2 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Iraq's new Parliament to convene NEWS IN BRIEF 1i
Despite car bomb
attacks, Iraq to hold
its first freely elected
National Assembly today
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Iraq puts
its fragile'democracy to the test today,
convening its first freely elected Nation-
al Assembly in recent history after last-
minute bargaining over Sunni Arab
candidates to head the parliament.
Shiite Muslim officials said they
failed to reach final agreement in talks
with the Kurds - who are mostly
Sunni Muslim but secular - and the
Sunni Arabs. But those failures were
not enough to prevent the 275-member
National Assembly from preparing to
meet today for the first time since the
Jan. 30 elections.
"It will be a historic event because the
Iraqi people will witness an elected par-
liament for the first time in their lives,"
said Ali al-Dabagh, a member of the
Shiite clergy-dominated United Iraqi
Alliance, which won the most seats in
Al-Dabagh added that Shiite, Kurdish
and Sunni Arab politicians would meet
after the deputies are sworn in "to final-
ize things. We need two to three days to
announce an agreement."
The Shiite alliance won 140 seats in the
National Assembly, but needs the Kurds'
75 seats to assemble the two-thirds major-
ity required to elect a president, who will
then nominate the prime minister.
The assembly was to start with speech-
es from members of the interim govern-
ment, followed by political party leaders
and end with a swearing-in ceremony,
officials said, adding that the parliament
could meet over a number of days.
Shiite talks with Sunni Arabs focused
on naming a parliament speaker, and it
remained unclear if they would present a
candidate today. Although the speaker's
role is mostly restricted to presiding over
the assembly and moderating discussions,
the job has a great deal of visibility.
The United Iraqi Alliance and a Kurd-
ish coalition agreed last week to form a
coalition government with Shiite politi-
cian Ibrahim al-Jaafari as prime minis-
ter. In return, Jalal Talabani will become
Iraq's first Kurdish president, though the
presidency is a largely ceremonial post.
"The Kurds want to make some
amendments on the deal, and we are
going to finish soon, tomorrow to be
exact. We do not want to impose any
name from our side regarding the post
of the parliament speaker. We want the
Sunnis to nominate some persons for
this post, but till now they have not done
this," al-Dabagh said.
Sunni Arab negotiators at yester-
day's meeting included interim Presi-
dent Ghazi al-Yawer - a possible
choice for parliament speaker - the
Iraqi Islamic Party and Iraqi national-
ist leader Adnan Pachachi.
Sunni Arabs, who make up only
about 20 percent of the population but
were the dominant group under Saddam
Hussein's regime, largely stayed away
from the elections - either to honor a
boycott call or because they feared being
attacked at the polls by insurgents.
Sunni Arabs are believed to make up
the core of the insurgency, and includ-
ing them in the political process is seen
as a way to isolate the militants.
U.S. Gen. Richard Myers, chairman
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, predicted to
reporters traveling with him on a swing
through Iraq that insurgent violence
would surge in the weeks ahead as the
National Assembly is convened and the
government takes shape.
"So there's a long way to go," Myers
said, before Iraq is stable enough to
defend itself without the presence of
U.S. troops, which now number about
148,000. He declined to say when a U.S.
withdrawal might begin.
To prevent suicide car bomb attacks
against new Iraq's lawmakers, authori-
ties stepped up security around the
heavily fortified Green Zone, where the
National Assembly was to meet. Two
bridges leading to the zone were shut
down, and roadblocks were erected on
other streets leading to the area.
An insurgent car bomb attack near
Baghdad airport, where Myers had met
U.S. troops, killed a U.S. soldier and
wounded another six, the military said.
Although it was unclear if it was the
same attack, Iraqi police said a car bomb
in the same area - and at the same time
- targeted a U.S. military convoy and
killed four civilians and wounded anoth-
er seven. When U.S. forces arrived to
evacuate the injured, another car bomb
exploded, wounding more troops. One
Humvee was destroyed and two civilian
cars were in flames, witnesses said.
HEADLINES FROMAROUND% THE WORL
WoddCom CEO found guilt of fraud
Bernard Ebbers, the once-swaggering CEO of WorldCom, was convicted yes-
terday of engineering the largest corporate fraud in U.S. history - an $11 billion
accounting scandal that capsized the big telecom company three years ago.
The verdict marked a colossal fall for Ebbers, who had turned a humble Missis-
sippi long-distance provider into a global telecommunications power, swallowing
up companies along the way and earning the nickname "Telecom Cowboy."
A federal jury in Manhattan returned guilty verdicts on all nine counts,
including securities fraud, conspiracy and lying to regulators - a decision
that could send Ebbers, 63, to prison for the rest of his life. Sentencing was
set for June 13.
The former chief executive reddened deeply when the jury announced its verdict
after eight days of deliberations, and his wife, Kristie, burst into tears in the court-
room's front row. Later, as his lawyer spoke outside, promising an appeal, Ebbers
and his wife - nearly toppled by the enormous crew of cameras and reporters
camped outside the federal courthouse - made their way to a nearby street, hailed
a cab and drove away.
Anthrax detected, postal facilities closed
Another postal facility was closed yesterday as concern spread over the detection of
anthrax in two pieces of mail at military mailrooms. Hundreds of workers were offered
antibiotics as a precaution, though no unusual health problems were reported.
Officials said the mail in question had been irradiated, so any anthrax in them
was inert when they triggered alarms at the Pentagon mail facility and another
nearby facility that handles military mail.
Environmental testing was being conducted on the two military mail facilities
and on a third postal facility in the District of Columbia, which was closed yesterday
because it may have handled the mail that went to the two military mailrooms.
Antibiotics were offered to some 200 workers at the D.C. facility and to workers
at the military mailrooms. Hospitals were told to be on the lookout for symptoms
like respiratory problems, rashes or flu-like symptoms that could signal exposure
to anthrax, which can be used as a biological weapon.
ATLANTA (AP) - Surrounded by 19 officers in a
cinderblock jail room, his hands and ankles shackled,
the man accused in the crime spree that left an Atlanta
judge and three others dead went before a judge yes-
terday for the first time since the rampage.
Brian Nichols, 33, was informed that authorities
plan to charge him with murder.
Nichols looked straight ahead during the five-
minute hearing and did not make eye contact with
anyone in the room, including the judge. He spoke
only once, when Judge Frank Cox asked him if he
had any questions.
"Not at this time," he said.
When Nichols was held without bail on the rape
charge he was on trial for Friday, when he allegedly
overpowered a guard at the Fulton County courthouse,
stole her gun and started a rampage that terrorized
Atlanta and left four people dead.
This time, authoritiestook no chances'for the hear-
ing at the Fulton County Jail.
All prisoners booked into the jail make their first
appearance before a judge inside the jail, not at the
courthouse. But 19 officers - almost five times the
usual number - packed the small room, and several
more officers blocked the hall outside.
Those entering the hearing room were searched
Fulton County Deputy Sgt. Vincent Owens, center, is comforted by fellow deputies Craig Johnson,
left, and Michael Carmack, as he pays his respects during a memorial service for slain courthouse
workers at the Fulton County Justice Center in Atlanta Monday.
NEW DELHI, India
Rice discusses weapons, security issues in Asia
China's new law authorizing military force against Taiwan could make Europe
think twice about selling new weaponry to the Chinese, Secretary of State Con-
doleezza Rice said yesterday. Rice, in Asia for talks this week, also said she will
not let North Korea play the United States and its allies against each other in an
attempt to hang onto its nuclear weapons program.
She has a long agenda in Beijing later this week, a visit made more delicate by
China's decision to codify a threat to attack Taiwan if the island declares inde-
pendence. The Bush administration criticized the move, and Rice said she will
discuss it with Chinese leaders.
Rice said the law may make European nations reconsider resuming weapons
sales that were suspended after the deadly 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy
protesters at Tiananmen Square.
Citizens celebrate exit of Syrian intelligence
The symbols of Syrian power crumbled in parts of Lebanon yesterday as Syrian
military intelligence agents emptied their offices in Beirut and Tripoli and workers
took down an imposing portrait of Syria's president in the capital's seaside boulevard.
Lebanese citizens quickly hoisted their national flag - red and white with a
green cedar tree in the middle - outside one of the vacated offices and at the site
of the massive Bashar Assad portrait.
The retreat of Syrian intelligence, the arm through which Damascus controlled "
many aspects of Lebanese life, followed strong demands from the United States
and an anti-Syrian rally Monday that drew an estimated-1 million people the
biggest crowd ever seen in central Beirut.
- Compiled from Daily wire reports
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with a handheld metal detector.
Fulton County Sheriff Myron Freeman said other
steps had been taken to improve courthouse security:
40 uniformed deputies have been added and high-risk
inmates will be transported separately, accompanied
by specially trained officers.
"The security improvements we've made in the
past few days will continue as we search for ways
to increase security and the safety of the public," he
said in a statement.
Prosecutor Michele McCutcheon informed
Cox the state will pursue four charges of murder
Nichols is accused of killing the judge on his rape
case and two others at the courthouse, then killing a
federal agent while on the run. After a 26-hour -man-
hunt, he was captured Saturday at an apartment com-
plex where he had taken a woman hostage.
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