Today's Papers

Aid Blockade?

The New York Timesleads with an urgent challenge facing Hamas: the threat by several foreign governments to withdraw their aid to the Palestinian Authority at a time when the government is in a major financial crisis. President Bush said during a CBS Evening News interview that the U.S. will cease aid to the Palestinian government unless Hamas stops calling for the destruction of Israel and eliminates the militant wing of its party. “And if they won’t, we won’t deal with them,” Bush said. Last year, the U.S. funded $400 million worth of development projects in Gaza and the West Bank. Hamas’ leader, Mahmoud Zahar, reiterated Friday that the party had no intention of recognizing Israel’s right to exist. The Los Angeles Times leads with the several thousand young Fatah activists who took to the streets of Gaza City on Friday, smashing windows, setting cars on fire, and storming the lobby of the parliament building. Gunfire erupted during a face-off between Fatah supporters and Hamas loyalists. The Washington Post says up high the Fatah activists were demanding the resignation of Abbas; the LAT doesn’t mention it. The Post leads with—and others front—the FDA’s approval Friday of an inhaled form of insulin, the first treatment alternative to injections since the drug’s discovery in 1921. The product could have a huge impact on public health because millions of Americans have diabetes and many don’t get the treatment they need because of the painful shots.

The Post tops its coverage of Palestinian elections with Mahmoud Abbas’ announcement that he will invite Hamas to form the next cabinet. Meanwhile, Israel’s acting foreign minister worked the phones Friday, urging European authorities to isolate Hamas. Members of the Bush administration will meet with officials from the EU, U.N., and Russia on Monday to discuss foreign aid to the Palestinians.

The new insulin product, which will be sold under the brand name Exubera by Pfizer, may be available as soon as this summer. But the picture isn’t entirely rosy: Some doctors are worried that Exubera’s risks to lungs have not been properly tested and that inhaled insulin causes minor declines in the amount of air the lungs can hold. The FDA recommended that asthmatics, smokers, and others avoid the product, and the long-term effects are still unknown.

The WSJ points out that it’s been a good week for Pfizer: On Thursday, the FDA approved another of the company’s drugs, Sutent, as a treatment for two kinds of cancer.

The NYT obtained internal documents revealing that the competition in the insulin drug market may have led to one company, Novo Nordisk, to pay pharmacists and doctors’ assistants to encourage patients to switch to the company’s brand. The Danish drug company was one of the earliest makers of insulin and is now facing scrutiny over the questionable payments. Sales representatives for the company say they paid Rite Aid pharmacists tell patients to use Novo products over those by competitor Eli Lily or to switch to more expensive Novo brands rather than cheaper ones by the same company.

Everybody goes inside with division among Democrats over a filibuster to protest the Alito confirmation. Sens. Kerry and Kennedy led the call for a filibuster, with Majority Leader Reid saying that he would vote against ending debate despite his belief that there aren’t enough votes to support a filibuster. Several other Democrats—including Sens. Pryor and Salazar—said they are against the proposed filibuster.

Seventy-six percent of Americans say the president should disclose connections between Jack Abramoff and White House staff members, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News Poll.

News from Iraq doesn’t make the front page. Iraqi forces  arrested nearly 60 people in and around Baghdad Friday while a song with the refrain, “Where are the terrorists now?” blared from police cars. Also on Friday, Al Jazeera broadcast a videotape of two German engineers taken hostage earlier in the week in northern Iraq. They were shown with their captors on the tape, which was appeared to have been recorded only hours after their kidnapping.

The LAT runs a wire story reporting that U.S. forces have detained wives of suspected Iraqi insurgents in an effort to get the men to turn themselves in, according to documents obtained by the ACLU.

The Weekend Journal crew over at the WSJ lets their hair down and critiques the fashions on display at the World Economic Forum. The verdict? “Though they hail from all over the world, many participants look like executives on a flight to Chicago.”