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November 18, 2008 - Image 3

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-11-18

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, November 18, 2008 - 3

NEWS BRIEFS
WASHINGTON
Charges unlikely for
terror interrogators
Barack Obama's incoming
administration is unlikely to bring
criminal charges against govern-
ment officials who authorized or
engaged in harsh interrogations
of suspected terrorists during the
George W. Bush presidency.
Obama, who has criticized the
use of torture, is being urged by
some constitutional scholars and
human rights groups to investigate
possible war crimes by the Bush
administration.
Two Obama advisers said
there's little - if any - chance that
the incoming president's Justice
Department will go after anyone
involved in authorizing or carrying
out interrogations that provoked
worldwide outrage.
BAG H DAD
US-Iraq pact poses
test for Iraq's
security forces
The U.S.-Iraqi security pact
now before parliament calls for
U.S. forces to leave Iraq's cities by
June 30 in recognition of an im-
proved security climate, but the
deadline poses a key test for Iraqi
forces in places like Baghdad and
the northern city of Mosul where
attacks still occur daily.
It is a gamble that Prime Min-
ister Nouri al-Maliki, emboldened
by recent military successes, is
willing to take - partly because
of growing confidence in the capa-
bilities of Iraqi forces.
U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker
described the security gains as
"superlative" at a Monday signing
ceremony of the agreement with
Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.
The pact, overwhelmingly ap-
proved by the Cabinet, was read
to lawmakers in the first stage of
parliament's procedure for ap-
proving the bill.
A vote on the pact, which al-
lows U.S. forces to remain in Iraq
through 2011, is scheduled for Nov.
24. It has a good chance of passing
since al-Maliki's Cabinet is made
up of the same parties that domi-
nate the 275-seat legislature.
LANSING
Blue Cross pushes
for rules changes
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michi-
gan said Monday it continues to lose
money on its health insurance cov-
erage for individuals.
The nonprofit company said
its continued financial losses are
evidence that urgent changes are
needed in state law guiding the
market for people who buy their
own health insurance. Buyers in
the individual market typically are
not covered by employer or govern-
ment plans.
Blue Cross wants the Michigan
Legislature to approve changes
that could help its business by the
end of the year. But the proposed
changes have drawn criticism from
competitors and Attorney General

Mike Cox.
Blue Cross said Monday that its
individual market segment lost $111
million in the first nine months of
2008, and that it lost $134 million
on the policies for all of 2007.
NEW YORK
Citigroup cuts
53,000 jobs
Citigroup, widely seen as the sick-
est Wall Street bank, will make some
ofthe most severe cuts in the history
of U.S. business - 53,000 jobs - as
it tries to slash costs and get back to
basics before it's too late.
The cuts, which will leave Citi
about 20 percent smaller, are the
latest step in a stunning remaking
of the American banking landscape
since the financial meltdown, an
upheaval that has included the
demise of storied investment hous-
es and the conversion of others into
commercial banks.
Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit
met with employees Monday and
laid out the bank's strategy in stark
terms: "We are a bank. What does a
bank do? A bank takes deposits and
puts them to work by investing and
making loans."
Challenger, Gray & Christmas
Inc., which has tracked downsiz-
ing since 1993, said Citi's cuts are
the second-most on record. IBM
announced in July it was cutting
60,000.
At its peak in 2007, Citi had
375,000 employees.
- Compiled from
Daily wire reports

Aid prospects darken for
desperate US carmakers

$25 billion bailout
stalls as lawmakers
shy away from plan
WASHINGTON (AP) - Pros-
pects dimmed on Monday for the
$25 billion bailout that U.S. auto-
makers say they desperately need
to get through a bleak and dan-
gerous December.
Though all sides agree that
Detroit's Big Three carmakers
are in peril, battered by the eco-
nomic meltdown that has choked
their sales and frozen loans, the
White House and congressional
Democrats are headed for stale-
mate over how much government
money should go toward helping
them.
Behind the logjam is a trou-
bling reality for the car compa-
nies: Bailout fatigue has set in at
the White House and on Capitol
Hill, where many in both parties
have spent the past few weeks
being berated by constituents for
agreeing to the $700 billion Wall
Street rescue.
The new debate comes as the
financial situation for General
Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and
Chrysler LLC grows more pre-
carious. GM has said it could run
out of cash by year's end without

government aid.
A Senate auto bailout bill
unveiled Monday noted that
355,000 U.S. workers are directly
employed by the auto industry,
and an additional 4.5 million
work in related industries That
doesn't count the i million retir-
ees, spouses and dependents who
rely on the companies for retire-
ment and health care benefits.
Still, not only has President
George W. Bush made it clear he
doesn't want to dole out any new
aid for the automakers, congres-
sional officials say his adminis-
tration has privately informed
top Democrats it won't even use
at least half of that huge rescue
fund approved last month to aid
the financial industry.
The Senate Democrats' mea-
sure would carve out a portion of
the Wall Street bailout money to
pay for loans to U.S. automakers
and their domestic suppliers, but
aides in both parties and lobby-
ists tracking the plan privately
acknowledge they are far short of
the votes to pass it.
Republicans insist that any
automaker bailout money instead
come from redirecting a $25 bil-
lion loan program approved by
Congress in September to help
the industry develop more fuel-
efficient vehicles. The GOP would

lift restrictions on that money to
speed it to the carmakers.
Democrats want to leave that
money alone and give the indus-
try an additional $25 billion from
the financial bailout funds - for a
total of $50 billion.
Senate Majority Leader Harry
Reid, D-Nev., said he would hold a
vote during this week's postelec-
tion session on a bill that pairs
the auto industry bailout with an
extension of jobless aid. But in an
acknowledgment of the long odds
facing such a plan, Reid also laid
the groundwork for a straight up-
or-down vote on-the more widely
supported unemployment mea-
sure, which is probably all that
can pass this week.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi,
D-Calif., has held off scheduling
a vote on an auto bailout bill until
it becomes clear whether such
a measure can pass the Senate,
where it would need a 60-vote
supermajority to advance.
The Senate's proposed auto aid
bill would provide loans with ini-
tial interest rates of 5 percent in
exchange for a stake in the com-
panies or warrants that would
let the government profit from
future gains. Loan applicants
would have to give the govern-
ment a plan for "long-term finan-
cial viability."

A search and rescue worker and her dog walk through the Oakridge Mobile
Home Park in the Sylmar area of Los Angeles on Sunday.
Residents return
after L.A. wildfire

500 manufactured
homes destroyed
LOSANGELES (AP) - Stacksof
charred bricks, blackened shells of
cars and burned tree trunks were
all that remained Monday in much
of the community some residents
once called the "Beverly Hills of
mobile home parks."
The mostly retired residents
returned to see what was left of
their homes at Oakridge Mobile
Home Park, where winds with
hurricane intensity blew a wall of
fire through nearly 500 manufac-
tured homes and set them ablaze
so quickly that even firefighters
had to drop their hoses and run.
"It looks like a war zone - no
trees, no buildings," said Michele
Warneck, 54, who burst into tears
after returning from the park. She
had watched her two-bedroom
house burn on the television news.
"Everything that was porcelain
just blew up."
Once considered a paradise
with swimming-pools- and tennis
courts, the park was now roamed
by cadaver-sniffing dogs in search
of anyone who didn't escape.
The inferno destroyed 484
homes in the park Saturday. Fire-
fighters were able to save about
120 homes, but many were badly
damaged.
The fire was one of three that
have destroyed about 1,000 homes
and apartments and burned
41,000 acres, or 64 square miles,
forcing thousands to flee.
Most evacuation orders were
lifted by Monday, when clear skies
and calm winds allowed firefight-
ers to make some gains, but offi-
cials warned of another bad air
day and classes were canceled at
dozens of schools near fire zones
in Orange County.
In Sylmar, scores of residents
stood in line outside a high school
gymnasium for tours of the
charred mobile home park where

retirees once played tennis, took a
dip in a jacuzzi and played Mah-
Johng and poker.
Those whose homes were
destroyed were shuttled through
the neighborhood in a black van.
Police were still investigating the
fire, so people weren't allowed to
get out and sift through the ashes
for scraps of their belongings.
"It's gone," said Ed Hurdle, 82,
after taking one of the first park
tours. "The car is gone. The house
is gone. It'stwisted metal. It'stotal-
ly charred there. There's no hope at
all. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing."
A separate set of white police
vans ferried residents whose
homes were still standing so they
could gather medication and
other essentials.
"My house was in great shape.
All it was was dirty," said Betty
Glassman, 78. "I feel like I'm in a
dream. Pinch me."
Cadaver dogs have been search-
ing the burned units, but so far
have only found the cremated
remains of a man who died several
years agw- -. .w-
Animal control recovered sever-
al dead animals and three live cats.
Los Angeles County Assistant Cor-
oner Chief Ed Winter said the cats
could have been hiding under one
of the units that wasn't damaged.
Neighbors huddled together
inside the gymnasium, which
has been turned into a Red Cross
shelter for evacuees, hugging each
other and comparing notes about
whatthey saw and what they were
able to salvage.
"It's a disaster. It looks like
Hiroshima," said Joan Costa,
carrying plastic bags filled with
makeup and medicines she had
pulled from her home.
The fire left a local hospital
in darkness, and nurses used
hand-cranked ventilators to
keep patients alive when the fire
knocked out power to Olive
View-UCLA Medical Center in
Sylmar.

President-elect Barack Obama meets with Sen. John McCain, yesterday at Obama's transition office in downtown Chicago.
Before the meeting, Obama said the former rivals would discuss "how we can do some work together to fix up the country."
In first post-election meeting,
ObmMcCain vow cooperation

Former rivals meet
in Chicago to bury
campaign pain
CHICAGO (AP) - No longer
foes but not yet allies, President-
elect Barack Obama and John
McCain buried their bitter cam-
paign in public smiles and searched
for common ground in private on
Monday, discussing possible col-
laboration on climate change,
immigration, Guantanamo Bay
and more.
The 40-minute session at
Obama's transition headquar-
ters, their first meeting since
Nov. 4 when Obama handily
defeated McCain, was just the
latest effort by the president-
elect to heal wounds from
the long and bitter campaign
and seek help from his former
rivals. On Thursday, he quietly
met here withSen. Hillary Rod-
ham Clinton, his toughest rival
for the Democratic nomination
and now a possible choice for
secretary of state.
McCain's meeting with
Obama was less furtive, and
aides to both men said no Cabi-
net post is envisioned for the
Arizona senator. Obama has
said he plans to invite at least
one Republican to join his Cab-
inet.
Like Clinton, McCain knows
that returning to the 100-mem-
ber Senate will impose limits
and frustrations after the heady
two years of the presidential
campaign. For both, a friendly
relationship with the new pres-
ident might open new opportu-
nities in Congress or elsewhere,
though they exchanged harsh
words with him not long ago.
For Obama, cordial ties to
two of the nation's most famous
and successful politicians
might smooth the launch of an
administration confronting an
economic crisis and two wars.
Before Monday's meeting,
Obama said he and McCain
would talk about "how we can
do some work together to fix up

the country." He thanked McCain
"for the outstanding service he's
already rendered."
Inajointstatementafterthe meet-
ing, they vowed to work together to
reform government and promote
bipartisanship in Washington.
. Meanwhile, Clinton, who
returns to Congress as a fairly
junior senator with no immediate
prospects for a leadership post,
appeared very much in the running
for secretary of state. Transition
officials said she and her husband,
former President Bill Clinton, were
cooperating with a vetting process,
although there were other con-

tenders for the job.
Bill Clinton's finances and busi-
ness relationships could pose a
conflict of interest for his wife if
she became the nation's top dip-
lomat. Since leaving the White
House in 2001, he has amassed a
multimillion-dollar fortune and
built a large international founda-
tion through his ties to corpora-
tions and foreign governments.
As for Obama and McCain,
they expressed similar views on a
number of issues during the cam-
paign, such as the dangers of cli-
mate change and a need to ease
U.S. dependence on fossil fuels.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008
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