The Washington Postleads with yesterday’s deadly rioting in Basra, Iraq. At least two people were killed and seven injured as protests over energy shortages in the region continued for a second day. The New York Times leads with word that attorney-client privilege might lose some of its luster thanks to government efforts to force lawyers to cough up more information on their clients. The Los Angeles Times leads with Florida-esque worries over potential Election Day turmoil for California’s Oct. 7 recall ballot. Officials say the lengthy list of candidates means it could take days to determine the election’s outcome. USA Today’s top story says that nearly two years after the 9/11 attacks, there’s still no comprehensive “watch list” intended to keep potential terrorists out of the country. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide news box with word that some corporate execs are making out like bandits thanks to federal tax cuts on dividends.
Yesterday’s rioting marked “the worst unrest in Iraq” since U.S.-led forces took control of the Iraqi government in April, the WP says. Basra, the country’s second-largest city (populated mostly by Shiite Muslims), has been under British control since the end of the war and had been largely peaceful. Yet tensions have been on the rise for weeks amid sweltering temperatures and increasing energy shortages.
At gas stations throughout the city, fuel lines have stretched for several miles, while some motorists have endured waits of more than 24 hours at the fuel pump, according to reports. Black-market costs of prices for gasoline, meanwhile, have soared to around 50 times the normal rate in recent weeks.
On Saturday, angry motorists began throwing rocks at British soldiers, launching what would be the first of several unruly protests. Yesterday, British officials said shots were fired at troops trying to contain a demonstration at a gas station. An Iraqi demonstrator and a security guard employed by the civilian authority were killed during yesterday’s fighting.
How is it that there is an energy crisis in Iraq, of all places? Oil production isn’t the problem, officials tell the NYT. Iraq’s refineries continue to produce more oil than the country needs, but they produce mostly “heavy fuel,” not the gasoline, diesel, and kerosene that are in high demand. Fuel smuggling has been a major problem, the NYT says, citing U.N. officials, while the country’s aging fuel transmission lines and electrical grids have been hobbled by sabotage and other factors. The real worry is that this is only the beginning, the papers say. A wire report in the WSJ says gas shortages are on the increase in Baghdad, while U.N. officials tell the NYT that the “fuel crisis” is likely to spread to other parts of the country in coming months.
Elsewhere in Iraq, four U.S. soldiers were wounded in fighting in Baghdad and near Tikrit, while another American soldier died of heatstroke.
While the NYT reported yesterday that the fall of Baghdad was aided by Iraqi turncoats, the LAT cites another reason on Page One this morning: the self-destruction of the Iraqi army. Citing former Iraqi commanders and servicemen, the paper says the military became increasingly fractured, thanks, in part, to erratic orders from Saddam and his son Qusai. During the final weeks of the war, troops were ordered to reposition their tanks every morning, and each order contradicted the one before. Iraqi soldiers lacked maps, radios, and even a game plan for how to fight American troops—the latter because Saddam didn’t think the U.S. would make it very far in the war. “We were crippled by a lack of imagination,” one former Iraqi commander gripes.
Citing corporate scandals, terrorism concerns, tax evasion, and other issues, the government is putting pressure on attorneys to relax their confidentiality agreements with clients, the NYT says in its lead story. And that’s gotten some surprising reactions from the legal community. While most attorneys are crying foul, the American Bar Association seems to be entertaining some compromise on the issue. At its convention next week, the ABA will consider changes to its industry code of conduct that would give lawyers “greater discretion to disclose client confidences.” No one is exactly sure what this might mean for attorneys, though one expert predicts a “perverse effect” on the justice system. If lawyers are duty-bound to report their client’s wrong-doing, attorneys could end up telling clients not to share everything with them—or, in effect, to lie. “The lawyer will have to say, ‘I cannot hear you say, “I did this crime”—that’s something I can never know,’ ” one expert tells the NYT.
Everybody goes high with news on the California recall—or, as the NYT appropriately notes, news about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s bid for governor. Yesterday, the Terminator left his aides to do the talking on the Sunday talk-show circuit, as he faced more attacks from his opponents, both Republicans and Democrats, on his qualifications for governor. “Over the first five days of his campaign, as he glided from one media-festooned event to the next,” Schwarzenegger has promised to create jobs, “clean up” Sacramento, and make children his top priority as governor, the LAT reports. Yet the paper, noting that Arnold has denied all interview requests from “California’s political press,” notes he has said “close to nothing” about how he’ll do it. “This is not a time for sound bites, Hollywood scripts,” GOP rival Bill Simon said yesterday.
USAT goes inside with the results of a CNN/USAT/Gallup poll of California registered voters that says “if the recall election were held today,” nearly two-thirds would vote to remove Gov. Gray Davis. A near majority of those surveyed—42 percent—said there’s “a very good or good chance” they’d vote for Schwarzenegger to succeed Davis.
The NYT fronts word from the White House that Bush wants to stay out of the recall fray, if he can. Despite his statement last week that Arnold would make a good governor, Bush aides say the president won’t campaign for any of the candidates vying to replace Davis. Meanwhile, the LAT says there’s one big lesson that could come out of the wackiness of the state’s recall election: It could happen anywhere.
Everybody stuffs Liberian President Charles Taylor’s farewell address yesterday in which he described rebel forces in the country as a “surrogate force” of the U.S. and blamed Americans for his ouster. “I can say I am being forced into exile by the world superpower,” Taylor said. He has promised to cede power and leave the country today—a main condition for any U.S. role in peacekeeping forces in the region, the WP notes.
Israeli warplanes fired on southern Lebanon on Sunday, after Hezbollah guerrillas lobbed shells across the border, killing an Israeli teenager, everybody notes. The killing today was the first time that an Israeli civilian had been killed by cross-border fire from Hezbollah since Israeli forces withdrew from southern Lebanon three years ago, the WP says. Israeli officials tell the NYT, which fronts the attack, that its airstrikes were nothing more than retaliatory against Hezbollah, but the paper notes the attack raises “the prospect of widening violence” against Syria and Lebanon if they don’t make efforts to “restrain” Hezbollah.
Finally, everybody mentions the passing of Tony Award-winning actor Gregory Hines, who succumbed to cancer on Saturday. He was 57. Hines, who had more two dozen films to his credit, had danced professionally since his childhood and was credited for introducing the art of tap dance to a generation raised on rock ’n’ roll. “I enjoy acting, the challenge it presents,” Hines told the LAT in 1984, “but I look on it as a job. And I always think of myself as a tap dancer; that’s what I do, and I’m going to do it until I can’t.”