2A - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Iraqi ballots nearly all validated NEWS IN BRIEF
Results to come in soon after
fraud complaints delayed the
final vote tally
BAGHDAD - Iraq's electoral commission ruled
yesterday that more than 99 percent of the ballots from
the Dec. 15 parliamentary elections are valid, opening
the way for a new government to start coming together.
Final election results have been delayed by fraud
complaints mainly lodged by the Sunni Arab minor-
ity, and groups looking for a political edge in dealing
with the Shiite Muslim majority could still make fur-
ther protests and hold up the naming of new leaders
for two or three months.
A U.S. Army AH-64 Apache attack helicopter
crashed north of Baghdad, killing its two pilots.
A bombing aimed at a convoy of American police
advisers in the capital caused one death, while a car
bomb killed five policemen and a 6-year-old in Muq-
dadiya, 60 miles north of Baghdad.
Iraq's electoral commission announced it was
throwing out votes froms227ballot boxes becauseof
fraud, a tiny percentage - less than 1 percent - of
the total vote that shouldn't affect the overall results.
"These boxes will not have an affect on the pre-
liminary results that we issued last month," said
Adel al-Lami, general director of the Independent
Electoral Commission of Iraq.
Complaints by Sunni Arab and secular Shiite
parties charging voting fraud and other irregulari-
ties have delayed announcement of final results,
impeding negotiations on forming a new, broad-
based coalition government.
Hussein Hendawi, an official on the election
commission, said uncertified election results should
be released in four to five days, which will give the
various parties a good idea of how many seats they
will get in the new 275-member parliament.
No party is expected to be able to govern on
its own, requiring the factions to work together
in forming a coalition Cabinet. Politicians predict
that will take several months, just as it did after
last year's election of an interim government.
Hendawi said election officials annulled some
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Russia, China say Iran must disarm
Russia and China agreed with the United States and its European allies yesterday
that Iran must fully suspend its nuclear program, but the countries stopped short of
demanding referral to the U.N. Security Council, Britain's Foreign Office said.
Iran's ambassador to Moscow praised a Russian proposal to move the Ira-
nian uranium enrichment program to its territory.
Russian President Vladimir Putin also urged caution in dealing with the Iranian
nuclear issue, saying that Tehran might still agree to the Russian offer and warning
"it's necessary to work carefully and avoid any sharp, erroneous moves."
Britain, France and Germany, backed by Washington, want Iran to be
referred to the Security Council, which can impose sanctions.
Russia and China have resisted such a move in the past and could stymie
efforts against Tehran as veto-wielding members of the U.N. body.
The British Foreign Office said all five permanent members of the Security
Council - the U.S., Britain, France, Russia and China - and Germany had shown
"serious concern over Iranian moves to restart uranium enrichment activities"
First elected female head of state sworn in
Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution In Iraq, delivers a
speech to party members on the second day of Eid al-Adha, Jan. 11, in Baghdad
ballot boxes because fake ballots were used,
while the votes of about 53 boxes were thrown out
because too many votes were cast.
Iraqis voted at about 6,200 centers across the
country Dec. 15, and there were an average of five
ballot boxes at each. So 227 ballot boxes would be
about two-thirds of one percent of the total vote,
which was estimated at about 11 million ballots.
Hendawi said the commission studied 58 serious
complaints, including 25 from Baghdad, which is
Iraq's biggest election district with 59 seats. A
total of 1,985 complaints were lodged, but most
were considered minor transgressions that would
warrant nothing more than a fine.
Fewer irregularities occurred than in the vote for
an interim parliament last Jan. 30, Hendawi said.
The governing United Iraqi Alliance, a religious
bloc based in the Shiite Muslim majority, held a
strong lead in preliminary results announced after
the election. But with an estimated 130 seats,
based on those results, it wouldn't have enough to
control parliament and will have to form a coali-
tion with Sunni Arabs and Kurds.
Sunni Arab and secular Shiite parties claimed there
was widespread fraud and intimidation of voters in the
Dec. 15 election, and they demanded that voting be
rerun in some provinces, including Baghdad.
They now have two days to appeal the election
commission's handling of the complaints. Another
two days would be needed to review any new com-
plaints and a further day to examine any found to be
legitimate, the commission said.
Africa's first elected female head of state Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was sworn in yes-
terday as war-battered Liberia's new president, promising a "fundamental break"
with the West African nation's violent past and pledging to rebuild.
With U.S. Navy warships offshore for the first time since the civil war's
end two years ago, and first lady Laura Bush and Secretary of State Condo-
leezza Rice on hand in a show of support, the moment was met with thunder-
ous applause from thousands of guests.
"We know that your vote was a vote for change, a vote for peace, security
... and we have heard you loudly," the 67-year-old Sirleaf said in her inaugu-
ral speech. "We recognize this change is not a change for change's sake, but
a fundamental break with the past."
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan sent congratulations, saying Sirleaf had a
"historic mandate to lead the nation toward a future of lasting peace and stability:'
Founded by freed American slaves in 1847, Liberia was prosperous and peaceful
for more than a century, bolstered by abundant timber and diamond wealth. But
back-to-back civil wars from 1989 to 2003 brought the country to its knees, killing
200,000 people and displacing half the nation's population of 3 million.
Suicide bomber on motorcycle kills 20
A suicide bomber drove a motorbike into a crowd at a wrestling match in an
Afghan border town yesterday, killing 20 people. It was the third deadly bombing
in a little over 24 hours in the Taliban's former stronghold province of Kandahar.
The assault came shortly after a bomb targeted a truck convoy of Afghan sol-
diers in Kandahar city, killing four people and wounding 16. On Sunday, a suicide
car bomber in that southern provincial capital killed a senior Canadian diplomat
and two Afghan civilians.
The attack on the wrestling match in Spinboldak was the bloodiest yet in a
string of two dozen suicide bombings the past four months. It is a relatively
new tactic for militants here and has stoked fears of an escalating siege of
bloody attacks like those in Iraq.
American helicopter crashes, killin two
A U.S. military helicopter crashed north of the Iraqi capital yesterday - the
third American chopper to go down in 10 days - killing the two crew members. A
resident said he saw the smoke trail of a missile before the aircraft plunged to the
ground. The military said the AH-64 Apache was conducting a combat air patrol
when it went down in an area "known for terrorist activity." Officials said it was too
early to determine the cause of the crash, and the names of the dead soldiers were
not released. Apaches hold only a pilot and a co-pilot.
NASA points unmanned craft toward Pluto
First spacecraft to head
to farthest planet sets off
on nine-year voyage today
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - An
unmanned NASA spacecraft the size
of a piano is set to lift off today on
a nine-year journey to Pluto, the last
unexplored planet in the solar system.
Scientists hope to learn more
about the icy planet and its large
moon, Charon, as well as two other,
recently discovered moons in orbit
The $700 million New Horizons
mission also will study the surround-
ing Kuiper Belt, the mysterious zone
of the solar system that is believed to
hold thousands of comets and other
icy objects. It could hold clues to
how the planets were formed.
"They finally are going! I can't
believe it!" said Patricia Tombaugh,
93, widow of Clyde Tombaugh, the
Illinois-born astronomer who dis-
covered Pluto in 1930.
Patricia Tombaugh, her two chil-
dren, and the astronomer's younger
sister planned to witness the launch
of the New Horizons spacecraft at
the Cape Canaveral Air Force Sta-
tion this afternoon.
Pluto is the only planet discov-
ered by a U.S. citizen, though some
astronomers dispute Pluto's right to
be called a planet. It is an oddball
icy dwarf unlike the rocky planets of
Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars and
the gaseous planets of Jupiter, Sat-
urn, Uranus and Neptune.
NASA has sent unmanned space
probes to every planet but Pluto.
"What we know about Pluto today
could fit on the back of a postage
stamp," said Colleen Hartman, a dep-
uty associate administrator at NASA.
"The textbooks will be rewritten after
this mission is completed."
New Horizons will lift off on an
Atlas V rocket and speed away from
Earth at 36,000 mph, the fastest
spacecraft ever launched. It will reach
Earth's moon in about nine hours and
arrive in 13 months at Jupiter, where
it will use the giant planet's gravity
as a slingshot, shaving five year off
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The launch had drawn protests
from anti-nuclear activists because
the spacecraft will be powered by
24 pounds of plutonium, which will
produce energy from natural radio-
NASA and the U.S. Department
of Energy have put the probability of
an early-launch accident that could
release plutonium at 1 in 350. The
agencies have brought in 16 mobile
field teams that can detect radiation
and 33 air samplers and monitors.
"Just as we have ambulances at
football games, you don't expect to
use them, but we have them there
if we need them," NASA official
Randy Scott said.
GULFPORT, Miss. - Nicki Hender-
son has had plenty of reasons to be angry
since Hurricane Katrina destroyed her
Biloxi home, but it was a simple news
item about dislocated dolphins that really
made her blood boil.
Henderson lost her temper when
she logged on to her computer and
spotted this headline: "New Orleans
Dolphins Find New Home." She
knew the dolphins actually came
from a hurricane-ravaged marine
park in Gulfport, not New Orleans.
The headline writer's error rein-
forced her belief - shared by many
on Mississippi's Gulf Coast - that
New Orleans has gotten a dispro-
portionate share of the news cover-
age and the nation's attention in the
aftermath of the storm, now more
than four months gone.
There is a growing sense the cata-
strophic damage along Mississippi's 70-
mile stretch of coastline is being treated
as a mere footnote to the story in New
Orleans, which was ravaged by flooding.
Worse, some say the lack attention
could hamper the recovery of an area
that had experienced an economic
renaissance in the past decade thanks
to billions of dollars of investment by
major casino and hotel companies.
"I am terrified the American
people are going to forget about us,"
On Dec. 14, The Sun Herald in
Gulfport devoted its entire front page
to an editorial, headlined "Mississip-
pi's Invisible Coast," that argued the
region is fading into a "black hole of
media obscurity." Next to the edito-
rial was a graphic tallying Katrina's
toll on the region: $125 billion in
estimated damage, 236 dead, 65,380
A caption on page 7 of Friday's Daily misspelled the name of LSA senior Jil-
A story on the front page of of Friday's Daily (Don't forget victims of quake,
relief worker says) said last fall's earthquake in South Asia happened Oct. 6. It
struck Oct. 8.
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