Today's Papers

Arrested Tests

The New York Times leads with Iran’s about-face on an earlier call for the right to operate uranium-enriched equipment that could be used to build nuclear weapons. In a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Iran pledged not to test its 20 centrifuges for research and development. The Los Angeles Times leads with the latest in Ukraine, where regional leaders threatened separatism and both presidential candidates warned of escalating violence. USA Today leads with a classified military report announcing the capture of hundreds of weapon caches in Fallujah that held missiles, mortar tubes and anti-tank weapons. The Washington Post leads with the upcoming overhaul of President Bush’s economic team.

Iran’s new vow revitalizes an agreement among Iran and Germany, France, and Britain that froze Iran’s activity involving uranium-enriched equipment. It also increases the likelihood that the International Atomic Energy Agency will pass a resolution Monday that will be only mildly critical of Iran’s nuclear program, a move sure to dissatisfy the White House.

Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich met with leaders and allies in eastern and southern Ukraine and urged restraint if his opponent, Viktor Yushchenko, succeeds in getting the vote overturned. But the prime minister’s supporters are committed to autonomy if his victory is invalidated. One regional council supporting Yanukovich voted to hold a referendum next Sunday on forming a republic within a federal Ukrainian state. Meanwhile, opponents at the ongoing rally at the capital called on the outgoing president to fire the prime minister. On the legislative front, things also show little signs of improvement. As one member of parliament told the Wall Street Journal: “We are in a constitutional no-man’s land.”

According to the military report made available to USAT, half of Fallujah’s mosques were used to hide weapons and fighters. “The amount of weapons was in no way just to protect a city. … There was enough to mount an insurgency across the country,” said a Marine intelligence officer. The report was presented to senior military officials Friday but not made public. It also detailed the capture of a “high-ranking Iraqi insurgent” in Fallujah on Thursday. The insurgent, called a top leader by anonymous sources, was carrying a list of two dozen targets.

White House aides tell the Post the replacement of four of the five top economic officials is imminent. Treasury Secretary John Snow will probably be leaving, and candidates to replace him include Chief of Staff Andrew Card and New York Gov. George Pataki. The WP’s unnamed sources whisper that upcoming nominees for influential posts will likely be White House insiders, with one official saying that Bush and Karl Rove are hoping to “implant their DNA throughout the government.”

USA Today runs an AP report speculating who will fill Alan Greenspan’s shoes when he steps down. Among the candidates is Columbia University professor Glenn Hubbard, who was Bush’s first Council of Economic Advisers chairman and who strongly supports the president’s tax cuts.

Several Iraqi civilians (The NYT says four; an Associated Press report says six) were killed in Samarra Sunday when a car bomb exploded as a U.S. convoy was passing. In a separate incident, two Marines were killed by a bomb south of Baghdad.

The LAT stuffs Mahmoud Abbas’ comments to reporters Sunday that Palestinians hope to reach an agreement with Israel on the terms of a final state by the end of next year. “Even a state with interim borders is a waste of time,” Abbas said after meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo.

Consumers spent 10 percent more Friday than they did a year ago, according to early reports. But even though shoppers spent nearly $8 billion on “Black Friday,” Wal-Mart contended that sales numbers were lower than predicted and cut its November sales forecast by more than half.

Eat, drink, be merry: The LAT looks at a study of very old Californians—age 90 and over—and examines if there is any pattern among those who live longer. What healthful habits do they have in common?  One delightful surprise: While diet and intake of antioxidant vitamins appears to have had little effect on longevity, moderate wine drinking and daily consumption of caffeinated coffee were both linked to living longer.