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News Briefs

Mori Survives No-Confidence Vote, But Win Might Be Pyrrhic

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- TOKYO

The oral abuse came fast and furiously, but Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori easily survived a no-confidence motion in Parliament on Monday despite gaffes, scandals, desperately low popularity and a stock-market nose dive.

“You don’t feel ashamed -- that’s the most shameful thing,” opposition lawmaker Yukio Hatoyama told Mori, who has been in office for 10 months.

As expected, the burly Mori -- who stoically sat throughout an hour and a half of harangues -- survived. A total of 192 deputies voted in favor of the no-confidence motion, while 274 voted against.

Although top Liberal Democratic Party officials insisted the vote is an expression of confidence in Mori and his Cabinet, it only heightened the considerable pressure on him to bow out.

Takenori Kanzaki, leader of the New Komeito party in Mori’s ruling coalition, opposed the no-confidence vote but nevertheless wants Mori to resign. He indicated he thinks that Mori should offer his resignation before an LDP conference March 13.

Putin Threatens To Dissolve Duma

THE WASHINGTON POST -- MOSCOW

Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened through political allies Monday to dissolve the State Duma and call early elections in an apparent bid to increase his control over a parliament that already is largely compliant with his wishes.

The move would be Putin’s latest to consolidate power in Russia. In the 14 months he has been in power, he has restructured the upper chamber of parliament, imposed new controls over often-willful regional governors, proposed eliminating scores of smaller political parties and presided over a vigorous legal and financial campaign against the only major independent television network in the country.

Putin’s party in the Duma said he was prepared to disband the lower house of parliament if Communists go through with plans to stage a vote of no-confidence in the government. While Putin issued no public comment, the leaders of the Unity party said they had conferred with the president and left little doubt they represented his point of view.

Majority of House Democrats Plan To Vote Against Bush Tax Cut

THE WASHINGTON POST -- WASHINGTON

Despite concerted lobbying by the White House, the vast majority of House Democrats plan to vote against President Bush’s proposal for a near trillion-dollar reduction in Americans’ income taxes, lawmakers said Monday.

While passage of the tax-cut plan is not in doubt -- lawmakers say nearly every House Republican, along with a handful of Democrats, will vote for it -- both sides are working furiously to maximize their votes. For Bush, winning the support of more Democrats would give his tax cut added momentum since he could argue it has bipartisan backing, House Republicans and White House officials said. Democrats, on the other hand, want to limit defections to help bolster resistance when the proposal goes to the Senate.

House leaders’ decision to push for an early vote on the main component of Bush’s proposal -- the legislation to cut personal income tax rates was approved in committee last week and is headed to the floor Thursday -- has angered many centrist and conservative Democrats, who argue Congress should pass a budget blueprint first.