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October 21, 2010 - Image 3

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9 The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, October 21, 2010 - 3A

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Thursday, October 21, 2010 - 3A

NEWS BRIEFS
WASHINGTON
* Gov't. pledges $773
million to former
GM site clean-up
The Obama administration has
reached a deal on a $773 million
environmental trust, the largest of
its kind in U.S. history, to clean up
dozens of former General Motors
sites spread over 14 states, officials
said yesterday.
The funds will target automotive
sites containing hazardous waste
that were left shuttered by the auto
giant's bankruptcy last year. About
half of the 89 sites covered by the
trust are in Michigan and others
are in Indiana, New York and Ohio,
The trust fund, which was pro-
posed in May, was filed with the
U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New
York and is expected to receive
final approval next year. The deal
involves the government, Motors
" Liquidation Co., which represents
former GM assets that were not
placed in the new auto company,
14 states and the St. Regis Mohawk
Tribe in New York.
CHICAGO
Suspect pleads not
guilty to Chicago
bomb plot
A Lebanese immigrant pleaded
not guilty on yesterday to charges
alleging that he placed a backpack
he thought contained a bomb near
Chicago's Wrigley Field last month.
Sami Samir Hassoun, 22, smiled
at family members at the start of
the hearing. A relative crossed her
palms over her heart and blew Has-
soun a kiss.
Defense attorney Myron Auer-
bach entered the not guilty pleas
on his client's behalf. Hassoun is
charged with attempting to use a
weapon of mass destruction and
attempting to use an explosive
device. If convicted of the first
charge, he could be sentenced to
life in prison.
After the brief hearing, Auer-
bach told reporters that Hassoun
isn't a terrorist. In their compli-
ant, he noted, prosecutors also said
Hassoun had no apparent links to
extremists.
UNITED NATIONS
Diplomats: China
tried to block U.N.
0 report on Sudan
China tried to block a U.N. report
alleging that Chinese ammunition
was sent to Darfur in violation of a
U.N. arms embargo but apparently
didn't succeed, U.N. diplomats said
yesterday.
The Security Council commit-
tee monitoring sanctions against
Sudan met Wednesday afternoon
and two diplomats familiar with
the closed-door deliberations said
China argued that the report by
the committee's panel of experts
should not be sent to the council.
One diplomat said China claimed
the panel was unprofessional and
flawed, and challenged its method-
ology.

The diplomats said the com-
mittee chairman, Austria's U.N.
Ambassador Thomas Mayr-Hart-
ing, agreed that the annex to the
report would be updated with a
letter to include additional infor-
mation on sources. But they said
the report itself would not be
changed, and will likely be formal-
ly sent to the 15-member council
next week.
SAN FRANCISO, Calif.
* Appeals court to
keep military gay
policy for now
A federal appeals court on
yesterday granted a government
request to temporarily freeze a
judge's order telling the military
to stop enforcing its ban on open-
ly gay troops.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court
of Appeals instructed the law-
yers for the gay rights group that
brought the lawsuit challeng-
ing the policy to file arguments
by Monday. The 1993 "don't ask,
don't tell" rule says gays may
serve but only if they keep secret
V their sexual orientation.
Government lawyers sought
to suspend U.S. District Judge
Virginia Phillips's ruling while
appeals were pending, arguing
that it would pose a major prob-
lem for the military. They said it
0 could encourage service members
to reveal their sexual orientation
before the issue is fully decided.
- Compiled from
Daily wire reports.

Afghan peace
talks with
Taliban may.
be. overstated

FILE PHOTO/Daily
The Argo Dam in April. On Friday the City of Ann Arbor installed a stop log in the dam to drain the water in the headrace in
an effort to prepare the dam for repairs. The stop log will temporarily halt recreational boating activities in the dam.
Ciyputs stop log in pace
at Argo Dam ahead of fies

Log installed Friday
will drain headrace,
temporarily halt
canoeing in dam
By ELYANA TWIGGS
Daily StaffReporter
Students and Ann Arbor resi-
dents looking to go canoeing or
kayaking in the Argo dam will
have to find another place to take
their recreational boats, thanks
to a stop log installed in the
structure of the dam last week.
This log will allow the headra-
ce - a 1,500 foot-long channel
- of the dam to drain slowly in
preparation for upcoming repairs
and will also cease the dam's
waterflow for recreational pur-
poses like canoeing and kayak-
ing.
The repairs include recon-.
structing the headrace and
improvements of the border-to-
bordertrailthatlinestheembank-
ment path. While the repairs may
affect people trying to go to Gal-
lup Park, rowing teams will be
able to continue their practice
routines on the pond. In addi-
tion, the stop log is expected to
be of "minimal impact" to canoe-
ists since canoeing season ends
around mid-October, said Colin

Smith, manager for Ann Arbor's
Parks and Recreation Services.
The Argo dam has been a topic
of controversy since talks of
changing the mechanics of the
dam started last August when
City Administrator Roger Fra-
ser received a letter from the
Michigan Department of Natu-
ral Resources and the Environ-
ment saying that if the dam
wasn't repaired, it needed to be
removed.
The stop log was put in place
because of an agreement between
MDNRE and the city to address
the state's issues with the dam,
said Molly Wade, manager of the
city's water quality.
"Until we resolve the headrace
embankment deficiencies that are
defined in the consent agreement
with the state, we are basically
shutting down any river passage
for canoeists," Wade said. "That
is mandated by the state; we don't
have choice in this matter."
Wade added that if City Coun-
cil approves a proposal to address
the head race at its meeting
on Nov. 17, the dam would be
repaired by mid-summer of next
year.
On Tuesday night, the Park
Advisory Commission received
the headrace proposal favor-
ably with a 7-to-1 vote approving
plans to reconstruct the embank-
ment and headrace.

"City Council is the ultimate
decision maker," Smith said.
According to Smith, the con-
sent agreement was chosen
from two options, one of which
was a proposal to repair the toe
drain, which would cost between
$700,000 and $850,000. The
other option, which focuses on
repairing the headrace, would
cost about $1 million but would
ease most of the safety concerns
that the state has regarding the
Argo dam.
Smith said merely repairing
the toe drains would leave the
headrace embankment deficient
and probably wouldn't solve the
dam's issues.
Reconfiguring the headrace
- the second option at a cost
of about $988,000 - such that
the embankment actually con-
nects the headrace to the Huron
River, will remove pressure on
the embankment, Smith said.
The changes would alleviate the
issues presented by the toe drains
and create a paved path.
Smith said he is hopeful that
the city will approve the project,
but there is no way of telling if
the drafted costs and plans will
be received favorably.
"I'm sure the council will have
a number of questions, and ulti-
mately it is a community decision
for the direction that this ends up
going," Smith said.

Afghans and
coalition officials
question U.S.
efforts for peace
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP)
- Over the past week, U.S. and
Afghan officials have been reveal-
ing tantalizing tidbits about talks
with Taliban leaders, raising
hopes for a peaceful resolution to
a war in its loth year.
"The international communi-
ty, our neighbors and our people
are marching toward it with full
strength," President Hamid Kar-
zai said in a speech Wednesday.
"The rumors we are hearing from
the Taliban and our other broth-
ers say a lot of people are hopeful
about this peace process."
But some coalition officials,
Afghans and people familiar with
insurgent leaders say contacts
with militants are nothing new
and have been overstated - per-
haps to split the ranks of fighters
or create the impression in the
West of progress in resolving the
unpopular war.
They also questioned how the
U.S. could be serious about peace
at a time when it is escalating
its military commitment with
punishing attacks in southern
Afghanistan and drone strikes
on militants across the border in
Pakistan.
"There have been contacts for
years," said Kai Eide, a Norwegian
diplomat and the U.N's former
envoy to Afghanistan. "My feel-
ing is that this is aslot of spin that
the war strategy is working - that
things are moving forward more
than they are."
Those with knowledge of the
discussions say Karzai's govern-
mentchas been in contact with top-
level insurgents, but caution that
the talks are fragile and are not
formal peace negotiations.
Mark Sedwill, NATO's top civil-
ian representative, said Wednes-
day that the Afghan government
had opened channels of communi-
cation with some insurgent lead-
ers.
"Some of these are significant
members of the Taliban leader-
ship," Sedwill said.
But he added: "It's not even yet
talks about talks."
The Taliban deny that any of
their representatives have been
involved in talks. They claim their
leaders will not discuss peace with
the government unless foreign
troops first leave Afghanistan.
The Associated Press was
unable to confirm independently
a report in The New York Times
that three members of the Tal-
iban's leadership council, known

as the Quetta Shura, have taken
part in preliminary discussions
with the Afghan government.
Experts familiar with the insur-
gent leadership expressed doubt
that such senior 'Taliban figures
would be involved in direct talks.
Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil, a
former Afghan foreign minister
and confidant of Taliban leader
Mullah Omar, said the Taliban
leadership has not agreed to nego-
tiate.
"I'm hearing the comments of
the U.S. high-ranking officials, but
if the leaders of the Taliban are not
involved, then how can they make
peace?"
He said the Taliban are dubi-
ous that the U.S. is serious about
a peace process, because it has
raised its troop levels and is step-
ping up its military campaign in
southern Afghanistan.
"There is no trust line between
the U.S. and international com-
munity and the Taliban," he said.
"Because of this, the Taliban are
not serious about talking."
Muttawakil called on the U.S.
to release Taliban prisoners from
Guantanamo Bay and the U.N.
to remove the names of Taliban
figures from a sanctions list. He
said such goodwill gestures might
build trust that could provide
momentum for eventual negotia-
tions.
Hakimullah Mujahed, for-
mer Taliban ambassador to the
United Nations and a member of
an Afghan government council
tasked with exploring contacts,
called the reports of ongoing
discussions a "propaganda cam-
paign."
"If these people were sincere
in taking part in negotiations,
it would not be in the media, it
would be secret and underground
and through some friendly gov-
ernment," he said.
Muttawakil agreed that any
formal negotiations would be best
held outside Afghanistan, perhaps
in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar,
the United Arab Emirates or Ger-
many.
U.S. officials have long said they
didn't expect the Taliban - the
hard-line Islamic movement that
harbored Osama bin Laden - to
talk peace as long as the militants
believed they were winning. That
stance changed publicly last week
when U.S. Defense Secretary Rob-
ert Gates and Secretary of State
Hillary Rodham Clinton backed
exploratory talks between the
Afghan government and the Tal-
iban.
The top NATO commander,
Gen. David Petraeus, even con-
firmed that coalition forces were
providing safe passage to senior
Taliban leaders who were talking
to the Afghan government.

Afghanistan throws away
quarter of election's ballots

Ballots in Sept.18
election said to be
frauds, reaction of
public unclear
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -
Afghanistan has thrown out near-
ly a quarter of ballots cast in last
month's parliamentary elections
because of fraud, but it is still far
from clear whether the public will
accept the results as fair.
The full preliminary results
from the Sept. 18 poll were
released yesterday after multiple
delays as election officials strug-
gled to weed out results from poll-
ing stations that never opened,
along with bunches of ballots all
cast for one candidate, or suspi-
ciously split SO-SO between two
people.
After last year's fraud-marred
presidential election, the gov-
ernment wanted to prove to the
Afghan people and international
allies that it is not mired in cor-
ruption but making strides for
reform.
While findings indicate that
cheating was pervasive, the rul-
ings also show election officials
were doing their job this time
around - by keeping fraudulent
ballots out of the totals.
"They've been doing a mod-
erately good job at detecting the
fraudulent ballots and removing
them. That's a positive thing," said
Andy Campbell, the Afghanistan
director for the National Demo-
cratic Institute, a U.S.-based elec-
tion-monitoring group.
It's a major change from last
year's presidential vote, when
election commissioners dumped
obviously fraudulent ballots into
the tally to help President Hamid
Karzai avoid a runoff with his
top challenger. It was only after
drawn-out investigations that

about a million ballots were
thrown out - the majority of them
for Karzai.
The 2009 presidential election
nearly derailed international sup-
port for Karzai, turning this year's
poll into a testof whether the gov-
ernment is committed to reforms
seen as key for justifying NATO
funding and troops.
Election commission chairman
Fazel Ahmad Manawi said about
1.3 million votes were disquali-
fied out of 5.6 million - or about
23 percent - because of ballot-box
stuffing or manipulated totals.
In many cases, commission
officials discovered as they inves-
tigated suspicious totals that they
came from voting sites that never
opened on election day - which
was marked by rocket attacks and
insurgent takeovers of polling sta-
tions in many provinces.
Other instances involved
polling stations that submitted
exactly 600 ballots - the precise
number allotted to each station
- or had the votes suspiciously
split even for one or two can-
didates, said Abdul Ahmadzai,
the commission's chief electoral
officer.
But the ballot annulment may
itself prompt cries of disenfran-
chisement. Voting was hardest to
monitor in insecure areas, mean-
ingmanyofthedisqualifiedballots
likely caine from the most conten-
tious parts of provinces. And in
many cases that also matches up
with ethnic divisions, suggesting
results could get weighted toward
one ethnic group.
In the province of Ghazni,
hardly anyone voted in the volatile
areas dominated by the Pashtun
ethnic group, while people turned
out in large numbers in areas pri-
marily occupied by the Hazara
ethnic group. Of the 11 seats in
Ghazni, eight went to Hazaras.
It was not immediately clear
what the results released Wednes-

day would mean for the makeup
of the 249-member parliament.
Manawi said he did not have fig-
ures on how many of the winners
were incumbents, though he said
he believed it was about a 50-50
split between those who were
returning and new representa-
tives. An Associated Press count
revealed about 73 incumbents,
suggesting that about two-thirds
of the representatives will be new.
Though Karzai has repeatedly
bypassed the parliament by issu-
ing laws by decree, the legisla-
tive body remains one of the few
checks on his power. A legislature
loaded with Karzai allies could
make it easier for the president to
avoid opposition.
A fraud investigation panel
still needs to rule on more than
2,000 complaints deemed serious
enough to affect results before
they can be finalized, which could
take weeks.
In some provinces, the investi-
gations could drastically change
the results. In eastern Nuristan,
for examples, Ahmadzai said it
was nearly impossible to untan-
gle the fraud and they eventually
released the results they had since
they knew the fraud panel was
planning to probe nearly all the
province's votingsites.
Some candidates may also
be disqualified outright if the
anti-fraud panel finds they were
behind attempts to manipulate
results. The election commission
has referred 224 candidates to the
panel for investigation because
they appeared to be involved in
cheating, Manawi said.
About 2,500 candidates ran
across 34 provinces.
The commission had originally
reported a lower turnout figure
of about 4.3 million. That earlier
figure was based on election day
estimates and revised up when
the actual tallies came in, said
Ahmadzai.

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