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217 killed, 1,290 injured,
many stranded in Hajj fire
MINA, Saudi Arabia (AP)—Fires
driven by high winds tore through a
sprawling, overcrowded tent city Tues
day, trapping and killing pilgrims
gathered for a sacred Islamic ritual.
The official death toll was 217, but
witnesses said at least 300 died.
Saudi Arabia said more than 1,290
pilgrims were injured in the fire,
which witnesses blamed on exploding
canisters of cooking gas.
Most of the dead were Indians,
Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, many of
them elderly, witnesses said. Some
were trampled to death as pilgrims
fled the fire on the plain outside the
holy city of Mecca.
“Men panicked and ran in every
direction,” said an Indian pilgrim who
spoke to The Associated Press by tele
phone and identified himself only as
Irfan. Helicopters dropped water from
above while civil defense workers used
firetruck hoses on the flames.
Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims
were stranded after the fire destroyed
an estimated 70,000 tents, which the
pilgrims use for shelter in the final
days of the Hajj. Civil defense forces
from Mecca and nearby Jiddah and
Taif rushed to the scene, handing out
tents and supplies.
Prince Majid bin Abdul Aziz, the
royal family’s representative in Mecca,
ordered that new tents be provided to
all pilgrims affected by the fire, Saudi
television reported Tuesday.
The fire erupted shortly before
noon as Muslims gathered for the Hajj,
or pilgrimage, were beginning to move
to Mount Arafat, where the Prophet
Mohammed delivered his final sermon
in the seventh century.
There, 2 million Muslims will
stand together in prayer Wednesday
in the climax of the pilgrimage to the
Muslim holy sites.
Less than an hour before the fire
began Tuesday, security forces had
thrown up a cordon around the entire
plain, closing it to new arrivals to stop
further overcrowding, witnesses said.
Fanned by winds of nearly 40 mph,
the fire swept across the plain and
quickly spread chaos through the
camp, crammed with row after row of
Every Muslim who can afford it
must perform the pilgrimage once in
a lifetime. Every year, the Hajj brings
together one of the largest groups of
people in a single place anywhere in
U.S., Saudis together forever?
Kingdom wants to maintain Iraqi oil embargo as long as possible
EDITOR’S NOTE — The eco
nomic relationship between the
world’s lone superpower and its big
gest oil exporter reaches back de
cades. But it has entered a new stage
in the 1990s. This is the second in a
three-part series on U.S.-Saudi re
By Charles J. Hanley
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia—Quietly,
steadily, in a slow parade west of su
pertankers and a digital flow east of
dollars, the U.S.-Saudi partnership has
drawn tighter since the Gulf War.
America’s oil imports have risen
by a third. Saudi oil revenues have
more than doubled. And in a fast
changing world, the mutual depen
dence of the superpower and the petro
power has become a dominant geopo
litical fact of post-Cold War life.
To a British economist, it repre
sents a “return of American hegemony
in the international oil system.” To an
American oilman, it’s a trap. To a
Saudi dissident, it’s a betrayal. And
to Iraq it’s bad news—very bad news.
Saudi Arabia would like the em
bargo (Hi Iraqi oil maintained as long
as possible,” says international oil
expert Fadhil Chalabi. In America, it
has a powerful partner for achieving
Energy is only one strand in a web
of U.S.-Saudi economic ties that has
grown in the six years since an Ameri
can-led army rolled back Iraqi aggres
sion in the Persian Gulf.
Growing reliance on U.S.
Statistics tell the story: U.S. prod
ucts, 16 percent of Saudi inports be
fore the war, now make up 24 percent.
Imports from America — computers
and turbines, cigarettes and F-15
fighters — totaled $7.3 billion last
The story plays out, too, in the
streets and government corridors of
this sprawling capital: in the gleam
ing new Toys R Us store in north
Riyadh; in the Cadillacs and Subur
bans cruising the desert roadways; in
the two dozen American economists
at work in the Finance Ministry; in
the U.S. business advisers hired to
counsel King Fahd, led by James A.
Baker III, secretary of state during the
Oil has long linked the two coun
tries, “but now we have a much more
complex and dynamic relationship,”
Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin told
Oil policy should have to do with the
interests of our country, not of America.”
the U.S.-Saudi Arabian Business
Council, a group formed since the war.
But for all the complexity, oil re
As U.S. oil output declined, im
ports climbed. America’s Saudi im
ports last year — 1.25 million barrels
a day—were twice the level of those
in 1986. Saudi oil revenues, mean
while, grew from $22 billion before
the war to $50 billion last year, halt
ing an economic slide that began in
Tfou scratch my back...
Some say an “entente” has been
forged since the war, that the United
States has agreed to protect the Gulf
monarchies and remain a dependable
customer in exchange for reliable sup
plies at stable prices.
“You’ll never find anything in
wming, um an events suggest mat
things are under control,” said energy
scholar Peter Odell of the London
School of Economics.
This “hegemony” is a force for oil
price stability, he said. The Saudis’
spare capacity would enable them to
ratchet production up or down to in
U.S. officials dismiss talk of secret
agreements. They acknowledge the
two governments regularly consult on
the oil market—and especially, lately,
on the anti-Iraq embargo. It was high
on the agenda of recent U.S.-Saudi
talks in Washington.
The U.N. embargo, imposed after
Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, shut
down Iraqi oil exports of 3.2 million
barrels a day. Limited sales have been
allowed since December, but the em
bargo remains a disaster for the Iraqi
In the absence of Iraqi oil, Saudi
exports surged to 8 million barrels a
day from 5.4 million.
London’s Center for Global Energy
Studies, headed by Sheik Ahmed Zaki
Yamani, the former Saudi oil minis
ter, determined that Saudi Arabia has
earned more than $100 billion in oil
revenues from the embargo — more
than covering the $55 billion the war
cost the Saudi treasury.
Keeping the lid on
With the bonus billions, the Sau
dis largely maintained government
spending on their fast-growing popu
lation, deferring expected increases
last year in gasoline, electricity and
other subsidized prices.
That kind of economic security
helps keep the lid on in a land with
no political freedom and an increas
ingly vocal dissident movement And
that means, Chalabi said, the Saudis
cannot allow Iraqi oil back on the
market, where it could drive down
prices or force a cutback in Saudi ex
A well-informed foreign source in
Riyadh, who is in touch with Saudi
thinking, said the Saudis are, indeed,
working against the return of Iraqi oil.
“They don’t want it coming suddenly
onto the market,” he said.
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maintained because of Iraq’s efforts to
build weapons of mass destruction,
Western officials suggest they may stay
as long as Saddam Hussein rules Iraq.
To some Americans and Saudis,
the real problem is the oil partnership
The surge in U.S. oil imports —
from 30 percent of consumption in the
mid-1980s to 54 percent last year —
leaves the American economy too re
liant on outside sources, U.S. energy
Some describe the billions the Pen
tagon spends to protect Persian Gulf
oil as a giant “welfare” program for
U.S. energy multinationals.
“I think you’re trapped now,” said
well-known Texas oilman T. Boone
Pickens. “It would take years to work
your way out of this problem.”
The U.S. General Accounting Of
fice advises Americans to enjoy the
“trap.” Lower-priced oil saves the U.S.
economy billions of dollars a year, it
reported in December.
What lodes like a boon to Ameri
can drivers looks like a rip-off to some
“Oil policy should have to do with
the interests of our country, not of
America,” Saad Al-Faqih, an exiled
Saudi dissident, said in London.
Rulo cult murderer Dennis Ryan freed from prison
FALLS CITY — Sentenced as a teen-ager to life in prison for
torturing and killing a fellow cult member in Rulo on his father’s or
ders, Dennis Ryan became a free man Tuesday.
A judge ordered him released at a new sentencing on a reduced
charge, deciding that the 11 years Ryan had spent behind bars were
“I’m just sorry for what I did,” Ryan, 27, tearfully told the family of
victim James Thimm. “I really am.”
Thimm was beaten, sexually abused, shot, stomped and partially
skinned while still alive in 1985. His fingertips had been shot off on
Originally convicted of second-degree murder for his role in the
death, Dennis Ryan won a new trial under a Nebraska Supreme Court
ruling that “malice” must be proven as part of that charge. Under a
plea deal this time around, he was convicted of manslaughter and first
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20 years for each charge to be served concurrently. But the judge said
Ryan would have served just 10 years under Nebraska’s prison good
time law at the time of the crime and already had served that.
China avoids human rights condemnation for 7th year
GENEVA — After an intense lobbying campaign marked both by
threats and tantalizing promises, China succeeded once again Tuesday
in blocking U.N. criticism of its human rights record.
It was the seventh straight year that the world’s most populous na
tion avoided rebuke by the 53-nation Human Rights Commission, the
United Nations’ top human rights watchdog.
The vote was 27-17 to uphold a Chinese procedural motion stating
that the body should take no action on a mildly worded resolution ex
pressing concern about its human rights record. Nine members ab
Speaking before a packed meeting chamber, Chinese ambassador
Wu Jianmin derided the Western resolution as an “outrageous distor
tion of China’s reality.”
Beijing has suspended contacts with Denmark, which introduced
the measure, and warned of further reprisals.
“They (the West) don’t want to see the Chinese going their own
way,” Wu said. “What impudence. The Chinese people have followed
their own way for 5,000 years. Nothing can turn them away, certainly
not a few anti-China resolutions. No force on earth can stop 1.2 billion
Chinese people from advancing.”
Senate bars, then admits
woman and her guide dog
WASHINGTON (AP) — Embar
rassed by a blind congressional aide
being kept off the Senate floor in a
dispute over her guide dog, the Sen
ate unanimously agreed Tuesday to
make the chamber more accessible to
people with disabilities.
A congressional fellow, working
for Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., was kept
out of the Senate chamber because she
insisted that her guide dog, a big yel
low Labrador named Beau, remain
It took fewer than 18 hours Tues
day for the Senate to realize its gaffe
and engineer a delicate retreat.
The senators agreed unanimously
to lift any prohibition against guide
dogs and directed the sergeant at arms
to allow stalf members with disabili
ties to bring into the chamber what
ever aids they consider necessary.
“This is the right thing to do,” said
Majority Leader Ttent Lott, R-Miss.
He said the interim step was taken,
pending a review of a proposed per
manent change in Senate rules on ac
cess involving people with disabilities.
The issue surfaced Monday when
Wyden had sought unanimous consent
from his colleagues to allow Moira
Shea, an energy policy expert, to ac
company him onto the floor for a de
bate on nuclear waste.
But Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va„
telephoned the cloakroom to object.
That was enough to keep Shea and her
dog waiting at the door.
Byrd issued a statement Tuesday
saying that he objected because he
wanted to ensure “proper procedures”
were followed before the Senate con
sidered chan$ng its rules on access.
1 Questions? Comments? Ask for the
appropriate section editor at 472
2588 or e-mail dnQunlinfo.unl.edu.
Editor: Doug Kouma
Managing Editor: Paula Lavigne
Assoc. News Editors: Joshua Gillin
Night Editor: Anne Hjersman
Opinion Editor: Anthony Nguyen
AP Wire Editor: JohnFulwider
Copy Desk Chief: Julie Sobczyk
Sports Editor: Trevor Parks
General Manager: Dan Shattil
Advertising Manager: AmyStruthers
Asst Ad Manager: Cheryl Renner
Classified Ad Manager: Tiffiny Clifton
A&E Editor: Jeff Randall
Photo Director: Scott Bruhn
Art Director: Aaron Steckelberg
Web Editor: Michelle Collins
Editors: Bryce Glenn
Publications Travis Brandt
Board Chairman: 436-7915
Professional Don Walton
FAX NUMBER: 472-1761
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