2 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 21, 2005
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - President
Bush kept a worried watch yesterday on
"what we pray is not a devastating storm"
- Hurricane Rita - as he flew over miles
of flattened homes and mud-caked neigh-
borhoods hit by Hurricane Katrina.
Bush received a briefing about Rita
aboard the USS Iwo Jima, which is
docked near downtown New Orleans,
as the hurricane lashed the Florida Keys
and caused new anxiety among Katrina
victims in Mississippi, Louisiana and
In a ship mess hall, the president
held a videoconference with three fed-
eral officials: Homeland Security Sec-
retary Michael Chertoff, the National
Hurricane Center's deputy director, Ed
Rappaport, and a Federal Emergency
Management Agency official.
The officials said Rita was projected to
strengthen to a Category 3 hurricane that
would hit the upper to middle part of the
Texas coast by the weekend and could cre-
ate tropical storm conditions - or, much
less likely, hurricane-force winds - in
"We're watching very closely, of
course, its track," Bush said later at a Folg-
ers coffee plant in Louisiana that recently
restarted operations. "All up and down the
coastline people are now preparing for
what is anticipated to be yet another sig-
Eager to show hands-on leadership
after being criticized for a slow response
to Katrina, Bush signed an emergency
declaration for Florida, spoke with Texas
Gov. Rick Perry about planning for the
storm's landfall, and said military outfits
are being removed from New Orleans to
be out of Rita's path and ready to help
The White House said Bush had
named Frances Fragos Townsend, his in-
house homeland security adviser, to lead
an administration investigation of "what
went wrong and what went right" in the
sluggish federal response to Katrina.
The appointment of Townsend, a
former federal prosecutor with a repu-
tation as a tough adversary, is unlikely
to satisfy Democrats on Capitol Hill
who are demanding a fully indepen-
Bush said he was pleased that New
Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin suspended
his plan to allow as many as a third of
the city's residents to return. He said
positive steps are being taken.
Noel and Bettina Marcelli walk through the strong hurricane winds toward the ocean yesterday as Hurricane
Rita brushes past Key West, Fla.
Hurrcn Rita intensifies
asit appro ac hes Key West
NE WS IN BRIEFf
RAFAH, Gaza Strip
Troops leave West Bank settlements
Israel pulled the last of its troops out of two isolated West Bank settlements Tues-
day, completing the final phase of the withdrawal it began in Gaza last month.
As Israeli soldiers left the empty settlements of Ganim and Kadim, next to the
West Bank town of Jenin, thousands of Palestinians streamed in, setting fires as
gunmen fired in the air - reprising the scenes in Gaza after last week's pullout.
Earlier, Israeli forces left two other evacuated West Bank settlements. Unlike
Gaza, however, Israeli forces will continue to patrol the area, the military said, as it
has not turned over control of the northern West Bank to the Palestinians.
In Gaza, meanwhile, workers put the finishing touches on a border crossing
between Rafah and Egypt yesterday as a top Palestinian security official announced
the border would be opened over the weekend to allow some Palestinians to cross.
Israel shut the Rafah crossing before it withdrew from Gaza, saying that
people and cargo traveling over the border would be temporarily routed
through Israeli-controlled crossings, so it could ensure no weapons or mili-
tants entered Gaza.
After the Israeli pullout, the border exploded in chaos, with thousands of Pales-
tinians and Egyptians clamoring over the wall to visit the other side.
Inspector calls for Iran nuclear talks
The chief U.N. atomic inspector on Monday called for talks to replace inter-
national confrontation over Iran's nuclear activities, while the United States and
European Union pressed efforts to haul Tehran before the U.N. Security Council.
A resolution drafted by U.S. and European diplomats asks International Atomic
Energy Agency head Mohamed ElBaradei to report to the Security Council "Iran's
many failures and breaches of its obligations to comply" with the Nuclear Nonpro-
The confidential document, shared in part late Monday with The Associated
Press, is meant for the IAEA's 35 board-member nations to vote on this week,
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she expected the council to take up
"I'm quite certain that at some point in time Iran is going to be referred to the
Security Council, particularly if Iran continues to demonstrate that it is not pre-
pared to give the international community assurances that it is not going to try to
build a nuclear weapons program under cover of civil nuclear power," Rice told
reporters Monday at the United Nations.
Karzai: Air strikes ineffective against terrorists
President Hamid Karzai yesterday challenged the need for major foreign military
operations in Afghanistan, saying air strikes are no longer effective and that U.S.-led
coalition forces should focus on rooting out terror bases and support networks.
His call for a new approach to tackling militants came despite the fiercest fight-
ing in Afghanistan since U.S.-led forces invaded in late 2001, with more than 1,200
people killed in the six months leading up to Sunday's historic legislative elections.
Karzai demanded an immediate end to foreign troops searching people's homes
without his government's authorization. He also said foreign governments should
"concentrate on where terrorists are trained, on their bases, on the supply to them, on
the money coming to them" - a veiled reference to support that militants allegedly
get from neighboring Pakistan.
Al-Qaida leader blasts Afghanistan election
Afghanistan yesterday began counting votes cast in its historic parlia-
mentary elections, and al-Qaida's No. 2 leader criticized the election in a
tape aired on Arabic television.
Several of the country's 34 counting centers began tallying ballots as
others waited for votes to be delivered, said a spokesman for the Afghan-
U.N. election board, Aleem Siddique. Helicopters and even donkeys were
being used to transport ballots in hard-to-reach areas of the country.
Siddique said the counting centers expected to receive all the estimated
6 million ballots by Thursday. Some 7,000 people have been enlisted to
count the votes, a process expected to take weeks.
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Storm beccomes a
Category 2 as tourists
flee from region
KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) - Rita
strengthened rapidly yesterday to a
Category 2 hurricane as it lashed the
Florida Keys with flooding rain and
strong wind and sparked fears the
storm could eventually bring new
misery to the Gulf Coast.
Rita went from a tropical storm
with top sustained wind of 70 mph
early yesterday to a hurricane with
100 mph wind by early afternoon as
it passed just south of the Keys, the
National Hurricane Center said.
Thousands of residents and tour-
ists had fled the low-lying island chain,
where forecasters said Rita could dump
up to 8 inches of rain, down from earlier
forecasts of up to 15 inches.
Rita threatened to continue gain-
ing strength as it left Florida and
crossed the warm Gulf of Mexico
for a weekend landfall, most like-
ly in Texas although Louisiana or
"Farther out, we do anticipate fur-
ther strengthening up to Category 3,
or major hurricane status," Chris
Sisko, a meteorologist at the hurri-
cane center, said before Rita rose to
Category 2. Category 3 storms have
maximum sustained wind of 130
mph; Katrina was a Category 4 hur-
ricane when it the Gulf Coast with
145 mph sustained wind.
Data from a hurricane chase plane
confirmed the increase to 100 mph
wind, the hurricane center said.
Officials of Galveston, Texas were
already calling for a voluntary evacu-
ation. Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco
urged everyone in the southwest part of
the state to prepare to evacuate.
Residents and visitors had been
ordered to clear out of the Keys, and
voluntary evacuation orders were
posted for some 134,000 Miami-
Dade residents of coastal areas such
as Miami Beach. Some 58,000 people
were evacuated in Cuba, on the south-
ern side of the Florida Straits.
At least one segment of the Keys
highway, U.S. 1, was barricaded
because of water and debris, the
Florida Highway Patrol said. Wind-
driven water was flowing across other
sections of the highway. Scattered
power outages were reported.
Key West Mayor Jimmy Weekley
said the islands might be spared the
full fury of the storm, with Rita's eye
remaining at sea just to the south.
"I think we did, so far, dodge a
bullet," Weekley said. "We still have
some time to go."
About 1,300 people were being
housed in shelters in Miami-Dade
and Broward counties and all three
Keys hospitals had been evacuated,
Gov. Jeb Bush said yesterday.
After the sluggish government
response to Hurricane Katrina
along the Gulf Coast, the gover-
nor said more than 2,000 Florida
National Guard troops and dozens
of law enforcement officers were
ready to deal with the storm's after-
math. More than 200 truckloads
of ice and water were prepared for
delivery to the Keys if needed and
helicopters are in place for search
and rescue, he said.
At 11 a.m. EDT, Rita was centered
about 75 miles southeast of Key West.
It was moving west at 15 mph, accord-
ing to the hurricane center.
Roads were nearly deserted in Mara-
thon, about 45 miles northeast of Key
West, and virtually all businesses were
closed, except for the Stuffed Pig diner,
where workers promised to keep serv-
ing food regardless of the weather.
"We've stayed open lots of times
with no powers.We've got a gas stove
so it gets awful hot in here but we
can still serve up food," said Julie
Gervasio, who has worked at the
restaurant for five years.
WANT TO WRITE.
WHY NOT F ua s
"Don't let your
get ahead of
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JASON Z. PESICK
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