2 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, February 2, 2005
Nepalese king closes borders NEWS BRIEF
KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) - King
Gyanendra dismissed Nepal's govern-
ment yesterday and declared a state
of emergency, closing off his Himala-
yan nation from the rest of the world
as telephone and Internet lines were
cut, flights diverted and civil liberties
Britain and India both expressed con-
cern, saying the king's actions under-
This was the second time in three years
the king has taken control of the tiny
South Asian constitutional monarchy, a
throwback to the era of absolute power
enjoyed by monarchs before King Biren-
dra, Gyanendra's elder brother, intro-
duced democracy in 1990.
King Gyanendra denied his take-
over was a coup, although soldiers sur-
rounded the houses of Prime Minister
Sher Bahadur Deuba and other gov-
The king also suspended several provi-
sions of the constitution, including free-
dom of the press, speech and expression,
peaceful assembly, the right to privacy
and the right against preventive detention,
according to a statement from the Naray-
"We will oppose this step," Deuba, who
was not allowed to leave his home, told
reporters. "The move directly violates the
constitution and is against democracy."
Nepali Congress, the country's larg-
est party, said the king had "pushed the
country toward further complications"
and called for a demonstration.
India, Nepal's southern neighbor and
close ally, also criticized the king.
"These developments constitute a seri-
ous setback to the cause of democracy in
Nepal and cannot but be a cause of grave
concern to India," India's foreign minis-
try said. "The safety and welfare of the
political leaders must be ensured, and
political parties must be allowed to exer-
cise all the rights enjoyed by them under
India said the king had violated
Nepal's constitution, which enshrines a
multiparty democracy alongside a con-
Britain expressed similar concerns.
"This action will increase the risk of
instability in Nepal, undermining the
institutions of democracy and constitu-
tional monarchy in the country. We call
for the immediate restitution of multi-
party democracy and appeal for calm
and restraint on all sides during this dif-
ficult time," said Foreign Office Minister
Armored vehicles with mounted
machine guns patrolled the streets of Kat-
mandu, Nepal's capital, and phone lines
in the city had been cut. Many flights into
the city were canceled, although the air-
port remained open.
Long lines quickly formed at grocery
stores and gas stations, as worried resi-
dents stocked up on supplies.
"We are so confused. We don't know
what is going on or what will happen,"
said Narayan Thapa, a government work-
er. "I am worried I can't reach my family
on the phone."
In an announcement on state-run tele-
vision, the king accused the government
of failing to conduct parliamentary elec-
tions and to restore peace in the country
beset by rebel violence.
"A new Cabinet will be formed under
my leadership,"he said. "This will restore
peace and effective democracy in this
country within the next three years."
Later, state-run television reported a
state of emergency had been declared.
"This is not the first time that the
king has tried to impose himself by
force, depriving the Nepalese people of
their freedom of expression," interna-
tional media freedom group Reporters
Sans Frontieres said. "The international
community has failed to respond to a
deteriorating human rights situation in
the country. It is now urgent that the
U.N. reacts firmly."
SAN JUAN, Puerto RICo
Report: Videotapes show detainee abuse
Videotapes of riot squads subduing troublesome terror suspects at the U.S.
prison camp at Guantanamo Bay show the guards punching some detainees,
tying one to a gurney for questioning and forcing a dozen to strip from the waist
down, according to a secret report. One squad was all-female, traumatizing some
Muslim prisoners, the report said.
Investigators from U.S. Southern Command in Miami, which oversees the
camp in Cuba, wrote the report that was obtained by The Associated Press after
spending a little over a week in June reviewing 20 hours of videotapes involving
"Immediate Reaction Forces."
The camp's layout prevented videotaping in all the cells where the five-person
teams - also known as "Immediate Response Forces" - operated, the report
said. Reviewers said they did not look at all of the available videotapes.
Although the report cited several cases of physical force, reviewers said they
found no evidence of systemic detainee abuse, according to the six-page summary.
Troops' fali'es may receive more money
Lawmakers and military officials said yesterday that President Bush's proposal
to boost government payments to families of U.S. troops killed in Iraq, Afghani-
stan and other war zones was a good start but too narrow.
Republicans suggested that those who die while training for combat missions
also should be eligible for the increased death benefits. Democrats argued that the
benefits should extend to all military personnel who die while on active duty.
Uniformed officials with the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force told
the Senate Armed Forces Committee, during a hearing on the proposal, that the
Defense Department should not give an extra $250,000 in benefits to surviving
spouses and children based simply on the geography of where a death occurs.
Medicare will cover drugs for impotence
Sexual performance drugs like Viagra will be covered by Medicare's new prescrip-
tion benefit beginning next year, along with medications for other conditions like high
blood pressure and heart disease, Health and Human Services officials said yesterday.
And like those other drugs, prescriptions for Viagra will be tightly controlled.
The law, which takes effect Jan. 1 at a cost of more than $500 billion over a
decade, says Viagra can be prescribed only when medically necessary and in
"The law says if it's an (Food and Drug Administration)-approved drug and it is
medically necessary, it has to be covered," said Gary Karr, spokesman for the Cen-
ters for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Democrats push plans for Iraq, Social Security
Consigned by the voters to another season out of power, Democrats are eager
to lay down markers for President Bush and congressional Republicans on Iraq,
Social Security and more at the same time they try to absorb the lessons of last
fall's elections. It's a challenge complicated by Republican insistence on stirring
echoes of the 2004 campaign at every turn, labeling President Bush's critics as
obstructionists lacking alternative proposals.
"I promise they'll hear us across the aisle. I promise they'll hear us down" at the
White House, Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada assured his rank and file on the day he
was chosen Democratic leader. In the weeks since, he, House Democratic Leader
Nancy Pelosi and others have hastened to fulfill that pledge.
Nepal's King Gyanendra, center, greets people in the suburbs of the Nepal-
ese capital of Katmandu. Gyanendra dismissed the government yesterday.
Pope hospitalized with influenza
ROME (AP) - Pope John Paul II,
suffering from breathing problems and
the flu, was rushed to the hospital last
night, Vatican officialssaid.
The 84-year-old pope has been
suffering from the flu since Sunday
and apparently suffered a "breath-
ing crisis," a Vatican official told The
Associated Press on the condition of
Earlier, a close member of the pope's
staff, American Archbishop James
Harvey, said he didn't know the pope
had gone to the hospital but knew that
the pope had congestion and a slight
fever during the day.
The Vatican planned to issue a com-
munique toward midnight yesterday. In
the meantime, cars with Vatican license
plates were speeding toward Rome's
Gemelli Polyclinic Hospital where the
pope had been taken, according to an
AP correspondent at the scene. a
It was the same Roman Catholic
teaching hospital he was taken to when
he was shot in the abdomen in 1981
and at which he has undergone several
As late as 11 p.m. local time, the
Vatican appeared calm with no traffic
or sign of an alert. The sudden trans-
fer of the pope caught his own staff by
The frail pontiff has Parkinson's
disease, which makes his speech dif-
ficult, as well as chronic hip and knee
He was reported to have come down
with the flu Sunday, when he made his
regular noontime appearance at his
window overlooking St. Peter's Square
and released a dove in a sign of peace.
He appeared remarkably lively, but his
words were barely audible.
Until the pope had been taken to the
hospital, the Vatican had been issuing
reassuring news about his condition,
up to yesterday's late night news cast
on Vatican radio.
First word of his transfer to the hos-
pital yesterday night came from Italian
The Vatican announced earlier yes-
terday that it had canceled the pope's
engagements for the next few days.
His canceled appointments included
John Paul's weekly public audience
today. Besides the traditional morn-
ing gathering with the faithful, he had
been scheduled to preside at a candle-
blessing service in St. Peter's Basilica
The flu has been sweeping through
Italy since December. The Rome
region, which is shivering through a
cold spell that has dropped tempera-
tures below freezing at night, has been
among those hit the hardest.
About 40 percent of the flu cases
have been children, with the elderly
making up only a small fraction of
cases after an aggressive campaign of
flu vaccinations for older people, health
It was not known whether the pontiff
had a flu shot.
NEW YORK (AP) - U.N. Secre-
tary-General Kofi Annan selected
former President Clinton yesterday
to be the U.N. point man for tsunami
reconstruction, saying no one could
better ensure that the world doesn't
forget the needs of the countries
devastated by the Dec. 26 disaster.
Clinton said in a statement that
he looked forward to serving as
Annan's special envoy starting next
Soon after the disaster, President
Bush named Clinton and his father,
President George H.W. Bush, to
head a nationwide private fund-
raising effort to help the 11 coun-
tries affected by the tsunamis.
The disaster killed more than
157,000 people and displaced mil-
lions of others.
Clinton said he will continue to
focus on his work with Bush "to
urge people to contribute to this
cause, and the two of us hope to
visit the region together later this
U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard
said Annan wanted to appoint a
special envoy not only to focus on
the cleanup and reconstruction but
to help resolve conflicts with reb-
els in the two worst-hit countries
- Indonesia and Sri Lanka.
This would give Clinton a chance
to use his political skills to tackle,
longstanding conflicts with rebels
in Indonesia's Aceh province who
WED. CLOSE CHANGE
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