2A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, February 3, 2003
Safety concerns beleaguer NASA NEWS IN BRIEF,,
HEADLINES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
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WASHINGTON (AP) - Shortages of key experts,
tight budgets and mounting safety concerns all
plagued the nation's space program in recent years,
according to a trail of reports by congressional audi-
tors, outside panels and NASA retirees.
How much of a forewarning they were to Satur-
day's space, shuttle Columbia tragedy may be deter-
mined in the next several weeks.
NASA critics both in and outside the government
and investigators into the accident are sure to comb
the reports for anything that might explain the disinte-
gration of the spacecraft nearly 40 miles above Texas
as it screamed toward a landing in Florida at more
than 12,000 miles per hour.
As President Bush took office, the investigative
arm of Congress found in 2001 that NASA's shuttle
work force over the years had declined significantly to
the point of reducing the agency's ability to safely sup-
port the program.
Many key areas were not sufficiently staffed by
qualified workers and the remaining work force
showed signs of overwork and fatigue, the General
Accounting Office stated.
There were other warnings, including a report to
Congress last April on the shuttle program by a feder-
ally mandated safety panel of outside experts which
expressed "the strongest safety concern" in 15 years.
"We just received a GAO report, I think last week,
that looked at NASA's oversight of some of their pri-
vate contractors and basically said it was inadequate,
Sen. John Breaux (D-La.), said yesterday on CNN.
Breaux and other members of Congress made
clear yesterday that safety and the NASA budget
will come under intense scrutiny on Capitol Hill
this year, beginning today when the White House
sends lawmakers details of Bush's priorities fo the
agency next year.
"Inevitably, there will be a discussion out of this
about how much NASA should be funded, should
there be another orbiter built, and in fact, has it been
so poorly funded in recent years that maybe, just
maybe it wasn't as safe as it should be?" said Sen. Bill
Nelson (D-Fla.), a former astronaut who flew aboard
The House Science Committee will take the
lead in Congress's investigation of the tragedy,
focusing on how much money has been devoted
to the safety of the shuttle and other space pro-
grams and whether the disaster could have been
prevented with more resources.
Lawmakers debate reimposing the draft
During the Vietnam War, presidents and the Pentagon defended the draft, while
the peace movement assailed it. As America edges toward a possible new war,
roles have reversed.
Backed by other opponents of a war with Iraq, Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.)
has proposed that the draft - shelved since 1973 - be reinstated in the name of
The Pentagon disagrees, insisting that today's all-volunteer forces are more
efficient and professional than conscripts.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has gone further, asserting at a news confer-
ence that draftees added "no value, no advantage" to the military because they
served for such brief periods. After members of Congress and veterans groups
protested, Rumsfeld apologized, but made clear he opposes a return to conscription.
Still, Rangel's proposal - though unlikely to win passage - has revived a dor-
mant national debate about the concept of mandatory national service. It is a dis-
cussion that creates unusual allies and goes to the heart of American citizenship.
While the Pentagon and the Bush administration support an all-volunteer mili-
tary, a broad constituency favors some type of universal national service, either
military duty or a civilian alternative.
Bush announces budget, proposes tax cuts
President Bush will send Congress a $2.23 trillion spending plan today featuring
new tax cuts to boost the economy, a conservative tilt to major social programs and
record deficits for the next two years - shortfalls that Democrats blame on Bush's tax
White House budget officials said yesterday the president's tax and spending blue-
print, complete with dozens of agency briefings, will roll out as scheduled despite Sat-
urday's space shuttle disaster.
Bush's budget outline for the 2004 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, is required by
law to be sent to Congress the first Monday in February. The numbers and spending
priorities undoubtedly will change somewhat over the next several months as Congress
acts on his request.
The Columbia tragedy certainly will prompt added scrutiny to the president's spend-
ing proposal for NASA, which has come under heavy criticism from Congress in recent
years because of cost overruns for the orbiting space station and other programs.
Bush's budget also will seek to overhaul some of the government's biggest social
programs, like Medicare.
Reports of a lack of resources in NASA programs could lead
officials to finding out the cause of Saturday's shuttle crash.
13th Asian Business Conference
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Just days
before a crucial round of talks with
chief inspectors, a senior Iraqi official
said yesterday that Baghdad is "keen
to resolve any pending issues" in the
U.N. search for banned weapons, but
didn't immediately offer new conces-
Maj. Gen. Hossam Mohamed Amin
indicated, nevertheless, that Iraq may
have compromise proposals on hand
for the talks next Saturday and yester-
day with Hans Blix and Mohamed
ElBaradei. "We shall do our best to
make his (Blix's) visit successful,"
Amin told reporters.
Iraq, which steadfastly denies it has
forbidden arms, is under pressure to
make concessions and show progress
in the U.N. inspections process, to
forestall any U.S.-British diplomatic
bid for support for military action
In his news conference, Amin, the
chief Iraqi liaison to the U.N. inspec-
tors, also dismissed U.S. Secretary of
State Colin Powell's plan to present
purported evidence of prohibited Iraqi..
weapons programs to the U.N. Securi-
ty Council on Wednesday.
That material will probably be "fab-
ricated space photos or aerial photos,"
of a kind the Iraqis could refute if
given a chance to study it, Amin said.
"It is a political game," he said.
President Saddam Hussein is
expected to have more to say about the
U.S.-Iraqi confrontation in a rare inter-
view, conducted yesterday with retired
British lawmaker Tony Benn. Benn
said the taped interview would be tele-
vised within a day or two.
Chief U.N. weapons inspector Blix
and ElBaradei, head of the Interna-
tional Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA),
accepted an Iraqi invitation to return
for a new round of talks just ahead of
their next report to the Security Coun-
cil, on Feb. 14. It will be the second
round of Baghdad talks for Blix and
ElBaradei in three weeks.
The two chief inspectors say they
hope to see Iraqi movement before-
hand on two immediate issues: U.N.
reconnaissance flights over Iraq, and
U.N. access to weapons scientists in
Asked whether Iraq was prepared to
bend to the U.N. position, Amin
instead repeated Baghdad's positions
on both items.
The Iraqis say they will allow Amer-
ican U-2 surveillance flights on behalf
of U.N. inspections as long as the
United States and Britain halt air
patrols over southern and northern
Iraq while the spy planes are in the air.
This way, they say, Iraqi anti-aircraft
batteries won't mistake the reconnais-
sance aircraft for U.S. and British war-
planes and fire on them.
In their Jan. 19-20 talks here, the
chief inspectors "told us they have no
authority to achieve this," Amin said.
On private interviews with scien-
tists, Amin reiterated to reporters, "We
cannot force them (scientists) to con-
duct such interviews."
American officials contend Sad-
dam's government has threatened
death for any scientist who grants a
New inspections began in Novem-
ber, after a four-year gap, to check for
any leftover weapons and to ensure
that such programs haven't been
revived since the U.N. teams departed
The Bush administration insists,
without presenting proof, that Iraq is
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Dozens dead, 32 hurt
in bank explosion
A powerful explosion tore apart a
bank and dozens of apartments above it
yesterday in Nigeria's crowded commer-
cial capital, killing at least 40 people and
trapping many others, relief workers
Police were investigating a range of
motives - including that the blast was
part of a bank robbery plot. Looting and
bloody fights broke out as hundreds of
young men grabbed fistfuls of cash from
the leveled bank and battled over them.
In the chaos, trapped victims cried for
rescue and onlookers wailed as rescuers
retrieved bloody, broken bodies.
The Red Cross said searchers had
recovered more than 30 dead and 32
injured. Ten of the wounded died later
at Lagos General Hospital, hospital
Many more victims were believed
caught in the rubble, and the death toll
could rise, said Emmanuel Ijewere, pres-
ident of the Nigeria Red Cross.
HEBRON, West Bank
Israeli army levels
The Israeli army, citing a lack of
building permits, demolished nine
houses belonging to Palestinians in the
West Bank city of Hebron yesterday,
leaving dozens homeless.
In another development, dozens of
Palestinian inmates rioted at an Israel
army prison in the southern desert, and
soldiers used tear gas and stun grenades
to subdue them, the army said. There
was no immediate word on casualties.
In Hebron, Palestinian families hur-
riedly dragged refrigerators and sofas
out of the houses before Israeli bulldoz-
ers, guarded by soldiers, began knock-
ing down the walls. The families said
they had received notices months ago
that the houses would be demolished,
but had not known when the work
A total of 22 homes were to be
destroyed yesterday, all because they
allegedly were built without permits,
said Talia Somech, a spokeswoman
for the army's Civil Administration.
Russia launches ship in
wake of NASA cras
Russia launched an unmanned cargo
ship to the interhational space statioji
yesterday, a day after the loss of the
space shuttle Columbia threw into doubt
future missions to the orbitiggcomplex.
The Progress M-47 lifted off atop a
Soyuz-U rocket from the Baikonur
Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:59
p.m. and entered orbit a few minutes
later, said Nikolai Kryuchkov, a
spokesman at Russia's mission control
center outside Moscow.
The craft is scheduled to dock with
the station tomorrow, delivering fuel,
equipment, food and mail for the three-
astrdnaut crew - a Russian command-
er and two Americans.
The long-planned launch came as
stunned Russian space officials offered
condolences for the astronauts - six
Americans and one Israeli - killed
when the Columbia disintegrated short-
ly before it was to have landed Saturday
- Compiled from Daily wire reports.
President, Asian Institute of Management
Former Minister of Finance, The Phillipines
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