The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Thursday, January 8, 2009 - 3A
The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Thursday, January 8, 2009 - 3A
attractive target for
U.S. intelligence officials say the
Jan. 20 inauguration is an attrac-
tive target for international and
domestic terrorist groups, but they
know of no specific threat that
might disrupt the celebration.
An intelligence assessment
obtained by The Associated Press
says the high visibility of the event,
the presence of dignitaries and the
try's first black president make the
inauguration vulnerable to attacks.
Threats against President-elect
Barack Obama have increased
since he was elected. This, and
other considerations such as the
large crowds expected, factored
into security plans that will close
bridges and 3.5 miles of downtown
Washington on Jan.20. The securi-
ty perimeter covers more of the city
than previous inaugurations.
Despite gov't loans,
to survive the year
Even by the standards of bat-
tered automakers, Chrysler is in
dire shape. Its sales in December
were down a stunning 53 percent,
far worse than Ford or General
Motors, and analysts say it prob-
ably won't survive the year as an
independent company - despite $4
billion in government loans and the
possibility of more.
Things were so bad last year that
a single Toyota model, the Camry/
Solara midsize car, outsold the
entire fleet of Chrysler LLC's pas-
"Basically they're done," said
Aaron Bragman, an auto analyst
with the consulting company IHS
is no real possibility of turning this
thing around as an independent
company in my opinion."
Chrysler will not comment
on speculation about its future,
spokeswoman Shawn Morgan said
Obama meets with
living presidents at
Confronting a grim economy
and a Middle East on fire, Barack
Obama turned yesterday to per-
haps the only people on the planet
who understand what he's in for:
the four living members of the U.S.
lIan image bound to go down in
history, every living U.S. president
came together at the White House
yesterday to hash over the world's
challenges with the president-
elect. There they stood, shoulder-
to-shoulder in the Oval Office:
George H.W. Bush, Obama, George
W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy
"This is an extraordinary gath-
ering," Obama said, looking plenty
at ease in the humbling office that
will soon be his.
"All the gentlemen here under-
stand both the pressures and pos-
sibilities of this office," Obama said.
"And for me to have the opportuni-
ty to get advice, good counsel and
fellowship with these individuals is
extraordinary. And I'm very grate-
ful to all of them."
Icy weather closes
Snow, sleet and freezing rain
have made roads hazardous
across the Great Lakes into New
England and closed hundreds of
The National Weather Service
posted winter storm warnings and .
ice storm warnings from Penn-
sylvania into Maine and winter
weather advisories were issued for
parts of Michigan and Ohio.
Michigan police blame three
traffic deaths on ice-covered high-
ways and some schools are closed.
Many school districts have called
off classes or are opening late across
New York state, where about 2 inches
of snow has fallen north of Albany.
Up to a foot of snow is possible in
Vermont and hundreds of schools are
closed there and in New Hampshire.
Schools and colleges across
Massachusetts also have closed
or delayed openings
- Compiled from
Daily wire reports
watchdog to cut
Palestinians walk in the rubble of a building following an Israeli airstrike in the Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip,
Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009.
Fighting raIelCs in Gaza
despite calls for cease-fire
Death toll nears 700
in 12th day of Israel's
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP)
- Israel resumed its Gaza offen-
sive yesterday, bombing heavily
around suspected smuggling tun-
nels near the border with Egypt
after a three-hour lull to allow
in humanitarian aid. Hamas
responded with a rocket barrage.
Despite the heavy fighting,
strides were made on the diplo-
matic front with the U.S. throw-
ing its weight behind a deal being
brokered by France and Egypt.
While the Security Council
failed to reach agreement on a
cease-fire resolution, Egypt's U.N.
representatives of Israel, Hamas
and the Palestinian Authority
have agreed to meet separately
with Egyptian officials in Cairo
Israeli airstrikes killed 29 Pal-
estinians yesterday after leaflets
were dropped warning residents
to leave the area "because Hamas
us yourjhu ses to hide and
smuggle military weapons."
The casualties brought the
total Palestinian death toll during
Israel's 12-day assault to 688 and
drove home the complexities of
finding a diplomatic endgame for
Israel's Gaza invasion. Ten Israe-
lis have been killed, including
three civilians, since the offensive
began Dec. 27.
More than 5,000 people have
fled the border area, seeking ref-
uge at two U.N. schools turned
into temporary shelters.
The fury of the renewed fight-
ing made it appear each side was
scrambling to get in as many hits
as possible before a truce could
"I feel like the ground is shaking
when we hear the shelling. People
are terrified," said Fida Kishta, a
resident of the Gaza-Egypt bor-
der area where Israeli planes
destroyed 16 empty houses.
In Turkey, a Mideast diplomat
who spoke on condition of anonym-
ity because he was not authorized
to speak publicly said that country
would be asked to put together an
international force that could help
keep the peace. And diplomats in
New York worked on a U.N. Secu-
rity Council statement backing
the cease-fire initiative but failed
to reach agreement on action to
end the violence.
"We are very much applaud-
ing the efforts of a number of
states, particularly the effort that
President (Hosni) Mubarak has
undertaken on behalf of Egypt,"
Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice said. "We're supporting that _
The army, which has refused to
allow journalists into Gaza, per-
mitted two TV teams to accom-
pany soldiers on patrol for the
first time. The footage showed sol-
diers walking through a deserted
street in an unidentified location
The Israeli military correspon-
dent who accompanied the sol-
diers said they were concerned
about Hamas booby-traps. He said
they were shooting through walls,
throwing grenades around cor-
ners, going from house to house
looking for Hamas gunmen and
usingbomb sniffer dogs. Buildings
"We used alot of fire," said an offi-
cer in the group, Lt. Col. Ofer.
Hamas, meanwhile, fired rock-
ets, though at a slower pace than
previous days, hitting the towns of
Ashkelon and Beersheba with the
sort of longer range missiles never
seen before this war. Rockets were
still hitting the cities after mid-
night, but there were no immedi-
ate reports of injury.
Despite the violence, a sur-
prise announcement in Paris on
Wednesday put a spotlight on
French President Nicolas
Sarkozy said that both Israel and
the Palestinian Authority had
accepted the cease-fire deal, but
he made no mention of Hamas,
without whom no truce could
work. The Palestinian Authority
controls only the West Bank while
Hamas rules Gaza - two territo-
ries on opppsite sides of Israel that
are supposed to make up a future
Later, Israeli officials made it
clear Sarkozy's statement was not
"Israel welcomes the initiative
of the French president and the
Egyptian president to bring about
a sustainable quiet in the south,"
said Israeli government spokes-
man Mark Regev.
deficit estimated to
reach $1.2 tril.
WASHINGTON (AP) - Point-
ing with concern to "red ink as far
as the eye cansee," President-elect
Barack Obama pledged yesterday
to tackle out-of-control Social
Security and Medicare spending
and named a special watchdog to
clamp down on other federal pro-
grams - even as he campaigned
anew to spend the largest pile
of taxpayer money in history to
revive the sinking economy.
The steepness of the fiscal
mountain he'll face beginning Jan.
20 was underscored by stunning
new figures: an estimate that the
federal budget deficit will reach
$1.2 trillion this year, by far the
biggest ever, even without the new
The incoming president has
walked this same tightrope each
day this week - advocating fis-
cal discipline and taxpayer lar-
gesse together at nearly every
turn, though in every case with
little detail to back it up. With
less than two weeks to go before
taking the helm at the White
House, he'll make the same pitch
on Thursday, delivering a speech
laying out why he wants Congress
to quickly pass his still-evolving
Last year's U.S. deficit set its
own record, but that $455 billion
will be dwarfed by this year's.
The new estimate, by the non-
partisan Congressional Budget
Office, represents more -than 8
percent of the entire national
Still, Obama said "an economic
situation that is dire" requires
immediate and bold action with
unprecedented tax cuts and fed-
eral programs. More bad news is
expected today and Friday on U.S.
layoffs, and stocks plummeted
anew yesterday, wiping out gains
from the first week of the new
Obama gave his first ballpark
estimate of the total amount of
the stimulus package expected
to emerge from negotiations
between his team and Capitol
Hill, saying it is likely to hover
around $775 billion over two
years. That's about $400 billion
less than outside economists
have said might be needed to jolt
the economy but at the top of the
range that Obama aides and con-
gressional leaders have discussed
"We're going to have to jump-
start this economy," Obama
said. "That's going to cost some
The president-elect said con-
cerns about increasing the deficit
to unmanageable levels swayed
him against the higher figures
advocated by some.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
also pressed for passage of a recov-
ery bill, though the mid-February
timeline she offered represented
another slip in the date by which
the package would be ready for
Obama's signature. Initially, the
goal was to have it finished by the
time he takes office a week from
Obama's repeated emphasis
amid the stimulus talk on a need
for spending control is aimed in
part at attracting more support
from deficit hawks in Congress.
He said Wednesday, without
details, that his initial budget
proposal next month will include
"some very specific outlines" of
how he plans to tackle spending.
That extends to the ballooning and
so-far unsolvable fiscal problem
presented by the Social Security
and Medicare programs, which
Obama promised would be "a cen-
tral part" of his deficit-reduction
Senate Dems retreat on
Burris, Obama steps in
interest in this
experience is to be
WASHINGTON (AP) - Senate
Democrats beat a hasty retreat
yesterday from their rejection
of Roland Burris as President-
elect Barack Obama's successor,
yielding to pressure from Obama
himself and from senators irked
that the standoff was draining
attention and putting them in a
bad light. Burris said with a smile
he expected to join them "very
Though there was no agree-
ment yet to swear Burris in, he
posed for photos at the Capitol
with Senate leaders, then joined
them for a 45-minute meeting fol-
lowed by supportive words that
bordered on gushing. The events
came one day after Burris had left
the Capitol in the pouring rain ina
Obama had spoken to Senate
Majority Leader Harry Reid on
Monday on the need to find a quick
solution to defuse the dispute,
according to Democratic officials.
Reid was told by Obama that if
Burris had the legal standing to
be seated - despite controversy
surrounding his appointment by
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich -
it should be done "sooner rather
than later," said an Obama transi-
tion aide, speaking on condition of
anonymity because the conversa-
tion was private.
The dispute had taken on racial
overtones after comments by some
Burris supporters. The former Illi-
nois attorney general would be the
Senate's only black member fol-
lowing Obama's departure.
"My whole interest in this
experience is to be prepared" to
lead Illinois, Burris, 71, said after
meeting with Reid and assistant
Democratic leader Dick Durban,
himself an Illinois senator. "Very
shortly I will have the opportu-
nity to do that."
Neither Reid nor Durbin disput-
ed that, though they had declared
with certainty a week ago that
Democrats would not seat a sena-
tor appointed by a governor now
accused of trying to sell the seat.
Obama said then, "I agree with
Yesterday, only words of good
will, with photos, poured forth.
Obama told reporters that he
knew Burris, liked him and would
be happy to work with him.
Burris in from the rain and into
Reid's spacious personal officejust
off the Senate floor. They invited
news photographers in to capture
the three - Burris in the middle -
laughing and chatting.
Reid and Durbin then retreated
from their won't-be-seated rheto-
ric and cast the dispute as a pro-
cedural delay caused by concerns
about why Blagojevich made the
"First of all, understand we
don't have a problem with him as
an individual," Reid said of Burris,
calling him an "extremely nice"
and "forthright" man. "At this
stage, the process is working out,"
Added Durbin: "I've known
him for such a long time. We are
friends and on a first-name basis."
The embraces reflected a grow-
ing expectation among Senate
officials in both parties that the
former state attorney general
eventually would be seated.
As Reid and Durbin described
it, the process depends on two
developments: Burris securing
the right signoff on his appoint-
ment papers, plus a sworn dec-
laration that he didn't offer
anything to Blagojevich in
exchange for the seat.
"There was certainly no pay-
to-play involved, because I don't
have no money," Burris told
reporters after his Senate meet-
ing, previewing his sworn answer
to that question.
It's a key issue in resolving the
Blagojevich is accused of try-
ing to get something for himself
in return for the appointment, an
allegation he denies. By appoint-
ing Burris, he defied Senate Dem-
ocrats who warned that a taint of
corruption would strip credibility
from anyone he named to fill the
Secretary of State Jesse White
also said he would not certify the
appointment with his signature,
giving Senate Democrats another
point of objection.
The entire Democratic caucus
then declared they would not seat
Burris or anyone appointed by
Blagojevich. They also said they
would not seat Burris without
White's signature, which Demo-
crats said has been requiredby the
Senate since the 19th century.
The scene yeserday was a rever-
sal from the day before.
Burris showed up at the Capitol
Tuesday to be sworn in with the
rest of the 111th Congress but was
turned away by Senate officials
who said his certification lacked
the required signature from White
as well as the official seal of the
state of Illinois.
Senate Democrats refused to
let Burris talk to reporters inside
the Capitol but cleared the way for
him to hold a news conference just
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