Today's Papers

Insane in Ukraine

The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post lead with the decision of Ukraine’s Supreme Court to delay the inauguration of Viktor Yanukovych, the current prime minister and the unofficial winner of a dubiously recorded presidential run-off against opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko. USA Today leads with a report that the federal program for detecting hazardous materials on planes has not lived up to expectations.

Yushchenko supporters were heartened by the decision, which was merely a procedural acknowledgement that allegations of voter fraud must be considered before an official announcement. No one mentions the political independence or make-up of the high court. The opposition—which filled the streets of Kiev to the brim—is apparently trying to push a nonviolent revolution along the lines of recent ones in Serbia and Georgia. While a call for a general strike was not fully heeded, security forces are publicly and privately siding with Yuschenko, and journalists are revolting against the state media’s blackout of the huge pro-opposition protests. The NYT highlights the growing rift between the EU, which regards Yushchenko as the rightful victor, and Russia, which suspiciously continues to assert that Yanukovych is unimpeachably victorious.

Iran threw a wrench into almost-resolved negotiations with France, Britain, and Germany at the U.N. over a potential nuclear freeze yesterday by insisting on maintaining 20 uranium-enrichment centrifuges. Both the NYT and WP accounts seem to regard this as a hardball tactic that is designed to push for an even weaker U.N. Security Council resolution about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but everyone seems to be convinced that these differences can be ironed out by the weekend.

The NYT fronts news that an Iraqi Cabinet official offered to meet and negotiate with insurgents at an as-yet undetermined time and place in Jordan. They also mention, and the WP highlights, news of the capture of a high-ranking aide to insurgent mastermind Abu Musab Zarqawi in Mosul and the discovery of a huge weapons cache in Fallujah; the arrest seems to confirm suspicions that Zarqawi came to Mosul to stir up trouble right before U.S. troops invaded Fallujah in early November.

While the WP runs a front-page dispatch on the predicament of a Sunni politician on the campaign trail—the U.S. considers them possible insurgents, and the insurgents consider them possible U.S. collaborators—reports have been coming over the wire that all the major Sunni parties are officially refusing to take place in the elections currently scheduled for Jan. 30 unless they’re delayed by three months.

The NYT runs another installment of its nifty “Op-Chart” on the situation in Iraq.

Fatah, Yasser Arafat’s old political party, nearly unanimously approved former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas as their nominee for president in the upcoming Palestinian elections.

The NYT reports the retirement of the CIA’s Europe and Far East division chiefs in what seems to be a result of discomfort (surprise, surprise) with new Director Porter Goss and his staff. The retirements were not publicly announced since both chiefs are still working undercover, and the article is filled with the now-standard load of sniping anonymous quotes and anecdotes of bureaucratic warfare.

The WP notes that Congress is threatening to revoke economic aid to countries that refuse to accept U.S. immunity from the International Criminal Court.

The government of India publicly stated yesterday that it would consider more autonomy for the disputed Kashmir region but reiterated that it would not cede any part of it to Pakistan.

An excellent front-pager in the NYT deals with a experimental drug for Parkinson’s produced by Amgen, a drug that was canceled because of safety risks and efficacy failures, but that now has sparked a storm because some of the trial patients were convinced it helped and are fighting to get the drug re-introduced.

The LAT notes that the U.N. World Food Program is withdrawing many of its services from starvation-ravaged Darfur, Sudan, due to an increase in fighting and instability.