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March 15, 2004 - Image 2

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-03-15

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. 2A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, March 15, 2004



Socialist Party wins election in Spain

MADRID, Spain (AP) - Voters
ousted Spain's ruling party in elections
yesterday, with many saying they were
shaken by bombings in Madrid - and
furious with the government for back-
ing the Iraq war and making their
country a target for al-Qaida.
Also, one of the three Moroccans
arrested in the Madrid train bombings
is linked to a suspected al-Qaida
member jailed in Spain for allegedly
helping plan the Sept. 11 attack in the
United States, according to court doc-
The Socialist Party declared victory
with 79 percent of the votes counted,
as results showed it winning 164 seats
in the 350-member parliament and the
ruling Popular Party taking 147. The
latter had 183 seats in the outgoing
"According to the available data, the
~ Socialist Party has won the general
election. It is a clear victory," said Jose
Blanco, the party's campaign manager.
Turnout was high at 76 percent.
Many voters said Thursday's bomb-
ings, which killed 200 people and
wounded 1,500, were a decisive fac-
tor, along with the government's
much-criticized handling of the initial

"The Popular Party has made me
lose faith in politics," said Juan Rigola,
23, a biologist in Barcelona. "It
deserves to lose and to see the Spanish
people turn against them."
The electorate of 34.5 million
included about 1.9 million mostly
young voters added to the rolls since
the 2000 general election.
Until the bombing, the conserva-
tive Popular Party was projected by
most polls to beat the Socialists,
although perhaps without retaining
their majority in the 350-seat Con-
gress of Deputies.
But the disaster, which the gov-
ernment initially blamed on the
Basque separatist group ETA, threw
the election wide open. The attack
was followed by emotional rallies
across the country.
Critics accused the government,
which had trumpeted its crackdown on
ETA, of manipulating the investigation
for political gain. That struck a chord
with voters.
"I didn't intend to vote, but changed
my mind," said Javi Martin, 30, who
works for a TV station in Madrid.
"And not because of the attacks, but
because of the responsibility of the
Popular Party. They gave out informa-

China passes new private property laws
Communist-led China took the historic step yesterday of amending its constitu-
tion to protect the property rights of capitalists who are driving its economic boom,
while promising to focus on helping farmers and millions of others left behind.
The nation's parliament, making changes dictated by the Communist Party, also
passed an amendment declaring respect for human rights but not promising free
political expression - a key issue for government critics.
The changes came as the figurehead National People's Congress closed a 10-
day annual session dominated by promises to shift development to the poor coun-
tryside, where 800 million Chinese live.
"We should unite all the people of China in focusing on construction and develop-
ment in order to build a better future," the country's No. 2 leader, NPC chairman Wu
Bangguo, said in a nationally televised address to the parliament's closing ceremony.
The outcome of the parliament reflected the ruling party's two-track strategy for
China's immediate future: heavy new spending to help the rural poor, financed by
more economic reform and robust growth, projected this year at 7 percent.
Russian leader Putin re-elected in landslide
President Vladimir Putin claimed victory early today after easily winning a sec-
ond term with more than 69 percent of the vote, confirming widespread expecta-
tions of a commanding victory.
Assured in advance of victory, Putin was looking for a powerful turnout to
strengthen his grip over Russia - already tightened by his appointment of a new
Cabinet just before the vote and by December parliamentary elections that gave
the main pro-Kremlin party full control over lawmaking.
According to preliminary data, 64.27 percent of voters nationwide had cast bal-
lots, electoral officials said.
With 49.7 percent of precincts accounted for, Putin had 69.3 percent of the vote,
the Central Election Commission said. The partial results were backed up by an
exit poll by the non-governmental Public Opinion Foundation, which surveyed
120,000 voters at 1,200 polling stations and concluded Putin had won 69 percent.
"I promise you that for the next four years, I will work in the same mode," Putin
said. "All the democratic achievements will be guaranteed."

Cayetano Abad, who was injured in one of the March 11 bomb attacks, casts his
vote in the general elections yesterday in a polling station in Madrid.

tion drop by drop. It would have bene-
fited them if it were ETA."
Some voters were angry at outgoing
Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar,
accusing him of making Spain a target

for Islamic extremists because of his
support for the Iraq war, despite the
opposition of most Spaniards. Aznar
sent 1,300 Spanish troops to Iraq after
the conflict and 11 have died.

Bombing kills 11 Israelis,
stalls meeting of leaders

ASHDOD, Israel (AP) - Two Palestinian sui-
cide bombers blew themselves up in this closely
guarded Israeli port yesterday, killing 11 Israelis
and wounding 18 in the first deadly attack on a
strategic installation in more than three years of
Israeli-Palestinian fighting.
The bombings raised serious questions about
Israel's vulnerability. Police said the bombers may
have been trying to blow themselves up near
chemicals, causing far greater loss of life.
The bombers were identified as residents of a
Gaza refugee camp and would be the first mili-
tants from Gaza to infiltrate into Israel during the
current round of violence. The volatile coastal
strip is surrounded by a fence and subject to strin-
gent security.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called off a
meeting with his Palestinian counterpart, Ahmed
Qureia, that had tentatively been set for tomor-
row. Preparatory talks set for today were also
called off, a Sharon aide said.
Yesterday's bombings could signal that
bombers were trying to carry out a so-called
"mega attack." Many of the bombings since 2000
targeted buses, cafes and markets, where a large
number of people gather, but the death toll in
each attack never rose above 30. In recent
months, security forces said they had stopped
dozens of planned attacks every day.


"They found a weak point and they exploited it,"
Israeli Cabinet Minister Yosef Paritzky said.
"There are many people coming and going. It is
impossible to seal the entire country hermetically."
Hamas and the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades,
militants with links to Yasser Arafat's Fatah party,
claimed joint responsibility for the attack.
Sami Pinto, a portworker, said that when he
entered the port, he saw smoke from the explo-
sions near the fence of the facility and one in a
workshop inside the port.
"One of our workers who was lightly wounded
told me that the terrorist came in and asked for
water and the moment he showed him where
there was a tap he blew up," Pinto said.
Eleven were killed in addition to the bombers,
whose bodies were found near the scene of the
blasts, authorities said.
Moshe Karadi, police chief of southern Israel,
said the bombers were using a different type of
bomb than usual and may have been trying to blow
themselves up next to tanks of bromide or other
dangerous chemicals stored in the port, causing far
greater casualties as clouds of poisonous gas billow
about. The explosions went off some way from the
chemical storage area, possibly prematurely.
All Palestinian bombers since 2000 came from
the West Bank, which has a much more porous
border with Israel.
health care
BETHLEHEM, Pa. (AP) - Democ-
ratic presidential candidate John Kerry
promoted a health care plan that he
said would save consumers $1,000
each as he focused attention yesterday
on a pair of important Rust Belt states
that have been battered by the steady
drain of manufacturing jobs.
The Massachusetts senator said he
plans to focus on issues that matter to
voters, like health care and jobs.
"Americans struggling to pay health
care don't need misleading attacks,
they need meaningful answers," Kerry
said at a town meeting, where he heard
from workers who lost health care cov-
erage along with their jobs.
Kerry said the health care crisis has
worsened under President Bush, with
more than 1 million people a year losing
coverage at a time when average health
insurance premiums have increased by
$793. In response, a spokesman for
Bush's re-election campaign charged
that Kerry has done little during a long
political career in Congress to improve
the nation's health care system.

SEOUL, South Korea
S. Koreans rally for
impeached president
North Korea condemned South
Korea's presidential impeachment as a
U.S.-masterminded "coup" while 35,000
frustrated protesters gathered last night in
downtown Seoul rallying against the
push to remove their leader.
"Nullify Impeachment!" chanted the
crowd, which was down in size from
the 50,000 people who sang songs the
previous day. Organizers pledged to
hold candlelight vigils every night.
Communist North Korea, run by
leader Kim Jong Ii with an ironclad cult
of personality, shuddered at Friday's
vote in the National Assembly to
impeach President Roh Moo-hyun on
charges of illegal campaigning and
incompetence. It was the first such
move in South Korean history.
The North urged that previously
scheduled inter-Korean economic talks
be moved from South Korea to the North
due to the political situation in Seoul.
KABUL, Afghanistan
U.S. military launches
new bin Laden hunt
American military stepped up
efforts to find Osama bin Laden and
destroy his al-Qaida and Taliban sup-
porters, starting yesterday a major new
sweep across lawless southern and
eastern Afghanistan involving thou-

sands of troops.
The military insisted their net will
eventually close on the al-Qaida leader,
who has vanished since melting into the
Afghan mountains months after the
Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.
A spokesman said the new opera-
tion also will prepare the way for
reconstruction in impoverished
provinces along the Pakistani border
- a reward the military hopes will
loosen villagers' tongues.
"It's certainly about more than one
person," Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty said.
French take over for
U.S. in Haitian slums
French troops took over patrols yes-
terday in a slum where U.S. Marines -
under fire - killed at least two people
and angered residents demanding the
return of ousted President Jean-
Bertrand Aristide.
Aristide, meanwhile, was expect-
ed to return to the region two weeks
after he fled a bloody rebellion
under pressure from the United
States and France. 1e planned io
leave exile in the Central African
Republic yesterday and reach
Jamaica early today.
His arrival in the neighboring island
is raising tensions in Haiti, where his
followers plan more protests to demand
he be restored as the legitimate leader.
- Compiled from Daily wire reports

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Continued from Page 1A
officials originally suspected Basque sep-
aratists of responsibility for the blasts.
A poster board with the messages of
"No Al Terrorismo" and "Paz Ahora" -
which in English mean "No to Terror-
ism" and "Peace Now" - lay in the
middle of the Diag. LSA senior Heather
Hicks, a Spanish concentrator, said these
slogans express the ideals of the event.
"It was a last-minute, impromptu vigil,
but I think everyone here felt some pain
for Spain," said Hicks.
The vigil participants also observed a
second of silence for each one of the vic-
tims killed in the terrorist attacks. Fol-
/i . r r c1-- - - - - e Ya 4Y,.n.,H0

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