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February 18, 2009 - Image 3

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-02-18

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Wednesday, February 18, 2009 - 3A

NEWS BRIEFS
LANSING, Mich.
Mich. lawmaker
wants caffeine on
energy drink labels
A lawmaker is pushing legislation
in Michigan to let' people see how
much caffeine is in energy drinks.
State Sen. Michael Switalski says
a "caffeine race" is escalating in the
marketplace. The Roseville Demo-
crat wants to require the makers of
Red Bull, 5-Hour Energy and other
drinks to put caffeine content on
their labels.
Switalski says the products are
marketed toward youth, and par-
ents need information to control
children's caffeine intake. The bill
may not get far because the U.S.
Food and Drug Administration
generally oversees food and bever-
age labeling.
Switalski on Thursday also rein-
troduced legislation to require ste-
roid testing of high school athletes,
eliminate tax breaks for vending
machine food retailers and limit
the sale of junk food in schools.
TOKYO
U.S., N. Korea trade
barbs as Clinton
visits Asia
Secretary of State Hillary Rod-
ham Clinton talked tough on her
first overseas trip as America's top
diplomat, delivering a sharp warn-
ing to North Korea on Tuesday over
its threat to conduct a missile test.
As she wound down a long day
of official events in Tokyo before
preparing for the next leg of her
Asia tour in Indonesia, Clinton said
North Korea's threatened missile
test would harm its prospects for
improved relations with the United
States and other neighbors.
"The possible missile launch
that North Korea is talking about
would be very unhelpful in moving
our relationship forward," she said,
adding that if Pyongyang wants to
end its isolation, it would have to act
on pledges made to previous Bush
administration negotiators to scale
back its nuclear weapons efforts.
"The decision as to whether
North Korea will cooperate in the
six-party talks, end provocative
language and actions is up to them
and we are watching very closely,"
Clinton said, referring to North
Korea's continuing talks with the
U.S. and four other major nations
over efforts to nudge the North to
abandon nuclear weapons.
HOUSTON
Oil slips below $35
as markets slump
A new batch of lousy economic
news dragged oil prices down near-
ly 7 percent Tuesday, as signs from
across the globe pointed to a pro-
longed and painful recession.
Light, sweet crude for March
delivery fell $2.58 to settle at $34.93
a barrel on the New York Mercan-
tile Exchange.
A number of other commodities
fell hard too as people sought less
volatile investments.

"The recession is getting worse
in their eyes," said Phil Flynn, an
analyst at Alaron Trading Corp.
"We've gone from a year when we
didn't think we were going to have
enough of any commodity to a situ-
ation where we're going to end the
year with oversupply."
And for the first time in three
weeks, retail gasoline prices fell,
Prices at the pump slipped 0.5
cents to $1.960 a gallon, accord-
ing to auto club AAA, the Oil Price
Information Service and Wright
Express.
MINGORA, Pakistan
NATO cautions
Pakistan over truce
with Taliban
NATO led a growing chorus of
international concern Tuesday by
warning that a truce between the
government of Pakistan and Tali-
ban militants in a restive region
near the Afghan border risks giving
the extremists a "safe haven."
A hard-line cleric sent to the
battle-scarred Swat Valley to nego-
tiate with the Taliban received a
hero's welcome there by crowds
shouting "Long live Islam! Long
live peace!"
The cleric, Sufi Muhammad,
expressed hope the militants
would give up their arms to honor
the pact, which imposes Islamic
law and suspends a military offen-
sive in the former tourist haven and
nearby areas.
- Compiled tram
Daily wire reports

GM, Chrysler
seek billions
more in aid

FILE PHOTO/AP
Afghan policemen carry a dead body ona stretcher on Feb.11, following an attack on Justice Ministry in Kabul, after assailants
attacked the Justice Ministry and another government building.
UN say~s Afghan civ*lian
deaths j*umped 40percent

More than half the
deaths inflicted by
Taliban and militants
KABUL (AP) - The number of
civilians killed in Afghanistan's
worseningconflict jumped 40 per-
cent to a new high last year, and
more than half of the deaths were
inflictedby Taliban insurgents and
other militants, the United Nations
said Tuesday.
The report said insurgents
increasingly use roadside bombs,
car bombs and suicide bombers
in attacks that are "undertaken
regardless of the impact on civil-
ians." In the latest such attack, the
U.S. military reported a roadside
bomb killed five civilians Monday
in Kandahar province.
Two of the worst civilian tolls
from insurgent attacks came in a
February suicide bombing at a dog
fight in Kandahar that the U.N.
said killed 67 civilians and a car
bombing at the Indian Embassy
last July that killed 55 civilians.
Commanders of U.S. and other
international troops in Afghani-
stan have long sought to empha-
size how militant attacks kill far
more civilians than the soldiers or
officials targeted.
The U.N. said a record 2,118 civil-
ians died from violence last year, up
from 1,523 the previous year.
Its report blamed insurgent
attacks for 55 percent of the deaths
- 1,160, compared to 700 in 2007.
It said U.S., NATO and Afghan
government forces accounted
for 39 percent of those killed -
828, compared to 629 in 2007. No
responsibility was determined for
the remaining 130 deaths.
Taliban attacks have been
increasing for three years, and the
new U.S. administration is debat-

ing whether to send an additional
30,000 soldiers and Marines this
year to join 33,000 already in the
fight.
"As the conflict has intensified, it
is taking an increasingly heavy toll
on civilians," the U.N. report said.
Civilian deaths have been a
huge source of friction between
the international military forces
and Afghan President Hamid
Karzai, who has made increas-
ingly angry demands that U.S.
troops avoid killing ordinary
Afghans. He says civilian deaths
are undermining support for the
anti-Taliban fight.
The U.N. report noted that
despite new battlefield rules meant
to reduce civilian casualties, U.S.,
NATO and Afghan troops killed
31 percent more civilians last year
than in 2007.
That likely reflects the fact that
more foreign troops are in the
country. With more troops engag-
ing in clashes, more airstrikes are
used, increasing the chances that
ordinary Afghans are killed:
The U.N. report said 552 of the
civilian deaths attributed to for-
eign and government forces were
inflicted by airstrikes.
In an example of the complex-
ity of some cases, the U.S.-led
coalition said Tuesday that a
"precision strike" overnight in
Herat province killed a Taliban
commander and other insur-
gents. Police chief Ekremuddin
Yawar put the death toll at five
men, six women and two chil-
dren. He said the attack hit a
tent and two vehicles far from a
residential area, but it was dif-
ficult to know whether to clas-
sify the women and children as
militants.
The U.N. report cited a U.S.
raid on the western town of
Azizabad last August that a U.N.

investigation concluded killed 92
civilians, including 62 children. A
separate U.S. inquiry said 33 civil-
ians were killed.
After that and other high-profile
civilian death cases, the top U.S.
commander in Afghanistan, Gen.
David McKiernan, announced a
directive in September meant to
reduce such deaths. He ordered
commanders to consider breaking
away from a firefight in populated
areas rather than pursue militants
into villages.
In another step aimed at reduc-
ing deaths of ordinary people, the
American and Afghan militaries
announced earlier this month that
more Afghan soldiers would take
part in U.S. operations.
A NATO spokesman, Maj. Mar-
tin O'Donnell, said McKiernan's
directive was probably made too
late in the year to have an effect. "I
think the fruits of those initiatives
are yet to be seen," he said.
A U.S.-based group that advo-
cates for civilians in conflict said
in another report released Tues-
day that "the lack of a clear, coor-
dinated strategy to address civilian
losses has been a leading source of
anger and resentment toward mili-
tary forces" in Afghanistan.

Automakers ask
for extra $14B and
plan deep job cuts
DETROIT (AP) - General
Motors and Chrysler said yester-
day their request for federal aid
ballooned to a staggering $39 bil-
lion - only months after receiv-
ing billions in loans - in new
plans that envision massive job
losses and intense restructuring
to survive a deepening recession.
General Motors Corp. pre-
sented a survival plan that calls
for cutting a total of 47,000 jobs
globally and closing five more
U.S. factories, a move that rep-
resents the largest work force
reduction announced by a U.S.
company in the economic melt-
down. Chrysler LLC said it will
cut 3,000 more jobs and stop pro-
ducing three vehicle models.
The grim reports came as the
United Auto Workers union said
it had reached a tentative agree-
ment with GM, Chrysler and Ford
Motor Co. on contract changes.
Concessions with the union and
debt-holders were a condition of
the government bailout.
GM said it could need up to
$30 billion from the Treasury
Department, up from a previ-
ous estimate of $18 billion. That
includes $13.4 billion the com-
pany has already received. The
world's largest automaker said it
could run out of money by March
without new funds and needs $2
billion next month and another
$2.6 billion in April.
"We have a lot of work to do," GM
Chairman and Chief Executive Rick
Wagoner said. "We're still going at
this with a great sense of urgency."
GM's request includes a credit
line of $7.5 billion to be used if the
downturn is more pronounced
than expected. But the automaker
claimed it could be profitable intwo
years and repay its loans by 2017.
The requests pale in compari-
son to what it might cost taxpay-
ers if GM or Chrysler go bankrupt,

said Aaron Bragman, auto indus-
try analyst for the consulting firm
IHS Global Insight in Troy, Mich.
"These are not small, insig-
nificant organizations," he said.
"These are the lifeblood of Amer-
ican manufacturing."
The company looked into
three bankruptcy scenarios, all
of which would cost the govern-
ment more than $30 billion, GM
Chief Operating Officer Fritz
Henderson said. The worst sce-
nario would cost $100 billion
because GM's revenue would
severely drop, he said.
Although little is known about
whether people would buy cars
from a bankrupt automaker, some
research "suggests that sales fall
off a cliff," Henderson said.
Chrysler LLC requested $5 bil-
lioninnewloansontop ofthe$4bil-
lion it received in December. That's
$2 billion more than expected.
Both requests were part of
restructuring plans the two auto-
makers owed the government in
exchange for earlier loans.
Treasury Secretary Timothy
Geithner, who will lead an Obama
administration task force review-
ing the plans, said his team would
meet "later this week to analyze
the companies' plans and to
solicit the full range of input from
across the administration."
Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford,
which borrowed billions from
private sources before credit
markets tightened, has said it can
make it through 2009 without
government help.
GM and Chrysler plan to
reduce the number of models
they offer. GM raised the possi-
bility its Saturn brand could be
phased out and said its Swedish-
based Saab unit could file bank-
ruptcy this month.
The restructuring plans must
be vetted by the Obama admin-
istration's new autos team.
President Barack Obama's top
spokesman told reporters aboard
Air Force One on yesterday that
he wouldn't rule out bankruptcy
for the Detroit automakers.

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