Today's Papers

Missed Target

The New York Timesand Washington Postlead with protests in Pakistan following the U.S. airstrike on a village that targeted al-Qaida’s second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Pakistani officials said they are sure the intended target was not in the village, and that 18 civilians (the WP says 17) were killed, including six children. Thousands of Pakistanis participated in a protest near the site of the attack, where they chanted anti-American slogans. The Los Angeles Times does not front the Pakistan story and leads with U.S. officials saying that Saudi Arabia hasn’t been doing as much as it promised to fight terrorism. Although Saudi Arabia has improved terrorism prevention within its borders, it hasn’t been so effective in stopping prospective terrorists from leaving the country and has not stopped millions of dollars of local money from going to terrorist groups around the world. Many young Saudis cross the border into Iraq, and they have become a significant part of the insurgency.

It is unclear exactly how many people were killed by the U.S. attack or whether all of them were civilians. The NYT says that, according to a Pakistani official, more than 18 people died and at least 11 militants, including seven Arab fighters, were killed in the attack. According to a local intelligence source quoted by the LAT, there is no evidence to suggest that Zawahiri was even in the area during the attack. Pakistan’s Foreign Office issued a protest with the U.S. ambassador in the country, and he will apparently be summoned to explain the attack. The NYT has the most complete story and is the only one to describe the extent of the damage, saying that three houses were hit by the airstrikes. It quotes a local politician declaring: “everything has been blackened in a 100-meter radius.”

The NYT off-leads with disenchanted Democrats saying that it is going to be impossible for them to stop the appointments of conservative judges to the nation’s courts unless they take back the White House or the Senate. Democrats had a strategy planned out to point out how these conservative judges had ideals that are out of step with most of the country, but now they are realizing that President Bush can appoint almost any qualified candidate and there will be little protest.

The LAT fronts a look into how reconstruction efforts are going in Iraq and says that there are no plans to renew funding after the $18.6 billion approved by Congress in 2003 runs out at the end of this year. Many of the projects are going unfinished since money is running low and foreign governments are not giving as much as they promised. Now it appears that the Iraqi people, along with private investment, will have to burden the costs of reconstruction. “No pain, no gain,” said a U.S. Embassy employee in Iraq.

In other Iraq news, all the papers go inside with word that the chief judge presiding over the trial of Saddam Hussein, Rizgar Mohammed Amin, submitted his resignation last week. He is allegedly frustrated that the tribunal has not defended him in the face of mounting criticism in recent weeks. The resignation is not final, and officials are apparently trying to persuade him to stay.

The LAT is the only paper to catch the news, and even then it’s a wire story, that the emir of Kuwait died. The emir had been ill since suffering a brain hemorrhage five years ago. Since his heir apparent is incapacitated by illness, people expect that the prime minister will continue to run the country.

The NYT says inside that Rep. Roy Blunt from Missouri claims to have enough votes from Republicans in the House of Representatives to be elected majority leader on Feb. 2. His rivals, however, said that nothing is certain, and Rep. John Shadegg from Arizona said he has taken much of the support away from Blunt since he entered the race on Friday. The paper mentions that Congressional leadership elections that are carried out by secret ballots often produce unexpected results. A WP analysis says this leadership election will determine what direction the Republican Party will take in the coming years.

All the papers go inside with the announcement by health officials that most flu strains have become resistant to two common flu drugs: amantadine and rimantadine. Instead of these medications, doctors should prescribe oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza).

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced in a news conference that the threat of sanctions will not stop his country from continuing with its nuclear program. A law that was recently passed by Iran’s Parliament states that if the case is referred to the U.N. Security Council, the country must stop allowing international inspectors from entering its nuclear sites. “Ultimately they need us more than we need them,” Iran’s president said.

The NYT and WP both have stories trying to explain how the Korean stem-cell researcher could have gotten away with fraud for 20 months. The NYT says that it is not uncommon for “frontier science” to be wrong. Even material that is published in reputable journals frequently ends up being proven incorrect by subsequent data. Science journalists know this, but it doesn’t stop them from publishing new findings as facts. The WP says that fraud in science is not as rare as most people think and alleges that the main difference between the most recent example is that it occurred in such a high-profile field. Despite the publicity the case received, scientists insist that it has not been a setback for their field since many are still working on stem-cell research.

Voters in Chile go to the polls today and are expected to elect the country’s first female president. If Michelle Bachelet does win, it will also be the first time a woman is elected to lead a country in South America without the help of a politically powerful husband.

All the papers reefer the death of actress Shelley Winters, who won two Oscars for her supporting roles in The Diary of Anne Frank (1959)and A Patch of Blue (1965). Throughout her lifetime, the 85-year-old actress was in more than 120 movies and also did work for theater and television, including playing the role of Roseanne’s grandmother in Roseanne. She wrote two memoirs in which she named several actors with whom she had affairs, including Sean Connery, Burt Lancaster, William Holden, and Marlon Brando.

I would like to thank … In the NYT’s Book Review, author Henry Alford (maybe as an ode to awards season?) recognized gems that often exist in the “acknowledgments” section of books and combined unique ones to form some unexpected combinations. From the self-deprecating: “Not exactly a winning book idea, but not having the will to put in another 10 years trying to get it right, I’ve reconciled myself to what it is,” to the unintentionally funny: “I am indebted to Oprah Winfrey for first inviting me to share my views on Scott Peterson with the public,” the whole piece is worth a read.