6A - Wednesday, January 4, 2012
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Putin proposes new trade-
focused Eurasian Union
Los Angeles firefighters battle an arson car fire under a carport in Los Angeles Monday. Twelve suspected arson fires
broke out early Monday in the Los Angeles area.
German suspect detained
after arsons terrorize L.A.
former Soviet states
ALMATY, Kazakhstan (AP)
- Russian Prime Minister
Vladimir Putin has a vision for
a Soviet Union-lite he hopes
will become a new Moscow-
led global powerhouse. But, his
planned Eurasian Union won't
be grounded in ideology: This
time it's about trade.
The concept of regional eco-
nomic integration may be los-
ing some of its allure in Europe,
where a debt crisis is threaten-
ing the existence of the euro-
zone. But some countries across
the former Soviet Union, still
struggling economically 20
years after becoming indepen-
dent, are embracing Putin's
Russia has moved one step
toward this goal under an agree-
ment with former fellow Soviet
republics Belarus and Kazakh-
stan that as of Sunday allows
the free movement of goods and
capital across their common
As Putin envisions it, the still-
hypothetical union will eventu-
ally stretch from the eastern
fringes of Central Europe to the
Pacific Coast and south to the
rugged Pamir Mountains abut-
The drive to somehow reform
at least a husk of the Soviet
Union has been around since
1991. The Commonwealth of
Independent States, which
loosely brings together 11 of
the original 15 republics, was
an early attempt that never
amounted to much more than a
glorified alumni club.
It was Kazakhstan's Presi-
dent Nursultan Nazarbayev who
first raised the notion of an Eur-
asian Union in the early 1990s,
but the idea was too premature
for nations busy forging their
own delicate statehoods.
Putin was president from
2000 to 2008 and intends to
regain that position in a March
election. A wave of protests that
began after a fraud-tainted par-
liamentary election in Decem-
ber is posing the first serious
challenge to Putin's authority,
but his hold on power still seems
In anticipation of a new six-
year term as president, Putin
has made forming a Eurasian
Union by 2015 a foreign policy
priority. He is promoting the
union as necessary for Russia
and its neighbors to compete in
the modern global economy. His
broader goal is to restore some of
Moscow's economic and politi-
cal clout across former Soviet
space and thus strengthen Rus-
sia's position in the world.
If the poorer prospective
members are clamoring for
Putin's union so as to become
Moscow's financial benefi-
ciaries, as was the case under
the Soviet Union, they may be
sorely disappointed. Russia has
in recent years taken a more
pragmatic line when extend-
ing its largesse and that stance
is expected to remain largely
"Some years ago, Russia came
to the position that assistance to
former Soviet republics should
be monetized," said Ivan Saf-
ranchuk, an associate professor
at the Moscow State Institute of
Safranchuk said this meant
that Moscow issued lines of
credit and then sold countries
oil, gas, electricity and military
hardware at discount prices.
That strategy has brought
Russia closer to gaining control
over energy infrastructure in
Ukraine, Belarus and Kyrgyz-
stan. While giving Moscow eco-
nomic leverage over its former
subjects, this approach has pre-
cluded the exorbitant spending
pressure that helped bankrupt
the Soviet Union.
arrested last week
on fraud charges
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Harry
Burkhart watched as his mother
was arrested last week on fraud
charges from their native Germa-
ny, and a day later he exploded in
an expletive-laced rant against the
U.S. at her courthearing.
That's when, authorities
believe, Burkhart, angry over his
mother's legal troubles, went on
a nighttime rampage of arson
attacks that terrorized Los Ange-
les and caused $3 million in dam-
Court documents unsealed yes-
terday said Dorothee Burkhart,
who is in her 50s, was charged
with 19 counts of fraud in Frank-
furt, including failing to pay for a
2004 breast-augmentation sur-
gery and pilfering security depos-
its from renters.
In a brief court appearance, she
appeared perplexed, wondering
aloud if her son had disappeared
or was dead. At one point, she said,
he is mentaly ill and questioned
whether Nazis knew where she
and her son lived.
"Where is my son? What did
you do to my son?" she asked U.S.
Magistrate Judge Margaret Nagle.
Harry Burkhart, 24, was being
held without bail after being
arrested in the arson case Mon-
day. His mother also is being held
without bail and her court hear-
ing was delayed until Friday so
she can hire an attorney.
Outside his Hollywood apart-
ment, some neighbors described
him as a loner who loitered
around the busy commercial
strip at night and could be heard
arguing with his mother.
But Shlomo Elady, a hair stylist
who regularly trimmed Burkhart's
long hair, recalled someone who
spoke three languages, dreamed
of visiting Jerusalem and cared for
a sickly mother who had trouble
Elady said he was stunned that
the man wholived with his mother
above his Sunset Boulevard shop
is suspected of torching vehicles,
some just steps from his home.
"He loved his mom, the way
every son loves his mom," Elady
said. "He's not a creepy guy."
Burkhart was taken into custo-
dy after authorities received a tip
from federal officials who recog-
nized him in a security video that
showed a pony-tailed man emerg-
ing from a garage where a car was
"When they saw the security
footage, they recognized him and
they contacted the arson task
force," a State Department offi-
cial told The Associated Press,
speaking on condition of anonym-
ity because the investigations are
Burkhart had been living in
the U.S. when his mother arrived
in October and went with him
to the German consulate in Los
Angeles to renew his passport,
accordingto court documents.
Authorities didn't say how
long Burkhart had been in South-
ern California, but both mother
and son had the appropriate legal
A federal law enforcement
official, speaking on condition of
anonymity because the official
was not authorized to discuss
the case, said Harry Burkhart
was present when his mother
was arrested Dec. 28 on a provi-
sional arrest warrant.
Provisional arrest warrants
are normally issued when there
are criminal charges pend-
ing overseas against someone.
Ordinarily, U.S. authorities then
obtain an arrest warrant through
the State Department and the
Burkhart had been in court
Thursday afternoon. Harry
Burkhart launched into an
obscenity-laden tirade, saying
"F--- the United States!" said
Thom Mrozek, spokesman at
the U.S. attorney's office in Los
Mrozek said Burkhart was
detained and later escorted out
of the courthouse. He said Bur-
khart did not make any specific
threats against anyone or prop-
erty at his mother's court hear-
Canadian man enters U.S.
by showing passport on i ad
n exception to and make a two-hour trek back
home to Montreal to fetch his
rule in time for passport.
He told the officer he was
Christmas heading to the U.S. to drop off
Christmas gifts for his friend's
RONTO (AP) - A Canadi- kids. He said that true story,
n who realized he forgot the scanned passport and his
ssport as he approached driver's license helped him get
S. border found a new way through last week.
entry - his iPad. He said the officer seemed
tin Reisch said yesterday mildly annoyed when he hand-
ztly annoyed U.S. border ed him the iPad.
let him cross into the "I thought I'd at least give it
I States from Quebec after a try," Reisch said. "He took the
sented a scanned copy of iPad into the little border hut.
ssport on his Apple iPad. He was in there a good five, six
was a half hour from the minutes. It seemed like an eter-
when he decided to try to nity. When he came back he took
ntry rather than turn back a good long pause before wish-
ing me a Merry Christmas."
Reisch said the officer made
Canadians began needing
more than a driver's license
for identification for U.S. land
border crossings in 2009. U.S.
Customs and Border Protection
says it only accepts a passport,
an enhanced driver's license or
a Nexus pass from Canadian cit-
izens entering at land crossings.
The list doesn't mention facsim-
iles, like scans and photocopies.
A spokesman for the depart-
ment did not immediately
respond to questions on wheth-
er scanned passports are also
commonly accepted at U.S.
points of entry.
Reisch, 33, said he took
a scanned photo of his
passport years ago in case
it was over lost or stolen
while traveling. He said he
also successfully used the
passport on his iPad to get
through Canadian Customs
on the way home later that
He said he doubts he'd get
away with it again and will
bring his passport next time.
But he hopes border officials
will eventually make digi-
tal identification an official
form of travel document.
He noted that many airlines
now accept digital board-
ing passes stored on smart-
"I see the future as 100
percent being able to cross
with your identity on a digi-
tal device - it's just a matter
of time," he said.
RELEASE DATE- Wednesday, Jaouary 4, 2012
Los Angeles Times Daily Crossword Puzzle
Edited by Rich Norris and Joyce Nichols Lewis
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1 Abbr. inan 1 Way off the road 34 Carrion eater Medicare
abbreviatedlist 2 Pianist John 36 Ambulance component
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68 Passidly, as time ByVictor Barocas 1/3/12
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