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February 09, 2005 - Image 2

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-02-09

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2 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, February 9, 2005


Rice addresses NEWS IN BRIEF

U.S. foreign
policy in Europe

PARIS (AP) - Secretary of State
Condoleeza Rice told European intel-
lectuals yesterday "it is time to turn
away from the disagreements of the
past" that stem from the U.S. inva-
sion of Iraq.
Rice was giving an address on U.S. for-
eignpolicy in Europe, Iraq, the Middle East
and elsewhere to an audience of French
students and intellectuals. She chose Paris
because France is a seat of recent criticism
of the U.S.-led war in Iraq and of President
Bush's diplomacy in general.
In excerpts from her address at Paris's
Science Politique, Rice said: "America
stands ready to work with Europe on our
common agenda and Europe must stand
ready to work with America."
"After all, history will surely judge
us not by our old disagreements, but by
our new achievements," she said.
Science Politique, known in France
as Science Po, is a school of political
science that has been at the center of
recent debate over America's reach and
power. Some 500 students and intellec-
tuals were attending, and Rice was to
take questions from the audience.
"Time and again in our shared his-
tory, Americans and Europeans have
enjoyed our greatest successes, for our-
selves and for others, when we refuse

to accept an unacceptable status quo
but instead put our values to work for
the cause of freedom," Rice said.
She said: "America has every-
thing to gain" from having a stronger
Europe as a partner.
"It is time to turn away from the
disagreements of the past," Rice said.
"It is time to open a new chapter in
our relationship, and a new chapter in
our alliance."
Earlier in Rome, Rice said she is
optimistic about the chances for Israel
and the Palestinians to reach accom-
modation, in part because of a new
thirst for peace throughout the Middle
East. She cautioned that "there is still a
long road ahead."
"There seems to be a will in the
Middle East because people want to
live in a different kind of Middle East,"
Rice said.
She commented after a meeting with
Italian Foreign Minister Gianfranco
Fini in which they discussed Iraq, the
Middle East other issues.
Their meeting came hours before
Israeli and Palestinian leaders declared
that their people would stop all mili-
tary or violent activity, pledging to
break the four-year cycle of bloodshed
and get peace talks back on track.

Suicide bomber kills 21 people in Iraq
A suicide bomber blew himself up in the middle of a crowd of army recruits yester-
day, killing 21 people in the deadliest attack in Baghdad since last week's election and
highlighting a recent shift by insurgents to use human bombs instead of cars.
Insurgents are strapping explosives on the bodies of volunteers to penetrate the
network of blast walls, checkpoints and other security measures designed to block
vehicle bombs.
Several such attackers tried to disrupt voting in Baghdad on election day but
were unable to get into polling stations. On Monday, a suicide bomber walked into
a crowd of Iraqi policemen in the northern city of Mosul and detonated explosives,
killing 12 of them.
Iraqi authorities initially said the Baghdad recruiting center was attacked by
mortar fire, but witnesses reported only a single explosion, and the U.S. military
said the blast was caused by a suicide bomber on foot.
Attacks have steadily risen since the Jan. 30 elections, when a massive U.S. and
Iraqi security operation prevented insurgents from disrupting the vote. Those mea-
sures, including a ban on most private vehicles, closing the borders and an extended
curfew, were relaxed soon afterward.


BANDA ACEH, Indonesia
U.N. needs more money for tsunami aid

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, left, shakes hands with Italian
Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini at the end of a joint media conference at
Rome's Villa Madama yesterday.

Congress may limit corporate lawsuits

WASHINGTON (AP) - Congress
is close to making it easier for corpora-
tions to dodge many of the class-action
lawsuits that businesses say are bank-
rupting them while rewarding lawyers
and doing little to help victims.
The measure, headed for a vote this
week in the Senate and probably next
week in the House, would be the first
fulfillment of one of President Bush's
priorities for his second term. But a frag-
ile compromise could come unglued if
senators make changes in the bill, such
as giving federal judges a little more
discretion to keep lawsuits alive.
"If the Senate passes any amendment,
then they are jeopardizing" it, House
Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas)
said yesterday.
Opponents of the legislation say it

would only hurt average citizens and let
big business escape multimillion-dollar
judgments for wrongdoing.
But Bush, echoing business leaders'
complaints, says a judicial system that
lets lawyers look for friendly forums
in state courts for "junk lawsuits" is
tilted against corporate defendants.
"Justice is distorted, and our economy
is held back, by irresponsible class
actions," he said in his State of the
Union speech last week.
In Mississippi, Bankston Drug Store
was named in hundreds of suits in
which users of the diet drug fen-phen
claimed it gave them heart and lung
problems. The pharmacy was sued so
the lawsuit could be heard in Missis-
sippi, said Hilda Bankston, the phar-
macy's former owner.

She ended up having to sell the only
pharmacy in Jefferson County after the
lawsuits started and her pharmacist hus-
band died of a heart attack. "There are
too many small business people who
worked too hard for greedy attorneys to
just use us for their purposes," she said
in a telephone interview yesterday.
Just by threatening a class-action suit
- in which one person or a small group
represents the interests of an entire class
of people in court - lawyers often win
quick, easy settlements, making more
money for themselves than the victims
they're representing, bill supporters say.
Marty Preston of Wisconsin Dells,
Wis., recalled finding herself a plaintiff
in a class-action suit accusing BancBos-
ton of holding too much of their custom-
ers' money in escrow. The suit before a

Looking Sor a :ummer internihip?

state court in Mobile, Ala., was settled
and Preston said her share of the settle-
ment was a little more than $4, but the
lawyers handling the case shared $8
million in fees, including $80 taken
from her escrow account to pay them.
"People who I never heard from,
never knew who they were, and certain-
ly never contacted me personally just
deftly picked my pocket," she said in a
telephone interview yesterday.
The legislation Bush supports would
move many class-action suits with
plaintiffs from several different states
into federal court, where critics say
judges have sent them back to state
courts, because applying the various
applicable state laws was too unman-
ageable. Critics say that would effec-
tively end multistate class-action suits
because state courts would be prohib-
ited from hearing them.
"The effect of this legislation as it
stands now is to virtually guarantee
that all large class-action lawsuits
will be dismissed," said Sen. Jeff Bin-
gaman (D-N.M.).
That would disappoint Shelly Toli-
ver. When she hit a bad financial stretch
a few years ago, her $17,000 car was
repossessed and auctioned off. After-
ward, she was shocked when she got
a letter from Credit Acceptance Corp.
saying she still owed $10,000 because
the company did not make enough
money at the auction.
Toliver said she and other people in
the same situation got together and sued
the Detroit-based company in Con-
necticut, and got their debt wiped out
and a little money in a settlement. "I
wonder where I would be if I had not
been allowed to bring my case in the
Connecticut court system," she said in
a statement Monday.
Bingaman - with support from
some Republicans, including Judi-
ciary Committee Chairman Arlen
Specter of Pennsylvania - wants the
Senate this week to change the bill to
let a federal judge decide to pick one
state law and apply it to the case if
multiple states' laws would make the
case unmanageable.
"If we don't fix it, consumers will
have lost one of their only means of
redress when they have been wronged
by a corporation," Bingaman said.
DeLay said such a change in the bill's
language would be a dealbreaker
Under the compromise legislation,
class-action suits would be heard in
state court if the primary defendant and
more than one-third of the plaintiffs are
from the same state. But if fewer than
one-third of the plaintiffs are from the
same state as the primary defendant,
the case would go to federal court.
At least $5 million would have to
be at stake for a federal court to hear a
class-action suit.
The bill also would limit lawyers'
fees in so-called coupon settlements -
when plaintiffs get discounts on prod-
ucts instead of financial settlements
- by linking the fees to the redemp-
tions rate of the coupon or the actual
hours spent working on a case.

The United Nations said governments have only given a fraction of the money
they pledged for tsunami aid and warned that more cash is needed to fund long-
term reconstruction efforts. In Sri Lanka, corruption allegations continued to ham-
per relief operations yesterday.
The global body was also considering moving its base in Indonesia's worst-hit
Aceh province because of security concerns. Al-Qaida linked suicide bombers
have targeted Westerners in Indonesia three times in the past three years.
Estimates of the number of people killed by the Dec. 26 tsunami that struck 11
nations ranged from about 162,000 to 178,000 - most of them in Indonesia.
Another 26,000 to 142,000 are missing, but officials say it's too early to add
them to the toll with bodies still being found. Indonesia said yesterday it had found
1,055 more corpses, raising the country's confirmed death toll to at least 115,756.
The State Department said 18 U.S. citizens died in the disaster and that 15 others
are presumed dead. Ten perished in Thailand and eight in Sri Lanka, said Adam
Ereli, the deputy spokesman. Of the 15 presumed dead, 14 were in Thailand and
one was in Sri Lanka.
Scientists given right to clone human embryos
The British government yesterday gave the creator of Dolly the Sheep a license to
clone human embryos for medical research into the cause of motor neuron disease.
Ian Wilmut, who led the team that created Dolly at Scotland's Roslin Institute
in 1996, and motor neuron expert Christopher Shaw of the Institute of Psychiatry
in London, plan to clone embyros to study how nerve cells go awry to cause the
disease. The experiments do not involve creating cloned babies.
It is the second such license approved since Britain became the first country to
legalize research cloning in 2001. The first was granted in August to a team that
hopes to use cloning to create insulin-producing cells that could be transplanted
into diabetics.
1.7 milon issing out on $2 billon in tax refunds
About 1.7 million people are missing out on more than $2 billion in refunds for taxes
they paid three years ago.
Many of them just never filed returns. It's not too late - but the window to claim the
money closes in nine weeks.
"As soon as you send us your tax return, you'll get your money," Internal Revenue
Service Commissioner Mark Everson said yesterday. "But if you don't file, you won't
get anything."
Taxpayers must act by April 15 to claim a refund for taxes paid in 2001,
under laws that make the money the property of the U.S. Treasury after sitting
unclaimed for three years.
- Compiled from Daily wire reports



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