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6A - Thursday, December 5, 2013 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

Ukraine boxing star leading
opponent in president race

Myanmar university opens
for first time in two decades

Vitali Kitschko
promoting pro-
Western platform
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - Tow-
ering over his fellow protest
leaders, Vitali Klitschko, the
reigning world heavyweight
boxing champion, has emerged
as Ukraine's most popular oppo-
sition figure and has ambitions
to become its next president.
Thanks to his sports-hero
status and reputation as a pro-
Western politician untainted
by Ukraine's frequent corrup-
tion scandals, the 6-foot 7-inch
Klitschko has surpassed jailed
former Prime Minister Yulia
Tymoshenko in opinion polls.
As massive anti-govern-
ment protests continue to grip
Ukraine, the 42-year-old box-
er-turned-politician is urging
his countrymen to continue
their fight to turn this ex-Soviet
republic into a genuine Western
democracy.
"This is not a revolution. It is
a peaceful protest that demands
justice," Klitschko told The
Associated Press in an interview
Wednesday. "The people are not
defending political interests.
They are defending the idea of
living in a civilized country."
Dubbed Dr. Ironfist for his
prowess in the boxing ring,
Klitschko has scored 45 victo-
ries in 47 fights, 41 of them with
knockouts. He has successfully
defended his title 11 times, most
recently in September 2012, and
plans to have one more bout
before he retires. He still spends
several hours a day training.
Now Klitschko must prove
that he has as much stamina in
the political arena.
Despite earning a doctorate
in sports science, Klitschko has
had to fighta stereotype of being
intellectually unfit to run this
economically troubled nation of
46 million.
Having been raised - like
many Ukrainians - in a Rus-
sian-speaking family, Klitschko
only recently learned Ukrainian
and sometimes struggles to find
the right word. Still, he appeals

to many Ukrainians with his air
of sincerity and his image as a
handsome tough guy ready to
defend his compatriots.
"He is a national hero and
comes across as being decent,"
said Andreas Umland, assistant
professor of European studies at
the Kyiv Mohyla Academy.
Klitschko was one of only a
few opposition politicians who
tried to stop several hundred
radical protesters from storming
President Viktor Yanukovych's
office during a demonstration
Sunday that drew hundreds of
thousands to the streets of the
capital, Kiev.
As the boxer called for peace,
the jubilant crowd chanted his
name. Beside him stood his wife,
Natalia, an attractive brunette
and former model who recently
launched a singing career. The
couple has three children.
The angry protests were
sparked by the president's
abrupt decision last month to
ditch a political and economic
treaty with the 28-nation Euro-
pean Union in favor of closer
economic ties with Russia,
which had threatened Ukraine
with trade consequences if the
country signed the EU deal.
On Wednesday, his party
joined two other opposition par-
ties in blockading the Ukrainian
parliament as part of a nation-
wide strike.
The demonstrations in Kiev
were galvanized when Yanu-
kovych's government sent in riot
police with truncheons to break
up a small, peaceful rally in the
middle of the night, injuring
dozens.
"They took away people's
hope to implement reforms,
to change the situation in the
country," Klitschko told the AP,
speaking inside the parliament
building. "They stole our hope."
Klitschko made his-irst foray
into politics during the coun-
try's 2004 Orange Revolution,
the mass protests that led to
the annulment of Yanukovych's
fraud-tainted presidential win
and ushered in a pro-Western
government. Fresh from a vic-
tory in the ring in the United
States, Klitschko flew to Kiev

and appeared in the heart of
those protests wearing an
orange scarf, the symbol of the
revolution.
Next to him stood his
brother, Wiadimir Klitschko,
now 37, another heavyweight
world boxing champion who
is engaged to the American
actress Hayden Panettiere, star
of the TV series "Nashville."
After two failed attempts
to be elected mayor of Kiev,
Klitschko entered national
politics last year when his pro-
Western Udar party - Punch
in English - finished a strong
third in the parliamentary elec-
tion, running on a reform and
anti-corruption platform. He
was able to capitalize on popu-
lar anger with Yanukovych,
who quickly undid many of
the democratic victories of the
Orange Revolution, and with
voters' disillusionment with the
Orange leaders, now in opposi-
tion, including Tymoshenko.
A year before the 2012 elec-
tion, Tymoshenko was jailed
for abuse of office, charges
the West considers politi-
cally motivated. Klitschko has
joined other opposition leaders
in campaigning for the release
of Tymoshenko, long Yanu-
kovych's biggest political rival.
Klitschko was born in 1971
in Kyrgyzstan, then part of the
Soviet Union, to a school teach-
er mother and a father whose
job as an army pilot took the
family to remote military bases
across the Soviet Union and
Eastern Europe.
He embraced Western values
while training in Germany and
the United States for matches,
he says, and wants to bring that
mindset home to Ukraine.
"Those people who are in
politics (now) do not make it
their goal to change the coun-
try," Klitschko said. "They are
simply plundering the country."
Unlike many Ukrainian poli-
ticians - including Tymosh-
enko - who are accused of
making their fortunes in shady
business deals in the tumultu-
ous post-Soviet era, Klitschko's
millions come from a transpar-
ent source - the boxing ring.

Students return to
campus following
term of suppression
by government
YANGON, Myanmar (AP)
- The campus is overrun by
a tangled web of weeds and
vines. Many of the books
in the open-air library are
ancient, their pages yellow.
Students will have to share a
handful of donated computers
and put up with slow-speed
Internet, at least at first. And
professors are struggling to
catch up with developments in
their fields.
This is Yangon University,
once among Asia's most presti-
gious institutions of learning.
It reopens to undergraduates
Thursday for the first time in
nearly two decades, finally
emerging from a crackdown
by military rulers who consid-
ered education a threat to their
supremacy.
"It's a start," Thaw Kaung,
one of the country's most
respected scholars, said with a
smile.
The junta that ruled Myan-
mar for half a century gutted
education, which received 1.3
percent of the budget, com-
pared to 25 percent for defense.
Education spending has
shot up since President Thein
Sein was inaugurated to lead a
nominally civilian government,
jumping from $340 million in
2011 to $1 billion this year. But
experts say more needs to be
done.
"We need educated people
to run the country," said Thaw
Kaung, an octogenarian in
thick, black-rimmed glasses
who long served as the uni-
versity's chief librarian. "We
can't just rely on foreign aid
and experts. Without a uni-
versity producing capable
persons, it will be difficult to
sustain development in the
long run."
Foreign investors are eager
to do business in this desper-
ately poor nation of 60 million

that only recently opened up
to the rest of the world. They
are no longer hindered by
U.S. and European sanctions,
but now must figure out how
to deal with an enthusiastic
but utterly unprepared work
force.
Even finding English-speak-
ers for five-star hotels can be
a challenge, investors say, let
alone business and information
technology professionals, law-
yers or accountants.
The onslaught on education
in Myanmar began when Gen.
Ne Win seized power in 1962.
Troops blew up Yangon Univer-
sity's Student Union because of
protests and tightened control
over classes. Soldiers stormed
the campus again in 1974 to
quell protests.
The biggest blow came in
1988, following the failed stu-
dent uprisings that put a global
spotlight on pro-democracy
leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The
junta shut down urban cam-
puses, seen as hotbeds of politi-
cal dissent, and restricted what
could be taught.
Yangon University produced
many of Myanmar's leaders
and its most famous dissidents
and intellectuals, including Suu
Kyi's father, independence lead-
er Aung San. The school closed
repeatedly for long stretches
under the junta, and up until
this week, only a handful of
graduate students could be seen
roaming the 200-acre campus.
"It's a dream come true,"
said 16-year-old May Thin Kha-
ing, clutching the straps of her
backpack as she looked for her
name on the board near regis-
tration.
"My parents both went here
in the 1980s and often spoke
nostalgically about those days,"
said the teenager, who will
study chemistry. "I hope I can
feel the same sense of pride that
my parents once enjoyed."
The school once had 60,000
students, but it's a long way
from that now.
Initially, only 300 students
- 15 from each of the 20 disci-
plines - were supposed to head
to class on Thursday. Follow-

ing criticism from academics
and lawmakers, the number
was boosted at the final hour
to 1,000 - or 50 for each disci-
pline.
That left professors scram-
bling to prepare extra lab
equipment and clean up vacant
classrooms. Workers were fran-
tically putting in light bulbs
ahead of the reopening and
sweeping away thick, dusty
cobwebs.
Dr. Phone Win, a physician
who heads Mingalar Myanmar,
a group promoting education,
said enrollment should be even
higher: "Why only 50 for each
discipline? Who came up with
that number?"
He said that despite eco-
nomic and political reforms in
the last three years, the gov-
ernment maintains a top-down
approach across almost every
sector, including education.
"It's very hierarchial," Win
said. The ministry is reluctant
to give too much control to the
university rector, and the rec-
tor limits professors' autonomy,
he said.
"What these students need
now is academic freedom," he
said.
Students also may be skep-
tical that such freedom has
arrived. Political science has
returned to the curriculum, but
so far only six students have
signed up.
With urban campuses closed,
70 percent of the country's
students have in recent years
relied on distance learning,
with graduation depending
largely on their memorization
skills. Others made long, daily
commutes to newly built sterile
institutions on the outskirts of
bustling cities.
Nay Oak, a professor of Eng-
lish at Yangon in the 1960s and
'70s, said that as the military
closed down universities, its
answer to education was to
allow students to take crash
courses. Many walked away
with degrees after just six
months of study.
"In many cases, they didn't
have to learn a thing," Nay Oak
said.

Illinois pension fund
Call: #7344184115 continues struggle
Email: dailydisplay@gmail.com cniusto srg

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RELEASE DATE-Thursday, December 5,2013
Los Angeles Times Daily Crossword Puzzle
Edited by Rich Norris and Joyce Nichols Lewis
ACROSS 2 How soldiers 35 Prefix with 48 Roundish
1 Rewards for may lie morph 49 1,000
waiting 3 Gratify the baser 37 Pixar title robot kilograms
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nickname morsel MORE O M A R H A G U E
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Plan to save the country bring even greater
unpredictability to a plan sup-
fund could be porters described as crucial
to getting Illinois on better
scrapped financial footing. A bankrupt-
cy judge in Michigan ruled
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Tuesday that Detroit can cut
With the fight over solving its pensions despite constitu-
Illinois' worst-in-the-nation tional protections like Illinois'
pension shortfall now headed - a blow to labor unions and
to the courts, the financially their members.
troubled state faces a grim Illinois, Michigan and Ari-
possibility: The plan could zona are among the seven
be tossed, and Illinois could states that have clauses in
wind up in an even deeper fis- their state constitutions that
cal hole than the one it's in protect pension benefits,
now. according to the Center for
Legislative leaders, antici- Retirement Research at Bos-
pating a legal challenge from.} ton College. The others are
public-employee unions once Alaska, Hawaii, Louisiana and
the landmark bill approved New York.
Tuesday is signed, went Illinois and New York's pro-
extra lengths to bolster the tections are considered to the
law's odds in the court- strongest, however, because
room - including an unusual the language expressly states
three-page preamble to the that it applies to current and
legislation in which they lay future benefits.
out their case for cutting "I think they've got a seri-
worker and retiree benefits. ous problem," said Profes-
But legal experts say those sor Ann Lousin, the Edward
efforts could mean little in a T. and Noble W. Lee Chair in
state that provides some of the Constitutional Law at John
country's stronger constitu- Marshall Law School in Chica-
tional protections of pension go, speaking of the legislative
benefits. leaders who were the political
They point to Arizona as a architects of the Illinois mea-
possible warning sign. In 2012, sure.
a judge there said a law raising Illinois' unfunded pen-
the employee contribution to sion liability is $100 billion,
pension benefits was illegal, largely because lawmakers for
and ordered the state to repay decades didn't make the state's
the money to workers - with annual contributions to the
interest. funds.
Amanda Kass, budget direc- The enormous shortfall led
tor and pension specialist for major credit rating agencies to
the Center for Tax and Bud- downgrade Illinois to the low-
get Accountability in Chicago, est credit rating in the country.
predicted Illinois could see a Pension payments also grew to
similar outcome. consume about one-fifth of the
"The state could owe back state's general funds budget -
a huge sum of money, possibly siphoning money from educa-
with interest," she said. tion, social services and other
Recent rulings across the areas.

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