Everybody leads with President Bush’s address to the United Nations, where he spoke about the need for democracy, defended the invasion of Iraq, and appealed for help in rebuilding. He also asserted that the war there now is indistinguishable from the “War on Terror.” “The people of Madrid and Jerusalem and Istanbul and Baghdad have done nothing to deserve sudden and random murder,” said Bush. “These acts violate the standards of justice in all cultures, and the principles of all religions. All civilized nations are in this struggle together, and all must fight the murderers.”
The president called for a “new democracy fund,” though as Slate’s Fred Kaplan points out the U.N. already has similar efforts and Bush didn’t put a figure on how much money the U.S. would pony up. A White House official did give the Wall Street Journal a figure: about $10 million.
The Los Angeles Timescontrasts Bush’s talk with U.N. chief Kofi Annan’s speech, which included a few implicit swipes at the administration. “Those who seek to bestow legitimacy must themselves embody it,” said Annan. “And those who invoke international law must themselves submit to it.”
The generally contrasting approaches between the U.S.’s most venerable paper, the New York Times, and its best, the Washington Post, come out clearly in their primary stories on Bush’s speech. The Times’ story is so pat—summary-quote-summary-quote-summary-quote—TP suspects it was computer generated. The Post also quotes the president extensively but adds a little twist, namely reality: “Bush spoke a day after terrorists in Iraq posted a gruesome video of an American being beheaded and before the group said it had slain a second U.S. hostage. More than 30 car-bomb attacks have occurred in Iraq this month.”
According to early morning reports: A car bomb exploded in Baghdad, killing at least six Iraqis and wounding at least 40; a Blackhawk helicopter crashed near Basra and wounded three soldiers; and at least 10 Iraqis died and about 100 were wounded by U.S. airstrikes and heavy fighting in Baghdad’s Sadr City. Also, a GI was killed during a patrol in Afghanistan.
Everybody mentions that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s terrorist group, One God and Jihad, posted a message on the Web saying it beheaded a second American hostage, presumably Jack Hensley. The military confirmed that Iraqi police have found the body of the first hostage, Eugene Armstrong. Meanwhile, two Marines were killed in fighting in Fallujah’s al-Anbar province. (As usual, that merits a sentence buried somewhere in the papers’ Iraq wrap-ups.) And the LAT adds that the Pentagon announced that two GIs were killed in attack Saturday. Also, a suicide car bomb exploded near Baghdad’s airport and according to the LAT killed three civilians and wounded four GIs. Nobody gives that bombing more than a sentence or two, and most don’t mention the civilians.
The terrorists are holding a third hostage, a Brit, whom they have said they will kill unless the U.S. releases all Muslim women from detention. According to a late-breaking LAT piece, Iraq’s government has said it will release one of the two women being held (Dr. Germ), though it says the decision is … unrelated to the hostage situation. In any case, the U.S. needs to agree to the move since it has physical custody of her.
U.S. forces in Najaf also arrested about a dozen of Moqtada Sadr’s aides and confiscated some weapons.
Citing Iraqi and U.S. officials, the Post’s off-lead says the interim Iraqi government is actually making “most key decisions” in the country now, both political and military. Iraq certainly isn’t truly independent. The WP notes: “The talking points by President Bush and [interim Prime Minster Iyad] Allawi at the United Nations yesterday echoed each other.” But there has been a shift. For instance, the government apparently has significant control over most ministries. “Of course, it’s a weak sovereign government,” said Iraq’s finance minister. “But even so, the relationship has changed.” The Post also says the U.S. is moving toward smaller, more labor-intensive reconstruction projects that could help with Iraq’s massive unemployment. Many told the WP they’re worried the moves are coming too late. “We’ve dug a pretty deep hole,” said one Marine colonel.
The LAT says inside—and the Journal mentions—that the Pentagon has begun tapping into a $25 billion “emergency” fund for Iraq that the White House had said it wouldn’t need this fiscal year.
The NYT and WP tease Iran’s announcement that it will start converting uranium into gas, in defiance of U.N. watchdogs. Iran says it’s making the gas just for nuclear reactors, which, technically, could be true. Meanwhile, the Times notices a military parade yesterday in Teheran, complete with long-range missiles draped with banners as such, “Crush America” and “Wipe Israel Off The Map.”
The LAT is alone among the papers with a bylined story from Haiti, where flooding has left 700 people confirmed dead, 1,000 missing, and an estimated 250,000 homeless.
The Post and NYT front the indictment of three top aides of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay for allegedly illegally using corporate donations to fund the Texas redistricting effort. DeLay wasn’t named in the indictments, but he is already under scrutiny by the House Ethics Committee, and as the Post notes DeLay was central to the redistricting funding effort. Asked whether DeLay might get cuffed, the case’s prosecutor said, “My response has been consistent, in that anyone who has committed a crime is a target.”
The WP goes inside with the discovery (by a enviro group) that of a passage of a much-criticized proposed EPA rule on mercury restrictions was taken almost word-for-word from a lobbyist proposal—the third time such “similarities” have been found in the proposal.
Cat fight! In related news, the Post notes that security officials diverted a United flight yesterday and detained one Yusuf Islam, saying he’s on a “no-fly” list. A TSA official explained that Islam, otherwise known as Cat Stevens, is being “detained on national security grounds.” No other details were offered.