Today's Papers

The Anniversary Party

The New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times all lead with Saturday’s suicide bombing in Musayyib, Iraq, which ignited a fuel tanker near a Shiite mosque, filling the streets with fire and killing at least 60 people. This attack was one of several on Saturday alone and the deadliest since at least May.

Details are still fuzzy: the NYT and LAT both say the bomber walked up to the tanker and detonated himself. But the WP’s source says the bomber actually set off the explosion from inside the mosque and “could not have known the fuel tanker had been parked nearby while its driver was eating dinner at a local restaurant.” The NYT suggests that the increased violence of the past week may be timed to coincide with today’s anniversary of the 1968 revolution that brought Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party into power.

The number of casualties is likely to rise, since more than 80 people are said to be injured, and Musayyib has few neighboring hospitals. The WP describes the region as “a largely lawless part of the Babil province that has come to be known as the triangle of death.” Total number of suicide bombings in Iraq since the U.S. invasion: about 400.

Folded into the NYT and WP leads is news that 11 American soldiers are being investigated after a member of their company accused them of abusing Iraqi prisoners. For now, the entire company of about 100 soldiers has been suspended from active duty.

The LAT’s off-lead follows Chinese executives, diplomats, and engineers around the world as they search for new sources of oil to feed growing consumption. The journey begins in Alberta, where Chinese state-owned oil companies have bought a 40 percent stake in a $3.6 billion exporting project. “Clearly, China has been the talk of Calgary,” says a local investment-bank analyst.

Also on tour, though more locally, are officials from the Bush administration, who are traveling the country, trying to stir up interest in the new Medicare drug benefit. According to the NYT’s off-lead, audiences are skeptical, and specific information about premiums and covered drugs is not yet available. In Scarborough, Maine, the executive director of the regional “agency on aging” welcomed the Bush group enthusiastically and praised the plan, but his 81-year-old mother had issues  with it.

Labor is making an effort to get religion back on its side, according to a Page One LAT report. The AFL-CIO has hired “more than three dozen aspiring ministers, imams, priests and rabbis” to lead its summer organizing efforts and give them the aura of righteousness. Says one participating rabbinical student: “We’re showing up in their office, telling them that God does not want them to act the way they’re acting toward their workers. They’re going to get the message.”

Cultural treasure. What’s the thrill of the World Series of Poker, which the Australian pro Joseph Hachem won yesterday? There’s the money. And the risks. And the characters—like 78-year-old “Puggy” Pearson, who spent his youth “hustling, scuffling, roundin’ and gamblin’” his way to Vegas. But mostly there’s the chant.