The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Wednesday, September 16, 2009 - 3A
Dems query 0bama's
view on immigrant
House Democrats want the
White House to clarify the tougher
view it has taken on illegal immi-
grants and health care reform, say-
ing they can't buy insurance with
their own money from a govern-
The White House said last week
that President Barack Obama will
oppose allowing illegal immigrants
to buy insurance through the pur-
chasing exchanges, including from
participating private companies.
Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said
that is what Obama intended all
along. Also, a system would be cre-
ated to verify people buying from
the exchange are in the country
legally, he said.
"I'm not sure if Gibbs misspoke,"
Rep. Xavier Becerra, vice chairman
of the House Democratic Caucus,
Asked to clarify Gibbs' com-
ments, White House spokeswoman
Gannett Tseaggai repeated the
White House view that undocu-
mented immigrants would not be
allowed to purchase health care
insurance on the exchange.
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich.
Great Lakes toxic
Cleanup of the most polluted
sites in the Great Lakes is moving
so slowly it will take 77 more years
to finish the job at the existing pace,
according to a federal report.
The U.S. Environmental Protec-
tion Agency still does not know
the full extent of the problem even
though the highly contaminated
spots were identified two decades
ago, said the report by the agency's
"Without improved manage-
ment, coordination and account-
ability, EPA will not succeed in
achieving the results intended"
for the recovery program, said the
report, issued Monday.
Toxic sediment cleanup is among
the goals of a $20 billion Great
Lakes restoration plan developed
by government agencies and non-
profit groups in 2005.
President Barack Obama has
pledged $5 billion toward carry-
ing out the plan and requested $475
million in his 2010 budget. Roughly
one-fourth of that amount would
be devoted to the cleanups.
'based on racism
Former President Jimmy Carter
says Congressman Joe Wilson's out-
burst to President Barack Obama
last week was an act "based on rac-
ism." Carter says Wilson's comment
was part of an "inherent feeling" of
some in this country who feel that a
black man should not be president.
Carter called Wilson's comment
"dastardly" and said the president
should be treated with respect.
The South Carolina Republican
lawmaker was formally rebuked
Tuesday in a House vote divided by
party lines. Wilson shouted "You
lie!" during Obama's speech to Con-
gress last Wednesday.
fCarter was responding to a ques-
tion submitted yesterday night at
a town hall held at his presidential
center in Atlanta.
NEW HAVEN, Conn.
'Person of interest'
identified in killing
of Yale grad student
Police have identified a"personof
interest" in the killing of a Yale Uni-
versity graduate student whose body
was hidden for days in a wall in a
university research building, a Con-
necticut state official said yesterday.
The official has firsthand knowl-
edge of the police investigation into
the death of 24-year-old Annie Le
and would not elaborate on what was
meant by "person of interest." The
official spoke on condition of ano-
nymity because the investigation is
A spokesman for New Haven
police, who have been extraordi-
narily tight-lipped during the inves-
tigation, did not immediately return
a call seeking comment.
Police said early yesterday that
they had questioned 150 people in
connection with the death of Le, who
vanished Sept.8 from aYaleresearch
- Compiled from
ally wire reports
UN probe finds
evidence of war
crimes in Gaza
President Barack Obama addresses the AFL-CIO convention yesterday at the David L Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh.
Obamna tells autoworkers,
unions his policies work
At convention, Obama
rally's support for
health care overhaul
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Shoring
up a key part of his political base,
President Barack Obama turned
to blue-collar crowds yesterday to
rally support for health care over-
haul and claim credit for policies
that have "stopped our economic
He found a receptive audience
at the AFL-CIO convention, where
delegates to the nation's largest
labor federation were passing a
resolution calling for changes to
health care that include a govern-
ment-run plan to compete with
private insurance companies.
"Few have fought for this cause
harder, and few have championed
it longer than you, our brothers
and sisters in organized labor,"
Obama told more than a thousand
cheering union members. "You're
making phone calls, knocking on
doors, and showing up at rallies
because you know why this is so
His appearance before the AFL-
CIO - and earlier at a General
Motors plant in Lordstown, Ohio
- was part of Obama's aggressive
new effort to sell his health care
overhaul following a speech last
week to a joint session of Con-
gress. He has another health care
rally scheduled for College Park.,
Md., on Thursday and is appear-
ing in six network television inter-
views Sunday and Monday.
Incoming AFL-CIO president
Richard Trumka sought to erase
any doubts that labor would stand
behind Obama, even though the
president has left the door open
to proposals that do not include a
government-run insurance option.
"The president just said he's
going to fight for the public option,"
Trumka told reporters. "We are
going to fight with him to make
sure the public option gets done."
Obama praised organized labor
for creating a middle class and pro-
pelling the economy forward dur-
ing last century. He said labor must
help push the economy ahead now.
I ran for president was to stand up
for working families," Obama said.
"When our middle class succeeds,
that's when the United States of
America succeeds. That's what
we're fighting for."
At the General Motors plant,
Obama claimed credit for an
improving economy. He defended
his administration's intervention
to prevent the collapse of automak-
ers. He also told GM employees that
their company has retooled itselfand
is heading backto a solidbusiness, in
part, because of its work force.
"Your survival and the success
of our economy depended on mak-
ing sure that we got the U.S. auto
industry back on its feet," Obama
said, standing near a production
line where compact Chevrolet
Cobalts are produced.
Officials may seek
both sides of conflict
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -
A U.N. investigation concluded
yesterday that both sides in the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza
committed war crimes and possible
crimes against humanity, raising
the prospect that officials may seek
prosecution in the International
The probe led by former South
African judge Richard Goldstone
concluded that "Israel committed
actions amounting to war crimes,
possibly crimes against humanity,"
during its Dec. 27-Jan. 18 military
operations against Palestinian rock-
et squads in the Gaza Strip.
In a 575-page report, Goldstone
and three other investigators also
found evidence "that Palestin-
ian armed groups committed war
crimes, as well as possibly crimes
Goldstone said the probe, which
included interviews as well as a
review of documents, photos and
30 videos, was completed yesterday
morning, just hours before the hast-
ily called news conference.
"There should be no impunity for
international crimes that are com-
mitted," said Goldstone, a veteran
war crimes investigator who has
served as chief prosecutor for the
U.N. criminal tribunals for the for-
mer Yugoslavia and Rwanda. "It's
very important that justice should
The report said that Israel's
attacks in the Zeitoun neighborhood
of Gaza City, including the shelling
of a house where soldiers had forced
Palestinian civilians to assemble,
amounted to war crimes.
It found seven incidents in which
civilians were shot while leaving
their homes trying to run for safety,
waving white flags and sometimes
even following Israeli instructions,
as well as the targeting of a mosque
at prayer time, killing 15 people,
were also war crimes.
Investigators found no evidence
the mosque was used to store weap-
ons or for any military activity by Pal-
estinian armed groups, but said they
were unable to look more broadly at
Israel's allegation that the mosques
were used generally by Palestinian
groups for storing weapons.
A "direct and intentional attack"
onthe Al Quds Hospital and anadja-
cent ambulance depot in Gaza City
"may constitute war crimes," the
Several Palestinians told the mis-
by the Israeli forces, the report said,
noting the case of Majdi Abd Rabbo,
a 39-year-old intelligence officer of
the Palestinian authority who was
forcedto walk ahead of the troops as
they searched his and his neighbor's
house. Rabbo was forced to undress
down to his underwear in front of
the soldiers and his sons had to strip
naked, the report said.
On the Palestinian side, the
report found that armed groups fir-
ingrockets into southernIsraelfrom
Gaza failed to distinguish between
military targets and the civilian
"Where there is no intended mili-
tary target andthe rockets and mor-
tars are launched into civilian areas,
they constitute a deliberate attack
against the civilian population," the
"These actions would constitute
war crimes and may amount to
crimes against humanity."
Top military adviser wants more troops in Afghan war
military adviser says
war is growing more
WASHI'NGTON (AP) - Presi-
dent Barack Obama's top military
adviser endorsed an increase in
U.S. forces for the worsening war
in Afghanistan yesterday, setting
up a split with leading Democrats
in Congress and complicating an
already-tough decision for the
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the
war is growing more complicated
and the enemy gaining in sophisti-
cation. Winning will require more
resources from outside Afghani-
stan, including more troops, Mul-
len told Congress.
"A properly resourced counter-
insurgency probably means more
forces, and without question, more
time" and dedication, Mullen said.
Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the
U.S. commander in charge of
both American and NATO forces
in Afghanistan, delivered a grim
assessment of the war to Washing-
ton last month and is expected to
follow up soon with a request for
thousands of additional troops and
That will leave Obama to decide
whether to expanda war that polls
say is rapidly losing public support
in the U.S. and drawing pointed
criticism in Congress. He has
already roughly doubled the size
of the American military force in
Afghanistan since taking office,
with only limited gains to show.
Obama has an ambitious strategy
to turn around a war that will soon
enter its ninth year, and his aides
say the plan needs time to work.
Mullen said he does not know
how many additional troops
McChrystal will request, but he
left no doubt that the commander
has concluded that the 21,000
U.S. troops Obama has already
approved are not enough.
Sitting opposite Mullen, the
Democratic chairman of the Sen-
ate Armed Service Committee was
Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan
warned the White House last week
that he does not want to see a request
for more troops until the United
Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen, left, greets Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. on Capitol Hill in Washington yesterday,
prior to testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his reappointment.
States takes bolder action to expand
Afghanistan's own armed forces.
"Providing the resources needed
for the Afghan Army and Afghan
police to become self-sufficient
would demonstrate our commit-
mentcto the success of a mission that
is in our national security inter-
est, while avoiding the risks asso-
ciated with a further increase in
U.S. ground combat troops," Levin
declared at yesterday's hearing.
Several other Democrats have
said they want a clearer timeline
and measures of progress from
the administration before approv-
ing large expansions of the troop
commitment or mission. Congress
has approved most of the money
Obama requested for the war so
far, but a large troop increase
would probably require a separate
add-on spending bill.
The head of the House's defense
spending panel, Rep. John Murtha,
D-Pa., this week questioned the
logic of adding troops.
"In Vietnam it took 500,000
troops and that didn't solve the
problem," the Vietnam veteran
told the foreign policy blog The
Cable. "We have totake a different
State budget not yet finalized
for more information call 734/615-6449
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
Thirtieth Distinguished Senior Faculty Lecture
leaders settle on a
'process' to fix $2.7
LANSING, Mich. (AP) - With
about two weeks left to strike a
state budget deal, two key legisla-
tive leaders said yesterday they had
settled on a "process" to hopefully
break a logjam and address a $2.7
billion deficit, but that sticking
Republican Senate Majority
Leader Mike Bishop said he and
Democratic House Speaker Andy
Dillon agreed on how to move for-
ward with budget talks.
But many major issues remained
to be ironed out, including cuts in
college Promise scholarships, state
aid to local governments and the
health care budget. Avoiding those
Senate-passed reductions likely
would require new tax revenue to
be passed by the House - either by
raisingtaxes and fees, reducingtax
breaks orctrying other ways to gen-
erate more money.
"We have an agreement on the
process," said Bishop, of Rochester.
If anything, the budget picture
Dillon, of Redford Townshi,
told reporters he wanted House-
Senate conference committees to
start meeting yesterday or first
thing today. But no hearings were
scheduled, and Dillon did not
appoint members to the panels.
Bishoptold reportersthat House
and Senate Appropriations Com-
mittee members negotiating indi-
vidual budget bills were expected
to shoot for at least $1.2 billion in
Senate-approved cuts as their tar-
get. Yet he added: "We don't know
if those meetings are going to be
Dillon said he was prepared to
pass "very difficult" budget bills.
"But I need some comfort that
I'm going to protect those values
of the Democratic House and the
governor," he said.
House Appropriations Chair-
man George Cushingberry Jr.,
D-Detroit, said the intent was for
the House to pass $1.2 billion in
cuts, but not necessarily the same
reductions the Senate approved
months ago. The House would
pass tax proposals to offset some
cuts, he said.
Bishop said there was no agree-
ment on tax increases.
Talk of cuts to the level pro-
posed by Senate Republicans irked
Senate Democrats, whose votes
would be needed for two-thirds
of the Senate to give the budget
immediate effect so it could start
on time Oct. 1.
If the budget contains cuts to
early childhood education and
other Democratic priorities, "this
caucus will not stand behind that
budget ... regardless of any deal
that is cut in the back room with
the promise of some magical rev-
enue appearing after the budget is
put to bed," said Senate Minority
Leader Mike Prusi, D-Ishpeming.
Democratic Gov. Jennifer
Granholm has proposed cutting
spending by $862 million, raising
$685 million by increasing certain
taxes and trimming tax credits,
and phasing out a business tax sur-
charge. All sides would use a large
chunk of federal stimulus dollars
to help balance the budget.
Dillon, who met with Granholm
Tuesday, said House Democrats
were studying which of her tax
proposals they could support.
Asked if the governor told him
she would veto a budget with only
cuts and not additional tax reve-
nue, Dillon said "she's aware of the
strategy, where we're heading and
she's keeping an open mind."
Granholm spokeswoman Liz
Boyd said the Senate cuts would go
"We'll have to temper bud-
get cuts with similar cuts in tax
expenditures, she said.
James B. and Grace J. Nelson
Professor of Philosophy
September 16, 2009