Today's Papers

Darth Nader

The New York Times and Los Angeles Times lead with Haitian rebels’ capture of the country’s second-largest city, Cap Haitien. The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal world-wide newsbox, and USA Today lead with Ralph Nader’s announcement that he’s running again for president, this time as an independent. “That “*&@!#%!” said Democrats.

The Haitian rebels, who faced little resistance, appear to have been led by a former officer who worked under Baby Doc in the late 1980s and who “headed death squads,” says the NYT. At least four people were killed, including a 12-year-old girl, as rebels took the town. Aristide abolished Haiti’s army and will have to rely on pro-government gangs to defend the capital. The rebels have refused to negotiate. And political opposition leaders, who are mostly distinct from the rebels, so far have rejected a U.S.-backed plan to share power with Aristide. The best coverage comes from the NYT’s Lydia Polgreen, who seems to be the only correspondent to have filed from Cap Haitien.

Referring to Washington as “corporate-occupied territory,” Nader said on NBC’s Meet the Press, “We need more civic and political energies inside the campaign to challenge this two-party duopoly.” Since he’s running as an independent rather than a Green, Nader will have more trouble getting on states’ ballots. But if he does succeed in a few key states—and if anybody votes for him—he could make a difference. In today’s most oft-cited stat: During the 2000 election, Nader received 97,488 votes in Florida, where President Bush officially defeated Al Gore by 537 votes. 

Many, if not most, of Nader’s former supporters were of course super-ticked. Rev. Al Sharpton, a Nader fan in 2000, told the NYT, “The only reason he’s running is either he’s an egomaniac or as a Bush contract.”

In late-breaking news caught by the LAT, a bomb exploded outside a police station in northern Iraq, killing at least four Iraqis and wounding 10. The wires, which cite local and hospital officials, say at least 10 died.

The NYT says on Page One that the Iraqi Governing Council has decided not to sign an agreement with the U.S. on keeping GIs in the country, saying that the issue should be left for Iraq’s coming government. A deal had been scheduled and as the Times notes, “It means that another feature of the agreement of Nov. 15, which set out the steps to sovereignty, will not occur on schedule.”

The Post says inside that faced with a bunch of bad options, the U.S. and U.N. are each trying to get the other to take the lead in figuring out a plan to hand over power in Iraq. “The reason the U.N. doesn’t want to pick [a plan] is because it doesn’t have any brilliant new ideas, either,” said one anon U.S. official.

The NYT and WSJ front word that Pakistan is preparing a big spring offensive against al-Qaida people hiding near the border with Afghanistan. The Journal says CIA’s director visited Pakistan this month to confab about the operation. The Times says that Pakistani leader Gen. Musharraf is finally no longer hesitating in fighting against AQ and Taliban forces. Apparently he saw the light on Dec. 25, after he was nearly assassinated by suicide bombers. The Post, which goes inside with the announcement of the upcoming offensive, emphasizes that it will be heavily coordinated with the U.S. military.

Everybody mentions inside that an Australian was killed and an American wounded after gunfire hit a U.S. contractor’s chopper in Afghanistan.

The Post runs a 4,400-word advert … I mean excerpt from Post Managing Editor Steve Coll’s book, Ghost Wars. Today’s segment recounts the U.S.’s rollercoaster relationship with the now-deceased Northern Alliance commander Ahmed Shah Massoud and how the U.S. pushed him to go after Osama. (Instead, Osama got Massoud.) TP read and read, and couldn’t find any juicy nuggets—that is, news.

According to wire copy inside the papers, rebels in Uganda killed at least 192 civilians at a refugee camp.

An op-ed in the NYT argues that since Israel’s security barrier goes deep into the West Bank it’s a less-than-ideal security barrier: “What this wall is really doing is taking Palestinian lands.” That’s not an original argument, but the author is: Noam Chomsky. Judging by a quickie Nexis search, it’s the first time the linguist and super-critic of U.S. policy has had his byline in the paper.

The Post’sAl Kamen notices that a page floating around on the White House’s Web site has some slightly outdated information. For instance, listing the reasons for war with Iraq, the page states that Saddam “recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” Kamen thinks that’s ha-ha funny. But the page only appears to be accessible via the archives and search engine. Would Kamen prefer that the White House remove the page and scrub the goof from the records?