Sunday, October 09, 2005

Weekend news

A massive earthquake has devastated Pakistan and surrounding area, CNN.

This AP story indicates that Bush had a new disaster DVD ready much quicker than with Katrina:

"The people of the United States offer our deepest sympathies for the loss of life and destruction caused by the earthquake that struck outside of Islamabad," Bush said in a statement. "Our initial deployments of assistance are under way, and we stand ready to provide additional assistance as needed. My thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this horrible tragedy."


The political process in Iraq may fuel the insurgency says anonymous administration analysts, Los Angeles Times:

But within the last two months, U.S. analysts with access to classified intelligence have started to challenge this precept, noting a "significant and disturbing disconnect" between apparent advances on the political front and efforts to reduce insurgent attacks.

Now, with Saturday's constitutional referendum appearing more likely to divide than unify the country, some within the administration have concluded that the quest for democracy in Iraq, at least in its current form, could actually strengthen the insurgency.

That political process leads to the Sunnis uniting (kinda/sorta) against the charter/constitution, al Jazeera:

Twenty-one Sunni Arab organisations meeting in Baghdad have called for Iraqis to reject the 15 October referendum on a new constitution, saying the basic law would lead to the country's breakup.

"This constitution bears in it the germs of Iraq's division, the loss of its Arab identity and the plundering of its national wealth," said a joint statement on Saturday.

This Sunday Times lede is just...:

Hala Jaber, Baghdad

THE soulful sound of koranic recitals for the dead reverberated from 22 homes lining a narrow, dimly lit street in the old Baghdad neighbourhood of Iskan in the early hours of yesterday morning.

The story is about possible ethnic clensing by Iraqi police.

One clue may lie in the alleged presence of Iraqi police officers when the men’s killers came to take them away. According to witnesses, about 40 police vehicles and four-wheel drives from the interior ministry stormed the district in the early hours of August 8.

More Basra bad news in the BBC:

The governor of Basra province has accused British forces of destabilising security following the arrest of 12 people over attacks against UK troops.

The men, some of whom are police officers, are still being questioned.

Something is very rotten in Basra, Richard Oppel filed the following from there:

BASRA, Iraq - The most feared institution in Iraq's third-largest city is a shadowy force of 200 to 300 police officers known collectively as the Jameat, who dominate the local police, who are said to murder and torture at will and who answer to the leaders of Basra's sectarian militias.

The Miers nomination

William Kristol in the Weekly Standard:

So what now? Bush has made this unfortunate nomination. What is to be done? The best alternative would be for Miers to withdraw. Is such an idea out of the question? It should not be. She has not aspired all of her life or even until very recently to serve on the Supreme Court. And her nomination has hurt the president whom she came to Washington to serve.

The Bush Code in the New York Times:

The nomination of Ms. Miers demonstrated the fragility of a coalition built in part on code. The administration relied on subtle clues about her evangelical faith and confidential conversations with influential conservative Christians to enlist grass-roots support for Ms. Miers.

Instead the Miers nomination has threatened to shatter the coalition that Mr. Bush and his adviser Karl Rove hoped would be the foundation of a durable Republican majority.

60 Minutes tonight

Interesting to see a Howard Kurtz byline:

Under strong pressure from former president Bill Clinton's advisers, CBS's "60 Minutes" has agreed to read a statement denying an explosive charge being made on tonight's program by former FBI director Louis J. Freeh.

In the statement, Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger, Clinton's national security adviser, challenges Freeh's assertion that Clinton failed to press then-Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah to cooperate with an investigation of the 1996 bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, and used the occasion to ask for a contribution to his presidential library. The Saudis made such a donation last year -- six years after the 1998 meeting.


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