Today's Papers

Kyrgyz Prtstrs Vrthrw Gvrnmt

Everybody leads, again, with the Terri Schiavo case, which the Supreme Court declined to hear. Late last night, Florida’s Supreme Court rebuffed Gov. Jeb Bush and declined to get involved. Schiavo’s parents have filed a last-ditch appeal with a state judge, who has already rejected their case before.

The Washington Postand Los Angeles Timesoff-lead and most others front pro-democracy protestors in Kyrgyzstan toppling President Askar Akayev, who fled after demonstrators forced their way into his compound. (Some then sat at his desk, drank his wine, and tried on a few ties.) The riot police who had been guarding the president’s office quickly melted away in the face of protests, a sign perhaps of their lack of interest in protecting the government. The New York Timessays none of the police appear to have been armed.

While most of the papers have Kyrgyzstan datelines, it’s the Wall StreetJournal that has the most detailed coverage. The Journal’s reporter saw looting of the presidential compound and around the capital. One Kyrgyz citizen standing outside a department store asked, “Would you like to buy some panties, wholesale?”

Opposition parliament leaders held an emergency session yesterday and named an interim leader, but it’s not clear if the choice will hold. For one thing there are legal questions since Akayev left without actually resigning. There’s also the issue of the less than completely unified opposition, which the Journal says couldn’t even decide between iconic colors for their revolution (the two leading contenders: pink and yellow).

The protests started a few weeks ago after what international observers say were rigged elections. As in Ukraine, Russian President Putin had backed the incumbent regime. Now-former-president Akayev came to power via pro-democratic “silk revolution” in 1990 but over the years learned to really enjoy power. The U.S. and Russia both have bases in Kyrgyzstan.

A dateline mystery: Some editions of the Post had their Kyrgyzstan story datelined Almaty, Kazakhstan. The final version, though, is blessed with the appropriate dateline, Kyrgyzstan. Explanations welcomed.

A separate piece inside the Post notices another poke-in-the-eye for Putin, this one delivered by Washington: The White House just announced that, as President Bush heads to Moscow in May, he’ll swing by Latvia and Georgia, the former a new NATO member and the latter a newly democratic country, both recent developments that offer Russia endless tsuris

The WP fronts and others stuff a U.N. report concluding that the Lebanese government has shown a “lack of commitment” in investigating the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and even seems to have “misplaced” crucial physical evidence. The U.N. called for an international investigation of the bombing. Citing Hariri’s aides, the report also says that a few months before the assassination, Syrian ruler Bashar Assad threatened Hariri with “physical harm.”

The NYT’s off-lead announces the Pentagon’s intention to get seriously involved in counter-narcotics ops in Afghanistan The U.N. estimates that 87 percent of the world’s opium now comes from Afghanistan. One military official said the increase in production last year was “beyond most people’s worst nightmares.” The Pentagon, which until now has had a mostly hands-off poppy policy, is asking for $257 million to go after the crop.

The LAT only teases on Page One a sit-down with Secretary of State Rice, who took a swing at Israel, calling its decision to expand some settlements “at odds with American policy.”

As the NYT describes, Iraq was “unusually quiet” yesterday, though three police officers were killed after Iraqi soldiers mistook them for guerrillas. In Baghdad, hundreds of power workers held a demonstration, chanting “no to terror.” Also, military officials said an Iraqi detainee died in custody Tuesday. Guards reportedly found him passed out in his cell.

The Journal looks at the latest stumbling block to forming a government in Iraq: control of the oil ministry. Apparently the Shiite coalition wants it—as do the Kurds.

USA Todaygoes Page One with a poll showing President Bush’s rating at a record-low 45 percent, seven points below what the paper had last week. USAT notes (with a straight face) that the “poll also found an increased number of Democrats,” from 32 percent last week to 37 percent this week. TP is no pollster, but which is more likely: 1) an enormous political realignment over the past seven days, or 2) a crappy poll?