2 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, March 29, 2005
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Iraq's out-
going interior minister predicted yester-
day that his country's emerging police
and army may be capable of securing
the nation in 18 months, saying his offi-
cers are beginning to take over from
Insurgents, meanwhile, targeted Shi-
ite pilgrims, setting off two blasts that
killed at least three people.
Interim Interior Minister Falah al-
Naqib's comments came as security was
heightened in the already heavily forti-
fied Green Zone, where the National
Assembly will hold its long-awaited
second session today to choose a parlia-
ment speaker and two deputies.
Negotiators haggled over who would
get the parliament speaker job, consid-
ering interim President Ghazi al-Yawer.
They hope the inclusion of Sunni Arabs
like him in the new government will
help quell the Sunni-led insurgency.
But al-Yawer turned down the post
and instead asked the Shiite-led United
Iraqi Alliance for the vice president's
which is part of the alliance.
Alliance members agreed to nomi-
nate former nuclear scientist Hussain
al-Shahristani as one of two deputy par-
liament speakers and interim Finance
Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi as one of
two vice presidents.
Alliance negotiator Jawad al-Maliki
said the Sunni Arabs were expected to
name a candidate for the parliament's
speaker position today.
Al-Naqib predicted that militants will
target today's National Assembly meet-
ing - only the second since the parlia-
ment was elected nearly two months
ago in the nation's first free election in
50 years. The lawmakers met March 16
but repeatedly have postponed a second
meeting because of negotiations over
Roads were blocked off yesterday, and
security was tightened around the area,
already surrounded by concrete blast
walls and barbed wire. Several mortar
rounds slammed into the banks of the
Tigris River, just short of the Green Zone.
Underscoring tensions with the coun-
try's majority Shiites - who make up
60 percent of Iraq's estimated 26 mil-
be a huge reduction in the number of
multinational patrols. In some cities, there
will be no foreign troops at all."
- Falah al-Naqib
Interim Interior Minister
U.S. bases get $83 million upgrade
The United States is pouring $83 million into upgrading its main military
bases in Afghanistan, an Air Force general said yesterday in a sign that Ameri-
can forces will likely be needed in the country for years to come as al-Qaida
remains active in the region.
Meanwhile, in a reminder of the instability still facing the 25,000 foreign troops
in the country, a roadside bomb hit a Canadian Embassy vehicle and another car in
Kabul, injuring at least four people.
U.S. Brig. Gen. Jim Hunt said the millions were being spent on construction
projects already under way at Bagram, the main U.S. base north of Kabul, and
Kandahar in the south. Both are being equipped with new runways.
"We are continuously improving runways, taxiways, navigation aids, airfield light-
ing, billeting and other facilities to support our demanding mission," Hunt, the com-
mander of U.S. air operations in Afghanistan, said at a news conference in the capital.
Afghan leaders are seeking a long-term "strategic partnership" with the United
States, which expects to complete the training of the country's new 70,000-strong army
next year, but it remains unclear if that will include permanent American bases.
lion people - insurgents set off two
explosions targeting Shiite pilgrims
heading to Karbala for a major religious
In Musayyib, 40 miles south of Bagh-
dad, a suicide bomber on a bicycle blew
himself up near a police patrol protect-
ing the pilgrims, Capt. Muthana al-
Furati of the Hillah police force said.
Two policemen were killed. The attack
wounded two other officers and three
The other bombing took place at the
Imam al-Khedher shrine compound in
Khalis, 50 miles north of Baghdad. The
attack killed one pilgrim and wounded
two others resting at the compound,
Col. Abdullah Hessoni Abdullah said.
Pilgrims travel to Karbala to mark al-
Arbaeen, the end of a 40-day mourning
period after the anniversary of the 7th-
century martyrdom of Imam Hussein,
one of the Shiite religion's top saints.
In a news conference, al-Naqib out-,
lined progress by the country's fledg-
ling security forces, predicting that
U.S. troops would be able to begin
slowly pulling out of parts of the coun-
try, and that "hopefully, within 18
months at the most we will be capable
of securing Iraq."
"We hope that next summer, there
will be a huge reduction in the num-
bers of multinational patrols," he said.
"In some cities, there will be no foreign
troops at all."
JER USAL EM
Israeli parliament rejects Gaza pullout
Israel's parliament rejected a last-ditch attempt to torpedo Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon's plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip yesterday, vetoing a pro-
posed national referendum. The plan now goes to the nation's Supreme Court.
Demoralized by the defeat, settlers said they would move their fight into the
streets, promising to bring 100,000 protesters to the settlements slated for evacua-
tion to prevent the withdrawal.
They also pinned their hopes on the Supreme Court, which agreed Monday to
hear a challenge to the law providing the legal framework for the withdrawal from
the entire Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements.
Approval of a referendum would have almost certainly delayed the with-
drawal, scheduled for this summer, and could have brought down Sharon's
government and forced new elections. Sharon has repeatedly rejected calls
for a national vote as a stalling tactic. Opinion polls show a large majority
of Israelis back the withdrawal plan.
Top court will not prevent newspaper lawsuit
More than 290
dead in earthquake
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (AP) -
A major earthquake struck late yes-
terday off the west coast of Indonesia,
and a local government official said
296 people were killed in collapsed
buildings. Thousands panicked in
countries across the Indian Ocean as
tsunami warnings were posted.
Fears of another catastrophe simi-
lar to December's devastating tsuna-
mi eased within hours, as officials in
countries closest to the quake's epi-
center said there were no reports of
big waves striking their coasts after
the temblor was reported.
Early reports of damage and casu-
alties were confined to the island of
Nias, off the Sumatran coast, close
to the epicenter.
The quake collapsed about 70 per-
cent of houses and buildings in the
town of Gunungsitoli, said police
Sgt. Zulkifli Sirait.
Agus Mendrofa, deputy district
head on Nias island, told el-Shinta
radio station that 296 people were
A Sri Lankan family, survivors of Asian tsunami of Dec. 26, listens for
updates of a possible tsunami at a temporary shelter for the displaced,
after the government issued a warning, in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
:00 p.m., Hale Auditorium
Stphen M. Ross
School ofBusines s
- .A keynote by
y O Mh aDr. Martha Burk
Chair of the National Council
A bo ok s-n y her,, -inonir's~aa.'.
the author to ollow. -
Dr. Burk has led the NCWO effort to open the Augusta National Golf Club to
women and remains at the forefront of the debate. Her TV appearances include
HBO Real Sports with Bryant Gumnbel, ESPN Outside the Lines, Listen UP!
With Charles Barkley and others. She has also appeared on numerous news
shows, including The Today Show, ABC World News tonight, CBS Evening
News, NBC Nightly News, Newsnight with Aaron Brown. Lou Dobbs Money-
line, CNN Financial, Bloomberg News, Wolf Blitzes Reports, American Morn-
ing with Paula Zahn, Crossfire and many more.
killed. He said this figure was based
on reports from humanitarian work-
ers on the island.
"We still cannot count the number
of casualties or the number of col-
lapsed building because it is dark
here," Sirait said in a telephone
interview. "It is possible that hun-
dreds of people trapped in the col-
lapsed buildings died."
Nias, a renowned surfing spot,
was badly hit by the 9.0 earthquake
and subsequent tsunami on Dec. 26
that killed at least 175,000 people
in 12 Indian Ocean nations and left
another 106,000 missing. At least
340 residents of Nias perished and
10,000 were left homeless.
The U.S. Geological Survey said
yesterday's quake, which occurred
at 11:09 p.m. local time (11:09 a.m.
EST), measured a magnitude of 8.2.
A later reading put the magnitude
at 8.7, said Paul Earle, a USGS geo-
A tsunami warning was issued in
Thailand and Sri Lanka, although
officials later canceled it. The only
tnami-reported withinfour hours
was a tiny one - less than four inch- -
es - at the Cocos Islands, a group of
27 islands about 1,400 miles west of
Australia with a population of about
600, meteorologists in Sydney said.
No damage was reported.
"It seems this earthquake did not
trigger a tsunami. If it had, the tsu-
nami would have hit the coastline of
Sumatra by now," said Prihar Yadi, a
scientist with the Indonesia Geophysics
Agency. "And if there's no tsunami on
the coastline near the epicenter of the
quake, there will not be one heading in
the other direction."
Indonesian officials said the epicen-
ter was in the Indian Ocean about 56
miles south of the island of- Simeulu,
off Sumatra's west coast, and just
north of Nias. It was described by a
USGS geologist as an aftershock of
the devastating Dec. 26 quake.
Preliminary indications are that
energy from the quake might be
directed toward the southwest, said
Frank Gonzalez, an oceanographer
with the National Oceanographic
and Atmospheric Administration in
Seattle. He stressed it was based on
"very scanty information" about the
epicenter and magnitude.
Yesterday's quake had an epicenter
about 110 miles southeast of where
the Dec. 26 quake was centered. The
USGS said it occurred on a segment
of the same fault line that triggered
the Dec. 26 quake, the world's big-
gest in 40 years.
Two aftershocks - one measuring
6.0 and another measuring 6.7 - were
reported in the same region late yester-
day and early today, the USGS said.
The quake occurred at a depth of
18.6 miles, and was centered 125
west-northwest of Sibolga, Sumatra,
and 150 miles southwest of Medan,
Sumatra, the USGS said.
The depth does not mean a lot for
a quake this large, Earle said, call-
ing it a near-surface earthquake and
comparable to the one in December.
After that quake, the agency initially
recorded the depth of the temblor at
six miles. Shallow earthquakes like
that generally are more destructive
because the seismic energy is closer to
the surface and has shorter to travel.
Yesterday's quake was considered
to be at a moderate depth.
The Supreme Court refused to step into a lawsuit against a newspaper yesterday,
leaving the media in Pennsylvania legally vulnerable when it reports defamatory
comments by public figures.
The case could chill news coverage of political campaigns where charges and
countercharges are commonplace, First Amendment advocates say.
The justices' decision not to consider the case was a victory for the former mayor
and current council president of Parkesburg, Pa., who sued when the Daily Local
News in West Chester, Pa., reported that a council member claimed they were homo-
sexuals. The newspaper reported the councilman also had issued a statement strongly
implying that he considered the two officials to be "queers and child molesters."
Interim leader backs part of parliament bids
More political leaders threw their support behind Kyrgyzstan's newly
elected parliament yesterday in a bid to restore stability to this impover-
ished Central Asian nation following the dramatic ouster of President Aska
It remained to be seen whether the move would be accepted by opposition
supporters, whose violent protests over alleged voting irregularities in parlia-
mentary elections chased Akayev from the country Thursday.
But a crowd of protesters dispersed peacefully after interim leader Kurman-
bek Bakiyev, a former prime minister who joined the opposition to Akayev,
promised that allegations of electoral abuses would be dealt with.
Bakiyev, who urged Akayev to formally resign, spoke to the demonstrators
after recognizing the new parliament as legitimate, which he did after that
body named him prime minister.
- Compiled from Daily wire reports
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