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March 09, 2010 - Image 3

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-03-09

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, March 9, 2010 - 3

Man charged for
running student
visa fraud ring
A California man was charged
yesterday with operating a ring of
illegal test-takers who helped doz-
ens of Middle Eastern nationals
obtain U.S. student visas by pass-
ing various proficiency and college-
placement exams for them, federal
authorities said.
Eamonn Daniel Higgins, 46, of
Laguna Niguel made an appear-
ance in U.S. District Court in Santa
Ana on one count of conspiracy to
commit visa fraud as federal immi-
gration agents arrested 16 of his
suspected clients who remained in
Southern California.
A judge entered a not guilty plea
on behalf of Higgins.
* The allegations revealed a
potentially dangerous security
breach in the country's student
visa system and underscored the
vulnerability of a tracking pro-
cess that relies on schools to verify
the identities of people taking the
mandated exams.
Health bill provision
ensures coverage for
part-time workers
A Democratic aide says a new
provision in the health care bill
will require businesses to count
part-time workers when calculat-
ing penalties for failing to provide
The bill originally passed by the
Senate only penalized businesses
for full-time workers who weren't
covered. The Senate bill is being
used as the basis for a final pack-
age President Barack Obama wants
Congress to pass in the next few
The inclusion of part-time work-
ers is part of a package of final
changes that is nearing completion,
according to the aide, who spoke on
condition of anonymity because it's
not been made pulic.
Democrats feared that business-
es would avoid penalties by hiring
iore part-time workers. But husi-
ness groups oppose the change as
overly burdensome. ody text.
Michigan court
overturns murder
A Michigan man sent to prison
for 15 years is getting a new trial
after the judge failed to do a routine
procedure - ask the jury to take an
Timothy Becktel was sentenced
in 2008 for assault with intent to
murder. But his appellate lawyer
successfully argued that the ver-
dict should be thrown out because
the jury didn't swear to return an
honest decision based on law and

The Michigan Court of Appeals
said Friday it must erase the verdict
to preserve the fairness and integ-
rity of the judicial system.
Assistant prosecutor David King
says his office might appeal to
the Michigan Supreme Court. He
says Becktel's trial attorney never
objected to the lack of a jury oath.
Haitian gov't. frees
U.s. missionary
One of two Baptist missionaries
still held on kidnapping charges in
Haiti was released yesterday, but
the U.S. group's leader remained in
Charisa Coulter, 24, was taken
from her jail cell to the airport
by U.S. Emhassy staff more than
a month after she and nine other
Americans were arrested for trying
to take 33 children out of Haiti after
the earthquake.
Coulter, wearing a red tank top
and sunglasses, declined comment
as she quickly got into an SUV that
took her to the airport.
The leader of the Idaho-based
missionary group, Laura Silsby,
said she was glad about Coulter's
release. "I'm very happy that she
left today, and for her freedom, and
expect mine to come soon," Silsby
told The Associated Press as she
left the courthouse where a judge
held a closed hearing yesterday.
Silsby, 40, was returned
to her cell in a police station
near Port-au-Prince airport.
-Compiled from
Daily wire reports

Students of the Bias Canas school attend their first day of classes in Santiago yesterday. Hundred of schools are still closed
after an 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck central Chile on Feb. 27, causing widespread damage.
Classes commence in
Ch ile after quake delay

Both Iraqi
parties claim
poli victory
Results of and a drop in voter excitement. A
spate of attacks on election day -
Sunday's historic some directly targeting voters and
polling stations - killed 36 people.
parliamentary Gen. Ray Odierno, the top U.S.
commander in Iraq, called the
election unknown election a milestone and said that
every sign suggests Iraq will be
BAGHDAD (AP) - The Iraqi able to peacefully form a new gov-
prime minister's coalition and its ernment in the coming months,
main secular rival both claimed and U.S. combat troops can head
to be ahead in the vote count yes- home by the end of August.
terday, a day after historic par- Most of the roughly 96,000
liamentary elections that the top troops in Iraq will remain here
U.S. commander said would let all through May, when the military
but 50,000 American troops come will begin scaling down to 50,000
home by the end of summer. noncombat troops by the Obama
Sunday's election, which took administration's self-imposed
place against a backdrop of vio- deadline at the start of September,
lence in Baghdad, marked a turn- Odierno said.
ing point for the country's nascent The timetable calls for all troops
democracy. The winner will help to be outby the end of 2011.
determine whether Iraq can "Unless there's a catastrophic
resolve its sectarian divisions and event, we don't see that changing,"
preserve the nation's fragile secu- Odierno said.
rity as U.S. troops leave. With ballots still being counted,
Initial results for some prov- officials from both the State of Law
inces, as well as for Baghdad - an coalition led by Prime Minister
area essential to determining any Nouri al-Maliki and the rival Iraq-
winner - were to be announced iya claimed to be leading. Iraqiya is
Tuesday. a secular alliance led by Shiite for-
The election was only the coun- mer Prime Minister Ayad Allawi,
try's second for a full parliamenta- but it also contains many Sunnis.
ry term, and it attracted 62 percent Abbas al-Bayati from al-Maliki's
of about 19 million eligible voters, coalition said early information
according to the nation's election from the coalition's representa-
commission. The last such elec- tives showed the group did well in
tion, in December 2005, attracted Baghdad and in the Shiite south,
roughly 76 percent of eligible vot- which includes Iraq's second-larg-
ers. est city, Basra.
Officials attributed the lower "We think that the State of Law
turnout to a combination of voter coalition will shoulder the task of
intimidation, more stringent ID forming the next government," he
requirements at the polls said.
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Officials warn it could
be months before all
studens can return to
the classroom
SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) -
Chile's earthquake-delayed
school year began yesterday, but
education officials said it may take
until April 1 before all students
are back in classrooms.
About half of the schools in the
disaster zone have some damage
from the 8.8-magnitude earth-
quake and tsunami, and others
are being used as staging areas for
relief. While the education minis-
try hasn't tallied the total repair
cost, it will likely use up a large
part of the $1.2 billion that Chile
estimates it will need for restoring
The earthquake hit on the last
weekend of the South American
summer vacation, and many fami-
lies had just made back-to-school
purchases of books and uniforms,
only to see the supplies ruined or

swept away.
"This is all we've found of all
the supplies we bought for my
son," said Marcela Ortiz, holding
up a single mud-covered black
shoe in Dichato, where the tsu-
nami destroyed 80 percent of the
houses, reducing many to stinking
piles of lumber and twisted metal.
Picking through the wreck-
age, many townspeople realized
almost nothing was salvageable.
Reopening schools is a key part
of the recovery effort. While res-
cue missions shifted to relief sev-
eral days ago, bodies are still being
recovered and identified, increas-
ing the confirmed death toll to 497
yesterday, Deputy Interior Minis-
ter Patricio Rosende said.
The government is still trying
to determine exactly how many
schools are unusable, but Educa-
tion Minister Monica Jimenez said
80 percent of the students in the
areas most affected by the disaster
- more than 2 million in all - were
resumingclasses yesterday, a week
late. She said schools would gradu-
ally reopen for the rest.
"By April first, we expect to

have regional school systems
functioning 100 percent," said
Miguel Rojas, the regional educa-
tion director in Concepcion.
To make up for lost time, the
July winter vacation has been
canceled, authorities said.
School can't reopen quickly
enough for 8-year-old Hernan
Perez Villagran, who has been
camping in a park with his moth-
er, sister and four other relatives
in Concepcion since the earth-
"I want to go back to school,
I'm bored here. I want to see my
friends," he said.
Only schools that can guaran-
tee water, power and safety for
the children will be allowed to
reopen, Rojas said. School direc-
tors will have to personally sign
documents proving they have
fulfilled the requirements, Rojas
In Chile's capital, Santiago,
Mayor Pablo Zalaquett said many
older school buildings show dan-
gerous cracks that need to be ana-
lyzed by structural engineers to
be sure they are safe.

Gov't to 'reinvigorate
civil rights enforcement'

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In symbolic speech,
Sec. Duncan cites
MLK's dream
SELMA, Ala. (AP) - Educa-
tion Secretary Arne Duncan said
yesterday the federal govern-
ment will become more vigilant
to make sure students have equal
access and opportunity to every-
thing ranging from college prep
classes to science and engineering
"We are going to reinvigorate
civil rights enforcement," Duncan
said on a historic Selma bridge
to commemorate the 45th anni-
versary of a bloody confrontation
between voting rights demonstra-
tors and state troopers.
Duncan said the department
also will issue a series of guide-
lines to public schools and colleg-
es addressing fairness and equity
"The truth is that, in the
last decade, the office for civil
rights has not been as vigilant
as it should be. That is about to
change," Duncan said.
Duncan spoke to a crowd about
400 people on the Edmund Pettus
Bridge in observance of "Bloody
Sunday," the day in 1965 when

several hundred civil rights pro-
testers were beaten by state troop-
ers as they crossed the span over
the Alabama River, bound for
The demonstrators were
stopped that day, but thousands
more arrived along with Dr. Mar-
tin Luther King Jr. two weeks
later for what became known as
the Selma-to-Montgomery voting
rights march.
"With a strict adherence to
statutory and case law, we are
goingto make Dr. King's dream of
a colorblind society a reality."
High school student D'wan
Lewis, who is black, said he liked
what he heard.
"I don't think we have the same
opportunities as other schools,"
said Lewis, 18, a student at Keith
High, a small, rural school outside
Selma. "We need more materi-
als. Really, we just need a better
The Education Department
expects to conduct 38 compli-
ance reviews around 40 different
issues this year, said Russlynn Ali,
assistant secretary for civil rights.
"For us, this is very much about
working to meet the president's
goal, that by 2020 we will regain
our status in the world as the num-
ber one producer of college gradu-

ates," Ali told The Associated Press.
Although the investigations
have been conducted before, the
department's OfficeofCivilRights
is looking to do more complicated
and broader reviews that will look
not just at whether procedures are
in place, but at the impact district
practices have on students of one
race or another, and if student
needs are being met.
Duncan also highlighted sev-
eral jarring inequities.
- At the end of high school,
white students are about six times
more likely to be college-ready in
biology than black students, and
more than four times as likely to
be prepared for college algebra.
- Black students without dis-
abilities are more than three times
as likely to be expelled as white
students, and those with disabili-
ties more than twice as likely to
be expelled or suspended - num-
bers which Duncan says testify
to racial gaps that are "hard to
explain away by reference to the
usual suspects."
- Students from low-income
families who graduate from high
school scoring in the top test-
ing quartile are no more likely to
attend college than the lowest-
scoring students from wealthy

Dem. sees positive signs
for health care reform

Rep. Stupak says he's
optomistic about
resolving dispute
over abortion policy
TAWAS CITY, Mich. (AP) -
Prospects are good for resolving a
dispute over abortion that has led
some House Democrats to threat-
en to withhold support of Presi-
dent Barack Obama's health care
overhaul, a key Michigan Demo-
crat said Monday.
Rep. Bart Stupak said he
expects to resume talks with
House leaders this week in a quest
for wording that would impose no

new limits on abortion rights but
also would not allow use of fed-
eral money for the procedure.
"I'm more optimistic than I
was a week ago," Stupak told
The Associated Press between
meetings with constituents in
his northern Michigan district,
including a crowded town hall
gathering where opinions on
health care and the abortion issue
were plentiful and varied.
"The president says he doesn't
want to expand or restrict cur-
rent law (on abortion). Neither
do I," Stupak said. "That's never
been our position. So is there
some language that we can agree
on that hits both points - we
don't restrict, we don't expand

abortion rights? I think we can
get there."
Stupak has emerged as spokes-
man for about a dozen House
Democrats who supported health
legislation approved by the House
in November but contend a $1 tril-
lion version that passed the Senate
the next month would authorize
federal abortion subsidies. They
insist on restoring stiffer restric-
tions Stupak added to the House
Stupak had said last week that
nothing had changed and he
didn't think the House leaders
had the votes to pass the bill.
His hard-line stand has made
him a lightning rod for abortion-
rights supporters.

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