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October 14, 2005 - Image 2

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-10-14

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2 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, October 14, 2005


Iraq tense as referendum nears NEWS IN BRIEF


BAGHDAD (AP) - Hundreds of Iraqi police and army troops fanned
out across Baghdad yesterday, setting up checkpoints and fortifying polling
stations with barbed wire and blast barriers two days ahead of a historic
constitutional referendum.
From the city's Shiite stronghold of Kazimiyah to its southern approach-
es in the notorious "Triangle of Death," the capital's usually chaotic traffic
was down to a tiny fraction. Many stores didn't bother to open and others
shuttered early ahead of a 10 p.m. curfew.
By nightfall, Baghdad's streets were almost emptied of civilians. The
large army and police presence, combined with the scarcity of people and
vehicles, gave the city a disquieting calm.
Similar security precautions were in place across much of Iraq in antici-
pation of a spike in attacks by insurgents who want to derail the political
process. Nearly 450 people have been killed in violence over the past 18
days. Even with no people on the streets, sharp divisio-s over the referen-
dum were visible in Baghdad.
Hundreds of posters and banners urging a "yes" vote were plastered on
virtually every wall and shop window in the Shiite district of Kazimiyah.
Iraq's top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, has ordered his fol-
lowers to approve the constitution.
In contrast, not a single referendum poster was visible in the Sunni dis-
trict of Azamiyah, just across the Tigris River.
A banner by the Sunni Arab Iraqi Islamic Party urging a "no" vote
was removed from where it hung a day earlier outside Azamiyah's Grand
Imam mosque. The party changed its stance after Sunni, Shiite and Kurd-
ish lawmakers agreed Wednesday to several amendments to the document
designed to win Sunni Arab support in Saturday's vote. Still, no new "yes"
banner was on display in the district. Many other Sunni Arab parties still
oppose the charter.
In the so-called Triangle of Death, a mainly Sunni area known for
kidnappings and killings, there was no sign of posters either. Iraqi troops
searched cars under the watchful eyes of comrades manning machine-gun
positions. U.S. helicopters hovered over the area. Traffic on the road through
the "triangle" was thin.
"I will vote 'yes' so as to isolate the troublemakers," said Faisal Galab,
a Sunni Arab sheik from the town of Youssifiyah, about 12 miles south of
Baghdad. "I have asked my family and clan to vote 'yes."'
U.S. military spokesman Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch provided an upbeat
assessment of the security situation ahead of the vote, arguing that the insur-
gent danger was far less than on the eve of the Jan. 30 parliamentary elec-
tion. Also, Iraq's security forces total 200,000 now, compared to 138,000 in
January, Lynch said.


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NALC I, Russia
Chechen rebel attack kills at least 85
Militants attacked police and government buildings in Russia's volatile
Caucasus region yesterday, taking hostages and turning a provincial capital
into a war zone wracked by gunfire and explosions that left at least 85 people
dead, mostly insurgents.
Chechen rebels claimed responsibility for the offensive in Nalchik, the
capital of the mostly Muslim republic of Kabardino-Balkariya, as a new
front opened in the Kremlin's decade-old battle against Islamic insurgents.
The rebels' struggle against Russia, which was originally a separatist
movement, increasingly has melded with Islamic extremism in the past
decade and fanned out beyond Chechnya's borders to encompass the entire
Caucusus region.
The insurgent strategy of simultaneous attacks on facilities in Nalchik, a
city of 235,000, was similar to a rebel siege last year in another Caucasus
republic, Ingushetia, in what appears to be an attempt to target areas outside
Chechnya and keep Moscow off-balance.
Kabardino-Balkariya is the fifth of seven republics in the mountainous region
to be hit by the spillover of violence from the struggle in Chechnya.

Iraqi border guards patrol at the Safwan border crossing between Iraq and Kuwait
yesterday. Iraq closed the border crossing point as a security precaution ahead of
this weekend's referendum on the new constitution.

Bush's talk with troops carefully scripted

WASHINGTON (AP) - It was billed
as a conversation with U.S. troops, but
the questions President Bush asked on a
teleconference call yesterday were cho-
reographed to match his goals for the
war in Iraq and Saturday's vote on a new
Iraqi constitution.
"This is an important time," Allison
Barber, deputy assistant defense secre-
tary, said, coaching the soldiers before
Bush arrived. "The president is looking
forward to having just a conversation
with you."
Barber said the president was inter-
ested in three topics: the overall security
situation in Iraq, security preparations
for the weekend vote and efforts to train
Iraqi troops.
As she spoke in Washington, a live
shot of 10 soldiers from the Army's 42nd
Infantry Division and one Iraqi soldier

was beamed into the Eisenhower Execu-
tive Office Building from Tikrit - the
birthplace of former Iraqi leader Saddam
"I'm going to-ask somebody to grab
those two water bottles against the wall
and move them out of the camera shot for
me," Barber said.
A brief rehearsal ensued.
"OK, so let's just walk through this,"
Barber said. "Captain Kennedy, you
answer the first question and you hand
the mike to whom?"
"Captain Smith," Kennedy said.
"Captain. Smith? You take the mike
and you hand it to whom?" she asked.
"Captain Kennedy," the soldier
And so it went.
"If the question comes up about part-
nering - how often do we train with the

Iraqi military - who does he go to?"
Barber asked.
"That's going to go to Captain Pratt,"
one of the soldiers said.
"And then if we're going to talk a little
bit about the folks in Tikrit - the home-
town - and how they're handling the
political process, who are we going to
give that to?" she asked.
Before he took questions, Bush
thanked the soldiers for serving and
reassured them that the U.S. would not
pull out of Iraq until the mission was
"So long as I'm the president, we're
never going to back down, we're never
going to give in, we'll never accept any-
thing less than total victory," Bush said.
The president told them twice that the
American people were behind them.
"You've got tremendous support here

at home," Bush said.
Less than 40 percent in an AP-Ipsos
poll taken in October said they approved
of the way Bush was handling Iraq. Just
over half of the public now say the Iraq
war was a mistake.
White House press secretary Scott
McClellan said Thursday's event was
coordinated with the Defense Depart-
ment but that the troops were expressing
their own thoughts. With satellite feeds,
coordination often is needed to over-
come technological challenges, such as
delays, he said.
"I think all they were doing was talk-
ing to the troops and letting them know
what to expect," he said, adding that the
president wanted to talk with troops on
the ground who have firsthand knowl-
edge about the situation.
The soldiers all gave Bush an upbeat
view of the situation.
The president also got praise from the
Iraqi soldier who was part of the chat.
"Thank you very much for every-
thing," he gushed. "I like you."
On preparations for the vote, 1st Lt.
Gregg Murphy of Tennessee said: "Sir,
we are prepared to do whatever it takes
to make this thing a success. ... Back
in January, when we were preparing for
that election, we had to lead the way....
We're really happy to see, during the
preparation for this one, sir, they're doing
On the training of Iraqi security forc-
es, Master Sgt. Corine Lombardo from
Scotia, N.Y., said to Bush: "I can tell you
over the past 10 months, we've seen a
tremendous increase in the capabilities
and the confidences of our Iraqi security
force partners. ... Over the next month,
we anticipate seeing at least one-third of
those Iraqi forces conducting indepen-
dent operations."

U.N. urges faster aid to quake survivors
With snow falling on parts of Kashmir, the U.N.'s emergency relief chief said
yesterday that time was running out for many hungry, homeless survivors of a mas-
sive earthquake and urged aid agencies to speed up efforts in remote villages.
The plea came as aid workers struggled to reach remote areas and hours
after an aftershock jolted parts of Pakistan, panicking people who had sur-
vived last weekend's devastating temblor and forcing a rescue team to suspend
efforts to save a trapped woman. She died before the rescuers returned to the
precarious rubble.
U.N. Undersecretary General and Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland
flew by helicopter to the hard-hit Kashmiri city of Muzaffarabad, where he said
there was an urgent need to get food, medicine, shelter and blankets to millions
of people. The U.N. estimates 2 million people are homeless ahead of the fierce
winter in the Himalayan region.
The death toll was believed to be more than 35,000 and tens of thousands were
injured. India has reported more than 1,350 deaths in the part of Kashmir that it
Bush proposal could allow more polluting
The Bush administration proposed new regulations Thursday that could
allow the nation's dirtiest power plants to release more air pollutants each year
- and possibly undercut lawsuits aimed at forcing companies to comply with
the Clean Air Act.
The proposal follows a June federal court ruling that said power plants can
throw more pollutants into the air each year when they modernize to operate
for longer hours.
It's the latest in a series of attempts by the Environmental Protection Agency
to make the nearly 30-year-old Clean Air Act rules for coal-fired power plants
more industry-friendly. Some changes were held up by lawsuits from environ-
mentalists and state officials.
"We are now doing to smokestacks what we did to tailpipes," said EPA Admin-
istrator Stephen Johnson, who predicted the regulations would spur greater tech-
nology innovation.
- Compiled from Daily wire reports
A viewpoint (Dream On) in Wednesday's edition of the Daily misspelled
the name ofsan MSA representative. He is Melton Lee.
The cover story (MSA wants you) in yesterday's edition of The Statement,
incorrectly called Melton Lee a former MSA representative. Lee is currently a
Please report any errors in the Daily to corrections@michigandaily.com.
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