Today's Papers

Livin’ on a Prayer

The New York Times and Los Angeles Times lead with—and everyone fronts—the announcement by Islamic Jihad and Hamas that they are ending their cease-fire with Israel after Israelis fired missiles from a helicopter, killing a Hamas leader. The Washington Post leads with the announcement by the Persian Gulf’s top U.S. military commander that terrorism is the “number one security threat” in Iraq, citing foreign fighters entering the country through Syria and the revival of Ansar al-Islam, a terrorist group initially suspected in Tuesday’s bombing truck bombing at the U.N. headquarters. USA Today leads with the Census Bureau’s first examination of adopted children, tallying 1.6 million adopted kids in the U.S.

In their statement, Hamas urged “all our cells of fighters in Palestine to strike in every corner of the Jewish state.” The Wall Street Journalhas a quote from an unnamed Palestinian official that aptly sums up the cheery mood in the Middle East: “Is the road map dead? I don’t think it ever really started.”

Secretary of State Colin Powell counseled both sides not to abandon the peace plan and specifically called on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to use his power to shut down Hamas and other groups responsible for Tuesday’s bus bombing. As the NYT notes inside, this is a distinct shift in strategy—for a year the Bush administration has been barely acknowledging Arafat at all.

The NYT fronts, and everyone else mentions, the continuing fight between Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore and practically every other legal authority over Moore’s refusal to take down a Ten Commandments monument he erected in the judicial building. Joining a U.S. district judge, the other state Supreme Court justices ordered him to remove it Thursday. Moore has decided to defy all orders and live with the consequences: “I will never, never deny the God upon whom our laws and country depend.” 

The head of the Central Command, Army Gen. John Abizaid, told reporters, “Iraq is at the center of the global war on terrorism.” As the Post is quick to note, the Bush administration suggested links between Saddam Hussein’s government and al-Qaida to build up their case for war; then the CIA refuted the claims and warned that a war might actually cause the two groups to work together. Now, as the WP points out, Abizaid himself seems to agree that the prophecy is coming true.

The papers note that a group calling itself the Armed Vanguards of the Second Muhammad Army claimed responsibility yesterday for the U.N. attack; also, the Israeli ambassador said the truck used in the bombing entered the country through Syria. The NYT, in a front page story, quotes a “senior American official” who maintains that investigators are homing in on the possibility that the attackers were assisted by Iraqi security guards who worked at the U.N. compound.

The bickering over the Iraq cleanup continues. The papers follow up yesterday’s stories with Powell’s visit to the Security Council today to solicit help with peacekeeping. Most nations were predictably unimpressed with the idea of sharing the burden but not the authority, and France reacted with what the NYT calls “an icy rebuke.”

The Post fronts, and everybody remarks on, the capture of so-called “Chemical Ali,” a senior general under Saddam known for his brutal campaign against the Kurds in the 1980s. Ali Hassan al-Majid, a cousin of Saddam, was captured on Sunday, according to the WP and an Associated Press report in USAT.

The LAT and NYT front the latest recall news: the endorsement of Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante by California’s Democratic congressional delegation and the state’s largest teachers union. However, both groups urged a “no” vote to oust Gov. Gray Davis in the first place. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, an opponent of the recall, announced yesterday she would not vote on the second part of the ballot, which asks for an alternative governor; Davis has refused to indicate whether he would support Bustamante as his possible replacement.

The papers stuff word of an obscure Liberian taking the helm in the turbulent country. Charles Gyude Bryant, an Episcopal leader and head of the Liberian Action Party, will run the transition government until 2005.

On Page A14, the Post documents the erosion of humanitarian aid in Iraq since the truck bombing at the U.N. HQ earlier in the week. The United Nations has reduced about a third of its Baghdad staff and the Red Cross has withdrawn some workers, but the WP doesn’t mention who else is pulling out. Says an unnamed relief worker: “The aid community is reluctant to speak much about leaving or cutting back. No one wants to start a stampede.”

On its Corrections page, the Post admits the paper was swindled yesterday. The paper initially reported that Rep. William J. Janklow, R-S.D., had hired a private investigator to investigate the accident the congressman was involved in Saturday when he allegedly collided with a motorcyclist while driving a Cadillac. In fact, as the paper also reports in an article deeper into the front section, the man later revealed he made up the story—but it was the Associated Press that discovered the boo-boo and quoted the faker recanting.