The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with the latest from Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, where help is beginning to arrive, although the New York Timessays that as of yesterday aid was so sparse in the local capital that “melees … broke out every time an army truck approached.” The NYT leads with, and the Washington Posttop nonlocal spot goes to, Germany’s conservative candidate Angela Merkel agreeing to a power-sharing deal in which she will become chancellor and the Social Democrats will get a majority of Cabinet positions. Merkel will become Germany’s first female chancellor and its first chancellor born in East Germany. With Germany’s unemployment at 12 percent and growth weak, Merkel has promised to cut back the social welfare state. But with Social Democrats holding many of the key Cabinet positions, it’s not clear how far she’ll get.
The Los Angeles Timesleads with word that the Pentagon, facing GI shortages, is redeploying about 3,000 Air Force personnel into Army positions, everything from interrogators to gunners on supply trucks. It’s worth noting that most of the personnel arebeing retrained. Also, the piece suffers from a context gap: Is there is a history of such shifts? What do independent analysts think of the moves? USA Today’s lead points out that thefederal government is years behind in fulfilling a congressional mandate to give people who live within 20 miles of a nuclear plant iodine pills, which can help prevent thyroid cancer should a plant melt down in, say, a terrorist attack. After 9/11, Congress required that the pills be offered by the end of 2003. According to USAT’s paraphrase, the official in charge of the program blamed “bureaucratic indecision” stemming from a fight over which agency was in charge.
The U.N. estimated that the quake in Kashmir has left 2.5 million people homeless. An estimated 10,000 people died just in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-controlled Kashmir. “Rescuers are pulling out dead children in Muzaffarabad, but there is no one to claim the bodies,which shows their parents are dead,” said one army commander.Over the course of about 10 hours, the Post saw all of six helicopters arrive at the city’s soccer stadium, now the main triage clinic.
The highest elected official in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, who was operating from a tent, said the quake had “totally paralyzed” Kashmir. “For the first two days we have been either digging ground to recover bodies or digging to bury them. Kashmir has turned into a graveyard.” The death toll is also rising in India’s part of Kashmir; it’s now near 1,000.
Pakistan accepted India’s offer of material aid but said Indian helicopters won’t be welcome. Meanwhile, the LAT notices that the largest militant group fighting Indian rule in Kashmir has announced a cease-fire. The U.S. has pledged $50 million in aid, in addition to the eight choppers it has already sent.
A NYT editorial notices that the president’s nominee for the “office at the State Department that coordinates the delivery of life-sustaining emergency aid to refugees” has all the expertise of a Brownie.
The WP stuffs—and NYT covers with wire copy—a top U.N. envoy returning from Sudan’s Darfur region and concluding that the government-sponsored violence is actually getting worse. “I found the situation much more dangerous and worrisome than I expected it to be,” he said. “Until last week, there have never been concerted, massive attacks of an indiscriminate nature against civilians” in camps in Darfur. The envoy was going to brief the Security Council but according to the Post was blocked “by the United States and Sudan’s three closest allies on the council, Russia, China and Algeria.” The Post suggests the block might have something to do with the U.S.’s opposition to the International Criminal Court, though a “senior U.S. official” denied that.
The WP and NYT both mention Texas’ release of thousands of Harriet Miers-related documents, mostly from during her time as chair of the Lottery Commission under then-Gov. Bush. The docs don’t exactly shed a lot of light on her constitutional stances, an oh-so-surprising conclusion the Post focuses on. The NYT, meanwhile, notices a number of correspondences like this: “You are the best governor ever—deserving of great respect,” Miers wrote in a b-day card to her boss. “I appreciate your friendship and candor,” responded the president, “never hold back your sage advice.”