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February 11, 2004 - Image 2

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-02-11

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2 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, February 11, 2004


Truck bomb kills up to 53 Iraqis NEWS IN BRIEF

suicide bomber blew up a truckload of
explosives yesterday outside a police
station south of Baghdad, killing up to
53 people and wounding scores -
including would-be Iraqi recruits lined
up to apply for jobs.
The blast in this predominantly Shi-
ite Muslim city followed the disclosure
Monday of a letter from an anti-Amer-
ican operative to al-Qaida's leadership
asking for help in launching attacks
against the Shiites to undermine the
U.S.-run coalition and the future Iraqi
Many angry townspeople blamed
the Americans for the blast, and Iraqi
police had to fire weapons in the air to
disperse dozens of Iraqis who stormed
the shattered remains of the station
hours after the explosion.
"This missile was fired from a U.S.
aircraft," said Hadi Mohy Ali, 60.
"The Americans want to tear our
unity apart."
No U.S. or other coalition forces
were hurt, said Lt. Col. Dan Williams,
a military spokesman in Baghdad.
It was at least the eighth vehicle
bombing in Iraq this year and followed
warnings from occupation officials
that insurgents would step up attacks
against Iraqis who work with the U.S.-
led coalition, especially ahead of the
planned June 30 transfer of sovereign-
ty to a provisional Iraqi government.
However, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt
said it was unclear whether the bomb-
ing here was the work of a suicide
driver or whether the vehicle was
parked and then detonated.
Casualty figures varied. The U.S.
military command reported 35 dead and
75 wounded but said those figures could
be low since Iraqi authorities were han-
dling the investigation. The Iraqi Interior
Ministry said 40 to 50 people were
killed and up to 100 wounded, including
four policemen.
However, a local hospital director,
Razaq Jabbar, put the number at 53

"It was the day for
applying for new
recruits.... There
were tens of them
waiting outside the
police station:'
- Wisam Abdul-Karim
Iraqi policeman
dead and 60 wounded - all believed
to be Iraqis.
"This figure might increase," he
said. "There were some body parts
that haven't been identified yet.
Some more bodies may be trapped
under the rubble."
The explosion reduced parts of the
station to rubble and damaged nearby
buildings. The street in front of the sta-
tion was littered with the wreckage of
shattered vehicles as well as pieces of
glass, bricks, mangled steel and pieces
of clothing.
Policeman Wissam Abdul-Karim
said he was standing in front of the
nearby courthouse when "I heard a
very strong explosion" and was thrown
to the ground.
"It was the day for applying for new
recruits," Abdul-Karim said. "There
were tens of them waiting outside the
police station."
Insurgents have mounted a string of
car and suicide bombings in recent
weeks. The deadliest so far has been in
the northern city of Irbil on Feb. 1,
when two suicide bombers blew them-
selves up at two Kurdish party offices
celebrating a Muslim holiday, killing at
least 109 people.
On Jan. 18, a suicide car bomb
exploded near the main gate to the
U.S.-led coalition's headquarters in
Baghdad, killing at least 31 people.
No group claimed responsibility for

Bush releases National Guard records
The White House, trying to end doubts about President Bush's Vietnam-era
military service, released documents yesterday that it said proved he had "met his
requirements" in the Texas Air National Guard.
"These documents outline the days on which he was paid. That means he
served," said Bush spokesman Scott McClellan. However, there were still gaps in
the record.
"The handful of documents released today by the White House creates more ques-
tions than answers," said Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe.
McAuliffe had helped reignite the story earlier this month when he charged
Bush had gone "AWOL." With Vietnam War veteran John Kerry emerging as the
Democratic presidential front-runner, Democrats have been trying to stoke long-
standing questions about Bush's service in the Guard during the war.
Bush joined in 1968, and spent most of his service time based near Houston.
But in May 1972 he requested and received a temporary assignment with the
Alabama National Guard so he could serve as political director on the Senate
campaign of Winton "Red" Blount, a family friend. Bush says he recalls showing
up for drills in Alabama, but his supporters have struggled to prove it.
Sept. 11 commission to receive more access
The federal commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks will get greater
access to classified intelligence briefings prepared for President Bush under an
agreement announced yesterday with the White House.
The 10-member, bipartisan panel had been barred from reviewing notes taken
by three commissioners and the commission's executive director, Philip Zelikow,
who reviewed the data in December but couldn't take the summaries with them.
Under the agreement, the entire commission was allowed to read versions of the
summaries that were edited by the White House.
Commissioners reviewed the materials in a daylong meeting yesterday and
said the information provided a better understanding of what the government
knew prior to Sept. 11. The panel now is seeking additional interviews with
several officials, including National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.
"The report we have today raised some questions," said former New Jersey Gov.
Thomas Kean, chairman of the commission. "There are questions that go to what
happened, the history of al-Qaida and the history of the Clinton and Bush admin-

Iraqi family members cry yesterday as they try to identify the dead at a
hospital in Iskandariyah, Iraq. A truck bomb exploded outside the police
station as dozens of would-be police recruits lined up to apply for jobs.


yesterday's bombing, but Kimmitt said
the attack "does show many" of al-
Qaida's "fingerprints," including the
size of the bomb - which he estimat-
ed at 500 pounds - and the large
number of civilian casualties.
In Baghdad, however, Iraqi police Lt.
Gen. Ahmed Kadhum Ibrahim said the
engine number of the pickup indicated
it once belonged to an intelligence offi-
cer in Saddam Hussein's regime.
On Monday, U.S. officials said a

letter seized last month from an al-
Qaida courier asked the terrorist lead-
ership to help foment civil war
between Shiite and Sunni Muslims to
undermine the coalition and the future
Iraqi leadership.
The purported author of the letter
was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Palestin-
ian-Jordanian suspected of al-Qaida
links and believed at large in Iraq. The
author boasted of having organized 25
suicide attacks in this country.



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French legislature
approves school
head scarf ban

New cases of bird flu
reported in Delaware
Officials responded to a new discov-
ery of bird flu yesterday by ordering a
quarantine of 80 farms and the slaugh-
ter of 72,000 more chickens. The. swift
action was aimed at averting more bans
on U.S. exports.
The second case of disease was
found in a commercial flock of roaster-
type chickens in northern Sussex Coun-
ty, at least five miles away from the
farm where the first flock tested posi-
tive last week.
The chickens at the second farm
were killed yesterday afternoon, said
Delaware Secretary of Agriculture
Michael Scuse.
Perdue Farms said it had destroyed
the 72,000 chickens to prevent the
spread of the disease. The company
said the flock was believed to have been
infected by a nearby flock of chickens
that was raised for the New York City
live markets.

house for a historic session today in
which lawmakers will take up a constitu-
tional amendment to ban gay marriage.
The gay-marriage issue has created
an unprecedented spectacle at the Capi-
tol. As many as 4,000 spectators and
300 media members are expected to
attend the start of the constitutional
convention, and a furious lobbying
effort is already under way.
Christian conservatives used a dolly to
haul in more than 18,000 petitions signed
by citizens from across the country urg-
ing lawmakers to pass the amendment.
Atkins receives flak
over his own weight
The debate over Dr. Robert Atkins'
popular high-fat, low-carb diet flared
posthumously yesterday when it was
learned that Atkins himself was a bloat-
ed 258 pounds at his death.
A city medical examiner's report
filed after Atkins' 2003 death from a
fall showed the six-foot doctor was at a
weight normally considered obese.
A physicians group that is highly
critical of the diet released details of
the report, claiming the Atkins diet
led to weight and heart troubles for
its 72-year-old creator. Atkins's
allies immediately disputed that.
- Compiled from Daily wire reports


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PARIS (AP) - France took a deci-
sive step yesterday toward banning
Islamic head scarves in public schools,
with lawmakers overwhelmingly back-
ing the government's drive to preserve
French secular traditions from Muslim
The ban on religious attire in class-
rooms, which also includes Jewish skull-
caps and large Christian crosses, was
approved 494-36 despite protests and
criticism from around the world. The
measure goes early next month to the
Senate, where there is little opposition.
The ban was expected to take effect
in September. Applying the law could
be the real test: Critics say it's too
vague and will inflame anti-French
feelings among the nation's large Mus-
lim minority.
But the bill got far more than the 288
votes needed to pass in the 577-seat
National Assembly - a measure of its
popularity within France, demonstrated
repeatedly in public opinion polls.
The Republic and secularism are
strengthened," said Prime Minister
Jean-Pierre Raffarin, hailing "the mag-
nitude of this vote."
French leaders hope the law will
quell debate over head scarves that has
divided France since 1989, when two
young girls were expelled from their
school in Creil, outside Paris, for wear-
ing the head coverings. Scores more
have been expelled since then.
The bill stipulates that "in schools,
junior high schools and high schools,
signs and dress that conspicuously
show the religious affiliation of stu-
dents are forbidden." It would not
apply to students in private schools or
to French schools in other countries.
Sanctions for refusing to remove
offending apparel would range from a
warning to temporary suspension to
expulsion. The government argues that
a law is needed to protect France's sec-
ular traditions and to ward off rising
Islamic fundamentalism.
"This law is for us, indispensable,"
said Martine David, a Socialist law-
maker. Teachers "need a clear judicial

whatever appropriate BOSTON
religious symbols they Interest groups gather
wish." for gay marriage vote

- Lord Greville Janner
vice president, World Jewish Congress
Parliament's majority party, Presi-
dent Jacques Chirac's Union for a Pop-
ular Movement, agreed tomorrow to a
last-minute amendment by the Social-
ists that calls for a re-evaluation of the
law a year after it takes effect.
Lawmakers want the option, if nec-
essary, of being able to alter the bill's
language if it proves to be vague,
ambiguous or too difficult to apply.
The governing party also added an
amendment to ensure mediation takes
place before any sanctions are imposed
-- another Socialist suggestion that
helped the bill sail through with its
enormous margin of victory.
France has been widely condemned
in the Arab and Muslim world for the
planned ban. Thousands of angry pro-
testers from Beirut to Baghdad have
held street demonstrations.
Even non-Muslims entered the debate
- many on the side of opponents. Lord
Greville Janner, vice president of the
World Jewish Congress, said yesterday's
parliament vote was "a sad decision.".
"In a multicultural society, citizens
should be free to wear whatever appro-
priate religious symbols they wish," he
said in a statement.
The issue has also proven sharply
divisive among Muslims in France -
at 5 million, Western Europe's largest
Muslim community. Many believe that
banning head scarves is a way to
exclude Muslim girls from public
schools and further ostracize their

Gay-rights activists, conservative lead-
ers and media from around the globe will
converge on the Massachusetts State-

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"In a multicultural
society, citizens
should be free to wear




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