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Voice of America, 00-09-15

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

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





    INTRO: Turkish police on Friday raided several offices of the country's largest legal pro-Kurdish party. Amberin Zaman reports from Ankara that officials of the Hadep party say at least 35 members have been detained in the latest government crackdown on the party.

    TEXT: Hadep officials say their offices in the largely Kurdish provinces of Van and Diyarbakir were raided, along with offices in the country's commercial capital, Istanbul, and in the southern provinces of Adana and Mersin. The raids came after a special security court in Ankara ordered the seizure of pamphlets the party published in honor of World Peace Day on September 1. The court accused Hadep of propagating Kurdish separatism in the pamphlets. But in a telephone interview with VOA, Hadep Secretary General Mahmut Sakar said the pamphlets did nothing more than call for a peaceful resolution of Turkey's Kurdish problem. Mr Sakar says he believes the government intends to use the pamphlets as part of yet another court case against his party on charges of promoting Kurdish separatism. Analysts say Friday's raids show that the Turkish government is not about to ease pressure on Hadep, which is facing a ban by the constitutional court on charges of acting as a political front for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, or P-K-K. The P-K-K waged a 15-year-long armed campaign for Kurdish independence. But following the capture last year of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, the group called off its armed fight and said it would settle for cultural autonomy for Turkeys estimated 12 million Kurds. Hadep officials make little effort to disguise their sympathy for the captured PKK leader, who was convicted of treason last year by a Turkish court and sentenced to death.

    /// OPT ///

    A member of Ocalan's defense team, Dogan Erbas, was elected Hadep's Istanbul branch president in a local party congress last week. /// END OPt // Party officials insist, however, that they have no formal links with the guerrilla group and say they advocate a nonviolent solution to Turkey's Kurdish problem.

    /// OPT ///

    Analysts say there are few signs that the government is ready to make any concessions to the Kurds. The military-dominated National Security Council, which is Turkey's top decision making body, recently described the debate on allowing Kurds to broadcast and educate in their own language as "a waste of time." Turkey's armed forces fear that the granting of cultural rights could lead to further demands for Kurdish autonomy and --eventually -- Kurdish independence. /// END OPT /// (Signed)
    NEB/AZ/KL/PLM 15-Sep-2000 14:09 PM EDT (15-Sep-2000 1809 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Protests over the high cost of fuel eased in Britain and Belgium Friday, but are intensifying in other European countries in Europe. V-O-A's Ron Pemstein reports from Brussels.

    TEXT: The downtown section of Bremen in northern Germany has become the latest city to be paralyzed, by truck, taxi and tractor drivers complaining about the high price of diesel fuel. Slow-moving vehicles have backed up autobahns [highways] in southern Germany for kilometers. The German government is considering giving low-income people some relief from high fuel costs. However, a government spokesman has reaffirmed plans to continue price rises in the future tied to an ecology tax. The morning rush hour has been disrupted in Spain's second largest city, Barcelona. Truckers and farmers stalled motorists for three hours as protests intensified there. The Spanish government has ruled out reducing government taxes on fuel -- so has Germany -- but has agreed to postpone planned rises in the cost. In the Netherlands, Friday was a day of action by transport workers. Taxi and truck drivers conducted go-slow drives through The Hague to demonstrate their demand for compensation for high fuel costs. Other scattered protests blocked traffic to Amsterdam's airport. Traffic returned to normal here in Brussels after five days of trucker protests. However, European Commission spokesman, Jonathan Todd, expresses frustration with the Belgian government's handling of the Commission's requests for information about the previous blockages.

    /// 1ST TODD ACT ///

    I have to say that we have not been particularly happy with the response we've had both yesterday afternoon [Thursday] and the day before from the Belgians concerning the measures taken to ensure free movement of goods. There was lots of information concerning where the obstacles were but very little as to where the alternative routes were or the instructions that have been given to ensure the free movement of goods.

    /// END ACT ///

    By contrast, the spokesman compliments the Dutch authorities for giving the European Commission prior warning about Friday's demonstration in The Hague, and for telling Dutch police not to permit roadblocks. Belgium settled the strike here by offering to delay truckers' payments for social security, insurance and road taxes rather than reducing the government's tax share of the price of fuel. Mr. Todd says despite isolated protests in several other countries, including Ireland and Poland, there are no more obstacles to the free movement of goods and people. These are the Commission's responsibility.

    /// OPT 2ND TODD ACT///

    The situation we're in is that it is the member states that are responsible for applying Community law. The Commission does not apply Community law. It's the member states. We can blow the whistle. We can remind them of their responsibilities, but ultimately it's up to the member states to take those responsibilities seriously.

    /// END ACT ////// END OPT ///

    The Commission's powers to prevent traffic disruptions in Europe are limited, the spokesman says, because the member states wanted to restrict them. He simply reminds the members that if they do not ensure the operation of Europe's internal market to let goods flow freely, they are tampering with one of the basic principles of the European Union. (Signed) NEB/RP/GE/WTW/PLM 15-Sep-2000 14:50 PM EDT (15-Sep-2000 1850 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: More gas stations are opening around Britain after protesters ended their blockades of oil refineries. Priority service is still reserved for doctors, nurses and others considered part of Britain's emergency services. Protesters still demand a cut in the government's gas tax but Prime Minister Tony Blair says he will not be bullied into changing policy. Correspondent Laurie Kassman reports from London that the government now is studying ways to prevent another crisis in the future.

    TEXT: Government ministers were stunned to see how quickly the country was brought to a halt by the fuel crisis. Now Interior Minister Jack Straw is talking with oil companies about ways to prevent it from happening again.

    ///STRAW ACT///

    As a consequence of these protests, essential services the basic fabric of our society and our national life was brought to the brink.

    ///END ACT///

    Mr. Straw told British radio the discussions with oil companies aim to figure out a way to keep the fuel flowing despite efforts to stop deliveries. British media have accused the oil companies of collusion with the protestors, but oil executives say their drivers refused to cross the picket lines. Truckers and farmers blocked oil depots and refineries across the country for a week in their campaign for a cut in the government tax, which makes British fuel the most expensive in Europe. The fuel crisis brought the country to a halt. Prime Minister Blair warned it was endangering lives. Business leaders like Chris Humphries of the British Chamber of Commerce said it has also cost jobs.


    For business, many of the problems of this crisis are just beginning. We think it's going to be two to three weeks before supplies are back to normal and for many smaller businesses who feel they are at the bottom of the food chain in fuel supplies, these are going to be very difficult times.

    ///END ACT///

    British protesters are not alone in demanding a cut in gas prices. Demonstrations are also disrupting normal life in several other European Union countries. (Signed)
    NEB/LMK/GE/KBK 15-Sep-2000 11:24 AM EDT (15-Sep-2000 1524 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: U-S stocks sold off today (Friday), despite some market-friendly economic news. Investors were pre-occupied with the impact of a slowing economy on U-S corporate earnings. VOA correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York:

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 160 points, more than one percent, to 10-thousand-927. The Industrials are down over two percent for the week. The Standard and Poor's 500 index dropped 15 points, or one percent. And the technology-weighted Nasdaq composite closed two percent lower - down almost four percent for the week. Latest on the U-S economy shows consumer prices fell in August for the first time in 14 years. And U-S industrial production climbed only moderately - suggesting a slowdown in manufacturing activity. But investors shrugged off the benign data and focused on corporate earnings. Oracle, the world's biggest database software company, came in with profits above expectations. But sales of its applications software fell below Wall Street targets. Among the few bright spots in Friday's trading were oil stocks, which moved higher with the price of oil.

    ///REST OPT///

    Analyst Jim Meyer says a slowing economy is widely expected to impact on profits of U-S businesses - especially with the present currency problems:

    ///MEYER ACT///

    The weak euro is showing up in some of the speculated pre-announcements in the consumer products companies. And there continues to be a lot of nervousness in the "tech" sector that no matter how good the results are, they're not exceeding expectations any more.

    ///END ACT///

    Number two auto-maker Ford Motor Company announced the Firestone tire recall will cut into its profits for the rest of the year. Blowouts of the tires, which Ford put on some of its vehicles, have led to fatal accidents in the United States. Meanwhile, Ford has decided to scrap its nearly seven- billion dollar bid for the ailing Daewoo Motor company of South Korea. This precipitated a nearly four percent sell-off on the Korean stock exchange. (signed)
    NEB/NY/EJ/PT 15-Sep-2000 16:47 PM EDT (15-Sep-2000 2047 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The opening of the Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia and continuing anger at the government's handling of a nuclear secrets case remain the topics of choice in U-S editorial columns this Friday. Other commentaries concern Texas Governor George Bush's campaign problems; Indonesia's leader under fire: China's World Trade Organization entry; and the potential danger of Saddam Hussein's rearming effort. Now, here is __________ with a closer look and some excerpts in today's U-S Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: The 27th Olympiad is underway in Australia and many U-S dailies have something to say about the Games. Many are suggesting that despite all the controversy about performance enhancing drugs, bribery of Olympic officials, and body suits, we should all sit back and enjoy the spectacle. Others prefer to focus on the problems. Minneapolis, Minnesota's Star Tribune takes the first approach.

    VOICE: When the Olympic flame is lighted in Sydney tonight, the world will be able to focus for a moment on a kind of glory that cannot be dimmed by all the taint and trouble preceding these games. For all the ways the Olympics fall short of the ideal, they still stir the spirit with the spectacle of young athletes striving toward the goals of swifter, higher, stronger.

    TEXT: The national daily USA Today worries about the almost unmanageable size the games have attained, and suggests the founder of the modern Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin wouldn't recognize them.

    VOICE: The result ... is something ... the Baron wouldn't recognize: an operation staggering from "gigantism." The Olympics ... are now so enormous organizers have had to split summer and winter Games into separate years. The Sydney Games alone cost one- point-seven-billion dollars and feature more than ten- thousand-300-athletes in 296 events spread across 30 venues. The Olympic Village is so large that after the Games, it will become a Sydney suburb.

    TEXT: Then there is the problem of time. Since the games are on the other side of the world, the American television network N-B-C will delay showing the events. The New York Times worries that viewers will miss the natural rhythm of many events, after packaging by television executives.

    VOICE: What we will get ... from Sydney is a seamless package of events and features, an oscillation between tight focus on contests and tight focus on individuals and their lives - - up close and personal ... we will mostly be observing events in a repackaged form that television executives believe caters to the American taste for celebrity and high drama.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: Maine's Portland Press Herald focuses its attention on the idealism of the games.

    VOICE: The artistry, passion, excellence and excitement of the Olympics will render cultural and political borders unimportant, at least for the next 17 days.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: The day's other main topic of commentary is the release from prison of former Los Alamos nuclear scientist Wen Ho Lee. Mr. Lee pleaded guilty to a single count of mishandling government nuclear computer files. The judge in the case sharply criticized the government's treatment of the nuclear scientist. For the third consecutive day, papers are joining the judge in berating the government's handling of the case. In Alabama's Birmingham Post- Herald, the question is "And all for what?"

    VOICE: The government's case against ...[Mr.] Lee ... has collapsed but it leaves behind grave questions about the government's seeming disregard for his civil liberties. ... The outcome is almost comic. The man once accused of betraying the "crown jewels" of the U- S nuclear weapons program to China ... will pay no fine and receive no sentence other than time served. ... One further investigation remains to be launched: Why the U-S government embarrassed a generation of Chinese-American scientists, ruined [Mr.] Lee's reputation, cost him his livelihood, slung him into solitary confinement - - and battled to keep him there - all for one useless conviction on a minor matter.

    TEXT: Today's Kansas City [Missouri] Star is concerned as much for the way the case was bungled, as for the fact that somehow China did apparently receive some classified nuclear weapons information from someone.

    VOICE: Officials are convinced that the sudden improvement in china's nuclear weapons technology can be explained only by a security breach, and some investigators aren't convinced [Mr.] Lee is innocent. They point out ... it remains unclear why he downloaded the information, some of which hasn't been recovered. [Mr.] Lee has agreed to cooperate in answering such questions.

    TEXT: The Saint Petersburg [Florida] Times is calling for "a full, independent investigation" of the matter and, if appropriate, an apology to Mr. Lee. /// OPT

    /// The Detroit Free Press however warns ... "this thing isn't over with yet, nor should it be." And today's Dallas Morning News also says the "botched case now needs further explanation." /// END OPT ///
    In presidential politics, several papers are commenting on a Republican television ad that inserted the word "rats" briefly on a single frame, subliminally as it is called, and how George Bush is dealing with the criticism it evoked. Boston's Christian Science Monitor suggests the bad press he's gotten is disturbing for a couple of reasons.

    VOICE: First, it's sad to see the tactics of campaign media wizards, rather than the intended issue-related point, become the message ... Second, the ad miscues are adding to the impression of a stumbling Bush candidacy. The much-touted "character issue" appears to be slipping from questions of leadership and moral standing toward simple competency.

    TEXT: Springing to Mr. Bush's defense is The Augusta Georgia Chronicle, which suggests:

    VOICE: The RATS complaint is nothing but more liberal squeaking. What exactly are Democrats whining about? The fact that the Bush campaign has come out swinging so he can get his campaign back on track?

    TEXT: To Asia, where Indonesia's president Wahid gets more criticism for the violence on the island of Timor from The Los Angeles Times.

    VOICE: ... The international community is rightfully pressuring [President] Wahid to rein in the military. ... Violence in the refugee camps must stop, U-N workers must be allowed to resume humanitarian aid safely and the refugees who want to return to East Timor must be allowed to do so.

    TEXT: As regards China's imminent entry into the World Trade Organization, The Washington Post says recent pressure by China on the Clinton administration, to further delay Taiwan's W-T-O entry should be resolved before the Senate votes to normalize trade with Beijing.

    VOICE: It is this sort of gloss [Editors: "glossing over" or ignoring a previous point] that drives some in Congress to doubt the administration's resolve in dealing with China and its value as a guarantor of China's honorable intentions.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: Still with Chinese affairs, Honolulu's Star- Bulletin is mildly pleased with the results of Hong Kong's latest elections.

    VOICE: In the second legislative elections since the return of Hong Kong to China in 1997, the biggest pro- Beijing party scored modest gains, indicating a growing acceptance of the territory's new status. This may be credited in part to restraint by China in exerting its authority, in accordance with the terms of the turnover agreement with Britain.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: From the Mid East, today's Charleston [South Carolina] Post and Courier says there is concern about the possible rearming of Iraq with weapons of mass destruction, that, while the people of the country starve.

    VOICE: It is no surprise that Iraq continues to defy the United Nations by refusing to allow U-N inspectors to enter the country to ensure that Saddam Hussein does not hide or rebuild weapons of mass destruction. But, in the light of propaganda claims that U-n sanctions are decimating the Iraqi population, it was a surprise when Iraq refused to allow a team of experts to assess humanitarian needs. The explanation is that feeding his people is not a priority for Saddam.

    TEXT: On that troubling note, we conclude this sampling of editorial comment from Friday's U-S press.
    ANG/NEB/KBK 15-Sep-2000 11:12 AM EDT (15-Sep-2000 1512 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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