The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, December 1, 2004 - 5
Cuba frees six detainees
Iraq's interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi gestures during and interview
with the Associated Press in Baghdad on Nov. 22.
I awi advocates
prisoners may be
aimed to please EU
HAVANA (AP) - Cuban authorities yester-
day freed dissident writer Raul Rivero, the lat-
est of half a dozen political prisoners released
over the past few days in a move widely seen
as intended to court favor with the European
"This was a gesture to improve relations, little
by little," the 59-year-old Rivero said, speaking
from his modest Havana apartment, where he
was surrounded by family and several interna-
tional journalists hours after his release.
Rivero, the best-known among 75 dissidents
rounded up in a crackdown in March 2003, was
freed on medical parole yesterday after a check-
up at a Havana prison hospital for emphysema
and cysts on a kidney.
He had been sentenced to 20 years in prison
on charges of working with the United States to
undermine Fidel Castro's communist govern-
ment. Rivero and the other activists denied the
Also freed yesterday was opposition party
member Osvaldo Alfonso Valdes. Alfonso Val-
des, 39, was also arrested in March 2003 and
had been sentenced to 18 years in prison.
The releases came a day after Cuba unexpect-
edly freed three other men jailed in last year's
crackdown: economics writer Oscar Espinosa
Chepe and dissidents Marcelo Lopez and Mar-
garito Broche. Seven others were released earli-
er. Like Rivero, all had health problems in jail.
Castro's government made no public state-
ment about the releases, but analysts said Cuba
was eager to avoid the possibility the dissidents
would die in jail, and also wanted to signal flex-
ibility to the EU amid warming relations with
The releases came days after Cuban For-
eign Minister Felipe Perez Roque announced
his country had resumed formal contacts with
Spain, despite that country's repeated criticism
of last year's crackdown on dissidents.
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez
Zapatero welcomed Rivero's release.
"I'd like to express not only my satisfaction,
but also my happiness," Zapatero said in Cuen-
ca, Spain. "In recent years, as secretary general
of the Socialist Party, I have had innumerable
requests to speak out for Raul Rivero and the
Rivero, who was significantly slimmer and
with more gray hair after 20 months behind
bars, said he hoped other dissidents would be
"The information I have is that conditions
have been steadily improving for the prisoners,"
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Iraq's
interim prime minister went to Jordan
yesterday for meetings with tribal fig-
ures and other influential Iraqis in a bid
to encourage Sunni Muslims to partici-
pate in the Jan. 30 elections, but he ruled
out contacts with insurgent leaders and
former members of Saddam Hussein's
* Insurgents targeted U.S. troops yester-
day in Baghdad and in and around Beiji,
take him to Germany and Russia.
Before leaving Baghdad, Allawi said
his government would pursue contacts
with "tribal figures" and other influen-
tial Iraqis to encourage broad participa-
tion in the elections, which some Sunni
clerics have threatened to boycott.
But Allawi branded reports that he
would meet with former Baath party
figures as "an invention by the media,"
although word of such contacts came
last week from the Iraqi Foreign Min-
Cuban dissident Osvaldo Alfonso Valdes, right, is welcomed by a friend in his home in Havana, Cuba,
yesterday. Alfonso Valdes, 39, had been sentenced to 18 years.
a city north of the c
at least 20 other
three U.S. sol-
diers. Three Iraqi
children aged 3, 4
and 5 were killed
when two mor-
tar rounds struck
hood in Baqouba,
the U.S. military
came as the
announced that its
toll reached at least
equaled the highest
deaths in a single m
war began in March
Prime Minister A
arrived in Amman lat
to play down expecta
ings would mark a
curbing the violence,;
simply the first stop o
apital, killing four
Allawi said his Baath party lead-
ers are believed to
government would form the core of
pursue contacts Ministry offi-
cials had said that
with "tribal figures" Arab governments
and other influential urged the Iraqi
authorities to make
Iraqis to encourage contacts with Iraqi
exiles and opposi-
broad participation tion figures dur-
ing a conference
in the elections. last week at the
Egyptian resort of
November death Arab officials fear that without some
135. That figure overture by the Iraqi government toward
number of U.S. Sunni Arab insurgents, many Sunnis
onth since the Iraq may boycott the Jan. 30 elections, call-
2003. ing into question the legitimacy of the
kyad Allawi, who new administration.
e yesterday, sought Most Arab countries are majority
tions that his meet- Sunni, while an estimated 60 percent of
breakthrough in Iraq's 26 million people are Shiites. Bah-
saying Jordan was rain offered to host an Iraqi reconcilia-
n a tour that would tion conference.
Analysts said Cuba was
eager to avoid the possibility
the dissidents would die
in jail, and also wanted
to signal flexibility to
the European Union.
he said. "I don't know exactly what is going on,
but I think bit by bit they will be released.
"I, at least, will help work for that - espe-
cially for the journalists," he added.
Rivero is among a few professionally trained
Cuban journalists who call themselves indepen-
He worked many years for Cuban state media,
and was trusted enough to serve a stint in Mos-
cow, Cuba's former backer, before breaking with
Castro's government in 1989. He has published
many volumes of his independent writings and
While in jail, Rivero said he continued to
write. He plans to publish a book of poetry,
"Heart Without Rage," as well as memoirs about
his time in prison.
The first 11 months were the hardest, he said,
as he was placed in small cell in solitary confine-
ment. Conditions later improved, but he some-
times clashed with guards when they refused to
give him medicine.
The clashes led to more solitary confinement,
and the occasional suspension of conjugal visits
with his wife, Blanca Reyes. But he said he was
never physically mistreated and even became
friends with several guards.
"It's been a couple of really tense days," Reyes
said, standing by her husband. "It still feels like
it's all a dream. The only time I have been this
happy is when my son was born."
The Paris-based Reporters without Borders,
which campaigned for Rivero's release, said it
was delighted he was freed and called on Cuba
to free another 24 independent journalists still
"Rivero's release is great news for democ-
racy advocates everywhere," the group said.
"But it must not be forgotten that Cuba's human
rights record remains worse than it was before
his arrest, and that the regime still controls the
media and the country with an iron hand."
FTC rolls out free
credit check service
WASHINGTON (AP) - Ameri-
cans who want to make sure their credit
reports are accurate or check their finan-
cial histories can get the information for
free under a program starting today.
The Federal Trade Commission is roll-
ing out the service in phases. Residents
in 13 Western states will get first crack at
requesting a free credit report from any
of the three major credit bureaus that
Banks and other lenders use the data
in the reports to evaluate loan applicants.
Access to free reports was mandated in
consumer privacy legislation President
Bush signed into law last year.
"The program was designed to help
consumers get a better understanding of
their credit and to promote accuracy in
terms of consumer information," FTC
spokeswoman Jen Schwartzman said.
Before the new law, consumers had
access to free credit reports only if they
were denied credit, unemployed, on wel-
fare or believed that they were victims
of identity theft. A handful of states also
allow residents access to free reports.
People in Midwestern states will
become eligible for free reports on March
1, followed by Southern states on June 1
and Eastern states on Sept. 1.
The FTC is staggering the requesting
period to help the nation's three major
credit bureaus - Equifax Inc., Experian
Information Solutions and Trans Union
- deal with an expected crush of people
asking for free credit histories.
To get a free credit report, consum-
ers can log on to www.AnnualCre-
ditReport.com, a new Web site created
jointly by the credit reporting compa-
nies. They also can call 1-877-FTC-
HELP or mail a standardized form to
Box 105281, Atlanta, Ga. 30348-5281.
Consumers are allowed one free report
per year from each of the agencies.
Some consumer advocates have criti-
cized the FTC for allowing the credit
bureaus to advertise numerous fee-based
products and services on the website.
Continued from page 1.
Another topic to be addressed is a proposed new code of academic integrity,
similar to the current honor code. The new code would be easier to understand,
giving clearer definitions of plagiarism and cheating, said LSA-SG Rep. Jen
Larkin, a senior.
The new code would be part of a larger effort to curb cheating. Other mea-
sures include bringing speakers to campus to discuss how cheating can affect
students beyond college in their future lives and careers.
The address will take place in the Union's Pendleton Room. McDonald and
assistant dean Bob Megginson will each speak and take questions from students
in an open forum. A reception with LSA-SG and MSA representatives will fol-
low the address.
"I think it is a wonderful opportunity to speak about our priorities for under-
graduate education," Horton said. "We value it as an opportunity for dialogue."
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