2A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, December 12, 2005
Iraqis begin voting in hospits,
military camps and prisons
Iraqi government annouces
it will close borders and extend
the nightime curfew
BAGHDAD (AP) - Voting begins today in hos-
pitals, military camps and even prisons across Iraq,
launching the process to choose a new parliament that
the United States hopes can help quell the insurgency so
U.S. forces can begin heading home.
Iraq's government announced it will close its bor-
ders, extend the nighttime curfew and restrict domes-
tic travel starting tomorrow - two days before the
main election day - to prevent insurgents from dis-
rupting the vote.
"We are very prepared for the elections, and we are
highly determined," Interior Minister Bayan Jabr said.
"We hope that everyone participates and that it will be a
safe day. ... We are at a historic juncture."
Voters will be choosing their first fully constitu-
tional parliament since the 2003 collapse of Saddam
Hussein. The 275-member assembly, which will serve
for four years, will then choose a new government that
U.S. officials hope can win the confidence of the dis-
affected Sunni Arab minority _ the foundation of the
Although most of the 15 million eligible voters will
cast ballots Thursday, soldiers, police, hospital patients
and prisoners not yet convicted of crimes can vote Mon-
day starting at 9 a.m. (1 a.m. EST).
Officials said Saddam - who is jailed and fac-
ing trial for the deaths of more than 140 Shiites in
1982 - has the right to vote but it was not known
whether he would.
Suspected insurgents held in U.S. or Iraqi deten-
tion but who have not been convicted of an offense
would also be eligible, Iraqi officials said.
Tomorrow, the estimated 1.5 million Iraqi voters liv-
ing outside the country can begin casting their ballots
over a two-day period at polling centers in 15 countries,
including the United States, Canada and Australia.
Voters must produce a passport, certificate of cit-
izenship or military service papers and dip an index
finger in indelible purple ink to prevent them from
voting more than once.
With security so tenuous, campaigns have been
waged primarly through media advertisements, color-
ful banners and placards on the streets, and press con-
ferences before audiences packed with supporters.
Most attention has focused on Sunni Arabs, who
largely boycotted the Jan. 30 election to protest the con-
tinued U.S. military presence.
With most Sunni Arabs staying home, Shiites and
Kurds won more than 220 of the 275 parliamentary
seats - a move that sharpened communal tensions and
fueled the Sunni-dominated insurgency.
This time, more Sunni Arab candidates are in the
race, and changes in the election law to allocate most
seats by province instead of based on a party's nation-
wide total all but guaranteed a sizable Sunni bloc in the
U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad urged all
Iraqis to vote.
"We need more cross-sectarian and cross-ethnic
coalitions that are issue-oriented," he told reporters yes-
terday in Sulaimaniyah. "We need a government that
brings Iraqis together."
Khalilzad expressed hope "there will be more Sunni
participation and that the turnout should be quite high."
Turnout in January was about 58 percent but less than 5
percent in the predominantly Sunni province of Anbar,
a hotbed of insurgency.
in fuel explosion
ranoffers U.S. share in nuclear plants
Iran opened the door yesterday for U.S. help in building a nuclear power
plant - a move designed to ease American suspicions that Tehran is using its
nuclear program as a cover to build atomic weapons.
The offer, which did not seem likely to win acceptance in Washington,
was issued as Israel said it had not ruled out a military strike against Iranian
"America can take part in international bidding for the construction of Iran's
nuclear power plant if they observe the basic standards and quality," Iran For-
eign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said in a news conference.
Asefi was apparently talking about a 360-megawatt light water nuclear
power plant that the head of the country's atomic organization said Saturday
would be built in southwestern Iran.
Iran also wants to produce 2,000 megawatts of electricity by building
nuclear power plants with foreign help in southern Iran.
In Washington, neither the State Department nor the White House issued
any comment on the proposal.
Frit says he's ready to block filibuster
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said yesterday he is prepared to strip
Democrats of their to ability to filibuster if they try to stall Samuel Alito's nomina-
tion to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"The answer is yes," Frist said when asked if he would act to change Senate
procedures to restrict a Democratic filibuster. "Supreme Court justice nominees
deserve an up-or-down vote, and it would be absolutely wrong to deny him that."
A Democratic spokesman said Frist's words were "silly and unhelpful" and
that Democrats want the Senate Judiciary Committee to act on Alito's nomination
before they decide what they may do.
In recent weeks, Senate Democrats have questioned whether Alito, a federal
appeals court judge, has the proper judicial temperament and ideology to replace
retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
Several Democrats have said that Alito's views on issues such as voting rights
and abortion could provoke a filibuster unless he allays their concerns about his
commitment to civil rights. Alito's confirmation hearings begin Jan. 9 before the
Paramount agrees to buy DreamWorks
Paramount Pictures said yesterday it had agreed to buy independent film studio
DreamWorks SKG Inc. in a deal worth $1.6 billion in cash and debt.
The deal strengthens Paramount's live action film business and gives the unit of
Viacom Inc. access to DreamWorks's library of 59 films, including Oscar-winners
"American Beauty" and "Gladiator."
It also marks the end of an 11-year dream for Hollywood moguls Steven Spiel-
berg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen, who had ambitious goals for Dream-
Works that included television, music, films and the Internet.
Brad Grey, Paramount's chairman and CEO, said in a statement that enhancing
Paramount's pipeline of pictures is a "key strategic objective in restoring Para-
mount's stature as a leader in filmed entertainment."
Conference ends with plan to cut emissions
A U.N. conference on global warming ended Saturday with a watershed agree-
ment by more than 150 nations - an unwilling United States not among them
- to open talks on mandatory post-2012 reductions in greenhouse gases.
The Bush administration, which rejects the emissions cutbacks of the cur-
rent Kyoto Protocol, accepted a second, weaker conference decision, agree-
ing to join an exploratory global "dialogue" on future steps to combat climate
change. However, that agreement specifically ruled out "negotiations leading
to new commitments."
The divergent tracks did little to close the climate gap between Washington
-and the Kyotosupporters, which include Europe and Japan. But environmen-
talists welcomed the plan to negotiate "second-phase" emissions cuts.
- Compiled from Daily wire reports
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HEMEL HEMPSTEAD, England
(AP) - Explosions ripped through
a major fuel depot north of London
yesterday, injuring dozens of people,
blowing doors off nearby homes and
sending fireballs and massive clouds
of black smoke into the sky.
Police said the blasts appeared to be
accidental, though they occurred just
four days after an al-Qaida videotape
appeared on the Internet calling for
attacks on facilities carrying oil "sto-
len" from Muslims in the Middle East.
The powerful explosions, felt
throughout a large swath of south-
east England, also rattled nerves in
a country still jittery after July's ter-
rorist attack on London's subway and
bus system killed 52 people plus four
Residents said shock waves
destroyed indoor light bulbs and
cracked walls and ceilings.
"It was like a sonic boom," said
Danny Deacon, 25, who evacuated
his wife and two young children on
"Around 6 a.m., as we were sleep-
ing, there was a mighty explosion - a
thunderclap that woke me up" said Neil
Spencer, 42, who lives less than a mile
from the Buncefield terminal. "It was
fireball after fireball - truly amazing."
The blast destroyed the front door
of photographer Haris Luther's house.
"I thought the house had been hit by
lightning," Luther, 57, said. "It sound-
ed like an earthquake:"
Most of the 43 people injured were
treated at nearby hospitals and released
after suffering cuts and bruises from
shattering windows in Hertfordshire
county, about 25 miles north of Lon-
don. But at least two men were hos-
pitalized, including a plant worker in
A view outside Catherine House neighbouring the burning Buncefleld Oil
Depot near Hemel Hempstead, England, where a number of massive explo-
sions happened early yesterday.
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