& The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Blackwater chairman Erik
Prince vigorously rejected charges
yesterday that guards from his
private security firm acted like a
bunch of cowboys immune to legal
prosecution while protecting State
Department personnel in Iraq and
"I believe we acted appropriate-
ly at all times," Prince, a 38-year-
old former Navy SEAL, calmly told
the House Oversight and Govern-
ment Reform Committee.
His testimony came as the FBI
is investigating Blackwater per-
sonnel for their role in a Sept. 16
shootout that left 11 Iraqis dead.
The incident and others, including
a shooting by a drunk Blackwater
employee after a 2006 Christmas
party, led to pointed questions by
lawmakers about whether the gov-
ernment is relying too much on
private contractors who fall out-
side the military courts martial
Obama in 3rd
Democrat Hillary Rodham Clin-
ton raised $22 million this sum-
mer for her presidential primary
campaign, outpacing all other
candidates so far with her best
three-month showing of the year.
For the first time, she reported
attracting more new donors in a
quarter than her chief fundraising
rival, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.
Clinton raised a total of $27 mil-
lion in the three months, her cam-
paignsaidyesterday,but $5 million
is designated for the general elec-
tion and can't be used in her quest
for the Democratic nomination.
Her $80 million total for the
2008 presidential race puts her on
a par with Obama, though he still
leads her in money raised for the
$146 mil on travel
Federal employees wasted at
least $146 million over a one-year
period on business- and first-class
airline tickets, in some cases sim-
ply because they felt entitled to the
perk, congressional investigators
A draft report by the Gov-
ernment Accountability Office,
obtained yesterday by The Associ-
ated Press, is the first to examine
compliance with travel rules across
the federal government following
reports of extensive abuse of pre-
mium-class travel by Pentagon and
State Department employees.
The review of travel spend-
ing by more than a dozen agen-
cies from July 1, 2005, to June 30,
2006, found 67 percent of pre-
mium-class travel by executives
or their employees, worth at least
$146 million, was unauthorized or
Two dozen prisoners were
cleared for transfer from Guanta-
namo Bay last year even though
U.S. moilitary panels found they
still posed a threat to the United
States and its allies.
Dozens more were cleared even
though they didn't show up for
their hearings. One Saudi arrested
in Afghanistan was approved for
release after offering a peculiar
account that he had gone to the
Taliban-controlled country to lose
Pentagon documents obtained
by The Associated Press show
seemingly inconsistent decisions
to release men declared by the
Bush administration to be among
America's most-hardened enemies.
Coupled with accusations that
some detainees have been held for
years on little evidence, the deci-
sions raise questions about wheth-
er they were arbitrary.
- Compiled from
Daily wire reports
Number of American service
members who have died in the
War in Iraq, according to The
Associated Press. The following
casualties were identified by the
Department of Defense yesterday.
Army Spc. Chirasak Vidhyar-
korn, 32, New York City
Army Sgt. Randel Olguin, 24,
Marine Gunnery Sgt. Herman
J. Murkerson Jr., 35, Adger, Ala.
Exact burden of
tax plan unclear
LANSING (AP) - Michigan to covering 53, including new
taxes are going up, but opinions categories such as skiing, con-
differ on how the state's overall sulting and interior design. At
tax burden stacks up nationally. that point, Michigan will rank
Democratic Gov. Jennifer 27th nationally in the number of
Granholm, the Democratic-led taxed services, according to the
House and Republican-con- Michigan Department of Trea-
trolled Senate struck a deal sury.
early Monday morning to raise Michigan is tied with nine
taxes, cut spending and change other states that have a 6 per-
benefits for school employees to cent sales tax, the nation's 11th
fill a $1.75 billion shortfall in the highest. California has the
state budget. highest rate, at 7.25 percent,
The state income tax was while Colorado's 2.9 rate is the
raised from 3.9 percent to 4.35 lowest among states that have
percent, while the state's 6 per- sales taxes.
cent sales tax on goods was State officials and outside
extended to a variety of services groups differ on whether Mich-
beginning Dec. 1. igan's overall tax burden is
Thirty-six of the 43 states about average or higher than it
with income taxes have rates should be.
higherthan Michigan's new 4.35 The Washington-based Tax
rate, at least as of January 2007, Foundation projects Michigan
according to the Federation of will have the 11th-highest state
Tax Administrators. But a fair and local tax burden nationally
comparison is elusive because once all the tax increases kick
most states, unlike Michigan, in, up from 14th.
have graduated income taxes State treasury officials, how-
under which taxpayers see their ever, say Michigan's tax burden
rates increase as their incomes ranked 26th-highest two years
go up. ago and expects it will rise no
Michigan's income tax rate more than four spots to 22nd
has been as high as 6.35 percent, under the new tax structure.
when it was raised in 1983 dur- "We're certainly not out of the
log an earlier economic down- mainstream here," state Trea-
turn. The new rate is below surer BobKleine said yesterday.
what the state charged from Kleine said Michigan's tax
May 1975 through December burden will be slightly above
1999, when the rate was 4.4 per- the national average, but com-
cent or higher. petitive in the Midwest - lower
The new rate is 11.5 percent thanWisconsinand Ohio,higher
higher than the old rate of 3.9 than Illinois and about the same
percent. But it's set to drop by as Indiana and Minnesota.
a tenth of a percent from 2011 The combination of a higher
through 2014, and then enough income tax and sales taxes on
in 2015 to again reach 3.9 per- more services will cost a family
cent. of four earning $50,000 a year
The state's 6 percent sales about $207 - $157 in income tax
tax in two months will go from and about $50 in sales tax, trea-
covering 26 service categories sury officials estimate.
EFFICIENT, BUT EXPENSIVE
Wednesday, October 3, 2007 - 3A
DETROIT (AP) - Weakness in
the housing market and flagging
consumer confidence made Sep-
tember another tough month for
the auto industry, although Gen-
eral Motors, Honda and Nissan
bucked the trend with hot-selling
new vehicles, according to U.S.
sales figures released yesterday.
Ford Motor Co.'s U.S. sales plum-
meted 21 percent for the month,
largely due to a 62 percent reduction
insalestorentalcar companies. Toy-
ota Motor Corp. posted a 4 percent
decline but still outpaced Ford for
the month and for the January-Sep-
tember period, continuing its drive
to replace Ford as the nation's No. 2
automaker in sales after GM. Toyota
had sold 28,654 more vehicles than
Ford as of the end of September.
Chrysler LLC also was down 5 per-
cent for the month.
Overall U.S. sales were down
3 percent from last September,
according to Autodata Corp.
General Motors Corp. said sales
were flat compared with last Sep-
tember, despite a month of difficult
labor negotiations and a two-day
strike by the United Auto Workers
Jeff Basch of Adaptive Materials explains a new generator that runs off of pro-
pane at the Entrepreneurship Opportunities Fair on the North Campus Diag
yesterday. The generator will power a standard laptop for 24 hours on $3 worth
of propane, Basch said - but the machine will cost you $20,000.
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