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March 29, 2012 - Image 3

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-03-29

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 3A

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 3A

NEWS BRIEFS
LANSING
Mich. jobless rate
falls to 8.8 percent
Michigan's unemployment
rate continues to drop, shrink-
ing from 9 percent to 8.8 percent
over the past month and marking
its seventh consecutive month of
improvement.
February's seasonally adjust-
ed rate announced yesterday
by the state Department of
Technology, Management and
Budget was the lowest monthly
mark since August 2008, when
Michigan had an 8.5 percent
rate right before the national
economic meltdown hit. Michi-
gan also saw its rate continue to
edge nearer the national rate.
"For a number of years, Michi-
gan's jobless rate remained well
abovethe national rate," said Rick
Waclawek, director of the Bureau
of Labor Market Information and
Strategic Initiatives. Now, it's
only half a percentage point above
the nation's 8.3 percent rate, he
added.
RICHMOND, Va.
Va. Tech families
look to circumvent

Soldier who allegedly
killed civilians suffers
from severe depression

A Syrian soldier hugs a religious official at a candlelight vigil following two explosions at Syrian security buldings on
March 21.
Arab nations dividedover
how to deal with Syrians

Lawyer: traumatic
incident in Iraq
triggered anxiety
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -
The U.S. soldier accused of
killing 17 Afghan civilians
suffered a traumatic incident
during his second tour in Iraq
that triggered "tremendous
depression," his lawyer said
yesterday.
Lawyer John Henry Browne
said he could not discuss the
details of the matter because
it remains classified. But he
expects the issue to become a
focal point in the case against
Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales.
"It caused him tremen-
dous depression and anxiety,"
Browne said.
The lawyer previously said
Bales experienced other major
dangers in his deployments,
including a serious foot injury
and head trauma. In addi-
tion, a fellow soldier's leg had
been blown off days before the
Afghanistan massacre, he said.
Bales was charged with 17
counts of premeditated murder
and other crimes. He is being
held at a U.S. military prison at
Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
A defense team is now in
Afghanistan to collect evi-
dence and interview other U.S.
soldiers who knew Bales.
"Everyone they've spoken to
in the military has nothing but
amazingly positive things to
say about him," said Browne,
who is not part of the team in

Afghanistan.
Due to security concerns,
Browne doesn't think the team
will visit the villages where the
killings occurred. 'The inves-
tigators are likely to stay in
Afghanistan a few more weeks.
Browne questioned the U.S.
government's . case against
Bales, noting there is no pre-
served crime scene to assess.
"It's going to be a difficult
case for the prosecution to
prove," Browne said. "There's
no 'CSI' information. There's
no DNA that I know of. There's
no ballistics that I know of."
Bales has indicated that
he had no recollection of pre-
scription drugs he may have
been taking before the shoot-
ing - something the attorney
took as an indicator of larger
memory problems. The law-
yer also said his client has a
sketchy memory of the night of
the shootings.
U.S. military officials
said Bales was drinking on a
southern Afghanistan base
on March 11 before creeping
away to two villages at night,
shooting his victims and set-
ting many of them on fire. Nine
were children.
Bales has had incidents
involving alcohol and violence
in the past.
In2008, a couple accused an
intoxicated Bales of grabbing
a woman's hand and thrust-
ing it toward his crotch before
kicking and punching the
woman's boyfriend, according
to a police report. Prosecutors
declined to pursue that case.

Disagreement
could lead to

state cap on claims stronger action
p from Gulf states

Families awarded $4 million
each in a wrongful death lawsuit
over Virginia Tech's response to
a 2007 massacre are seeking to
circumvent a $100,000 cap on
claims against the state, accord-
ing to court filings.
Montgomery County Circuit
Court jurors ruled on March 14
that the state was negligent when
Virginia Tech officials delayed
alerting the Blacksburg campus
of the first two shootings by a
gunman who ultimately killed
32 and himself. It was the most
deadly mass shooting in modern
U.S. history.
The jury awarded the families
of two slain students $4 million
each, but the state asked the trial
judge to enforce the $100,000 cap
on claimsxgainst the sta a. Jrors
were not told of the cap before
they began their deliberations in
the eight-day trial.
DAVENPORT, Iowa
Romney wrong on
jobs, Biden says
Vice President Joe Biden said
yesterday that Republican presi-
dential candidate Mitt Romney
is "consistently wrong" on U.S.
manufacturing, painting him as
someone who doesn't believe the
sector is crucial to future U.S.
economic success and as a pro-
ponent of outsourcing.
Seeking to frame the choice
that voters could face in Novem-
ber, Biden used a speech in politi-
cally important Iowa to reject
Romney's argument that his
background as a business execu-
tive makes him better suited to
turn around the economy than
President Barack Obama.
0 Biden mocked Romney for
allowing state contractors to set
up call centers in India while he
was Massachusetts governor,
and said the Bain Capital private
equity firm Romney once headed
had shipped jobs overseas after
acquiring companies in the
1990s.
BEIRUT
Syrian forces take
opposition town
Syrian activists said yester-
day a government offensive in
northern Syria during which
troops overran a major opposi-
tion stronghold has left behind
scenes of destruction, with
corpses in the streets, homes
burned to the ground and shops
that have been pillaged and
looted.
* The reports of 40 people dead
in Saraqeb since Sunday come as
Arab leaders meeting in Bagh-
dad remain deeply divided over
how to help solve Syria's year-
long crisis. President Bashar
Assad said he has accepted a
six-point U.N. plan to resolve
the conflict, including a cease-
fire, but the opposition is deeply
skeptical that he will carry it
out.
-Compiled from
Daily wire reports

BAGHDAD (AP) - Arab lead-
ers gathering here today will call
for Syria to implement a cease-
fire, but there's little faith that
President Bashar Assad will do
anything to halt his crackdown
on the year-old uprising.
That could set the stage for
Gulf Arab nations, eager to see
Assad's downfall, to take stron-
ger action on their own.
Arab governments are divided
over how strongly to intervene to
stop the bloodshed in Syria, and'
their divisions illustrate how the
conflict has become a proxy in
the region's wider rivalry - the
one between Arabs and power-
house Iran.
Sunni-led nations of the Gulf
such as Saudi Arabiaand Qatar.
- hoping to break Syria out of its
alliance with Shiite Iran - are
believed to be considering arm-
ing the Syrian rebels to fight back
against Assad's forces. But other
Arab nations are reluctant to
openly call for that step yet.
Iraq, the host of the one-day
Arab League summit, is in a par-
ticularly tight spot because its
Shiite-led government has close
ties to Iran, Assad's top ally.
Given the divisions, foreign
ministers meeting here yesterday
laid outa middle-ground for their
leaderstoissue atthesummit. The
draft resolution they put together
would reject foreign intervention
in Syria while voicing support
for the Syrian people's "legiti-
mate aspirations to freedom
and democracy." It would call

on Assad to implement a cease-
fire and let in humanitarian aid,
according to a copy obtained by
The Associated Press.
The leaders also "denounce
the. acts of violence, killings
... and remain committed to a
peaceful settlement and national
dialogue," it said.
It also supports the mission
of joint U.N.-Arab League envoy
Kofi Annan, who has put forward
a peace plan to end the regime's
crackdown that the U.N. esti-
mates has killed more than 9,000
people since the uprising began
in March 2011 as part of the Arab
Spring.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshy-
ar Zebari acknowledged to the
media that the summit will
offer "nothing new" on Syria,
but will complement ongoing
international diplomacy to
settle the crisis.
Damascus has accepted
Annan's plan, which includes
a cease-fire. Violence has
continued, however, with
clashes between government
forces and armed rebels. Syr-
ia's opposition is deeply skep-
tical that Assad will carry out
the terms of Annan's plan.
The plan also calls on
Damascus to immediately,
stop troop movements and the
use of heavy weapons in popu-
lated areas, and to commit to a
daily two-hour halt in fighting
to allow humanitarian access
and medical evacuations.
Opposition members accuse
Assad of agreeing to Annan's
plan to stall for time as his
troops make a renewed push
to kill off bastions of dissent.
"We are not sure if it's
political maneuvering or a
sincere act," said Louay Safi, a
member of the opposition Syr-

ian National Council. "We have
no trust in the current regime.
... We have to see that they have
stopped killing civilians."
The Assad regime has pre-
emptively rejected anything
coming out of the Arab League
summit, a reflection of its refusal
to deal with the 22-member body
since it suspended Syria's mem-
bership last year.
Iraq is hostingthe annual sum-
mit for the first time in a genera-
tion, keen to show it has emerged
from years of turmoil and U.S.
occupation. But the Syria issue
has clouded its attempts to
win acceptance by other Arab
nations, which are deeply suspi-
cious of its ties with Iran.

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