Today's Papers

Viktors’ Second Date

The New York Timesand the Washington Postlead with Ukraine’s Supreme Court decision to invalidate the results of the disputed presidential election. Another runoff between opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko and Viktor Yanukovych, who had been named the winner, will be held later this month. Upon hearing the news, thousands of celebrating protesters filled the streets of Kiev in what the NYT calls the largest gathering since the election controversy began on Nov. 21. The Los Angeles Timesfronts the developments in Ukraine but leads with the settlement between sexual abuse victims and the Orange County archdiocese that is said to total more than $100 million, although official figures have not been released. This is the largest settlement of its kind, awarding each of the 87 victims more than $1 million, and it will probably have repercussions on other similar open cases across the country.

There is some disagreement in the papers on when this new Ukrainian election will be held. Whereas the LAT and NYT say the Supreme Court decision merely states the election has to be held by Dec. 26, the WP says the court has actually set the vote for that date. The court’s decision was in direct opposition to current President Leonid Kuchma and Russian President Vladimir Putin who had been arguing against another runoff after Yanukovych was declared the winner. The NYT mentions in an inside story that doctors are still unsure of what has been causing the “mystery illness” Yuschenko has been afflicted with since early September. Yuschenko’s physical deterioration, particularly in his face, is obvious (the pictures in the NYT site are quite striking), and, although there is no concrete proof, a British toxicologist said his symptoms are consistent with a certain kind of poison. Others have suggested he could be suffering from a rare immune disease.

The record settlement in the sexual abuse claims sets a new benchmark from which future cases will be negotiated. Previously, the record settlement had been in Boston when the archdiocese paid $85 million to settle claims of abuse by 552 victims. This latest agreement will likely impact a similar case going on in Los Angeles, where the archdiocese is trying to settle more than 500 claims of sexual abuse by priests. As a result, the LAT says the Los Angeles archdiocese might have to pay at least half a billion dollars to settle the legal challenges. The NYT and WP mention the story inside.

All the papers front the resignation of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, the eighth member of President Bush’s Cabinet to leave the administration since the president’s re-election. The WP is alone in mentioning that two more Cabinet secretaries, at the departments of Transportation and the Treasury, are also expected to resign. The NYT and WP focus on Thompson’s news conference, where he issued dire warnings of a possible flu epidemic and the ease with which terrorists could attack the country’s food supply. The LAT, strangely, does not mention any of these warnings. Thompson’s likely replacement will be Dr. Mark McClellan, the current head of Medicare and Medicaid, who also happens to be the White House press secretary’s brother. The Bush administration also announced that, as expected, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld will stay on in the new term.

The NYT and WP front, while the LAT reefers, the latest fallout in the baseball industry from the leaked testimonies of the grand jury hearings into steroid use that were published by the San Francisco Chronicle. In this testimony, it was revealed that player Jason Giambi admitted to using steroids for several seasons and that Barry Bonds and Gary Sheffield may have unknowingly used some “performance-enhancing substances.” While the NYT’s story focuses on the effects this could have on the popular Barry Bonds, one of three players to hit 700 home runs in his career, the WP details the possible political implications of this revelation. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., gave Major League Baseball an ultimatum, saying that if drug testing rules aren’t tightened by January, the federal government will step in.

The NYT and WP front yesterday’s violence in Iraq. Two attacks, one targeting a mosque and the other a police station, went off at almost the same time in opposite ends of Baghdad, killing civilians and police officers (WP and LAT say 30, while the NYT says 27). There were also insurgent attacks in Mosul. The LAT manages to catch early news of another bomb attack aimed at a Baghdad police station. Morning wire reports say two car bombs killed 7 people and wounded 59 in today’s attack.

All the papers mention the latest jobs report from the Labor Department that revealed fewer jobs were added in November than many had forecast. In total, 112,000 payroll jobs were created last month, which is fewer than the 150,000 that economists think are needed to keep up with population growth. The report also said the average weekly wage dropped by $1.25.

The British Broadcasting Corporation admitted that it was the victim of a hoax when it aired an interview with an alleged spokesman of Dow Chemical who said the company was taking responsibility for a disaster in India that killed thousands of people in 1984. In the end, the perpetrator of the hoax claimed to represent a group called The Yes Men, which specializes in impersonations. But the Yes Men don’t impersonate people for laughs or profit. Rather, according to their Web site, they “impersonate big-time criminals in order to publicly humiliate them.”