Monday, August 22, 2005

Morning copy 8.22.2005

I will not link to a New York Times Op-Ed that uses the word "prettify". And apparently Mark Cuban is still mad, I'd say hopping mad, and there's no coverage about that fishy New York Times piece.

That nonsense out of the way, once again all eyes should be on Iraq and the deadline that was not granted under the interim charter and may be extended anyway.

Iraq and the constitution

Dexter Filkins of the New York Times files from Baghdad with progress in the constitution, LINK. The agreement is apparently about sharing oil revenue, which was reported last week as also settled. Islam's role, in this report, remains contentious. Excerpt:

Two critical questions have not yet been resolved: whether to allow clerics to sit on the Supreme Court, and how much authority clerics will have in resolving family disputes like divorce and inheritance. Maintaining secular authority over family matters is especially important to secular Iraqi women, who fear that Islamic judges will take away the rights they now enjoy under Iraqi law.

A potentially more intractable problem in the long run was the disaffection of Sunni leaders, who have been largely excluded from the deliberations during the past week. The constitution has been written almost entirely by Shiite and Kurdish leaders, who said they had decided to leave the Sunnis out because they were being too inflexible.

ABC appears to be one of the primary sources for this report. ABC also gets quote-of-the-day honors: "How many votes have they got?" he said of the Sunnis. "The majority of Iraqis want federalism."

Rick Jervis, also in Baghdad, ledes with Sunnis threatening to halt their involvement on talks, USA Today LINK.

Edmund Sanders and Ashraf Khalil, of the LA Times in Baghdad, also lede with Sunnis, but in this account they are calling for a delay, LINK. Excerpt:

In response, Sunnis and some disgruntled Shiites are threatening to take the fight to the polls and try to defeat the constitution when it is presented to Iraqi voters in an Oct. 15 referendum.

"Everyone is getting ready for a big battle," said Hassan Bazzaz, political science professor at the University of Baghdad.

A source close to the talks who asked not to be identified because of the sensitive nature of negotiations said that Shiite and Kurdish representatives had basically abandoned hopes of a three-way deal. The Sunni position, he said, is "directly contrary to what the others want."

Which leads us to Ellen Knickmeyer and Omar Fekeiki of the Washington Post, also in Baghdad. Ansar al Sunna says that voting against the document will be a form of jihad against America. Moqtada al Sadr, who staged protests for Iraqi 'unity', has asked for his followers to vote -- once he decides what they should vote for.

Al Jazeera reports that meetings won't begin until 7 p.m., local time, and while some sources tell the network that agreements are nigh, others are skeptical. LINK.

Fred Kaplan, writing in Slate, performs reductio ad absurdum on the analogy comparing Baghdad in 2005 to Philadelphia 1787, LINK.

Dan Murphy, filing in Baghdad for the Christian Science Monitor, has a must-read on the definition of "civil war" and if what is happening in Iraq meets that definition. LINK. Excerpt:

But by most common political-science definitions of the term, "civil war" is already here.

"It's not a threat. It's not a potential. Civil war is a fact of life there now," says Pavel Baev, head of the Center for the Study of Civil War at the Peace Research Institute in Oslo, Norway. He argues that until the nature of the conflict is accurately seen, good solutions cannot be found. "What's happening in Iraq is a multidimensional conflict. There's international terrorism, banditry, the major foreign military presence. But the civil war is the central part of it - the violent contestation for power inside the country."

The Iraqi government accuses Jordan of allowing for the funding of some insurgents, NY Times LINK.

Less ideology in Pentagon planning, Washington Post LINK.

Peter Baker and Shailagh Murray of the Washington Post, LINK, explore the divides in the Democratic camp. Excerpt:

The internal schism has become all the more evident in recent weeks even as Americans have soured on Bush and the war in poll after poll. Senate Democrats, according to aides, convened a private meeting in late June to develop a cohesive stance on the war and debated every option -- only to break up with no consensus.

The rejuvenation of the antiwar movement in recent days after the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq set up camp near Bush's Texas ranch has exposed the rift even further.

The hippies in Crawford, Texas. Their sky-blue hippy bus needs jumper cables to start. WaPo LINK.

Iraq has sustained a blackout today, limiting oil production. Sabotage was the cause. USA Today/AP LINK.

The new ad campaign for the United States military, LA Times LINK.

The Guardian reports that the 'mujahideen' have near complete control of Haditha. LINK. Excerpt:

A three-day visit by a reporter working for the Guardian last week established what neither the Iraqi government nor the US military has admitted: Haditha, a farming town of 90,000 people by the Euphrates river, is an insurgent citadel.

That Islamist guerrillas were active in the area was no secret but only now has the extent of their control been revealed. They are the sole authority, running the town's security, administration and communications.

US Army may not be able to sustain its quality with prolonged engagement in Iraq, USA Today LINK.

Other news

New Mexico's Governor Bill Richardson pushes for border security, Washington Times LINK. Yes, he's running for president in 2008.

Skin cells apparently converted into Stem cells, Washington Post LINK.

Google's $4 Billion acquisition project, NY Times LINK.

Denocrats also split on Roberts' nomination, NY Times LINK.

Groton, CT, worries about the submarine fleet, NY Times LINK.

65 American troops have lost their lives in Afghanistan this year, NY Times LINK.

The NY Times Op-Ed talks Upstate and Bill Weld, LINK.

Intelligent Design in the NY Times once again, LINK.

The economy may get a boost from profitable companies investing more capital, Bloomberg LINK.

The United States has begun military exercises with South Korea, LINK.


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