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October 03, 2006 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-10-03

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Tuesday, October 3, 2006 - The Michigan Daily - 7
Man sent lettersr
threatening Bush,3I

- An engineer at a nuclear power
plant has been charged with send-
ing threatening letters containing
a powdery substance to a coun-
try club where President Bush is
scheduled to appear today for a
Republican campaign event.
Michael Lee Braun, 51, was
appeared in court Monday on two
federal charges of sending threats
through the mail. The FBI said
he also is a suspect in mailing
dozens of similar threats since
shortly after the 2001 terrorist
The charges are connected
to two letters prosecutors said
Braun mailed on Thursday to the
Serrano Country Club and Ser-
rano Visitors Center in El Dorado
Hills, a tony community in the
foothills east of Sacramento.
Bush plans to appear at the club
Tuesday afternoon in a campaign
event for U.S. Rep. John Doolittle
The letters contained threats
to Bush, Vice President Dick
Cheney and Doolittle, according
to an FBI statement.
"Anytime somebody's out
there threatening offices and pub-
lic servants, it's unnerving to say
the least," Doolittle spokeswom-
an Laura Blackann said.
Spokesmen for the Secret Ser-
vice declined comment.
A federal affidavit said that
Braun has sent a total of 51
threatening letters since the
2001 terrorist attacks. The letters
threatened the lives of the presi-

dent, Cheney, First Lady Laura
Bush and Defense Secretary Don-
ald Rumsfeld, the affidavit said.
"Each of the letters contained
a written threat, usually death
by some kind of WMD agent
(anthrax, toxic chemical poison,
radioactive dust or improvised
explosives) and some unknown,
white, powdery substance, or
items simulating a possible let-
ter/package improvised explosive
device, the affidavit said.
The white substance usually
turned out to be baking soda, the
affidavit said.
Braun's attorney, Philip Coz-
ens, declined to comment Mon-
day, saying he had just taken the
FBI spokeswoman Karen Ernst
said the case was "not believed to
be related" to the ongoing probe
into the anthrax used in mailings
that killed five people in 2001.
Braun was arrested Friday.
FBI agents had Braun under
surveillance last Thursday and
watched as he dropped two let-
ters into a mailbox at an Elk
Grove strip mall, said Drew
Parenti, a special agent in charge
in Sacramento. They sealed off
the mailbox and found the letters
to the Serrano visitors center and
country club.
Federal officials also searched
his home in Elk Grove, a suburb
south of Sacramento, and at the
decommissioned Rancho Seco
nuclear power plant, which is
owned by the Sacramento Munic-
ipal Utility District.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos shakes the hand of incumbent Gov. Jennifer Granholm after their debate last night in East Lansing. It was
the first of three televised showdowns before the Nov. 7 election.

i Only one U.N. chief
candidate escapes veto

Continued from page 1
that position as extremist.
"I think that's just far out of the mainstream,"
she said. "I think that government should not
be in the doctor's office, or in the confessional
or in your bedroom."
Neither of the candidates strayed far from
the talking points they had already laid out in
their campaigns.
"One of the worst things that can happen
nowadays is to be called a flip-flopper," Trau-
yott said. "I think that they each stayed pretty
consistent with their previous statements, pre-
vious positions on these policies."
Granholm's answer to one question seemed
to catch DeVos off-guard. When asked if she
thought DeVos was avoiding any issues to win
the election, Granholm brought up DeVos's
refusal to release his tax returns, as many candi-
dates do. Instead, he has put out what he claims
is a comprehensive accounting of his finances.
Granholm said that document wasn't com-
She pointed to a $170-million investment the
DeVos family made in Alterra Corp., a defunct
Milwaukee-based nursing home chain that has
been connected to allegations of physical and
sexual abuse against its patients.
"Obviously, he wouldn't want us to know

about that," she said. "So my concern is that
there are other things in his failure to disclose
that we might not know about."
DeVos played down his role in Alterra.
"My holdings were less that 1 percent of that
company," he said. "It was a tragic, tragic situ-
ation to be sure, and it turned out to be a very
bad investment as well, so it was a very, very
unfortunate set of circumstances."
"$170 million I think is a big investment
even for you;' Granholm said, referring to
DeVos's vast family fortune.
After the debate, DeVos spokesman John
Truscott said DeVos's investment amounted to
only .6 percent of the company and consisted
mostly of bonds, not common stock.
Granholm spokesman Chris DeWitt refused
to discuss the investment last night, saying
only that the Granholm campaign and the
Michigan Democratic Party will hold a press
conference today to talk about DeVos's Alterra
For all the publicity surrounding the debate,
it's not clear how much of an impact it will
have on the race.
Traugott said debates don't typically have
much of an effect. The audience is usually
small, and those who do watch often already
have their minds made up, he said.
But how the debate is reported in the press
can make a difference.
"One thing to look for is how the news

media play up this debate tonight and tomor-
row," Traugott said.
Reaction from observers was mixed about
which candidate came out on top.
"I think that they each scored a few points,most-
ly with regards to their own base;' Traugott said. "I
don't think that either one of them did anything to
convert large numbers of people to either side."
Jamie Ruth, chair of the University's chap-
ter of the College Democrats, was much more
enthusiastic about his candidate's performance.
"I was very impressed," said Ruth, who
watched the debate with a group of College
Democrats. "The mood afterwards was very
He said Granholm's words were only one
part of her success in last night's debate.
"It wasn't just the substance of what she
was saying," he said. "I think she really con-
nected with people staring at their TV boxes
College Republicans Chair Rob Scott,
though, said he had expected more from the
"I was a little disappointed that so much of
the debate focused on kind of trivial issues
about the campaign and campaign ads, that
it wasn't more substantive," he said. "In the
future debates I'd like to hear him hone in on
what his economic differences are and how he
has a different perception of Michigan's eco-
nomic condition and how it got there."

- South Korea's foreign minis-
ter cemented his position as the
near-certain successor to U.N.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan on
yesterday, the only one of six can-
didates to escape a veto in an infor-
mal Security Council ballot.
The Security Council was
expected to hold a formal vote to
pick the eighth secretary-general in
the United Nations' 60-year history
on Oct. 9, making Ban Ki-Moon's
appointment almost assured. The
192-nation General Assembly must
approve the council's recommen-
dation, and traditionally does so
without protest.
"It is quite clear that from today's
straw poll that Minister Ban Ki-
Moon is the candidate that the
Security Council will recommend
to the General Assembly," China's
U.N. Ambassador Wang Guangya
While the informal poll is non-
binding and the final vote could be
different, diplomats and candidates
left little doubt that Ban would
win. Soon after the results became
known, India's Shashi Tharoor, the
U.N. undersecretary-general for
public information, announced he
was leaving the race even though
he placed second to Ban in all four
of the informal polls.
"It is a great honor and a huge
responsibility to be secretary-gen-
eral, and I wish Mr. Ban every suc-
cess in that task," Tharoor said.
If Ban does indeed win the race,
his selection will have been marked
by unprecedented speed,consensus
and calm. In the past, U.N. chiefs
have often been elected as time
runs out, after heated negotiations
and numerous rounds of voting.

Annan, who steps down on Dec.
31, was himself a compromise can-
didate in 1996 who emerged late
and only after the United States
blocked Boutros Boutros-Ghali's
bid for a second five-year term.
Annan's example also shows how
unpredictable the process can be:
during informal polling at the time,
France consistently opposed him
before changing its vote at the last
Ban would take the helm of an
organization with some 92,000
peacekeepers around the world, a
$2 billion annual operating bud-
get and programs to fight hunger,
assist refugees and slow the spread
The next secretary-general will
also be charged with improving
the world body's image, which has
been battered by sexual abuse by
some peacekeepers, allegations
of corruption, and the belief that
it must be reformed to reflect the
world of 2006, not the post-World
War 11 era when it was created.
Ban will have to counter widely
held perceptions that he lacks cha-
risma and is too closely tied to
the United States. He says that, if
elected, he will focus on his role as
the world's top diplomat and leave
the U.N.'s day-to-day operations
primarily to a deputy.
In yesterday's poll, the 15 coun-
cil nations checked one of three
boxes for each candidate in the
secret ballot: "Encourage;" "dis-
courage," and "no opinion." For
the first time, the five permanent
members of the council - Brit-
ain, China, France, Russia and the
United States - were given blue
ballots to show the candidates if
they could escape a veto.

Continued from page 1
sion,' Hanlon said.
Another goal is to ensure that
all of the facilities on campus are
available and used to their fullest
potential. The University invests a
lot of money to provide advanced
technology for classrooms and
facilities, Hanlon said.
As the University grows, profes-
sors and students will require more
space, and this study could help
accommodate that growth, Hanlon

With costs for building and
maintaining new space rising dra-
matically, now is the best time to
launch this initiative, he said.
Better use of facilities will also
help to the environment by cutting
back on energy costs and limiting
the impact of University growth.
"Energy usage in our existing
facilities is one of the main thrusts
of our initiative" Hanlon said.
The initiative will involve fac-
ulty, staff and students. It will be
organized into eight subprojects,
led by a representative group of

those most affected by that par-
ticular space.
The subprojects are information
delivery, instructional space, ener-
gy usage, capital projects guide-
lines, budgetary incentives, shared
technology, facilities maintenance
and upkeep and communication.
Their goal is to think of how to
solve the problem of space utiliza-
tion. They will gather ideas from
people all across campus.
The University may hire a con-
sultant to help with the study, Han-
lon said.
Hanlon and other administra-

tors are just beginning to organize
the project. He anticipates that the
University will hire someone to
manage the project and that the
study will begin within the next
few months.
The project manager will work
with the central administration to
gather data, study problems and
compare the solutions of other uni-
versities to find the best solution.
The initiative will probably take
about five years, Hanlon said.
"We will tap every possible
resource to come up with ideas to
better utilize space," he said.

Continued from page 1
money for an emergency flight
home but had lost his ID. He
wrote the student a check,
which the student cashed inside
the Union. The student then
gave the man the money. Later,
the student found out the check
bounced because the man's
account lacked sufficient funds.
Another suspected fraud
attempt occurred last week when
a stranger approached a student
outside a bank near campus.
While speaking with the strang-
er, the victim realized that a
teller inside was paying particu-
lar attention to the situation and
became suspicious. The victim
did not cash the check and the
suspect fled.
Another victim was

approached in front of TCF Bank
on South University Avenue and
two others in front of National
City Bank on the corner of South
University and East University
last August. According to police,
all the victims have been young
Sgt. Richard Kinsey of the
Ann Arbor Police Department
said the three incidents in August
could be connected.
If they are, last week's crimes
showed the criminals are back in
the area.
The August crimes were not
reported until September, pre-
sumably when the students
received their account state-
ments, Kinsey said.
Two of the instances in August
involved $7,000 checks, while an
$8,000 check was cashed in the
third incident.
Though the victims didn't

break any laws, they are stuck
with the bill. Like many other
banks, TCF does not provide
customer compensation in this
type of fraud case.
"There is no difference
between the person who is stand-
ing outside trying to steal from
us and the person who is helping
them," said Buffy Adams, TCF's
vice president of campus bank-
Kinsey and Adams said they
haven't seen this specific type of
fraud in Ann Arbor before.
"Most scams target greed,
but here we've got people who
are trying to do something good
for someone else," Kinsey said.
"Then they realize that the check
is bad and they are on the hook
for the money."
Campus crime is cyclical, he
added, and the AAPD often sees
spikes in incidents like these in

the fall and the springtime.
"Kids are moving around and
sublets are coming in - there's
just a little more confusion
around these times of year," Kin-
sey said. "Everyone's got money
in the fall because they have to
buy different things."
TCF Bank offers tutorial cours-
es on banking that cover fraud-
prevention measures. National
City spokesman Bill Eiler advised
students to use common sense:
Don't cash a check from anyone
you don't know.
"The reason that this is such
a big deal for us is because we
have such a wide student-cus-
tomer base on campus," Adams
said. "Our college customers
are some of our best because
they are so careful because they
don't want to do anything that
would affect their financial

Rumsfeld hears concerns
about weapons build-up

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP)
- The recent military build-up
in Venezuela by U.S. nemesis
President Hugo Chavez has other
countries in the region worried
that the weapons could end up in
the hands of terrorists, Defense
Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld
said yesterday.
"I can understand neighbors
being concerned;' said Rums-
feld, who is attending a meeting
of Western hemisphere military
leaders here this week.
Asked whether he believes
Venezuelan officials' contention
that the weapon buys are strictly
for defense and not a threat to the
region, Rumsfeld said, "I don't
know of anyone threatening Ven-
ezuela - anyone in this hemi-
Venezuela's defense minister
Gen. Raul Isaias Baduel, who is
also attending the meeting, said
Monday that his country's recent

military spending spree wasn't
"an arms race," despite Washing-
ton's protests.
Chavez, however, has repeat-
edly charged that United States
is planning to invade his coun-
try, a claim American officials
dismiss as preposterous. And he
said Sunday that he's heard the
Bush administration is plotting
to assassinate him or topple his
U.S. Army Gen. Bantz J. Crad-
dock, chief of U.S. Southern
Command, called the accusation
"mindless" and "way over the
But he also agreed that Venezu-
ela's recent deal to buy roughly $3
billion worth of arms from Russia
- including rifles, jet fighters and
helicopters - is triggering "more
concern from more countries."
Rumsfeld did not meet pri-
vately with Baduel, but did briefly
exchanged pleasantries with him.

House poor: Americans paying more of incomes for homes

WASHINGTON (AP) - Americans are
becoming increasingly house poor.
Homeowners in every state but one spent
more of their incomes on housing costs last year
than at the start of the decade, according to data
released Tuesday by the Census Bureau. Those
in Alaska spent the same.
Nationwide, homeowners spent nearly 21
percent of their incomes on housing costs last
year, up from just under 19 percent in 1999.
Housing analysts blamed surging home pric-
es, higher interest rates and lower incomes for
hurting affordability.
"It is now much more difficult for first-time
homebuyers to get into the market, and for exist-
ing homeowners to trade up" said Mark Zandi,
chief economist at Moody's Economy.com.

"This decline in affordability is the catalyst for
the current sharp decline in housing activity."
The housing market has gone soft in
many areas, but home prices are still much
higher than they were at the start of the
decade. Nationwide, median home values
jumped 32 percent from 2000 to 2005, to
Household incomes have not kept up, drop-
ping 2.8 percent during the same period.
"Until incomes catch up, the housing market
is going to remain flat," Zandi said.
America's home ownership rate is at a near-
record 68.7 percent. But some housing advo-
cates warn that declining affordability will
make it difficult for low-income owners to keep
their homes.

For example, the government says housing
costs are excessive if they top 30 percent of
household income. Nationally, 34.5 percent of
homeowners with a mortgage had housing costs
that topped that benchmark in 2005, an increase
from 26.7 percent in 1999.
The percentage of homeowners exceeding
the benchmark increased in every state but one
during the period. In Hawaii, it stayed the same
at 39.7 percent.
Housing costs are defined as mortgage pay-
ments, taxes, insurance and utilities.
"Families want to become homeowners and
they are willing to spend more to get there,
said Jeffrey Lubell, executive director for the
Center for Housing Policy, which advocates for
affordable housing.

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