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April 06, 2004 - Image 2

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-04-06

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2 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, April 6, 2004


Report: Blackout was preventable


WASHINGTON (AP) - Disregard
for voluntary rules intended to ensure
the flow of electricity opened the way
for last summer's blackout in eight
states and Canada, investigators said
yesterday in their final report. They
urged government standards with teeth
to ward off future outages.
There was a clear understanding
long before the blackout last August
that the Ohio region where the prob-
lems began was highly vulnerable to
grid instability, said the report from a
joint U.S.-Canada task force.
Had the situation been properly
addressed, the cascading blackout that
sped across states from Michigan to
New York and into Canada probably
would have been averted, the report
concluded. Something as simple as
shutting off 200 megawatts of power

an hour before the blackout might have
kept the problem from spreading,
investigators said.
But FirstEnergy Corp., the Ohio
utility whose lines initially failed, had
little understanding of its own power
transmission system because it had not
carried out the recommended long-
term planning and safeguards - and
backup monitoring system - that it
needed, the report said.
Many of those safeguards and pro-
cedures aimed at detecting and
responding to potentially devastating
system problems, were outlined - but
also ignored - under voluntary indus-
try standards that were in place, the
report states.
Investigators said they found at least
seven violations of industry-sponsored
North America Electric Reliability

Something as simple as shutting off 200
megawatts of power an hour before the
blackout might have kept the problem from
spreading, according to investigators.

Bank of America to cut 12,500 workers
Bank of America Corp. announced yesterday it is cutting 12,500 jobs over the
next two years as a result of its merger with FleetBoston Financial Corp.
The cuts, which represent about 7 percent of the companies' combined work
force of 181,000, will begin this month. About 30 percent of them will be accom-
plished through attrition.
The Charlotte-based bank has said it expects to get about $650 million in sav-
ings from trimming overlapping operations and processes.
Several workers leaving Bank of America's headquarters in downtown Charlotte
yesterday evening were not aware of the company's plans. Loan officer Veronica
Dawkins said she had not received any word from the company. "There's been a lot
of talk around the office, but no one has given me any indication whatsoever that I
need to worry," Dawkins said. "I'm hoping it works out for everybody."
Spokeswoman Eloise Hale would not specify where positions would be elimi-
nated, saying only that they will take place "corporation-wide."
The completion last week of Bank of America's merger with Fleet created the
nation's No. 3 bank, with assets estimated at $966 billion.

Council (NERC) reliability rules
linked to the blackout.
The task force, created by the U.S.
and Canadian governments to examine
the nation's worst blackout, urged cre-
ation of mandatory government relia-
bility standards with penalties for
those who violate them. NERC, which
issues the voluntary standards, has no
enforcement authority.
It's been eight months since the black-
out, and Congress has yet to act on any

measures that might improve grid relia-
bility. Provisions to establish mandatory
rules on the electricity industry have
been caught up in a partisan fight over
broader energy legislation.
In a statement responding to the
task force conclusions, Sen. Pete
Domenici (R-N.M.), who has strug-
gled for 15 months to push an energy
bill through Congress, said the report
"clearly says this blackout could have
been avoided."


U.S. pledges to support
Haiti's interim leaders

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - Secretary
of State Colin Powell gave assurances yesterday
of full U.S. support for Haiti's interim govern-
ment but said democracy cannot flourish until
politically motivated private armies lay down
their weapons.
"Without disarmament, Haiti's democracy will
be at risk," Powell said at a news conference with
Haiti's interim prime minister, Gerard Latortue.
Latortue told Powell that all Haiti's political par-
ties agree that municipal, legislative and presi-
dential elections, initially planned for next month,
should be held in 2005.
Powell said prospects are good for sending a
U.N.-sponsored peacekeeping force to replace the
U.S.-led multinational force that arrived shortly
after the Feb. 29 departure of President Jean-
Bertrand Aristide.
Almost 2,000 U.S. troops are serving in Haiti
and are expected to leave in June, along with
Canadian and Chilean troops. Their combined
total is about 3,600 troops.
Caribbean leaders have refused to participate in
the U.S.-led international force, angry that the
U.N. Security Council refused their urgent plea to
send troops in time to save Aristide, Haiti's first

democratically elected leader.
Powell rejected proposals by some of Haiti's
Caribbean neighbors for an inquiry into circum-
stances of Aristide's sudden departure five weeks
ago. They alleged the United States coerced Aris-
tide into leaving.
"I don't think any purpose would be served by
such an inquiry," Powell said. "Haiti was on the
verge of a total security collapse.
"On the last weekend in February, I think we
averted a bloodbath," he added.
Aristide initially took up residence in the Cen-
tral African Republic. He went to Jamaica about
three weeks ago for family reasons, the Jamaican
government said. Little has been heard from Aris-
tide since his arrival there.
The Bush administration insists that Aristide
left Haiti voluntarily. Aristide and Haiti's
Caribbean neighbors contend that Washington
pushed him out.
Caribbean countries have not recognized the
interim government, arguing that Aristide is
Haiti's legitimate leader based on elections held
in 2000. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) says
Aristide was the victim of a U.S.-sponsored
coup d'etat.

TAIPEI, Taiwan
Opposition calls for new election in Taiwan
Taiwan's opposition yesterday launched a new challenge to the March 20 presiden-
tial vote, asking the High Court to nullify the entire election and order another one.
The request by losing candidate Lien Chan was part of his two-pronged legal
strategy to overturn President Chen Shui-bian's narrow victory. Lien and his
Nationalist Party claim the vote was marred by irregularities and a mysterious
election-eve shooting that wounded Chen.
Lien's first step came last week when he petitioned the High Court to order a
recount - a move the president endorsed. The two sides are negotiating the
details of the re-tally, and were scheduled to discuss the process with the High
Court tomorrow.
Nationalist spokesman Alex Tsai told reporters that Lien yesterday filed a petition
with the High Court for a new election because the president "used fraud to gain
power ... and people will question the legality of his power in the next four years"
One of Lien's lawyers, Lee Fu-dan, added: "There were major violations of the
law with this election, so we filed the petition according to the law."


And here is a cutline for after the streamer. This should be
two lines long as well, and should tell a bit about the photo,
the people in it, and all that fun stuff.

Bush criticized for use of federal resources

Sharon: Palestinian
state may be delayed
A unilateral Israeli withdrawal from
the Gaza Strip and four West Bank settle-
ments could delay Palestinian dreams of
statehood for many years, Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon said in interviews yesterday.
Israel also is no longer bound by a
pledge to the United States not to harm
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Sharon
said. The White House said killing
Arafat was "not part of the solution to
the situation in the Middle East."
In Gaza, soldiers killed three Pales-
tinians, ages 18 and 19, near the fence
with Israel. Troops fired during the night
at three figures they deemed suspicious,
the army said. Israeli forces also set up a
new security position east of the Rafah
airport, Palestinians said. The Israeli
army said it was checking the report.
Israeli forces were on high alert for
possible attacks by Palestinian militants
during the weeklong Passover holiday.
Mexico flash floods
kill at least 31 people
Torrential rains swelled a tributary of
the Rio Grande River by 25 feet early
yesterday, causing a flash flood that
inundated a Mexican border city, killing
at least 31 people and forcing hundreds
more into shelters.

sury Department analyzes John
Kerry's tax proposals and the numbers
quickly find their way to the Republi-
can National Committee.
The Health and Human Services
Department spends millions on ads
promoting President Bush's prescrip-
tion drug plan. The House Resources
Committee posts a diatribe against
Kerry's "absurd" energy ideas on its
With friends like these - all operat-
ing at taxpayer expense - who needs
a re-election campaign?
In the time-honored tradition of
presidents past, Bush is skillfully using
the resources of the federal govern-
ment to promote his re-election. And
some critics say the president is going

Dozens more people were missing; the
death toll was expected to rise. Mexico
declared a state of emergency in the area.
Floodwaters from the Escondido River
began receding after the rain stopped by
midday, but heavy, dark clouds loomed
over Piedras Negras, a city of 200,000
people about 150 miles southwest of San
Antonio. Supplies of drinking water,
electricity and gas were cut.
Hundreds were left homeless, radio
stations reported, and announcers read
the names of people staying at shelters
to help families find missing relatives.

far beyond his predecessors in using
government means to accomplish
political ends.
"What this administration has done
is taken trends from the past and then
projected them into the stratosphere,"
said Allan Lichtman, a presidential
scholar at American University.
"We've never seen a political operation
like this White House does, and that
includes the maximum use of govern-
ment resources."
Bush is flying Air Force One to bat-
tleground states at a clip that eclipses
even that of President Clinton, known
as a particularly political president. His
Cabinet secretaries are covering addi-
tional ground to spread good news
about the Bush administration.
Even Secretary of State Colin Pow-

ell, who insists "I don't do politics,"
has chimed in to cast Kerry as a flip-
flopper on jobs and to question his
claim that some world leaders quietly
prefer the Democratic presidential can-
didate over Bush.
With the House and Senate both in
Republican hands, Bush gets plenty
of help from Congress, too. The last
president to have that advantage at re-
election time
was Jimmy "W hat this
Carter, and
he was hardly administration
a favorite of
Democrats in done is taken
Congress. from the past
This year, pt
congressional projected the
committees the stratosphe
have posted
on their web- Pres
sites. Senate Ame
M a j o r i t y
Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) was out front
in attacking the credibility of Richard
Clarke, the former Bush administration
official who criticized the president's
terrorism policies. And House Speaker
Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) regularly uses his
daily chats with reporters to critique
"John Kerry & Co."
Some Democrats, predictably, are
crying foul.
"This is the most say-anything, do-
anything-to-get-re-elected administra-
tion in history," said Kerry campaign
spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter,

adding that the administration has
"crossed the line" and gone beyond
what is acceptable.
Rep. Robert Matsui of California,
chairman of the Democratic Congres-
sional Campaign Committee, has com-
plained that House Republicans
abused taxpayer resources to attack
Kerry on an official congressional

NASA: Mars rover s
mission completed *
NASA's Spirit rover wrapped up its
primary mission to Mars yesterday as it
continued to roll across the planet's sur-
face on an extended tour that could last
through September.
The unmanned robot, marking its
90th full day on Mars, had accom-
plished all of the tasks NASA consid-
ered essential to declare"the'joint
mission a success. Its twin rover,
Opportunity, was getting close to
achieving the same.
"Spirit has completed its part of
the bargain, and Opportunity doesn't
have much left to do," said Mark
Adler, manager of the $820 million
- Compiled from Daily wire reports

a has
and then
m into
Allan Lichtman
idential scholar,
rican University

Other Democ-
rats tried to get the
Medicare prescrip-
tion drug ads
yanked from TV,
and asked the Gen-
eral Accounting
Office to examine
whether that was
proper use of tax-
payer dollars.
Doug Sosnik,
who was White
House political
director during
Clinton's re-elec-


tion campaign, says any incumbent
president "would be crazy not to take
advantage of all opportunities of
incumbency to get re-elected, but these
guys have gone off in areas that are
way over the line and I can't imagine
that the American public will fall for
any of it."
Former Republican National Com-
mittee Chairman Rich Bond calls the
whole issue "nonsense," especially the
carping about the costs to taxpayers for
White House travel to politically
important states.

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