2 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, February 10, 2004
Survey: Mass. legislators deeply split NEWS IN BRIEF
m HEADLINES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
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BOSTON (AP) - An Associated Press survey of
Massachusetts lawmakers shows a Legislature deeply
divided over a proposed constitutional amendment to
ban gay marriage in the state where the nation's first
legally sanctioned same-sex weddings could take
place as early as May.
The 199 House and Senate lawmakers - all of
whom are up for re-election in November - could
take up the volatile issue at a constitutional conven-
lion as early as tomorrow.
The issue gained urgency last week when the
tate's high court declared that anything less than
full-fledged marriage for gays in Massachusetts
would be unconstitutional. The opinion put Massa-
chusetts lawmakers at the center of a political mael-
strom that is being closely watched across the
country and could play a role in the presidential race.
All of Massachusetts' legislators were contacted
by telephone and e-mail by the AP since last week's
Supreme Judicial Court opinion, and 138 responded.
Of those, 59 said they would oppose the constitution-
al amendment, while 65 said they could support it.
An additional 14 said they were undecided. Sixty-
one did not respond.
There is probably nothing lawmakers can do to
prevent the nation's first gay marriages from taking
place May 17. The earliest the proposed amendment
could reach the ballot is November 2006.
That is because the proposal first needs to be
approved by a majority of lawmakers in two successive
legislative sessions. That means a revamped Legisla-
ture could take up the issue after next fall's elections.
Veteran statehouse observers called the situation
extremely fluid, with some lawmakers flip-flopping
under intense lobbying by members of the clergy, fel-
low politicians and gay-rights advocates. There's also
the scrutiny of the national media and the fact that it
is an election year.
"In 20 years of lobbying, I've never seen such a
fluid issue," said Arline Isaacson, co-leader of the
Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus.
"There's such a high degree of emotion in this build-
"Marriage has been a
tradition for 3,000 years.... I
don't think you can change
the laws of nature ..."
Massachusetts Democratic state represenatative
ing and emotions are guiding legislators, who would
rather be more thoughtful about this."
Supporters of the amendment said they were bas-
ing their position on personal beliefs and public
opinion. "Marriage has been a tradition for 3,000
years," said Rep. David Flynn, a Democrat. "I don't
think you can change the laws of nature and I don't
think waiting a couple of years to see how people
feel about it is the wrong thing to do."
The Agriculture Department is ending its search for additional cases of mad
cow disease even though officials have not found several animals suspected of
having eaten the potentially infectious feed believed to have caused the only
known U.S. case.
"Our investigation is now complete," Ron DeHaven, the department's chief vet-
erinarian, said yesterday. "We feel very confident the remaining animals, the ones
we have not been able to positively identify, represent little risk."
The closure leaves officials not knowing what happened to 11 head of cattle
among 25 that authorities say were most likely to have eaten the same feed as that
given to a Holstein diagnosed in Washington state with mad cow after it was
slaughtered on Dec. 9. All 25 were among 81 born on a farm in Alberta, Canada,
and shipped into the United States in 2001. Officials have found 29 of the 81,
including 14 considered most at risk.
The search for the 81 cattle led authorities to 189 farms and ranches and the
testing of 255 animals, none of which had bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or
BSE, the technical name for mad cow disease, DeHaven said. Some may have
gone to slaughter, but BSE tests would have spotted any slaughtered animal that
had mad cow, he said.
Suicide attack kills two U.S. soldiers in Iraq
A man wearing an explosives belt blew himself up yesterday outside the home
of two tribal leaders who have cooperated with American forces. Two U.S. soldiers
were killed while disposing of explosives in northern Iraq.
Three Iraqi guards were seriously wounded in the blast outside the compound
of brothers Majid and Amer Ali Suleiman in Ramadi, northwest of Baghdad.
Witnesses said the brothers were receiving callers when a man approached the
compound but was told to leave. He returned moments later and triggered the
explosives, the witnesses said. The brothers are two of the city's most prominent
tribal leaders who have worked with coalition forces.
Insurgents have repeatedly warned Iraqis not to cooperate with the Americans.
The most recent threats were contained in pamphlets circulated in Ramadi and
nearby Fallujah by a purported coalition of 12 insurgent groups.
Ramadi and Fallujah are located in the Sunni Triangle, a major center of resist-
ance to the U.S.-led occupation. The two American soldiers were killed in an
explosion outside Sinjar near the northern city of Mosul during an operation to
dispose of ordnance, deputy operations chief Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said.
Israeli court hears case
against security baffler
JERUSALEM (AP) - The Supreme Court
heard petitions yesterday from two Israeli human
rights groups against the West Bank barrier, a day
after the government said it would change its
route to minimize hardship for Palestinians.
The groups argue that any construction on
occupied land is illegal and that the barrier vio-
lates human rights by disrupting lives of thou-
sands of Palestinians.
"It's a matter of building a fence which breaches
the human rights of Palestinians along its path,"
Avigdor Feldman, lead lawyer for the Center for the
Defense of the Individual, said after the hearing.
Government attorney Michael Blass told the
court that the barrier's route is still not complete
and every effort will be made to help Palestinians
cut off by it.
"We are learning lessons, the whole thing is
dynamic," he said. "We have to help them, solu-
tions will have to be found."
Chief Justice Aharon Barak said the three-
judge panel would rule "as soon as possible."
The case was heard two weeks before the Inter-
national Court of Justice in the Netherlands is to
examine the barrier's legality. Barak didn't say
whether the decision would come before the case
in The Hague.
He said he was considering sending the matter
to a larger panel, a step usually taken for the most
serious cases. Any Israeli court decision could
affect Israel's case before the world court, which
trol of nne t
is to issue an advisory ruling at the request of the
U.N. General Assembly.
Israel insists the barrier is necessary to keep
out Palestinian suicide bombers, who have killed
hundreds in three years of violence. Palestinians
say it is a land grab aimed at preventing them
from creating a state.
The barrier is seen as part of Israeli Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon's emerging plan to separate
Israelis and Palestinians. Sharon has said he will
carry out other parts of his plan, including the
removal of most Israeli settlements in the Gaza
Strip, if peace efforts fail in the coming months.
Sharon, who has come under criticism from
Palestinians and within his own government for
his disengagement plan, canceled his schedule
yesterday after being diagnosed with kidney
stones in the urinary tract, his office said. Sharon,
75, was to undergo treatment later yesterday and
was expected back at work tomorrow, a
Settlers in Gaza have pledged to fight a with-
drawal. Yesterday, leaders of the 7,800 Gaza set-
tlers said they were preparing to move 500
families into the area to thwart Sharon's plan.
Palestinians have harshly criticized the barrier,
saying a settlement must be reached through
negotiations. Senior Palestinian official Yasser
Abed Rabbo said Yasser Arafat's government is
considering declaring an independent state if
Israel tries to impose a boundary.
Israeli border police stand guard as workers put
oncrete pieces into place during the construction
ofa a section of the 8-meter-tall security barrier.
Bush blasts Dems for
targeting tax cut plan
His voice rising to a shout, Presi-
dent Bush lashed out at Democratic
rivals who want to roll back his tax
cuts as he defended his economic pri-
orities yesterday in a presidential pri-
mary state where his record has been
"There are some in Washington that
are going to say, 'Let's not make the tax
cuts permanent.' That means he's going
to raise your taxes," Bush said at a fac-
tory. "When you hear people say,
'We're not going to make this perma-
nent,' that means tax increase."
The Democrats running for president
say they would repeal all or portions of
Bush's tax cuts, and Bush seemed to
step more forcefully into his re-election
campaign as he defended his tax poli-
cies. Some of the cuts are to expire next
year, including those for married cou-
ples, and Bush is asking that Congress
make them permanent.
Letter: Bin Laden
recruiting few Iraqis
A letter seized from an al-Qaida
courier shows Osama bin Laden has
made little headway in recruiting Iraqis
for a holy war against the United States,
raising questions about the Bush
administration's contention that Iraq is
the central front in the war on terror.
The 17-page letter, cited as a key
piece of intelligence that offered a rare
window into foreign terrorist opera-
tions in Iraq, appealed to al-Qaida
leaders to help spark a civil war
between Iraq's two main Muslim sects
in an effort to "tear the country apart,"
U.S. officials said yesterday.
Report urges doctors
to encourage fitness
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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - Anti-government
rebels took control of at least nine towns in western
Haiti yesterday, and the death toll in the violent upris-
ingrose to at least 40, witnesses said.
In the strongest challenge yet to the authority of
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, armed rebels began
their assault Thursday in the Gonaives, Haiti's fourth-
largest city, setting the police station on fire, driving
police officers out of the town and sending government
wokers fleeing for safety.
"We are in a situation of armed popular insurrec-
tion," said opposition politician and former army Col.
Himler Rebu, who led a failed coup attempt against Lt.
Gen. Prosper Avril in 1989.
The deaths were reported by the Associated Press,
Red Cross official Raoul Elysee, rebel leaders Wenter
Etienne and Jean-Yves Marcisse, and Haitian radio.
At the weekend, the rebels took the important port
city of St. Marc, where hundreds of people looted TV
sets, mattresses and sacks of flour from shipping con-
Using felled trees, burning tires and cars, residents
blocked entry to several towns. Rebels blocking the
road into St. Marc from Port-au-Prince, the capital 45
miles away, told Associated Press reporters yesterday
that if they entered the city there was no turning back
to Port-au-Prince. They only would be allowed to travel
deeper into rebel-held territory.
The main rebel group is the Gonaives Resistance
Front, formerly a gang of pro-Aristide toughs who ter-
rorized government opponents but since have turned
on the Haitian leader. In Gonaives, they were joined by
some former soldiers of the disbanded Haitian army.
The rebels are being supported by residents who have
formed neighborhood groups disgruntled by mounting
poverty, corruption and political crises.
Anger has brewed in Haiti since Aristide's party won
flawed legislative elections in 2000 and international
donors blocked millions of dollars in aid. The opposi-
tion refuses to participate in new elections unless Aris-
tide resigns; he insists on serving out the term that ends
Aristide was elected in Haiti's first democratic elec-
tion in 1990, then ousted months later by the army. He
was restored to power in a 1994 U.S. invasion. He dis-
banded the army and replaced it with a small civilian
police force that is accused of being trigger-happy and
In one the bloodiest clashes, 150 police tried to
retake Gonaives on Saturday but left hours later after a
series of gunbattles, witnesses said.
Don't be surprised at your next
checkup if the doctor measures your
waist and writes a prescription for exer-
cise: They are among the recommenda-
tions in a new "call to action" for
By now its a familiar refrain: Amer
icans need to lose weight and get fit.
But the necessity couldn't be more
dire, the report in yesterday's Archives
of Internal Medicine says, citing data
showing that about two-thirds of U.S.
adults - 131 million people - are
But many doctors are failing to capi-
talize on their unique ability to help
change patients' ways, the report says.
- Compiled from Daily wire reports
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