The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, March 02, 2001, Page 2, Image 2

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    News Digest
Committee passes Bush's plan to cut taxes
■Support of the president's
bill divides committee
members along party lines.
WASHINGTON — Racing to
do President Bush’s bidding,
House Republicans pushed
across-the-board tax cuts through
committee on Thursday, clearing
the way for a floor vote next week
on the cornerstone of the new s
economic program.
The vote in the Ways and
Means Committee was 23-15,
along party lines, as Democrats
sharply criticized the bill as flawed
and called the unusually quick
action by the panel a poor omen
for bipartisanship.
“Essentially what the presi
dent is proposing is a pay raise for
the average American,” said Rep.
Jerry Weller of Illinois, one of sev
eral Republicans on the panel
who argued the bill would stimu
late the economy as well as pro
vide relief to taxpayers.
“I do not want to go back to
the day's of deficit spending. This
proposal puts us in that direc
tion,” countered Rep. Michael
McNulty, D-N.Y. Other Democrats
criticized Republicans for going
ahead before Congress agrees on
an overall plan for spending, debt
retirement and tax cuts.
The legislation, estimated to
cost $958 billion in more than a
decade, would gradually reduce
and condense the current five
graduated income tax rates of 15
percent, 28 percent, 31 percent, 36
percent and 39.6 percent By2006,
rates would be pegged at 10 per
cent, 15 percent, 25 percent and
33 percent.
Committee Republicans
changed Bush's plan slightly to
create an interim 12 percent
bracket retroactive to Jan. 1,2001,
applied to a taxpayer s first several
thousand dollars of income.
Republicans said this step was
particularly important given the
economic slowdown, and officials
said it would mean a maximum
tax cut this year of $360 for a cou
ple and $180 for an individual.
The committee acted less
than 48 hours after Bush stepped
before a nationwide television
audience and a joint session of
Congress to urge passage of his tax
cut program.
White House spokesman Ari
Fleischer said after the vote the
president “is pleased Congress is
moving forward on his plan to
provide tax relief and he looks for
ward to their also taking action on
paying down the debt and
improving education.”
Political fault lines were evi
dent throughout the session.
Republicans banded together
to reject a Democratic attempt to
make annual tax rate reductions
conditional on surpluses materi
The committee also rejected a
Democratic alternative tax pro
gram that is smaller than the GOP
plan and aimed at lower and mid
dle income wage taxpayers. It
included a new 12 percent tax
bracket, but left the other income
tax brackets unchanged, reflect
ing the Democrats' claim that the
GOP plan favors the wealthy.
Democratic officials put the
cost of their alternative at $725 bil
lion over the next decade, enough,
they said, to maximize debt
repayment and leave room for
spending on high priority pro
In all, Bush has proposed $1.6
trillion in tax cuts for a period of 10
years, including estate tax repeal,
increased child care credits and
several provisions to encourage
charitable giving.
Rep. Rob Portman, R-Ohio,
rebutted Democratic arguments
that the proposal was tilted in
favor of the rich. “The tax code will
be more progressive, not less pro
gressive after the presidents $1.6
trillion plan is implemented,” he
said, because higher income tax
payers will pay a bigger percent
age of the nation’s total tax bills
than is currently the case.
While House approval of the
measure is expected, the bill is
likely to languish in the Senate for
weeks or months.
There, the GOP leadership will
need to have a budget in place to
overcome any delaying action by
recovers from
SEATTLE — The damage estimate from the
earthquake that rocked the Northwest climbed to
$2 billion on Thursday as engineers inspected
bridges, buildings, dams and roads. But the region
congratulated itself for escaping far worse damage.
Most people went about their lives as usual,
swapping stories about close calls during the most
powerful quake to hit Washington state in 52 years.
Few people noticed two minor
aftershocks early Thursday, and
i Here no additional damage was report
aren’t any ed.
fntnlitip* State emergency officials
' * counted 272 injuries directly
The linked to Wednesday’s magni
damaae tude-6.8 quake, but most were
... ' minor and none critical.
While “The biggest news is there is
SeKiOUS is no news>” Seattle Mayor Paul
. Schell said. “There aren’t any
"O* fatalities. The damage, while seri
anything ous, is not anything like what peo
liltP whnt would have expected.”
iiice wniAi The earthquake was centered
people 35 miles southwest of Seattle and
Would 33 miles underground. Scientists
said the depth of the quake eased
have its impact, while municipal Iead
expected. " ers miHi°ns Of dollars
^ * spent stabilizing the region’s high
ways and buildings against earth
rail Schell quakes in the past decade paid
Seattle Mayor 0ff
As inspectors fanned out
across the region to check the safety of bridges,
dams and roads, most Seattle businesses and
schools were open. Four homes were evacuated in
a Tacoma neighborhood because of the danger of
In Olympia, the state’s capital, several streets
were blocked off as crews began clearing away rub
ble and most students in surrounding Thurston
County stayed home. The Capitol complex
remained closed, idling 10,000 workers, most of
them until Monday, when buildings were expected
to be inspected and cleaned.
CZ Editor Sarah Baker
|VC Managing Editor Bradley Davis
Associate News Editor Kimberty Sweet
Assignment Editor JilIZeman
Opinion Editor JakeGlazeski
W Sports Editor Matthew Hansen
Assistant Sports Editor David Diehl
Arts Editor: Samuel McKewon
Copy Desk Chief: Danell McCoy
■■■ Copy Desk Chief: Jeff Bloom
Art Director Melanie Falk
Art Director Deian Lonowski
O Photo Chief: Scott McClurg
Design Coordinator Bradley Davis
ZWeb Editor Gregg Stems
Assistant Web Editor Tanner Graham
General Manager Daniel Shattil
Publications Board Russell Wilibanks
^ I Chairman: (402) 484-7226
Professional Adviser Don Walton
i (402)473-7248
Advertising Manager: NickPartsch
(402) 472-2589
f Assistant Ad Manager Nicole Woita
Classified Ad Manager: Nikki Bruner
Circulation Manager ImtiyazKhan
Fax number: (402) 472-1761
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The Daily Nebraskan (USPS144-080) is published by
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Lincoln, NE 68588-0448, Monday through Friday during the
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Marc Wikon/Newsmakers
Former Finance Chairwoman for the Democratic National Committee Beth Dozoretz takes the 5th amendment by refusing to testify against herself
before the House Governmental Reform Committee on Capitol Hill on Thursday in Washington, D.C Dozoretz refused to testify to Congress about former
President Clinton's controversial pardon of financier Marc Rich.
Racial profiling reconsidered
■ Attorney General John Ashcroft
wants to stop the use of race
as a factor in law enforcement.
WASHINGTON — Declaring " it's
wrong,” Attorney General John Ashcroft
said Thursday he was asking Congress to
attack racial profiling - the practice of
singling out people for law enforcement
based upon their race.
“I believe Congress can, and will,
respond constructively,” Ashcroft said at
a Justice Department news conference,
two days after President Bush told
Congress he wanted to see this practice
Ashcroft said that when he was in the
Senate, he heard anecdotal evidence of
the problem and said, “I have long
believed that to treat people solely on the
basis of their race was a violation of the
14th Amendment to the U.S.
Constitution.” He called it a tragedy
“with real human consequences.”
The attorney general said he had dis
cussed this issue with Bush not long after
his selection to head the Justice
Department and said “the president of
the United States elevated this issue into
the consciousness” of Americans.
Ashcroft noted a memo that Bush
sent him earlier in the week directing the
department to “review the use by federal
law enforcement authorities of race as a
factor” in their work and “to develop any
relevant data” to document the extent of
the problem.
"This is as big a problem as you can
get," he said. Ashcroft said that a bill
introduced in the last Congress by Rep.
John Conyers and Sen. Russell Feingold,
D-Wis., to collect data from state and
local law enforcement agencies would
be a good place to start
The bill would authorize the Justice
Department to conduct a study of traffic
stop data that is already being voluntari
ly collected by law enforcement agencies
around the country.
Ashcroft said he was moving tofulfill
Bush’s wishes to “work toward this laud
able goal, which each of us should
share.” He said he hoped that Congress
would act within six months to ascertain
the extent of the problem on the state
and local levels. But he also said that if
nothing was forthcoming, “I will simply
launch a study of my own.”
Ashcroft also said he had ordered
aides to immediately undertake a study
regarding the extent of the problem at
7 believe that the law
enforcement community
in the United States is the
best law enforcement
community in the world.”
John Ashcroft
attorney general
the federal level.
“I would hope that we would be able
to develop a summary of the types of
contacts that exist between federal law
enforcement officials and the public.” he
said, calling it "an important challenge.”
“I believe that the law enforcement
community in the United States is the
best law enforcement community in the
world,” Ashcroft said. “And I believe they
want to do this in a way that’s effective
and respects the rights of individuals.”
Ashcroft whose views on civil rights
issues came under sharp examination at
his confirmation hearings, has sought
early in his tenure to reach out to such
groups. He chose for his first civil rights
meeting at the Justice Department a sit
down with the members of the Log
Cabin Republicans, a gay group.
Taliban troops destroy ancient statues
KABUL, Afghanistan — Defying an
international outcry, Taliban soldiers on
Thursday began destroying all statues in
Afghanistan - even targeting two soar
ing, ancient statues of Buddha carved
into the face of a mountain.
The ruling Islamic militia said they
sought to purge the nation of idolatrous
images, but their closest ally - Pakistan -
said the action could be a backlash
against Afghanistan’s international iso
lation, including U.N. sanctions.
Pakistani Interior Minister
Moinuddin Haider told The Associated
Press the Talibans’ order “may have been
an act of defiance brought on by the iso
lation they feel.”
As troops fanned out with rocket
launchers and tanks to destroy statues,
cultural leaders worldwide expressed
horror. The head of UNESCO asked
other Islamic nations to pressure the
Taliban to stop, while the director of the
Metropolitan Museum in New York
pleaded with Afghan officials to give the
artifacts to foreign museums.
“In Afghanistan, they are destroying
statues that the entire world considers to
Partly cloudy Partly cloudy Partly cloddy
high 42, low 21 high 51, low 24 high 40, low 25
be masterpieces,” UNESCO Director
General Koichiro Matsuura said. “This
iconoclastic determination shocks me.”
“All officials, including the ministry
of vice and virtue, have been given the
go-ahead to destroy the statues,” the
Taliban’s Information Minister
Qadratullah Jamal said Thursday. “The
destruction work will be done by any
means available to them.”
It was impossible to confirm what
Taliban troops had destroyed so far -
particularly whether they had begun
demolishing two huge Buddha statues
carved into a cliff at Bamiyan. One of the
statues is 175 feet high and dates to the
5th Century: the other is 120 feet tall and
dates to the 3rd century.
The road to Bamiyan, 90 miles west
of Kabul, was blocked by snow Thursday.
There are soldiers in Bamiyan, but jour
nalists have not been allowed to go
there. The Taliban also refused to let
reporters inside the Kabul Museum,
repository for thousands of Buddhist
The Associated Press
■ New York
'Puffy' takes the stand to
testify in his own defense
NEW YORK — In a sink-or
swim legal strategy, Sean “Puffy”
Combs took the witness stand
Thursday to declare that he wasn’t
packing a gun and never offered a
$50,000 bribe the night three peo
ple were shot inside a club.
The rap impresari, instead
told the jury that he believed the
bullets ricocheting through the
Club New York on Dec. 27,1999,
were intended for him.
“I thought I was being shot
at,” said the 31-year-old Combs,
dressed in a dark, conservative
suit. “My hands were up. ...
Everybody started falling all over
each other."
Combs’ appearance on the
stand was the most highly antici
pated moment in the case, and
the seventh-floor courtroom was
packed, mostly with reporters.,
His former girlfriend, top-selling
singer Jennifer Lopez, was not
there, but she may be called to
testify later.
In making the risky move of
testifying in his own defense,
Combs could turn the case into -
his word against that of the prose
cution’s witnesses.
■ South Africa
Pipes with traces of drugs
found near writer's home
17th-Century day pipes found on
the site of William Shakespeare’s
home may have been used to
smoke marijuana, scientists
reported Thursday.
The Shakespeare Birthplace
Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon in
England allowed South African
researchers to analyze 24 pipe
fragments in Pretoria.
Though marijuana degrades
over time, eight of those pipe frag
ments showed signs suggestive of
marijuana, the scientists said.
TWo of the pipe samples tested
also showed evidence of cocaine.
Others showed traces of
tobacco, camphor and a chemical
with hallucinogenic properties,
the study said.
“We do not claim that any of
the pipes belonged to
Shakespeare himself. However,
we do know that some of the
pipes come from the area in
which he lived, and they date to
the 17th Century,” said Francis
Thackeray of the Transvaal
Museum, one of the researchers.
The results of the study are
published in the South African
Journal of Science.
■ England
Spread of foot-and-mouth
disease causes cancellations
LONDON—It’s an animal ail
ment, but these days, hardly a .
person living in the British Isles is
unaffected by the outbreak of
foot-and-mouth disease.
In the latest round of cancel
lations and curtailments meant to
stem the spread of the highly con
tagious livestock virus, organizers
on Thursday called off Britain’s
biggest dog show.
With word that the disease
has jumped the Irish Sea, authori
ties were even thinking about the
unthinkable - cancellation of St.
Patrick’s Day festivities in Dublin.
Since foot-and-mouth dis
ease was discovered at a slaugh
terhouse in southern England on
Feb. 19 - Britain’s first outbreak in
two decades - the list of banned
activities has lengthened daily. No
fishing in angling streams, no
strolls on country paths, no fox
hunting, no unnecessary farm
visits, no horse racing.
■ Washington, D.C.
Clinton's advisers disagreed
with Marc Rich's pardon
Three of former President
Clinton’s closest advisers told a
House committee Thursday they
opposed his pardon of Marc Rich
and thought it wouldn't happen.
“The staff informed the presi
dent that it was our view that the
pardon should not be granted,"
Clinton’s White House chief of
staff, John Podesta, told the House
Government Reform Committee.
The panel’s senior Democrat,
California Rep. Henry Waxman,
D-Calif., asked Podesta, former
White House Counsel Beth Nolan
and Clinton confidant Bruce
Lindsey if there was a “quid pro
quo” of donations for the par
dons. All three replied no.