Today's Papers

Class Clone

The New York Timesand USA Todaylead with South Korean researchers announcing their stem-cell breakthrough: The scientists said they’ve been able to harvest the cells from embryos cloned from sick or injured people. In other words, the scientists essentially completed the process for therapeutic cloning, creating stem cells capable of replacing tissue in humans. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with embryo coverage but emphasizes the pickle President Bush may soon find himself in because the House is expected to take up a bill next week that would allow for expanded funding of stem-cell research. The Los Angeles Timesleads with a somewhat vague piece saying that the U.S. is taking a more hands-on approach with the new Iraqi government, in particular pushing for more Sunni representation. “We don’t dictate action plans,” said one “U.S. official.” “But we constantly remind them that we’re working toward the same goal, and we have our ‘red lines.’ ” The Washington Postleads with the merger of US Airways and America West, a $1.5 billion deal that would create the country’s sixth-largest airline. US Airways is HQ’d in the D.C. area.

The South Korean researchers explained that they have no interest in making human clones. “Our proposal is limited to finding a way to cure disease,” said one. Other scientists were seriously psyched about the research. “This may be nature’s best repair kit,” said one doc. As the NYT recounts, each harvested embryo consisted of about 100 cells, totaling about 0.08 inch in diameter.

A front-page piece in the Journal notes that the U.S. has cut off all food aid to North Korea. The administration has long been toying with the idea of trying to encourage the collapse of Pyongyang. But a State Department spokesman said the stoppage has nothing to do with that and is instead about North Korea impeding monitoring of where the food is going.

The NYT got a hold of—and off-leads—a 2,000-page Army investigation detailing abuse of prisoners at the U.S.’s Bagram airbase in Afghanistan back in 2002. As the Times originally reported about two years ago, two prisoners were killed at the base, incidents that the military said were aberrations. But the Times says the documents show “harsh treatment by some interrogators was routine and that guards could strike shackled detainees with virtual impunity.” The investigation concluded that the guards and interrogators were inexperienced and hadn’t been given clear guidelines. As was previously known—but not widely reported—the investigation, which didn’t get off the ground until the Times originally uncovered the deaths, recommended last year that charges be filed against 27 soldiers. So far, only seven have been charged, including four last week.

It’s worth checking out the Bagram story’s audio slideshow. Also, take a look at one guard’s drawing of the treatment meted out. One question or, actually a request: If a newspaper’s main task to inform and provide information, and if the Times got a hold of the Army’s investigative report, then why not post it for readers to download?

The Post fronts U.S. officers in Baghdad detailing cases of Iraqi forces torturing prisoners, including, according to one report, “assault with fists, wooden sticks, cords and weapons” and “electrical shock and choking.” The U.S.’s top commander in Iraq wrote a letter to his subordinates: “It is very important that we never turn a blind eye to abuses, thinking that what Iraqis do with their own detainees is ‘Iraqi business.’ ” A recent NYTMagazine piece suggested that U.S. forces occasionally do turn a blind eye. Human Rights Watch recently released a report on Iraqi torture of prisoners.

Three GIs were killed in Iraq yesterday. And in a murky incident in Mosul, a Sunni member of parliament was attacked at his house by gunmen, after which a U.S. helicopter responded and apparently killed three of the politician’s bodyguards. Also, an Oil Ministry official was assassinated.

A front-page LAT piece says that right before U.S. occupation officials turned over formal sovereignty to Iraq last year they began tossing out money left and right on reconstruction and in the process ignored financial controls and standards. “We were squandering the money we were entrusted to handle,” said one U.S. adviser. “We were a blind mouse with money.” TP wonders if the piece is actually a bit unfair about what it describes as the “mania to move money.” After all, maybe it was worth it to spend boatloads on reconstruction quickly, even knowing that some of it would be lost in the process.

The NYT and WP note inside that the Red Cross passed along detainee complaints about guards at Gitmo abusing the Quran. After the Red Cross gave the military its report, notes the Times, “complaints from detainees stopped.”

A piece inside the LAT picks up a memo in which the White House told a group about to host a presidential chat “who he would like to visit with.” Among the general requests was one for a young worker who “knows that [Social Security] could run out before they retire.” Shortly after, the president made his appearance and asked one 22-year-old citizen-panelist if she “has any thoughts about Social Security?”

“Yes,” she said. “I don’t think it’s going to be there when I retire, which is really scary.”

“Got anything else you want to say?” asked the president.

“I really like the idea of personal savings accounts,” she responded.

“You did a heck of a job,” Bush said. “You deserve an A.”