2A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, February 19, 2004
Explosion in Iran kills more than 200 NEWS IN BRIEF
NEYSHABUR, Iran (AP) - Run-
away train cars carrying a lethal mix of
fuel and chemicals derailed, caught
fire and then exploded hours later yes-
terday in northeast Iran, killing more
than 200 people, injuring at least 400
and leaving dozens trapped beneath
crumbled mud homes.
Most of those reported dead were
firefighters and rescue workers who
had extinguished most of the blaze out-
side Neyshabur, an ancient city of
170,000 people in a farming region
400 miles east of the capital, Tehran.
The dead also included top city offi-
cials - including Neyshabur's governor,
mayor and fire chief as well as the head
of the energy department and the direc-
tor-general of the provincial railways -
who had all gone to the site of the derail-
ment, the official Islamic Republic
News Agency reported.
The explosion devastated five vil-
lages, where authorities rushed in
blood supplies and appealed through
loudspeakers for donors. Hardest hit
was Hashemabad, where 41-year-old
Zahra Rezaie, whose mud home was
near the tracks, was cooking lunch for
her family when she heard the explo-
sion and felt the ground shake. Then
the ceiling collapsed.
"It knocked down and broke some
dishes. I was sure it was an earthquake,
and my first thought was to rush to the
school and save my children," Rezaie
told The Associated Press. Her chil-
dren were safe.
An AP photographer who arrived in
Dehnow, one of the most severely dam-
aged villages close to the train tracks
some 500 yards from the blast, said
most of the village's homes were flat-
"The houses are all built of clay, and
nearly every one has been destroyed,
like they had collapsed in an earth-
quake," Hassan Sarbakhshian said.
"Everyone appears to have been evacu-
ated," he said, adding he could see
thick, black smoke billowing about
500 yards ahead.
The blast was so powerful that win-
dows were shattered as far as six miles
away. In an apparent indication of the
explosion's force, Iranian seismologists
recorded a 3.6-magnitude tremor in the
area, IRNA reported.
Many of the buildings that collapsed
in a Dec. 26 earthquake in Barn, in
southeast Iran, also were mud-brick
structures. That tragedy killed more
than 41,000 people.
Authorities were investigating what
caused the 51 cars to roll out of the Abu
Muslim train station, outside Neyshabur,
at 4 a.m. Forty-eight of the cars derailed
on reaching the next stop at Khayyam,
about 12 miles away, and caught fire.
Iranian TV showed black plumes of
smoke and orange flames billowing into
the sky from the cars, 17 of which were
loaded with sulfur, six with gasoline,
seven with fertilizer and 10 with cotton.
Dozens of people, some wearing face
masks to protect themselves from the
smoke, were seen walking around or
putting out flames on the scene.
HEADLINES FROM AROUND THE WORLD if-
FORT LEWIS, Wash.
Guardsman charged for aiding al-Qaida
A National Guardsman accused of attempting to pass military intelligence to
the al-Qaida terrorist network has been formally charged, an Army spokesman
Spc. Ryan G. Anderson was charged Feb. 12, but the Army did not immediately
release that information, Lt. Col. Stephen Barger said. A military defense lawyer has
been appointed for Anderson, but Barger refused to identify the lawyer.
Anderson was charged with two counts of attempting to supply intelligence to the
enemy, the Army said. He could face the death penalty if convicted.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, defense officials have said Anderson
signed on to extremist Internet chat rooms and tried to get in touch with al-Qaida
It is unclear how the U.S. government got wind of his alleged offer to supply
military information to the terrorists. It does not appear he transmitted any infor-
mation to al-Qaida, authorities said.
Barger said the soldier's alleged attempts to pass information occurred between
Jan. 22 and Feb. 11.
White House retracts early job predictions
The White House backed away yesterday from its own prediction that the econ-
omy will add 2.6 million new jobs before the end of this year, saying the forecast
was the work of number-crunchers and that President Bush was not a statistician.
Bush himself stopped short of echoing the prediction.
"I think the economy's growing, and I think it's going to get stronger," said
Bush, the nation's first president with an MBA. He said he was pleased that
366,000 new jobs have been added since August. "But I'm mindful there are
still people looking for work, and we've got to continue building on the
progress we've made so far."
The administration's refusal to back its own jobs estimate brought criticism
from John Kerry, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.
"Now George Bush is saying he's going to create 2.6 million jobs this year
alone - and his advisors are saying, 'What, you didn't actually believe that, did
you?' Apparently George Bush is the only person left in the country who actually
believes the far-fetched promises he's peddling," Kerry said in a statement.
Firemen carry a victim away from the burning debris caused by a train explosion In
Neyshabur, Iran, yesterday. More than 200 people were killed in the explosion, at
least 400 people were injured and dozens were trapped beneath crumbled homes.
" CAP-HAITIEN, Haiti
Bush troubled' by same-sex marriage Police unable to stop
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WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush said yes-
terday he was troubled by gay weddings in San Fran-
cisco and by legal decisions in Massachusetts that
could clear the way for same-sex marriage.
He declined to say whether he was more inclined
now to back a constitutional ban. However, he
spoke privately with conservative Catholics about
the issue, and a conservative activist who favors
such a ban suggested the president would soon
announce his support.
"I have watched carefully what's happening in San
Francisco, where licenses were being issued, even
though the law states otherwise," Bush said at the
White House. "I have consistently stated that I'll sup-
port law to protect marriage between a man and a
woman. Obviously these events are influencing my
Bush didn't answer directly when asked whether
he was any closer to endorsing a constitutional ban
on same-sex marriages, as conservative groups say
the White House has privately promised.
"I'm watching very carefully. But I'm troubled by
what I've seen," Bush said. "People need to be
involved with this decision. Marriage ought to be
defined by the people, not by the courts."
One group took issue with Bush's insistence that
"people," not the courts, need to resolve the issue.
"In San Francisco, the democratically elected
mayor took this action just weeks after hundreds of
thousands of people voted for him," said Jon David-
son, senior counsel of Lambda Legal, a gay and les-
bian legal group.,
"It's the right-wing groups that have taken this into
courts seeking to define marriage in a way that
would exclude same-sex couples, in violation of Cal-
ifornia's constitution," Davidson said.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said
Bush recognized that gay marriage is a divisive topic.
But he said, "This is an issue where he believes it is
important for people to stand up on principle."
Yesterday, Bush met with 13 Roman Catholic con-
servatives. They included Deal Hudson, the publisher
of Crisis magazine and a friend of Bush political
adviser Karl Rove; William Donohue, president of
the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights;
Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan, former
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I'll support law to protect
marriage between a man and a
woman. Obviously these events
are influencing my decisionB'
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n Jean Lopez, associate editor of National
e House spokesman Trent Duffy said the
it spoke to the group about the gay marriage
d a wide array of other topics.
reiterated his pledge to back a constitutional
nent "if necessary," Duffy said.
ately, Gary Bauer, a conservative and onetime
tial candidate, said Rove has assured him Bush
k an amendment.
HILLAH, Iraq (AP) - Suicide
bombers detonated explosives outside a
Polish-run base yesterday, killing 10
Iraqis and wounding more than 100 peo-
ple, more than half of them coalition sot-
diers. The United States arrested seven
guerrillas believed linked to al-Qaida in
an early-morning raid to the north.
The attack in Hillah, the third suicide
bombing of security targets in two
weeks, was part of a wider effort "to
isolate us from the kaqi people;' coali-
tion military commander Lt. Gen.
Ricardo Sanchez told reporters in Tikrit.
Coalition and military officials said
at least 106 people were hurt in the
blasts, which happened in theHayy
Babil neighborhood near Camp Char-
lie. The wounded included 32 Iraqis
and 26 Poles, as well as Hungarians,
Bulgarians, Filipinos and an American.
The casualty toll could have been
much higher had guards not opened
fire and prevented the bombers from
entering the camp. One truck exploded
under the gunfire and another blew up
after hitting a concrete barrier.
The 7:15 a.m. blasts - from 1,540
pounds of explosives - flattened 11
homes nearby and blew down the
entire sides of several other houses in
this town south of Baghdad.
Earlier yesterday, U.S. troops arrest-
ed seven militants believed linked to
al-Qaida in the turbulent city of
Baqouba, north of the capital, the mili-
tary said. It gave no details on the
nationalities of the militants. There was
no indication the attacks and the U.S.
raid were directly linked.
Troops from the 4th Infantry Divi-
sion carried out the raid early yesterday
targeting an "anti-coalition cell" that
may have ties to Osama bin Laden's
terror group, a statement from the U.S.
Frightened police barricaded them-
selves inside their station house yester-
day, and said they could not repel a
rebel attack on Haiti's second-largest
city if it comes.
The country's embattled leaders
warned of an impending coup and
appealed for outside help. None was
On the streets of this northern port
city, the last government stronghold in
the region, militant defenders of Presi-
dent Jean-Bertrand Aristide vowed to
"We have machetes and guns and
we will resist," said carpenter Pierre
Frandley. "The police might have
been scared, but the people got
together and organized. ... We
blocked the streets."
There were fears the rebels already
have infiltrated the city.
The leader of Iran's ruling clerics
must be made more accountable to
reform demands and should shed some
powers to break a "vicious circle" of
control, the most prominent dissident
lawmaker and brother of the country's
president said yesterday.
But Mohammad Reza Khatami -
who was deputy parliament speaker and
among more than 2,400 candidates
blackballed from Friday's elections -
warned against public demonstrations
to demand change, saying Iranians have
no appetite for another revolution.
In an interview with The Associated
Press, he offered glimpses of a high-
stakes gambit: trying to pressure Iran's
supreme leader and the Islamic power
base that controls everything from for-
eign policy to the media.
Mother arrested 14
years after abduction
Police arrested the mother of a 17-
year-old boy after her son saw his picture
on a missing children's website and dis-
covered that she was accused of abduct-
ing him from his father 14 years ago.
Acting on a Canadian-issued warrant,
U.S. marshals arrested Giselle-Marie
Goudreault, 45, at her home in the San
Fernando Valley. She was being held
without bailuntil Canadian authorities
can extradite her on child abduction
charges, authorities said.
Goudreault "was shocked and very
emotional" during the Feb. 11 arrest, said
Jimell Griffin, a deputy U.S. marshal in
Los Angeles. The boy's father had cus-
tody of his son, and Griffin said
Goudreault did not return him after a
- Compiled from Daily wire reports
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