Stout Turnout

Stout Turnout

Stout Turnout

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
Oct. 17 2005 6:30 AM

Stout Turnout

The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street Journal world-wide newsbox lead with the likely approval of Iraq's constitution; according to unofficial results Sunday, it's headed for endorsement. USA Today leads with the Louisiana state investigation into the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 215 patients in hospitals and nursing homes in the New Orleans area during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. A doctor at one city hospital has alleged that some patients may have been euthanized to end their suffering.

The papers give a lot of ink to the turnout by Sunnis: Initial reports indicate that voters rejected the charter in two largely Sunni provinces, Anbar and Salahuddin. The NYT notes that apparently some Sunnis decided to support the constitution. Still, some signs emerged that not everywhere saw the "strong turnout" by Sunnis, as the WSJ characterizes it. The NYT says it looks like only a sixth of voters turned out in Anbar, while nationwide more than 60 percent of voters appeared to have cast ballots.

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A spokesman for the National Dialogue Council, an Arab nationalist political group, told the LAT that, according to his group, 95 percent of Sunnis voted to reject the charter. "If 95% of a segment of the population can't stop the constitution, then who can?" he asked.

Some Sunni leaders voiced suspicions of fraud. The WP indicates that the perception of voter tampering could cause Sunnis to disengage from the political process, but the WSJ emphasizes the sentiment from U.S. officials that the Sunni turnout marks a political victory. Official results aren't expected until today or perhaps even later.

The violence in Iraq seemed to quiet a bit during the election, with only nine attacks reported in Baghdad. American officials did report the deaths of five soldiers and a Marine in Anbar Province on Saturday. American planes launched airstrikes in Ramadi, Anbar's capital, on Sunday that killed 25.

Even with the constitution headed toward apparent victory, the papers say the White House has a difficult road ahead in Iraq. The NYT says the Bush administration has undergone a change in recent weeks, altering the tone and language of its message to reflect a view of the Iraq conflict as a "longer, broader" struggle.

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The LAT fronts a story on how, despite the president's pledge to reconstruct the Gulf Coast in haste, his progress has been slow—attracting criticism from even those within his own party. "With all due respect to the president. … There has to be some federal leadership here," said Jack Kemp, HUD secretary under the first President Bush.

The LAT and the NYT front news that scientists have devised two new ways to derive embryonic stem cells in mice—one of which doesn't destroy the embryo. This development could help scientists overcome ethical hurdles that have limited federal funding for the politically divisive research.

The swirl of analysis around the leak of Valerie Plame's identity continues. The Post's Howard Kurtz covers the mounting criticism over NYT reporter Judy Miller's role in the investigation. Jay Rosen, a New York University journalism professor, told Kurtz that Miller's limited cooperation in the case was "unforgivable" and provided "dead giveaways of someone who's hiding the truth."

Another story in the Post (co-written by Kurtz) gives a rundown on the appearance by Robert Bennett (Miller's attorney) on ABC's This Week on Sunday, where he said that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby will have "a problem" if his testimony conflicts with Miller's. The NYT chimes inthat much of the evidence points to Libby as a continued focus of the investigation. (Incidentally, after Sunday's revelations that the Times' own editors and reporters have found its coverage on the issue "constrained" and "awkward," TP wonders how the paper's readers should be expected to view the continued coverage of the story.)

The death toll has risen to an estimated 40,000 in Pakistan's section of Kashmir, meaning more than 54,000 total could have died during the recent earthquake there. Rescuers have not yet reached some areas struck by the quake.

The WP reports that "real" restaurants—some that sell alcohol—are occupying real estate on college campuses nationwide, giving dining halls and other corporate chains on campus a run for their money. After eating at the new Damon's Grill on campus, a George Mason University student told the paper, "This beats a lot of the food on campus. … The Burger King tastes like cardboard here."