The Sunnis Come Out

The Sunnis Come Out

The Sunnis Come Out

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
Oct. 16 2005 6:33 AM

The Sunnis Come Out

All papers lead with the Iraqi election. The Washington Post describes a seemingly jubilant Iraq: Sunnis turned out "in force," insurgents "largely suspended attacks," and much of the country reveled in a "rare day of peace." The New York Times takes a less enthusiastic tone, focusing on the decline in overall voter turnout which was higher in the January election for the transitional parliament. The Los Angeles Times was slightly more measured, reporting a voter turnout rate of 61 percent, with voting higher in three of the four Sunni provinces.

It would take a two-thirds "no" vote in at least three provinces to defeat the constitution. Because turnout was so strong in the three Sunni provinces that are expected to vote nay on the constitution, it is possible that the Sunnis could either defeat the charter or make the election close enough to challenge its authority. There seems to be some disagreement as to how high the Sunni turnout was. The WP and LAT have numbers—turnout was at 93 percent in Fallujah, but as low as 10 percent in Ramadi, where insurgents opened fire at a polling site. Overall, roughly 9.5 million voters went to the polling stations in Iraq's 18 provinces. The NYT fronts a deeper look at the Sunni vote (so does the WP) but claims that evidence of turnout was, so far, only "anecdotal." It's also still unclear why the Sunnis turned out in large numbers to vote. Was it to defeat the constitution, thereby rejecting Iraqi federalism and the U.S. occupation, or was it to enter the political process, hoping to have some voice in a Shiite- and Kurd-dominated government?

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The violence that many feared would disrupt the election was minimal. The NYT reports that a handful of polling stations were attacked, and of the 6,100 stations in Iraq, roughly 128 (the LATsays 250) didn't open for security or technical reasons. The WP quotes a U.S. military spokesman as declaring security surrounding the election a "resounding success" but notes that Iraqi forces detained two women wearing explosive vests. (By contrast, the January election was marred by 350 insurgent attacks as well as suicide bombings.)

The NYToff-leads, the WPfronts, and the LAT goes inside with the latest on Judith Miller's grand jury testimony. The NYT published two stories on Miller (the stories went up on the paper's Web site on Saturday)—one written by three staff writers (the off-lead) and one written by Miller herself (stuffed). As the WP and LAT note, the NYT off-lead is less than kind to Miller. According to her own paper, Miller was a "divisive newsroom figure" who many refused to work with, and who was permitted to run "amok" with littler editorial supervision. As the WP also notes, the NYT article and Miller's piece contain "conflicting accounts" of why Miller never wrote a story about the outing of CIA covert operative Valerie Plame. Miller claims she strongly recommended pursuing the story to her editor but was told not to write one. The NYT Washington bureau chief at the time said Miller made no such recommendation. When asked by another editor if she was one of six reporters who'd gotten leaked info from the White House on Plame, Miller said no. According to the NYT off-lead, by backing Miller's refusal to name her source, the paper turned the Miller case "into a cause," incurred whopping legal fees, and limited "its own ability to cover aspects of one of the biggest scandals of the day." An article on the leak by other reporters never ran, and a memo on the leak's coverage "went nowhere"—possibly to protect Miller.

As for Miller, although the words "Valerie Flame" showed up in the same notebook she used when interviewing Scooter Libby two days after Plame's husband publicly denounced the White House, Miller maintains Libby never revealed the agent's name; she doesn't recall who gave her Plame's name. Miller did testify that Libby told her Wilson's wife was an operative for Winpac—the CIA bureau for weapons intelligence, nonproliferation, and arms control.

The WP fronts a story on the 10th anniversary of the Million Man March. Tens of thousands of African-Americans marched on the Mall yesterday for the 12-hour event. According to the WP, criticism of the Bush administration was a consistent theme of the march. People carried signs reading, "Bush Lied, People Died." Addressing the government's culpability in the Hurricane Katrina fiasco, event organizer Louis Farrakhan charged America with "criminal neglect" and asked that a class-action lawsuit be filed on behalf of all those who suffered.

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The NYT fronts a story on the  22 million tons of waste that need to be removed from the New Orleans area—more trash than any American city produces yearly. There are almost 3,000 dump trucks circling the area, and more are expected to arrive.

The WP also fronts details of some of the tactics employed by troubled lobbyist and Tom DeLay crony Jack Abramoff in defeating an anti-gambling bill in the House. Abramoff had been hired by eLottery, a company looking to sell online lottery tickets, to defeat the measure. In addition to getting eLottery to pay for part of a luxury vacation for a DeLay senior aide and to pay $25,000 to a foundation that hired the aide's wife as a consultant, Abramoff secretly arranged for eLottery to pay anti-gambling activists including Ralph Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition. At one point, an eLottery operative managed to circulate a forged letter of support for the bill's defeat from Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

The LAT goes inside with the headline: "You Are Germany, Now Cheer Up." It seems that the German government has launched a $35 million campaign to lift its citizens' spirits. On the heels of a fractious election and consistently high unemployment, Germans are now being blitzed with a barrage of positive thinking. The ads, featuring famous (and nonfamous) Germans and inspirational messages, will run until January.

Try this at home: The NYT Style section profiles the authors of the latest child-rearing guide: Top of the Class: How Asian Parents Raise High Achieversand How You Can Too. The authors (neither of whom have children) share techniques learned from their own parents: limiting access to popular culture, spending hours a day educating your child, and treating individual failure as a poor reflection on the entire family. One author, who was pushed to attend law school when she couldn't find a writing job, praises her "decision" to attend. "American parents will say, 'Do whatever makes you happy, even if the talent isn't there,' " she said. "You need a reality check."