NEWS IN BRIEF
Sen. Clinton slams eavesdropping
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton called President Bush's explanations for
eavesdropping on domestic conversations without warrants "strange" and
"far-fetched" yesterday, launching a blistering attack on the White House
ahead of the president's State of the Union address.
"Obviously, I support tracking down terrorists. I think that's our obligation. But
I think it can be done in a lawful way," the New York Democrat said.
Clinton, a potential 2008 presidential candidate, told reporters she did not yet
know whether the administration's warrantless eavesdropping broke any laws. The
senator said she did not buy the White House's main justifications for the tactic.
"Their argument that it's rooted in the authority to go after al-Qaida is far-
fetched," she said in an apparent reference to a congressional resolution passed
after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack. The Bush administration has argued that
resolution gave the president authority to order such electronic surveillance as part
of efforts to protect the nation from terrorists.
Rumsfeld says military still strong
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld disputed reports suggesting that
the U.S. military is stretched thin and close to a snapping point from opera-
tions in Iraq and Afghanistan yesterday, asserting "the force is not broken."
"This armed force is enormously capable," Rumsfeld told reporters at a Penta-
gon briefing. "In addition, it's battle hardened. It's not a peacetime force that has
been in barracks or garrisons."
Rumsfeld spoke a day after The Associated Press reported that an unre-
leased study conducted for the Pentagon said the Army is being overextend-
ed, thanks to the two wars, and may not be able to retain and recruit enough
troops to defeat the insurgency in Iraq.
Housing boom shows less bang
The five-year housing boom is showing increased signs of cooling, and that's likely
to mean slower growth for the entire national economy. The big question now is wheth-
er home prices will come crashing to earth with even more severe consequences.
The National Association of Realtors reported yestersday that sales of existing
homes climbed to an all-time high of 7.072 million units in 2005, up 4.2 percent
from 2004 and the fifth straight year sales have set a record.
However, in a sign of slowing activity, sales fell by 5.7 percent in December, marking
the third straight monthly decline, something that had not occurred since early 2002.
AP PHOTO t
Supporters of the Palestinian ruling Fatah movement wave national and ,
party flags in Gaza city yesterday.
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Unin nnnsesbush's mine aminitramtors
N Fatah may be forced to
invite Hamas militants into
RAMALLAH, West Bank -
Islamic Hamas militants fared better
than originally expected in landmark'
Palestinian elections yesterday, and
the ruling Fatah Party, though slightly
ahead, might be forced to invite them
into a coalition government and put
Mideast peacemaking at risk, accord-
ing to exit polls.
Fatah had said before the first par-
liamentary contest in a decade that it
would rather team with small parties
than join forces with Hamas, which
is sworn to Israel's destruction and
whose presence in the government
would be liable to cause friction with
Israel, the U.S. and Europe.
But with the militants making
a strong showing in their first leg-
islative run, Fatah would need the
backing of an array of smaller par-
ties to cobble together a government.
Because some of the smaller parties
have ties with Hamas, Fatah might
not be able to court enough of them
to form a coalition strong enough to
survive the Palestinians' domestic
challenges - and face Israel again
at the negotiating table.
An exif poll by Bir Zeit University
in Ramallah showed Fatah winning
63 seats in the 132-member parlia-
ment with 46.4 percent of the vote
and Hamas taking 58 seats with 39.5
percent. Smaller parties received 11
seats, according to the poll of 8,000
voters in 232 polling stations. The poll
had a one-seat margin of error.
A second survey showed Fatah
beating Hamas 42 percent to 35 per-
cent, or 58 seats to 53. Official results
are due tomorrow.
"Neither Fatah or Hamas can form
the Cabinet on its own, so they need
to get into a coalition with other fac-
tions or with each other," said pollster
Khalil Shikaki, who carried out the
Saeb Erekat, a Palestinian Author-
ity negotiator who won re-election to
parliament in his West Bank home
town of Jericho, indicated that options
"It's premature to speak now about
the shape and form of the Cabinet," he
told The Associated Press, "but I can
tell you that this will be the beginning
of a new Palestinian political life, a
The election was the Palestin-
ians' first truly competitive vote, and
officials hoped it would help cement
democracy in the post-Yasser Arafat
era. But it also gave unprecedented
clout to Hamas, which carried out doz-
ens of suicide bombings against Israel
and is listed as a terror group by the
United States and European Union.
The strong showing by Hamas
reflected popular discontent with
Fatah over corruption, mismanage-
ment and increasing lawlessness.
After voting ended, President Bush
said Washington would not deal with
Hamas unless it renounced violence
against Israel. "Not until you renounce
your desire to destroy Israel will we
deal with you," he said in an interview
with The Wall Street Journal.
The election will usher in a new
parliament and Cabinet, but Palestin-
ian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who was
elected president last year, will remain
head of the Palestinian Authority
regardless of the results.
In Gaza City, Fatah loyalists fired
rifles out of car windows, sounded
their horns and waved the yellow
flag of their movement as they drove
around the streets after getting word
of the exit polls.
The former coal operator chosen by President Bush to oversee mine safety
received a medar from Pennsylvania's governor for his work when nine trapped
miners were rescued in 2002. But Richard Stickler is likely to be questioned
closely about that same work next week at his Senate confirmation hearing.
The United Mine Workers union has criticized the safety record of the mines in
Pennsylvania and West Virginia that Stickler, 61, operated before he was appoint-,
ed to run Pennsylvania's Bureau of Deep Mine Safety in 1997. On Tesday, the
union sent Bush a letter asking him to withdraw the federal nomination.
- Compiled from Daily wire reports
A story on yesterday's front page (Michigamua members ousted from
groups) should have attributed the quotation that began with the words
"Michigamua has a documented history of discrimination, sexism, racism,
and cultural appropriation" to LSA senior Lisa Bakale-Wise, a member of
Students Supporting Affirmative Action, not to the group itself.
In the same story, the quotation, "The thing I hope for most is just for
them to not exist anymore," was incorrectly attributed to Native America
Student Association member Casey Kasper. It should have been attributed
to NASA member Brittany Marino.
The top tease on yesterday's front page incorrectly said, "Cagers pre-
pare to face interstate rivals." It should have said, "Cagers prepare to face
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