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U.N. Report Lays Out Options for An Oil-Rich Iraqi Region

A long-awaited U.N. report that was presented Wednesday to senior Iraqi officials proposes several options for Kirkuk province, including making it an autonomous region as a way to defuse simmering tensions between Kurds and Arabs over its oil wealth.

The U.S. military has long been concerned that the dispute over control of Kirkuk and its resources could plunge Iraq into a new round of violence, drawing neighboring Turkey and Iran into the conflict as well.

The United Nations did not release the complete 500-page document, providing instead only general details about the report. Among them were four proposed options for Kirkuk, each of which would require political accommodation among the groups competing for power: Kurds, Turkmens and Sunni and Shiite Arabs.

Each of the proposals envisions keeping the province as a single entity, and each calls for Kirkuk residents to make the final decision as part of a referendum.

The report, which has been delayed since last year, was presented to Prime Minister Nouri Kamal al-Maliki and other officials.

Massoud Barzani, the leader of the Iraqi Kurdistan region, and other Kurds have said that Kirkuk, which is believed to have a Kurdish majority, should be incorporated into Kurdistan, which has operated as an autonomous region since 1991.

A member of the Iraqi parliament who read the report said that one of the four proposed options was the creation of an independent or autonomous region run by Kurds, Arabs and Turkmens. The budget of the region would be financed with a percentage of Kirkuk’s oil revenues, according to the U.N. plan.

Bat Boy, Now 100, Gets Birthday Gift from Red Sox

“Hi ya, young fella.”

Babe Ruth greeted Arthur Giddon as he did most 13-year-olds, even those in uniform. Giddon chatted with the Babe for a moment but tore himself away because he had a job to do. It was 1922, and as the Boston Braves bat boy, Giddon had to break out the bats, polish some spikes and otherwise outfit his players for that afternoon’s game at Braves Field.

Eighty-seven years later, on Saturday, Giddon will reprise his role for his now-beloved Red Sox — as a special 100th birthday present, he will serve as the team’s honorary bat boy prior to the game against the rival Yankees. The same hands that delivered bats to Billy Southworth and softened Rube Marquard’s glove will do the same for Kevin Youkilis and Jon Lester.