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October 17, 2003 - Image 5

Resource type:
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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2003-10-17

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NATION/WORLD

GOP plan
changes
veterans'
benefits
WASHINGTON (AP) - House
Republicans announced a $22 billion
plan yesterday to partially overturn a
19th-century policy depriving disabled
veterans of some retirement pay.
For veterans groups who have spent
years pushing for the change, it was a
long anticipated, if not fully satisfying
victory.
"We've worked hard to begin this
process of fulfilling our obligations to
our veterans," said House Majority
Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a participant
in weeks of negotiations to work out a
compromise acceptable to the White
House and GOP congressional leaders.
The plan, to be phased in over 10
years, would mean greater benefits for
about 245,000 disabled veterans, nearly
half of those who see their retirement
benefits reduced or eliminated under
current law.
The measure is now part of a defense
bill, though it could shift to different
legislation if the defense measure is
stalled by other disputes, Blunt said.
Under an 1890 law aimed at Civil
War veterans, retirees' retirement pay is
reduced $1 for every dollar in disability
compensation they receive. For years,
veterans and their many allies in Con-
gress have pushed to change this, but
made little headway because of the
cost, commonly put at about $58 billion
over 10 years.
This year, with wounded military
personnel returning from Iraq, the pres-
sure for action has increased.
Under the compromise, veterans
with a service-connected disability
rated 50 percent or higher by the Veter-
ans Affairs Department would get their
full retirement pay after 10 years.
VA disability rates run from a tax-
free $633 a month for those with a 50
percent disability to $2,193 for some-
one with 100 percent disability. Under
the phase in, the 50 percent disabled
person would get $100 a month effec-
tive Jan. 1, 2004, and the totally dis-
abled person $750 toward their lost
retirement pay.
Purple Heart veterans - those hit
by enemy fire - and others with
combat-related disabilities would get
full benefits. Reservists and National
Guard members would be eligible for
this status.
The plan sets up a commission to
review the current VA disability system
to ensure it is equitable.
"It doesn't solve the whole problem,
but it is a giant step that will provide
substantial relief for the most severely
disabled and combat-wounded retirees,"
said Norb Ryan, retired Navy vice
admiral and president of the Military
Officers Association of America."
"This is a move forward," said Joe
Violante, national legislative director of
the Disabled American Veterans. "But it
certainly is not everything and we're
not going to give up the fight for those
veterans that have not been included."
American Legion National Com-
mander John Brieden said the nation's
largest veterans group "will accept
nothing less" than full benefits. "Just
compensation for service-disabled mili-
tary retirees should be no less a priority
than rebuilding Iraq," he said.
Democrats have charged the White
House and GOP leaders with short-

changing veterans while waging war in
Afghanistan and Iraq, and were critical
of the compromise.
SAFE
Continued from Page :A
The lectures were followed by a
question and answer session in
which the audience expressed opti-
mism for the future of a Palestinian
state and questions about increasing
effectiveness in changing American
policy towards Israel were
addressed.
LSA junior Aesha Ahmed said she
found the lectures and question and
answer session to be "informative and
beneficial because we got to interact
with one another."
But a University student who wished
to remain anonymous said that the
event's message was biased in its view-
points.
"I felt like it was a very polarized
discussion. It was not productive at
all;" the student said.
SAFE plans to make these lectures
on the Arab-Israeli conflict an annual
event honoring Edward Said.

The Michigan Daily - Friday, October 17, 2003 - 5A
Explosion damages
Iraqi oil pipeline,
cuts down exports

AP rPvOT
Sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad, center, listens to court proceedings along with his attorney Peter Greenspun, left, for
the third day of Jury selection yesterday.
J "urCandiaes dismissed in

sniper trial
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP)-
the trial of sniper suspect John
slowed yesterday as several would
believe he is guilty in the string o
rorized the Washington area a year
Only seven of 16 potential juror
day qualified for the panel, with
qualified at the defense's request,
request of the defense and prosecut
On Wednesday, 13 of 15 potenti
fied for service.
"It just seems like some jurors ar
others. This was one of those da'
Ebert said after court adjourned for
Facing a series of questions fror
several potential jurors said they1
guilty, even though they had prev
not formed an opinion about his gu
"From all the evidence at the
guilty," said one woman, Juror 3
identified in court by number to pr(
Another juror was disqualified 1
works at the Virginia Beach jail a
Muhammad. Three were disqualifi

for biased views on case
- Jury selection in they could not impose the death penalty or must be
Allen Muhammad absolutely certain of guilt before considering it.
1-be jurors said they Seven men and 13 women have qualified for the jury.
f shootings that ter- The judge must qualify seven more jurors to reach a
ago. panel of 27.
s interviewed yester- Then, prosecutors and defense attorneys each can
five of the nine dis- eliminate six jurors, leaving a jury of 12 plus three
and one at the joint alternates.
ion. Potential jurors have been quizzed individually about
al jurors were quali- their views on the death penalty, their exposure to pre-
trial news accounts and whether they felt terrorized by
re harder to seat than the sniper spree that killed 10 people over a three-week
ys," prosecutor Paul period.
the day. Muhammad is charged with capital murder in the
m defense attorneys, Oct. 9, 2002, slaying of Dean Harold Meyers at a gas
think Muhammad is station near Manassas.
iously said they had Opening statements are expected to begin Monday.
ilt or innocence. The trial was moved away from the Washington area
time, I think he's to this southeastern Virginia city after defense lawyers
18. All jurors were argued that every northern Virginia resident could be
otect their privacy. considered a victim because the shootings caused wide-
because her husband spread fear.
and has contact with Fellow sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo, 18, goes on
ed because they said trial separately next month.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - An explo-
sion damaged part of the main pipeline
running from Iraq's northern oil fields
yesterday, forcing a reduction in the
amount of oil available for export.
In Irbil, 200 miles north of Baghdad,
police shot and killed the driver of a car
packed with 220 pounds of explosives
as he approached the police ministry
office, the U.S. military said.
The vehicle did not explode, U.S.
officials said. A car bombing in Irbil last
month killed three people and injured
four American intelligence officers.
It was unclear whether the
pipeline explosion near the city of
Hadeetha, 125 miles northwest of
Baghdad, was caused by saboteurs,
a senior Oil Ministry official said
on condition of anonymity.
He said the explosion ripped open
part of the main pipeline linking the
northern oil fields to the al-Doura oil
refinery and the Mussayab power plant.
The oil in the pipeline was earmarked
for domestic use.
To maintain domestic supplies,
the official said exports from the
southern oil fields will be reduced
by 80,000 barrels a day in order to
make up for the shortage from the
northern oil fields.
There have been many attacks on
pipelines in the region, complicating
the American rebuilding effort in Iraq,
which depends on oil revenue.
Paul Bremer, the U.S. civilian
administrator for Iraq, has said the
country is losing $7 million daily
because of the closure of the export
pipeline to Turkey.
In September, the line reopened
for three days for the first time after
the war. Three bomb blasts along
the line forced its closure.
Iraq is exporting an average of 1
million barrels of oil a day, all of it

It was unclear whether
the pipeline explosion
near the city of
Hadeetha, 125 miles
northwest of Baghdad,
was caused by
saboteurs, a senior Oil
Ministry official said
on condition of
anonymity.
coming from the southern oil fields.
In Tikrit, meanwhile, a 4-year-old
Iraqi girl was killed yesterday when
a bomb exploded just outside the
main U.S. Army base. Her 12-year-
old sister was critically wounded,
U.S. officials said.
U.S. officials said they believed
the bomb was intended for two U.S.
Bradley armored vehicles that had
passed down the same road minutes
before the blast.
In the southern city of Basra, an
Iraqi doctor, Haidar al-Baaj, was
shot in the back of the head and
killed as he was entering his clinic,
hospital officials said yesterday.
Al-Baaj, 48, was recently promot-
ed to the post of director of the
Educational Hospital in Basra, the
officials said.
The officials and members of al-
Baaj's family said he had been
threatened over the past two months
for cooperating with authorities of
the U.S.-run coalition.
British military spokesman Capt.
Hisham Halawi confirmed a doctor
was killed on Wednesday but did
not provide further details.

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