Today's Papers

Late-Breaking Spore Scores

All the majors lead with the second day of the U.S.-led war against global-reach terrorism, which consisted of air and missile attacks against Taliban military targets and of food drops elsewhere over concentrations of refugees. Everybody notes that the number of missions was less than the day before, although there were also some daylight sorties, which, as the New York Times points out, indicates that Taliban air defenses had been weakened by Sunday’s after-dark-only raids. It’s reported that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said all aircrews returned safely, and he asserted that Taliban claims of 20 civilians killed by the airstrikes are untrue. The Los Angeles Times headlines Rumsfeld’s flat assertion that besides the air activity, commandos on the ground are reaching out to anti-Taliban Afghan groups and to disaffected Taliban members. The coverage reports that on Monday there were street demonstrations or riots against the war in many parts of the Muslim world. The Washington Post’s lead editorial observes that particularly intense reactions occurred in the West Bank, where Palestinian Authority police fatally shot at least two demonstrators; in Pakistan, where huge pro-Taliban demonstrations left one dead; and in Indonesia, where Islamic militants protested in front of the U.S. Embassy and threatened to hunt down Americans.

The WP, NYT, and LAT front and  USA Today reefers the news that a second case of anthrax has been uncovered in Florida. The Wall Street Journal also goes long on the development. The new victim, a worker at the same tabloid newspaper as the man who died of anthrax last week, is suffering from flulike rather than full-blown anthrax symptoms, but anthrax bacteria have been found in his nose, and so he’s been hospitalized and is being treated with antibiotics, as are hundreds of others who work in or visited their office building. Traces of anthrax have been found on a computer keyboard the dead man used and which the second man had access to. The coverage reminds that the building is only a few miles from where some of the Sept. 11 hijackers lived, took flight lessons, and made inquiries into buying a crop-dusting plane. The FBI has taken over the case. The NYT reports that unnamed law enforcement officials said privately that the episode was highly suspicious even though they had no evidence of criminal or terrorist activity. The LAT has an unnamed law enforcement source saying the possibility of terrorism is under consideration. The WSJ has a doctor observing that “there has never been a reported case of anthrax exposure inside a building.” The WP and USAT report that a Virginia hospital is looking into a third possible case of anthrax exposure, in a man whose job may have brought him in contact with the Florida tabloid building. The headline over the online version of the USAT story deems “FOUL PLAY LIKELY” in the case, with the text attempting to cheer but falling a bit short with its observation that this doesn’t mean that terrorists were responsible.

USAT fronts and everybody else stuffs word that yesterday a man broke into the cockpit of a Los Angeles to Chicago airliner. After a struggle during which the plane rocked violently, the man was subdued by passengers and, escorted by Air Force fighters, the aircraft then made a safe landing in Chicago.

USAT’s “Life” front blurbs a Monday Variety revelation that the U.S. Army has been brainstorming with Hollywood creative folks on possible terrorist scenarios and how to respond to them. Involved in a session last week were Die Hard’s screenwriter and the directors of Fight Club and Being John Malkovich.

USAT reports that when Osama Bin Laden made the virulently anti-American videotape that was distributed worldwide on Sunday, in at least one detail he demonstrated an appreciation for something American. According to a U.S. Marine quoted by the paper, Bin Laden was wearing one of the service’s camouflaged field jackets, which by law are manufactured in the U.S.