2 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, September 14, 2004
Putin moves to strengthen Kremlin NEWS IN BRIEF
1E L u means the return to the extremely inef- house, the State Duma. #
Russan ea rficient system of government," said Ser- Vladimir Rvzhkov. one of the few
-.1 - zl- - --.- --. 1 .1.1 1 -..- - ...- .- .
local elections to combat terror
MOSCOW (AP) - Responding to a
series of deadly terror attacks, President
Vladimir Putin yesterday moved to sig-
nificantly strengthen the Kremlin's grip
on power, with new measures that include
the naming of regional governors and an
overhaul of the electoral system.
Putin told Cabinet members and
security officials convened in special
session that the future of Russia was at
stake and urged the creation of a central,
powerful anti-terror agency.
"The organizers and perpetrators of
the terror attack are aiming at the dis-
integration of the state, the breakup
of Russia," he said. "We need a single
organization capable of not only dealing
with terror attacks but also working to
avert them, destroy criminals in their
hideouts, and if necessary, abroad."
Putin's declaration followed a series
of stunning terror attacks blamed on
Chechen rebels, climaxing in the three-
day school seizure in southern Russia in
which more than 330 people were killed.
He said he would propose legislation
abolishing the election of local gov-
ernors by popular vote. Instead, they
would be nominated by the president
and confirmed by local legislatures.
Putin explained his move by the need
to streamline and strengthen the execu-
tive branch to make it more capable of
His critics immediately assailed the
proposal as a self-destructive effort that
could fuel dissent in the provinces.
"The abolition of elections in the
Russian regions deals a blow to the
foundations of Russian federalism and
gei Mitrokhin, a leading member of the
liberal Yabloko party.
Sergei Markov, a political analyst
with close ties to the Kremlin, said the
president's move against the governors
could help curb corruption that has
flourished in some regions.
"At the same time, it means ... a low-
ering of (their) general political authority
and a serious lowering of political plural-
ism," Markov told Ekho Moskvy radio.
Putin recommended eliminating the
individual races that currently fill half
of the seats in the national parliament
and have the entire lower house filled by
parties on a proportional basis.
Putin said that the move would help
foster dialogue by expanding the clout
of political parties, but his opponents
warned it would further increase the
clout of the Kremlin-controlled par-
liament factions that already enjoy an
overwhelming majority in the lower
opposition deputies, scorned the pres-
ident's political proposals and said if
they were approved, "the next Duma
will be simply virtual, it will consist
of just marionette party lists and won't
enjoy any authority."
"How is it possible the president doesn't
understand that it won't strengthen the
country, it will further tear apart the unity
of the country and tear federal organs
power away from the people?" he told
Ekho Moskvy radio. "Yes, the Kremlin's
authority will be strengthened, but the
country will be weakened."
Putin has been criticized for boosting
his own powers in the past, but three weeks
of violence and the deaths of 430 people
have led to increased support among the
Russian people for measures to combat
terrorism. Putin named one of his closest
confidants, Cabinet chief of staff Dmitry
Kozak, to represent him in the southern
district that includes the Caucasus.
Dems. split on expiing weapons ban
Sen. John Kerry sought to make President Bush pay a political price yesterday
for the expiration of a partial assault weapons ban, but other Democrats reacted
warily on an issue that has hurt the party in recent elections.
"George Bush made a choice today. He chose his powerful friends in the gun
lobby over the police officers and the families he promised to protect," the Demo-
cratic presidential candidate said a few hours after the end of a decade-old ban on
19 types of military-style weapons.
Half a continent away, the issue seemed different to Democratic Rep. Brad Car-
son of Oklahoma, a key figure in his party's drive to gain a Senate majority this
fall. "He opposes reauthorization of the assault weapons ban," said spokesman
Kristopher Eisenla. "He is a champion and a supporter of gun owners' rights."
The party's divisions were on display in the House, as well. There, Rep. Carolyn
McCarthy (D-N.Y.) and others called for a new ban - at a news conference that
none of the party's top congressional leaders attended.
"It's an issue that cuts both ways," said Brendan Daly, a spokesman for House
Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. The California lawmaker supports the ban but
has not made its extension a priority.
U.S. wants Iran to face Security Council *
U.. strikes at militants linked to al-Qaida
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - U.S. war-
planes pounded a suspected hide-out of
al-Qaida-linked militants in the Sunni
insurgent stronghold of Fallujah yester-
day, killing at least 20 people and wound-
ing 29, officials and witnesses said. Seven
of the victims died when a shell hit an
ambulance, a hospital official said.
The strike came a day after a surge
in violence killed 78 people and
wounded about 200 across Iraq as
insurgents hammered central Baghdad
with intense mortar and rocket bar-
rages and violence appeared to spiral
out of control.
The U.S. military said jets carried out a
precision strike on a site in Fallujah where
several members of a group led by Jorda-
nian-born terror suspect Abu Musab al-
Zarqawi were meeting.
"Intelligence sources reported the pres-
ence of several key al-Zarqawi operatives
who have been responsible for numerous
terrorist attacks against Iraqi civilians,
Iraqi Security Forces and multinational
forces," the military said in a statement.
The military said reports indicated the
strikes had achieved their aim, but did not
name the operatives.
In Fallujah, witnesses said the bomb-
ing targeted the city's residential al-Shurta
neighborhood, damaging buildings and
raising clouds of black smoke.
Dr. Ahmad Taher of the Fallujah Gen-
eral Hospital said at least 20 people were
killed and 29 others wounded. An ambu-
lance rushing from the area of the blasts
was hit by a shell, killing the driver, a
The United States lobbied its allies yesterday to have Iran hauled before the U.N.
Security Council over its nuclear program as the world body's atomic watchdog agen-
cy considered how tough a line to take in pressuring Tehran to meet its demands.
U.S. ally South Korea also came under criticism, with the agency's chief express-
ing "serious concern" over Seoul's failure to report nuclear activities that it was
revealed date back to the 1980s.
The South Korean issue complicates U.S. efforts to rein in North Korea's nuclear
program, the world's most worrisome. Pyongyang has already used Seoul's admis-
sions of some nuclear experiments to justify its weapons program.
On the issue of Iran's nuclear program, European powers have come closer to the
U.S. position, proposing in a draft resolution that the International Atomic Energy
Agency set a November deadline for Tehran to meet its demands aimed at clearing
up fears it is developing weapons. It warns that failure to do so could "probably" lead
to further steps - a reference to sending the issue to the Security Council, which
could impose sanctions on Iran.
Group led by Sony acquires MGM studio
A consortium led by Sony Corp. has agreed in principle to acquire famed Hol-
lywood studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. for nearly $3 billion, MGM said late
yesterday. The company said it received a cash deposit of $150 million yesterday
from Sony, along with private equity companies Providence Equity Partners Inc.,
Texas Pacific Group and DLJ Merchant Banking Partners.
MGM said its management will recommend the deal, which it called a "pro-
posed merger," to its board by Sept. 27.
Sony has agreed to pay $12 per share for MGM, 45 cents more than MGM's
closing price of $11.55 yesterday on the New York Stock Exchange. The deal also
calls for Sony to assume about $1.9 billion in MGM debt.
GEORGETOWN, Cayman Islands
Hurricane Ivan rampages ahead toward Cuba
A strengthened Hurricane Ivan headed toward the tip of western Cuba with
160 mph winds yesterday after pummeling the Cayman Islands with flooding that
swamped homes and fierce winds that ripped off roofs.
The slow-moving, extremely dangerous Category 5 storm killed at least 68
people across the Caribbean before reaching the Caymans, and threatens millions
more in its projected path. Parts of low-lying Grand Cayman, the largest island in
the territory of 45,000 people, were swamped under up to 8 feet of water yesterday
and residents stood on rooftops of flooded homes.
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A local resident inspects damage done to his house after U.S. warplanes and artillery bombed the Sunni Insur-
gent stronghold of Fallujah, Iraq.
paramedic and five patients inside the
vehicle, said another hospital official,
"The conditions here are miserable
- an ambulance was bombed, three
houses destroyed and men and women
killed," the hospital's director, Rafayi
Hayad al-Esawi, told Al-Jazeera tele-
vision by telephone. "The American
army has no morals."
Witnesses said U.S. warplanes repeat-
edly swooped low over Fallujah and that
artillery units deployed on the outskirts of
the city also opened fire. The explosions
started at sunrise and continued for sev-
One explosion went off in a market-
place in Fallujah as the first sellers had
just begun to set up their stalls, wound-
ing several people and shattering win-
dows, witnesses said.
Yesterday, a videotape purporting to
show the beheading of a Turkish driver
kidnapped last month in Iraq surfaced
on the website of an al-Qaida-linked
militant group led by al-Zarqawi. On the
video, which could not immediately be
verified, the victim says he was trans-
porting goods to an American military
base in Mosul.
Explosions rocked central Baghdad
yesterday, but the location or nature of the
blasts was not immediately clear.
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