The Wall Street Journal’s world-wide newsbox and the New York Timeslead with Iraqi politicians again missing their deadline for passing a draft constitution; they granted themselves another day. The NYT, which has the most pessimistic and detailed take, says early yesterday that Shiites decided to “ignore the Sunnis’ request for changes,” bypass the National Assembly, and instead present the (still vague and perhaps incomplete) draft to voters as is. Then President Bush called a top Shiite leader and got the one-day delay. The Washington Postleads with the federal base commission’s decision to, as the WP describes it, “close” the storied-but-dated Walter Reed Hospital. Staff at the nearly 100-year-old facility will move three miles across town to the National Naval Medical Center, which will be renamed, of course, Walter Reed Hospital. USA Todayleads with a Pentagon panel saying the military hasn’t done enough to combat sexual harassment at military academies. It pointed some fingers at the military’s macho culture. “When women are devalued, the likelihood of harassing and even abusive behavior increases,” said the panel, which offered 14 recommendations. The Los Angeles Timesleads with the big news that Angelinos in the tony 310 area code must now suffer and dial 11 numbers even when phoning inside the area code.
The NYT quotes an administration official celebrating “substantial and real progress” toward a compromise draft constitution. The WP gives a glimpse of how Iraqi politicians are burning the midnight oil to get a deal the National Assembly can agree on: “Late Thursday, as negotiations continued, political leaders sent out word for assembly members to stay home, canceling the 400 dinners ordered for lawmakers and staff members.”
Sunni groups are saying they’ll organize voters against the draft, which goes to a national referendum Oct. 15. The document goes 6 feet under if two-thirds of voters in any three of Iraq’s 18 provinces vote against it. It’s unclear if Sunnis have the numbers for that.
The Post’s front-page Iraq wrap-up plays down the draft issues and instead headlines the “surging” political violence: About 100 Iraqis have been killed in the last two days. The WP says 40 Iraqis—a mix of civilians and police—were killed along with one American contractor Wednesday when insurgents “laid siege” to one neighborhood. Meanwhile, 36 men were found handcuffed and executed near the Iranian border. The Post notices that while police said the men were wearing Kurdish-style baggy pants, photographers “found bodies clad in normal clothing.”
As the NYT details, radical cleric Muqtada Sadr told his followers to step back from confrontations with a rival government-allied Shiite militia. Still, the Times says there were reports of a few apparently Sadr-centered gunbattles early this morning in Baghdad. USAT mentions that gunmen attacked the caravan used by Iraqi President Talabani; he wasn’t in it at the time, but eight bodyguards were killed.
The WP fronts scientists announcing that they’ve discovered a hormone in mice that extends their lifespan. Mice whose genes were tinkered with to overproduce the hormone lived 20 percent to 30 percent longer than normal. The Post calls the hormone the “first substance identified that is produced naturally in mammals, including humans, and can extend life span.”
The LAT fronts current and former Park Service bureaucrats grumbling about an administration proposal to loosen regulations at national parks. The proposed regs allow more mining, more snowmobile use, and rollback of the overall standards for protection of the parks. “They are changing the whole nature of who we are and what we have been,” said the manager of Death Valley National Park.
The NYT teases a sneak peek at a long-awaited internal CIA report on 9/11 failures. The report points fingers, including at former Chief George Tenet, who before 9/11 apparently forgot to develop a serious plan against al-Qaida despite having penned a 1998 memo proclaiming “we are at war.”