Today's Papers

Bomb Fashion

The New York Timesleads with the effect that the worsening image of the drug industry is having on its sales. Even though the drug companies are still making hefty profits, their sales have been slowly decreasing, and some attribute this to increasing public skepticism and doctors’ hesitancy to prescribe as many drugs as before. The Washington Postleads with reports that three companies are developing new vaccines against smallpox, which has been feared as a potential weapon by terrorists since the Sept. 11 attacks. The traditional vaccine is effective but has some potentially severe side effects that have prevented the government from doing some mass inoculations. Even if a new vaccine is created, there are still questions on how any of them would perform in an epidemic since there are no more cases of smallpox in the world. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with the approximately 1,100 lawyers who left Saddam Hussein’s defense team out of fears for their own safety. Hussein still has 400 lawyers.

USA Today leads with data showing that the amount of charity given to victims of Hurricane Katrina will soon surpass what was given after the Sept. 11 attacks. So far, private donations for the hurricane victims is almost $2.7 billion, while the total charity after Sept. 11 was $2.8 billion. A possible unexplored angle for this increase was described last month by the NYT. A provision in the tax-relief package to help hurricane victims allows charitable contributions to any organization by the end of the year to be deducted to almost 100 percent of adjusted gross income, double the usual deduction. The Los Angeles Timesleads locally with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s plan to start a public works program for the entire state, which he may finance with a $50 billion bond.

The increasing skepticism of the pharmaceutical industry comes at a particularly difficult time because several top-selling medicines will lose their patents soon. This decrease in sales has caused pharmaceutical companies to lay off workers and cut back money from research and development. Some drug-industry officials think the public has come to expect miracle drugs without realizing that all drugs have side effects.

All the papers front the Jordanian government’s arrest of an Iraqi woman who is said to be the fourth suicide bomber in last week’s attacks on three hotels in Amman. The government broadcast a taped confession of the woman wearing an explosive belt she said failed to detonate on Saturday when she went into the Radisson hotel with her husband, whose bomb did go off. The state-run television station broadcast Sajida Rishawi calmly explaining how they carried out the plan and how she ran away from the hotel after she realized her bomb had failed. The WP is the most poetic about the strange nature of the videotape, saying, “She twirled, almost like a model showing off the latest fashion, her waist a thick belt of translucent tape with crude red wires attached.”

The NYT says that Jordanian officials did not explain when or where they had arrested the suicide bomber, but the WP says Jordanian officials picked her up on Sunday morning after they raided the apartment where all the bombers had been staying before the attacks. The NYT says Jordanian security officials have foiled more than 150 planned attacks by Zarqawi and his group in the “past few years.” USAT says Jordanian officials have actually prevented 20 terrorist attacks since 2003.

Knight Ridder is reporting that U.S. forces in Fallujah probably detained one of the suicide bombers in the Amman attacks, Safah Mohammed Ali, for two weeks last year.

A piece in yesterday’s NYT week-in-review section said that although the public outcry against the bombings in Jordan may lead some to believe that it will hinder the growth of Zarqawi’s cause in the Arab world, this reaction may have been his plan all along. Some analysts believe that Zarqawi may be merely trying to create a rift in Jordanian society so as to make it easier for him to overthrow the government  someday.

As part of the occasional series on democracy in the Middle East, NYT reporter Neil MacFarquhar takes a look at the omnipresent secret police in the Arab world, known as the mukhabarat, which he says is one of the main obstacles for development and change in many Arab countries. In Jordan, for example, the secret police has thousands of people on its payroll and is responsible for making most major decisions in the country. This constant surveillance makes citizens in the Arab world fearful of criticizing the government or of getting involved in political activity.

The WP fronts a look at the strategy that prosecutors and defense attorneys are likely to use in the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker, which is scheduled to start in January. The prosecutors will say that if Moussaoui hadn’t lied to the FBI when he was arrested, the Sept. 11 attacks could have been prevented. Defense lawyers, on the other hand, will argue that it was the government’s fault for not acting on information it had available from various sources and that Moussaoui actually knew very little about the Sept. 11 plot.

The NYT fronts news that liberal groups are planning the next step in their campaign against Supreme Court nominee Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr, and it does not focus on abortion. Because groups are finding it difficult to pin down Alito’s views on abortion, they will seek out other issues, such as Alito’s past support of an employer’s right to fire someone with AIDS, which they say will resonate with moderate voters.

The WP goes inside with Iraqi officials criticizing Syria for its permissive attitude toward insurgent training camps. Iraqis say these insurgents then go into their country and become suicide bombers. In other news, two Marines died when they were hit by a roadside bomb in Iraq, and another soldier died in a traffic accident. The WSJ is the only one that fronts the deaths.

USAT fronts, and all the papers mention, news that AOL and Warner Bros. will be starting a free, advertisement-supported, Internet service called In2TV in January that will show 300 episodes a month of 100 classic TV series. The episodes will be streamed so users won’t be able to download them.

One man in New Mexico gave his wife, a former librarian, books for her birthday. She is an avid reader but had lost all her books in a forest fire. So, he gave her lots of books. Kathryn Gursky became the proud owner of the entire Penguin Classiscs Library collection, which is on sale at for a little under $8,000 (includes free shipping). The library consists of 1,082 books and weighs nearly 700 pounds.