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September 05, 2003 - Image 2

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-09-05

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2 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 5, 2002

Bush's court NEWS IN BRIEF
withdraws France, Germany oppose U.S. resolution

Top 10Qreasons to sign up
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Democrats deem
Estrada too conservative
to sit on appellate court
Estrada, whose nomination became
a flash point for Democratic opposi-
tion to President Bush's judicial
choices, withdrew from considera-
tion for an appeals court seat yester-
day after Republicans failed in
seven attempts to break a Senate fil-
President Bush called Estrada's
treatment "disgraceful." But Senate
Democrats said he was a casualty of
the White House's insistence on
stacking federal appeals courts with
conservative ideologues.
"This should serve as a wakeup
call to the White House that it can-
not simply expect the Senate to rub-
ber-stamp judicial nominees," said
Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass),
one of the leading opponents to
Bush's nominees.
Republicans, however, promised
to push forward on other Bush nom-
inees who have been blocked by fil-
"(Yesterday was) a shameful
moment in the history of this great
institution," said Senate Majority
Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), in a
speech on the Senate floor. "The
United States Senate has been
denied the right to confirm or reject
a brilliant and qualified nominee
because of the obstruction of a
For Estrada - who at one point
was rumored to be a possible
Supreme Court nominee - the
withdrawal ends a two-year waiting
game in which his nomination for
the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
District of Columbia Circuit never
got beyond the Senate floor.
"I believe that the time has come
to return my full attention to the
practice of law and to regain the abil-
ity to make long-term plans for my
family," he said in a letter to Bush.
Estrada, who was in Miami yes-
terday, told reporters there he had
nothing to add to his letter.
Estrada, 41, a private attorney
who had never served as a judge,
wanted a seat on the D.C. Circuit,
which currently is split evenly
between Republican and Democrat-
ic appointees. The court decides
important government cases involv-
ing separation of powers, the role of
the federal government, the respon-
sibilities of federal officials and the
authority of federal agencies.
Democrats argued that Estrada
and Bush's other blocked nominees
are too conservative to serve on the
court, the regional courts that han-
dle federal court appeals around the
nation. They pressed Estrada to
make clear his views on issues like
abortion rights, but he declined.
The White House refused Democ-
rats' request for the release of inter-
nal memos Estrada had written
while serving in the office of the
solicitor general in the administra-
tion of Bush's father.
Republicans, in turn, accused
Democrats of bias against Bush's
nominees. They sought to portray
Estrada, a Honduran immigrant who
graduated from Harvard Law
School, as a modern-day Hispanic
Horatio Alger and accused Democ-
rats of being anti-Hispanic.

* 1002 PONTIAC TR. U

France and Germany refused yesterday to support a U.S. draft resolution that
would spread the burden of running postwar Iraq, but said they believed a com-
promise was possible.
French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder
demanded that Washington give the United Nations more influence in Iraq's polit-
ical future. Their stance threatened to reopen a barely healed trans-Atlantic rift
over their ardent opposition to the Iraq war.
Under the draft resolution circulated Wednesday at the United Nations, Wash-
ington seeks money and troops from other countries but would not cede political
or military control in Iraq.
Chirac seemed particularly critical of the U.S. initiative and was adamant
that the draft foresee the United States' giving up control of the political
process in Iraq. France is one of five permanent members of the U.N.
Security Council, meaning it has veto power over council actions.
Yet Chirac and Schroeder, meeting in Dresden for informal consulta-
tions, struck a conciliatory note. They said they saw a chance to negotiate a
compromise at the United Nations, where talks over the draft are expected
to be tough and lengthy.
Abbas confronts Palestinian parliament
Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas asked parliament yesterday to
either support him or strip him of his post, saying infighting is keeping him from
making progress on a U.S.-backed peace plan.
Weakened by a power struggle with Yasser Arafat, Abbas told legislators he
must be given full power to carry out reforms required by the "road map" peace
plan. If the demand is met, Abbas would have a stronger hand against militants he
is pressing to stop attacks against Israelis. Abbas, summing up his first 100 days
in office, stopped short of seeking a vote of confidence that could topple him, but
said he is leaving his future in parliament's hands.
"I am not attached to this post and I am not (making) and will not make any
effort to keep this post. It is a difficult mission that many describe as impossible,"
Abbas said.
At the start of the parliamentary session, about 200 activists in Arafat's Fatah
movement demonstrated in support of their leader. Seven masked men from the
crowd broke down a door to the building and smashed windows before unarmed
guards forced them out.


House approves pay
raise for Congress
The House approved a 2.2 percent
pay raise for Congress yesterday -
slightly less than average wage increas-
es in private business but enough to
boost lawmakers' annual salaries to
about $158,000 next year.
The House members decided to
allow themselves a fifth straight cost-
of-living raise after rejecting them for
several years during the 1990s. Their
annual pay has risen from $136,700 in
1999 to about $158,000 in 2004, if the
legislation clears Congress and is
signed by the president. Their salary
this year is $154,700.
As in past years, the congressional
COLA was automatically included
as part of pay increases that all fed-
eral civilian and military employees
will receive- According to the
Bureau of Labor Statistics, wages
among all non-government workers
rose an average 2.7 percent from
July 2002 through June 2003.
Democrats contest
limits on gay unions
Democratic senators said yesterday
they opposed a constitutional amend-
ment to preserve the definition of mar-
riage as a man-woman union, saying
the law defining marriage as such is not
at risk. They were responding to wit-
nesses in a Judiciary subcommittee
hearing who pushed for an amendment

because they believe the law may soon
be challenged in court. -
"No courts have questioned that law
... I don't think anyone has seriously
suggested that law is in danger," said
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).
The law, known as the Defense of
Marriage Act, was passed in 1996. It
denies federal recognition of same-sex
marriages and allows states to ignore
same-sex unions allowed elsewhere.
Some politicians, including President
Bush, have been concerned that U.S.
courts might overturn the federal law.
. . .
Officials note rise in
freight-train robberies
Instead of six-shooters and horses,
these modern-day train robbers use
two-way radios, night-vision goggles
and bolt cutters. Train robbery, a quin-
tessentially 19th-century crime, is
rolling on into the 21st century.
But along with the technology, the
targets have changed - instead of gold
and cash, today freight trains loaded
with such merchandise as electronics,
cigarettes and tires are the lure.
"If you can sell it on the street
easy, they'll get it," said James
Beach, a captain for the Union
Pacific railroad police in Fort
Worth, Texas.
Recently, law enforcement agents
launched a sting operation along the
U.S.-Texas border after Union Pacific
suffered 122 robberies and 87 burglaries
in nine months near El Paso, Texas.
- Compiled from Daily wire reports.


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