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April 14, 2005 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-04-14

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8A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, April 14, 2005


lIves are
BEIJING (AP) - Stung by complaints
of religious and human rights abuses,
China declared in a report yesterday that
its booming economy is improving the
lives of ordinary citizens while changes
in the courts and government promote
respect for their rights.
The government made "marked prog-
ress in its human rights protection efforts
in the past year," said an annual report on
the state of human rights in China issued
by the Cabinet's press office.
Beijing has issued a series of such
reports in recent years, trying to deflect
complaints that it mistreats dissidents,
labor and religious groups, ethnic minori-
ties and others.
The latest report comes a day after two
U.S.-based groups accused China of car-
rying out a "crushing campaign" against
religious activity in its Muslim northwest,
where the government is fighting pro-
independence sentiment.
The government report stressed the
benefits of a booming economy that
expanded by 9.5 percent last year - a
common theme for communist officials,
who invoke the pursuit of higher living
standards as a justification for barring
most independent political activity.
"The people's overall living standard
and quality of life were improved consid-
erably," the report said.
It cited official promises to increase the
public's role in government by holding
nonpartisan elections for low-level posts
and creating a structure for the public to
petition China's largely powerless nation-
al and local legislatures.
Higher-level posts are all filled by the
ruling Communist Party, which also con-
trols all law-making.
The report noted changes in China's
police and court systems, saying com-
munist leaders were trying to ensure
that law enforcement is "strict, just and
The government has promised repeat-
edly to make courts more responsive to
public needs, to stamp out widespread
corruption among court officials and to
stop torture and other police abuses.

House votes down
federal estate taxes

Republicans hope legislation will
pass in the Senate, while many
Democrats oppose the bill
WASHINGTON (AP) - The House voted yes-
terday to eliminate federal estate taxes in 2010 and
beyond, a repeal that Republicans hailed but many
Democrats said would reward the richest families at
the steep cost of deeper federal deficits.
House lawmakers voted 272-162 to prevent the tax
on inherited estates from reappearing after its one-
year disappearance in 2010. The bill would end the
tax at a cost of roughly $290 billion over the next
The House has passed bills repealing the tax sev-
eral times since enacting the 2001 law that lifted the
tax for a year. Those bills have languished in the
Senate. Supporters hope a bigger Republican major-
ity there could mean the difference this year.
National Federation of Independent Business Pres-
ident Jack Faris said millions of small businesses are
"looking for senators who are committed to support-
ing full repeal."
Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) refused to predict the like-
lihood of success.
"We are working to see what the best approach
is," Kyl said.
President Bush called the elimination "a matter
of basic fairness." He said, "The death tax results
in the double taxation of many family assets while
hurting the source of most new jobs in this country

- America's small business and farms."
Other Republicans agreed and said an estate tax
discriminates against some families simply to raise
money for government spending.
Most estates already are exempt from federal
taxes. The Internal Revenue Service said just over 2
percent of people who died in 2001 left estates sub-
ject to taxation.
Rep. Christopher Cox, (R-Calif.), said those push-
ing to retain a tax "still want to pry lots of cash out
of the cold, dead fingers of America's deceased
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, (D-
Calif.), said the bill favored the "super rich" and
would make federal deficits worse.
"Do we want to continue reckless Republican tax
policies or to return to a fair system of taxation?"
Pelosi said.
Democrats lost in their bid to pass an alternative
that quickly would increase the size of estates that
are exempt from tax but leave the tax in place for the
wealthiest estates. It was rejected by a 238-194 vote.
Current laws gradually increase the size of an
estate exempt from tax and decrease the top tax rate
before complete repeal in 2010.
This year, estates worth up to $1.5 million for an
individual or $3 million for a couple owe no tax. The
top tax rate stands at 47 percent.
Just before its complete repeal, in 2009, the
exemption increases to $3.5 million for an individ-
ual or $7 million for a couple. The tax rate falls to
45 percent.


Senate agrees to compensate Nat'1 Guard

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate agreed
yesterday to make sure that federal employees
serving in the National Guard and Reserve
don't lose pay when they are activated.
It also agreed to expand benefits for the fami-
lies of soldiers killed, regardless of whether the
deaths occurred in combat.
The measures were added to an $80.6 billion
emergency spending bill to fund the wars in
Iraq and Afghanistan and other costs. They are
among a series of Democratic amendments that
have been politically awkward for Republicans
eager to show support for troops, but also look-
ing to contain costs.
On Tuesday, Republicans defeated a pro-
posal to add $2 billion for veterans health
care. But yesterday, several members of the
GOP majority voted to go along with Demo-
cratic proposals.
The amendment to make up the salary dif-

ference for federal employees activated for
National Guard or Reserve duty was approved
in a voice vote after a Republican attempt to
derail it failed, 61-39.
Its prospects of becoming law are uncer-
tain. The Senate bill will have to be reconciled
with a $81.4 billion version of the spending
bill the House approved last month. In recent
years, House-Senate negotiators have quietly
stripped similar provisions from other leg-
islation, said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) the
amendment's sponsor.
Durbin said about 120,000 U.S. government
employees serve in the Guard or Reserve and,
when activated, they lose an average of $368
a month, the difference between their civilian
and military pay. He said pay issues are a main
reason members of the Guard and Reserve
don't re-enlist.
But Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) said Guard

and Reserve members understand the finan-
cial implications of serving when they enlist.
Paying federal employees their full salary
would make them higher-paid than regular
service members, which could harm morale,
he said.
Durbin's office said making up the pay dif-
ference would cost about $170 million over
five years.
For soldiers who die in combat zones, the
Bush administration proposed an increase in
death benefits. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.)
won a voice vote to extend those higher ben-
efits to include soldiers whose deaths are not
"You can be driving a car and have a car
accident in a combat zone and you qualify for
that upper level (death benefit)," Kerry said of
the administration's proposal. "But if you're
serving on an aircraft carrier or elsewhere and

you're training personnel and you die ... you
don't get the same benefit, even if you're pre-
paring to send troops to war."
A Republican effort to set Kerry's amend-
ment aside was defeated, 75-25.
Stevens argued that "fallen heroes" should be
entitled to higher death benefits than a service
member who dies in a drunken driving accident
in the United States.
Republicans also agreed in a voice vote to a
Kerry proposal to let the families of soldiers
killed in action stay in military housing for up
to a year, instead of the current 180 days.
The Senate bill would give Bush most of the
money he sought for fighting wars, though the
total is less than the $82 billion he requested.
Republican Senate leaders hope for passage by
next week and have been trying to avert lengthy
debates on immigration and border security
amendments that could delay the bill.

Continued from page 1A
that it may have to do with more than just the event.
"It's unfortunate that such optimistic actions are being
defaced and people are trying to sabotage an event whose
intentions are clearly good," Abou-Chakra added.
Signs have been put up in Angell Hall, the Michigan
Union and many other places on campus, Abou-Chakra
"They've been put everywhere and they're going to get
put up again," Abou-Chakra said. "It's not going to stop
us - its just making it more personal."
"It is clear that a lot of people have animosity towards
the Arab community in general ... we all know there has
been a lot of animosity towards them - especially after
9-11," Baki added.
Abou-Chakra said that she did not see what could pos-
sibly be achieved by tearing down fliers.
"I don't feel that anyone could gain anything by one of
the events being unsuccessful. ... It's kind of a malicious
act," Abou-Chakra said.
Arab Xpressions will take place this Saturday night at
9:00 in the Michigan Union. The show is free of charge.

China opposes Japan's bid for security council

BEIJING (AP) - In the strongest stand
so far against the Japanese bid for a per-
manent seat on the U.N. Security Council,
China's premier told Japan on Tuesday
to face up to its World War II aggression
before aspiring to a bigger global role.
It was the strongest hint yet that China
might exercise its veto as one of the coun-
cil's five permanent members to block
"Only a country that respects history,
takes responsibility for history and wins
over the trust of peoples in Asia and the
world at large can take greater responsi-
bilities in the international community,"
Premier Wen Jiabao said during an official
visit to India.
China, South Korea and other Asian
nations have long accused Japan of not

apologizing adequately for invading and
occupying its neighbors, and Chinese ani-
mosities are aggravated by their rivalry
with the Japanese to be the region's domi-
nant power.
Sometimes violent anti-Japanese protests
erupted in Beijing and two other Chinese
cities over the weekend, sparked by Japan's
approval of a history textbook that critics
say plays down Japanese military abuses
such as the forced wartime prostitution of
thousands of Asian women.
"Last century the aggression war waged
by Japan inflicted huge and tremendous
suffering and hardships on people in China,
Asia and the world at large," Wen told
reporters in New Delhi. He said the protests
should prompt "deep and profound reflec-
tions" by the Japanese.

Japan's government is campaigning for
a permanent Security Council seat in rec-
ognition of its status as the world's second
biggest economy, after the United States,
which is a permanent member along with
Russia, Britain, France and China.
For Japan to get a permanent seat, the
U.N. Charter would have to be amended.
That would require approval by the Secu-
rity Council, so China could use its veto
to block any change, although the Beijing
regime has avoided explicitly saying it
would do so.
Feelings are also high in Japan.
Police said Tuesday that China's consul-
ate in Osaka received an envelope contain-
ing a spent bullet and a message threatening
to harm Chinese people if anti-Japanese
protests continue in China. The enve-

lope didn't identify the sender and police
declined to say where it was mailed.
Japanese nationalists have used similar
intimidation tactics in the past.
Japan's trade minister, Shoichi Nakaga-
wa, called China "a scary country" Tues-
day and expressed concerns about how the
violent demonstrations will affect Japanese
business in China.
"I've heard they are aiming to become
a market economy so they must respond
appropriately," Nakagawa told reporters.
Still, Japanese Foreign Minister Nobu-
taka Machimura said he was going ahead
with plans to visit Beijing next week for
talks with his Chinese counterpart.
"It is important to deepen understanding
between the foreign ministers and engage
in activities that would help promote friend-

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