2 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, January 13, 2006
Alito headed for confirmation NEWS IN BRIEF
but seem to lack votes
to block confirmation
WASHINGTON (AP) - Samuel
Alito coasted toward probable confir-
mation as the 110th Supreme Court
justice yesterday, with the only question
after 18 hours of grueling Senate inter-
rogation being how many Democrats
would support him.
Alito said nothing to undermine his
solid support by the Senate's major-
ity Republicans during three days of
aggressive questioning by Democrats
who challenged his credibility, judicial
philosophy and independence.
"I am my own person, with whatever
abilities I have and whatever limitations
I have," Alito declared as he wrapped up
his final public appearance before senators
begin voting on his nomination to replace
retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
Democrats contend the former Rea-
gan administration lawyer is likely to
swing the court to the right in replac-
ing the centrist O'Connor, who has pro-
vided decisive votes on such important
issues as abortion, capital punishment
and affirmative action.
Judiciary Committee senators will meet
on Tuesday to begin debating the 55-year-
old federal judge's nomination. Chairman
Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) wants a committee
vote that day, though Democrats could
delay it for a week.
Delay is not likely to change Alito's sup-
port among the Senate's 55 Republicans.
GOP senators, both on and off the commit-
tee, praised Alito as his testimony ended.
"I enthusiastically endorse and sup-
port Judge Alito's nomination," Chuck
Hagel of Nebraska said Thursday. Sen.
Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) noted to the judge
that his high school friends "predicted
you would serve on the Supreme Court
one day, and I think that's going to turn
out to be a good prediction."
There was positive comment from the
Democratic side as well. Sen. Ben Nel-
son (D-Neb.) said, "So far I have seen
nothing during my interview with the
nominee, the background materials that
have been produced or through the com-
mittee process that I would consider a
disqualifying issue against Judge Alito."
Alito offered words of respect for
O'Connor, the woman he would replace.
"She has been known for her meticulous
devotion to the facts of the particular
cases that come before her and her belief
that each case needs to be decided on its
complex facts," Alito said.
Democrats argue that Alito, in 15
years as an appellate judge, has built
a conservative record that foretells his
Supreme Court stance. But they face
an uphill battle in finding enough votes
to filibuster his nomination - the only
way they can stop him.
It takes 41 votes to sustain a filibus-
ter, and there are 44 Democrats and one
"We can only afford to lose five sena-
tors favoring Judge Alito before a filibus-
ter is impossible," said Dick Durbin of
Illinois, the Senate's No.2 Democrat. "It's
a very tight margin, and I'm not going to
presume one way or the other whether my
colleagues are even interested in it."
Democrats will meet next week to
discuss Alito's nomination, Democratic
Leader Harry Reid said. "We have not
ruled out extended debate. We haven't
ruled it in," he said.
MINA, Saudi Arabian
At least 345 trampled near Mecca
Muslim pilgrims tripped over luggage while hurrying to ritually stone the
devil yesterday, causing a crush that trampled at least 345 people to death in
the latest stampede to mar Islam's annual hajj.
Saudi authorities have sought for years to ease the flow of increasingly
mammoth crowds, but the tragedy underlined the difficulty in managing one
of the biggest religious events in the world, which this time drew more than
2.5 million pilgrims.
The deaths on the final day of stoning came a week after another hajj
disaster - the Jan. 5 collapse of a building being used as a pilgrims' hotel
that killed 76 people in Mecca.
The site in the desert of Mina outside the holy city of Mecca is a notori-
ous bottleneck in the weeklong pilgrimage and has seen deadly incidents in
seven of the past 17 years, including a stampede in 1990 that killed 1,426
people and one in 2004 that killed 244.
Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito speaks during his confirmation
hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday.
Military: Expectincreased Iraqi violence
Iran expected to enter negotiations
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Iran's top nuclear negotiator toldi
him yesterday that Tehran was interested in "serious and constructive negotia-
tions" with Britain, France and Germany over its atomic program.
During a 40-minute telephone conversation, he said, Ali Larijani said Iran want-
ed to resume negotiations with the Europeans, but this time favored a deadline.
"He affirmed to me that they are interested in serious and constructive negotia-
tions but within a timeframe, indicating that the last time they did it for 2 1/2 years I
and no result," Annan told reporters.
The statement came after the British, French and German foreign ministers
said negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program had reached a "dead end" and
the Islamic republic should be referred to the U.N. Security Council, which could
Doctors criticized in Sharon case
Ariel Sharon's doctors faced new criticism yesterday for failing to divulge a brain
disease discovered after the prime minister's initial stroke and for prescribing blood
thinners that may have contributed to a massive second stroke.
The criticism added to a growing chorus of questions about Sharon's treatment.
Some experts, however, said there was no clear-cut answer.
As Sharon lay comatose for an eighth day yesterday, a brain scan showed the rem-
nants of the blood in his brain from a Jan. 4 stroke have been absorbed, hospital officials
said in a statement.
In response, doctors removed a tube they had inserted into Sharon's skull to relieve
pressure on his brain, the statement said.
In coming days, doctors may have to cut a hole in Sharon's neck to assist breathing,
while still waiting for the clearest sign of improvement: the moment he opens his eyes.G
Man who shot pope let out of prison
The man who shot Pope John Paul II in 1981 was released from prison yesterday
after serving more than 25 years in Italy and Turkey for the plot against the pontiff
and the slaying of a Turkish journalist.
To the cheers of nationalist supporters, a white sedan whisked Mehmet Ali Agca
through the gates of the high-security Kartal Prison as dozens of police officers
stood guard. His supporters showered the car with red and yellow flowers.
Turkey's justice minister later said authorities will review Agca's release to make
sure there were no errors in the handling of the complicated case. He said Agca's
release was not "a guaranteed right."
- Compiled from Daily wire reports
An article on Jan. 9's front page (Ballot wording called fair) misspelled the
name of BAMN national co-chair Luke Massie.
A caption on yesterday's front page accompanying an article about MTV's
"Made" (A2 high-schoolers vie to get 'Made') incorrectly identified the camera-
man as being affiliated with MTV. He was not.
Please report any error in the Daily to email@example.com.
U.S. says coming weeks
will shower Iraq in violence
preticipated by election results
BAGHDAD (AP) - The U.S. military predicted
yesterday that more violence will engulf Iraq in the
weeks ahead as the country's splintered politicians and
religious groups struggle to form a government.
The warning followed a week marked by what
U.S. Brig. Gen. Donald Alston described as "horrific
attacks," amid deteriorating relations between the Iraq's
largest Shiite religious group and Sunni Arabs who
make up the core of the opposition.
Alston, spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition force,
said attacks that have killed at least 500 people since the
Dec. 15 elections were a sign insurgents were using the
difficult transition to a new government to destabilize
the democratic process. In the month since the elec-
tions, 54 U.S. forces also have been killed.
Violence dropped after Iraqis began celebrating the
four-day Islamic feast of sacrifice, Eid al-Adha, on
Tuesday. But Alston said it was likely to rise.
"As democracy advances in the form of election
results and government formation, and as the military
pressure continues, and the pressure generated by polit-
ical progress increases, we expect more violence across
Iraq," Alston said at a news briefing.
Final election results have been delayed by Sunni
Arab complaints of fraud, but are expected next week.
Although leading politicians have expressed hopes a gov-
ernment could be formed in February, most experts and
officials agree it could take two to three months, as it did
after the Jan. 30 elections for an interim government.
The governing United Iraqi Alliance, a Shiite reli-
gious bloc, has a strong lead, according to preliminary
results. But it won't win enough seats in the 275-mem-
ber parliament to avoid forming a coalition with Sunni
Arab and Kurdish parties.
Alston said that as a new government starts forming,
"those committed to seeing democracy fail will see this
time of transition as an opportunity to attack the inno-
cent people of Iraq."
He said the recent attacks, blamed mostly on extrem-
ists like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's al-Qaida in Iraq, were
part of an "attempt to discredit and derail the progress
of the Iraqi people."
At least 121 people were killed last week in twin
suicide attacks against a Shiite shrine in the holy city
of Karbala and a police recruiting center in Rama-
di. A day earlier, 32 people were killed by a suicide
bomber at a Shiite funeral in Muqdadiyah. Twenty-
nine more died in an attack Monday on the Interior
Ministry compound in Baghdad.
"The increase in attacks across Iraq this past week
clearly indicates that al-Qaida and others terrorists still
have the capability to surge," Alston said.
He denied allegations by leading Shiite politi-
cians that the United States had restricted the ability
of Iraqi security forces to deal with insurgents after
Sunni Arabs complained that brutal methods used by
Interior Ministry forces have pushed Iraq to the brink
of sectarian war. Hundreds of abused prisoners have
recently been discovered, mostly in prisons run by
the Shiite-led Interior Ministry - prompting com-
plaints from U.S. officials.
BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (AP) - Presi-
dent Bush traveled to a still-ravaged Gulf
Coast yesterday after three months away,
promising that a building boom is on its
way and encouraging other Americans to
Bush's visit to New Orleans and Mis-
sissippi was part of a series of events to
showcase his priorities leading up to the
State of the Union address. He said he
was committed to rebuilding communi-
ties devastated from Hurricane Katrina.
"People in far away places like
Washington, D.C., still hear you and
care about you," Bush told survivors
gathered at St. Stanislaus College, just
a couple of blocks from where Katrina
Bush's route to the college took him
down a coastal road past thousands of
snapped trees, debris still hanging from
limbs and lots emptied of their build-
ings. There were almost no intact struc-
tures - in most cases only concrete
foundations were left - and little evi-
dence of rebuilding.
"There's no homes to repair:' Bush
said. "It's just been flattened. That's
what the people of America have got
Unlike in New Orleans, where most
of the population has not returned, the
road was lined with dozens of onlook-
ers. Many held signs pleading for help
and pledging their determination to
rebuild their communities.
Bush recalled his vow from New
Orleans' Jackson Square to return the
region to its glory.
"I said we're not just going to cope,
we're going to overcome," he said. "I
meant what I said."
Earlier on a brief stop in New Orleans,
Bush said the improvement since his last
visit in mid-October is dramatic.
"It may be hard for you to see, but
from when I first came here to today,
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