bank is finished with its credit tightenings:

    /// GOLDMAN ACT ///

    We think evidence has grown that the economy is slowing down and inflation is not a problem. And we think the "Fed" will not raise rates at its August 22nd meeting. In fact, we think they're out of our face well into next year, when you're probably going to see rate cuts.

    /// END ACT ///

    Meanwhile, analyst Mark Heller believes the central bank has engineered a so-called "soft landing" for the slowing U-S economy and sees the stock market moving higher for the rest of the year:

    /// HELLER ACT ///

    We just see this series of "Fed" tightenings is coming to an end, without apparently, to us, putting us into recession. We think that's very big news, and from a longer-term perspective very important for equity investors. We think the worst market action is behind us, as a result.

    /// END ACT ///

    Not everyone is that optimistic. But confidence does appear to be growing in the investment community, despite the occasional bout of nervousness that keeps investors either side-lined or reaching for profits. (Signed) NEB/EJ/LSF/TVM/PT 18-Jul-2000 18:45 PM EDT (18-Jul-2000 2245 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: A controversially high Florida jury award in a smokers' damage suit continues to draw opinions in the nation's press. Other popular editorial topics include another jury verdict in the Waco religious cult disaster; opening trade with former enemy Vietnam; and a question of how much money to spend on foreign aid. We also find commentaries on the Camp David talks; // OPT // anti- drug aid to Colombia; // END OPT // and putting a stop to the sale of diamonds that fuel Africa's civil wars. Now, here is ___________ with a closer look and some excerpts, in today's Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: A Florida jury last week awarded almost 145- billion-dollars to a group of smokers who have been harmed by cigarettes. The largest damage award against a U-S manufacturer by far, it is drawing a good deal of comment in the nation's newspapers. The Chattanooga Tennessee Free Press suggests the verdict is crazy, since people who smoked knew the danger.

    VOICE: If someone manufactured dynamite legally, but someone else lit a fuse that caused a tremendous explosion, who should be blamed for the damage. We believe the blame should be on the lighter of the fuse. Sadly, many thousands of cigarette smokers lit the "fuse" for their own health destruction ... the ... Florida ... verdict is unjust.

    TEXT: In Maine, Portland's Press Herald feels the tobacco industry is guilty, but it wants a better national policy on smoking than court battles.

    VOICE: It is one thing if a party unknowingly makes and sells a defective product. Such a mistake, absent negligence, does not beg for a punitive award. Here, however, was a case where the manufacturers knew the product they were selling was deadly and ... set out to deceive the public about it. The justification for punitive damages is obvious. What is amazing is that the tobacco companies have managed to avoid this kind of liability up until now.

    // OPT //

    TEXT: Near Pittsburgh, The Greensburg Tribune-Review says the responsibility lies with the smokers, not the tobacco industry, calling the verdict "Tort anarchy."

    VOICE: The American tort system needs a good, swift kick in the behind and a hard, crisp slap in the face. ... Should this course remain unaltered, our self-destruction as a civil and just nation will be assured.

    TEXT: While in Northern California, The San Francisco Chronicle warns the public not to expect rapid change.

    VOICE: So as not be fooled by the record ... verdict against big tobacco for lying and killing its consumers, it would be well to note that the cigarette industry has taken huge hits before and is still smoking. ... Indeed, within the past few years, despite judgments ordering them to pay nearly 100-million in compensation for those who died ... the tobacco companies have yet to cough up [pay] a penny in five similar cases.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Another jury verdict, this one in the case of victims of the Waco, Texas, religious cult disaster, in which 80-people were killed continues to draw comment. The Milwaukee [Wisconsin] Journal Sentinel feels the "verdict [is] the right one."

    VOICE: A myth enjoying currency in some circles blames "jackbooted thugs" from the federal government for a 1993 conflagration ... that killed 80-members of a cult. Over the weekend, however, an advisory jury quickly and completely exonerated the feds after a month-long trial. The verdict should redirect the blame for the disaster where it belongs: on the Branch Davidian cult itself and its leader, David Koresh.

    TEXT: Tennessee's Chattanooga Free Press concludes:" Though the whole thing was a tragedy of compounded bad judgment on all sides, the jury verdict was right." Internationally, a trade deal with Vietnam is also a popular topic. The Dallas [Texas] Morning News calling it "a gigantic step closer toward reconciling with [the] ... former enemy" and adds this personal observation.

    VOICE: Thoughts of the war were never far from the lead U-S negotiator, Richard Fisher of Dallas. During the negotiations, he carried a photograph of a ... school friend ... who was killed in action in Vietnam in 1968... Mr. Fisher dedicated his effort to his friend ... It was a fitting gesture. As the United States restores normality to its dealing with Vietnam, it should remember and honor the 58-thousand U-S servicemen who made the ultimate sacrifice there.

    TEXT: The Chicago Tribune reacts this way:

    VOICE: America still tends to view Vietnam through a one-way lens. ... But America is not the only nation that has had to, in [President] Clinton's words, "let go of the past and embrace the future" when it comes to this old wound. So too has Vietnam, which, after, won the war but lost its future.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: In California, The San Francisco Examiner was philosophical about the war memories and the reality of today's situation.

    VOICE: For the United States ... the prospect of doing regular business with the Vietnamese is not just a mutually profitable deal. Politically it serves to put the Vietnam war further behind U-S citizens, whatever their retrospective convictions on the rights and wrongs of the conflict. [President] Clinton, who avoided military service and demonstrated against the war as a young man, was significantly accompanied at announcement of the trade pact by Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, a former Navy pilot who was shot down and imprisoned for five-years by the North Vietnamese.

    TEXT: And in Hawaii, The Honolulu Star-Bulletin calls the agreement: "one of the final steps in normalizing relations with the former enemy, 25-years after the Vietnam War."

    /// END OPT ///

    On the topic of U-S foreign aid, and how much is appropriate, today's New York Times writes:

    VOICE: Although there are some positive elements in the foreign aid bill ... the House passed last week, it is still seriously flawed and has rightly invited a veto threat from President Clinton. ... the overall allocation is far too low to meet American foreign policy objectives. Both the House bill and the Senate version that passed in June are nearly two- billion dollars below the White House request for fiscal two-thousand-one.

    // OPT //

    TEXT: And in a related issue, the prospect of this country and other wealthy nations, giving the poorest countries debt relief, California's San Jose Mercury News laments:

    VOICE: Last year, President Clinton threw American support behind debt relief for some 40 destitute nations. Last week, Congress nearly sabotaged the effort. The House passed barely enough money to keep the campaign alive. Had the world's richest nation shown a stunning indifference to world poverty, others too might have reneged on their pledges. As it was, the House approved only about half of the 435- million [Mr.] Clinton requested...

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: As regards the Camp David summit, operating in a virtual news media blackout at the presidential mountain retreat in Maryland, The Sun in Baltimore suggests progress.

    VOICE: Signs of momentum ... are everywhere. They include negative demonstrations by Israeli and Palestinian hard-liners, who are probably well-informed.

    TEXT: However, The Washington Post complains:

    VOICE: The media blackout on the ... talks makes it nearly impossible to assess their progress. The scant information that has emerged is contradictory ... The process has been so opaque ... that with President Clinton scheduled to depart tomorrow for the G-8 summit, it is not clear whether the talks are heading nowhere, toward another interim arrangement, or toward a framework agreement covering all the major ... issues.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: Still with the Middle East, in South Carolina, Charleston's Post and Courier notes the inauguration speech of Syria's new leader, Bashar Assad, in Damascus, calling it:

    VOICE: ... notable for its moderation. His assumption of power represents an evolutionary advance in this key Middle East country. The new president eschewed socialist rhetoric to outline sensible economic policies and, most notably, making a significant overture to the United States by asking Washington "to play its full role as an honest broker and a co-sponsor" of Israeli-Syrian peace talks.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: To another world trouble spot now, the Balkans, where Boston's Christian Science Monitor makes this anniversary assessment.

    VOICE: It has been just over a year since Slobodan Milosevic lost control of Kosovo and almost five years since he lost much of Bosnia. Before that, he lost Slovenia and Croatia. ... Of all the undesirable aftereffects of the cold war, Mr. Milosevic's ruthless campaign for a Serb-dominated Yugoslavian empire has been the worst. ... The obvious good news is that Slovenia and Croatia are racing to join Europe. But Kosovo [the ethnic Albanian province] while officially part of Yugoslavia, will remain a wayward ward of the West for the indefinite future.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: Briefly, on a Latin American issue, this thought on the recently passed one-point-three- billion-dollar aid bill to help Colombia combat drug trafficking. The Washington Times approves, calling it:

    VOICE: ... an important step toward addressing voters' concerns over illicit drug use. ... But there is another reason why the aid ... is important. The United States is the world's largest cocaine consumer, with an annual rate of about 300 tons a year. The U-S appetite for drugs is therefore a large part of the problem. Washington has the moral imperative to help Colombia combat its drug scourge.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: And lastly, about cutting off the market for African diamonds, with the blood of civil-war violence on them, The San Francisco Chronicle suggests:

    VOICE: It may be greed, enlightened self- interest, or plain humanity ... [but] the world's biggest diamond dealer has finally agreed not to buy the glittering gems fueling Africa's murderous regional wars. It is about time. The De Beers diamond firm, which controls two-thirds of the world's 56-billion market, will no longer buy stones mined in conflict zones such as Sierra Leone, Congo, or Angola.

    TEXT: On that hopeful note, we conclude this sampling of commentary from the editorial pages of Tuesday's U- S press.
    NEB/ANG/RAE 18-Jul-2000 12:13 PM EDT (18-Jul-2000 1613 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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