Today's Papers

Bare Cabinet

The Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal world-wide newsbox, and New York Timesall lead with the swearing-in of Iraq’s new government—complete with six unfilled Cabinet posts, mostly those reserved for Sunnis. The ceremony was boycotted by top Sunnis, including Vice President Ghazi al-Yawar, all of whom have complained that the Shiites’ insistence on heavy de-Baathification has resulted in the exclusion of most Sunni candidates. USA Todayleads with the government’s plans to ask air travelers for their legal names and birth dates. You don’t have to give it up, but if you take a pass you’ll probably be headed to the super-screened line. The Washington Post’stop nonlocal story goes to a federally funded metastudy concluding that an episiotomy, the incision many pregnant women get to reduce the possibility of tears during delivery—has no benefits and actually causes complications. There have been questions about the procedure for years but about 70 percent of first-time mothers still have it done.

The NYT mentions in passing and the WP gives more space to a purported letter from a guy in Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s group complaining that “morale is down and there is fatigue among mujahedeen ranks.” The military says it intercepted the undated letter; obviously nobody knows if the letter is legit.

The NYT, LAT, and WSJ all go high with Iran making noise about restarting its nuclear program. The Iranians said they just want the nuclear power for peaceful purposes. They had agreed to suspend progress on their program while negotiating with Europe. According to the Journal, Tehran said it’s planning to actually start enriching uranium, the key step for making nukes, in a couple of months. That could obviously be a bluff or an attempt to fracture the European front. “They’re always probing for weaknesses,” said one European diplomat. “We’re all wondering if this is ‘the crisis’ or just another test.”

Citing “U.S. officials,” the LAT says European countries, looking to move forward on negotiations (or caving, depending on your POV), asked the U.S. last week to sweeten the incentives on the table to Tehran. The U.S. said ixnay.

The Post says inside that the Army knew within days that former NFL player Pat Tillman’s death was the result of friendly fire but kept mum and didn’t tell the public or Tillman’s family for weeks.

The NYT mentions inside that conservative lawmakers in Kuwait successfully put the kibosh on a proposal that would have allowed women to vote (in just city council elections).

The WP says on Page One that shamed lobbyist Jack Abramoff paid for two 1997 trips by two Democratic congressmen as well as for two Tom DeLay staffers. That’s a no-no, according to House ethics rules. The Post credits the AP. The NYT has a similar piece inside but got some of the docs on its own.

The LAT fronts convicted Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols claiming that there was a third conspirator, a guy who gave Nichols and Timothy McVeigh explosives. Nichols made the claim recently during correspondence with a woman who had two grandchildren killed by in the bombing. She gave the letter to the Times.

The WP fronts an analysis of crime data by a liberal outfit concluding that, over the last decade, arrests for are way up for pot and way down for heroin and coke. Notwithstanding the Post’s reverse reefer madness headline—”MARIJUANA BECOMES FOCUS OF DRUG WAR”—there doesn’t seem to be any centralized, or perhaps even purposeful, effort here.As one professor put it, “It’s not like anyone said, ‘We don’t care about cocaine and heroin anymore.’ The simple answer may be that police are now taking opportunities to make more marijuana arrests than they were when they were focused on crack cocaine in the 1980s.”

USAT teases the upcoming ABC report set to air tonight in which an American Idol contestant says judge Paula Abdul helped him, in all sorts of ways. “I want to look out after you like—like I’m your mom,” he recalls Abdul telling him. “And then she was like, ‘Well, maybe more like your special friend.’ “