Muqtada Sadr calls for Shiite unity.

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
April 9 2007 7:32 AM

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The Los Angeles Times leads with, the New York Times fronts, USA Today reefers, the Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with, and the Washington Post stuffs Muqtada Sadr's call for the Iraqi military to unite with Shiite militias and oppose the occupation. The call stops short of advocating violence but it's a rhetorical shift for Sadr, who has been lying low since the surge began.

USAT leads with up to $477 billion in Katrina damage claims filed against the Army Corps of Engineers. The WP lead says Bush will renew his call for immigration reform today, but the Democrats are caught in political crosscurrents and are unsure how much they want to help. The NYT leads with Democratic plans to overhaul the alternative minimum tax.

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Sadr's message was distributed at a massive protest marking the fourth anniversary of Saddam's ouster. The NYT, WP, and LAT note Sadr didn't actually call for attacks against Americans, instead asking Shiites to stop fighting each other and demonstrate against the occupation. As the WP says, Sadr has kept his militias in Baghdad quiet since February, but this is a newer, more militant line. Prone to speculation, the NYT thinks it may lead to open confrontation with the United States.

Alone, the NYT says Sadr's message refers specifically to fighting between Shiite militias and U.S. troops in Diwaniyah. The other papers treat it as a more general call to resistance. Several of the stories hang on the rhetoric: The WSJ and USAT emphasize Sadr calling America "your archenemy" while the WP focuses on him calling us the "great evil." Nevertheless, Sadr hasn't crossed any red lines—in fact, one demonstrator called the protest "a good sign of freedom." Boy, is freedom untidy.

Everybody notes that 10 U.S. troops were killed over the weekend. The WSJ and LAT say the Senate admits Congress won't stop paying for the war.

The Army Corps of Engineers is still counting more than 70,000 claims for damages from Hurricane Katrina. The total amount is not yet known, but USAT says the claims already equal about half the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The WP says President Bush will ask Congress for an immigration reform package tomorrow. Bush wants to create indefinitely renewable three-year work visas and send illegal immigrants home to reapply if they want green cards. WP and WSJ say Bush can appeal to Republicans by bragging that a recent crackdown has been successful, which it has.

The WSJ says Bush will ally himself with immigration hawks in the Senate to shore up conservative support. He'll need it: Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., refuses to enforce party discipline and she won't schedule a vote in the House unless Bush rounds up enough Republicans. Caught between pro-immigration Hispanic groups and anti-immigration labor—to name just two concerned parties—the Dems are decidedly uninterested in bending over backward to help the Decider.

According to the WP, there is no immigration bill pending in the Senate because Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., dropped his sponsorship of the measure derided as "amnesty" by the right. TP guesses it was a little heavy to carry while running.

The NYT says Democrats are excited to play tax-cutters, eliminating most of the alternative minimum tax, which falls disproportionately on wealthy blue-state voters. Dems don't sound quite as eager make good on their promise to offset the changes with uncomfortable tax hikes, though.

The WSJ also fronts an Iranian threat to be less helpful in Iraq if the United States doesn't release its Iranian detainees. If Bush is in a tight spot, TP guesses he can give them back as a gift to commemorate June 4—Death of Imam Khomeini Day.

The NYT goes above the fold with leaks from lawyers who tried Serbia for war atrocities. The Serbian government kept incriminating documents off the record by citing national security concerns. NYT's sources say Serbia would be guilty of genocide if the ICJ hadn't allowed the exemption, which it could have easily done. The Serbian defense team "could not believe our luck" when the court accepted the secrecy request.

The WP fronts news that YouTube has become a popular tool for Mexican drug cartels. They use the service to recruit, glorify the lifestyle, and post threats—often videos of revenge killings (especially beheadings) set to original music composed by hired balladeers. One such ballad, "To My Enemies," became a posthumous chart-topper in the United States after it sparked a gang war and landed its author in the morgue.

The LAT fronts the concerns of Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., about the propriety of an RNC-provided e-mail system meant to insulate the White House from charges that it used federal resources for campaigns. As Congress requests e-mail from the system, Republicans are worried about embarrassing revelations.

An NYT front says that influential high-techies are developing voluntary Internet civility guidelines to reduce the incidence of death threats and baleful anonymous posting behavior. The guidelines can be found here, and here's to hoping.

And an op-ed in the NYT asks Mitt Romney to stop blurring Mormonism and evangelical traditions. The writer thinks Romney should educate the nation about Mormon beliefs and practices, providing a useful explanation of Mormon belief and practice in the process.

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