Today's Papers

Hamas vs. Abbas

The New York Timesand the Washington Postlead with the swearing-in of the Palestinian parliament and its new Hamas majority. Tensions rose as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas defended past agreements with Israel and urged the continuation of talks with Israel. Later on in the day, the president’s spokesman emphasized that if Hamas did not agree to recognize Israel, Abbas could choose to replace whomever Hamas chooses as a prime minister, or maybe even call for new elections. The Los Angeles Times does not even front the new parliament and leads with a look at how, under President Bush’s administration, federal agencies are taking unprecedented action to shield different industries from litigation and state regulation.

Hamas leaders continued to say they are unwilling to negotiatiate with Israel and that a truce is only possible if there is a withdrawal from all land acquired since the 1967 war, including East Jerusalem. Several legislators had to be present via video-conference from Gaza because Israeli restrictions forbid them from traveling through the West Bank, and 14 could not attend the session because they are in jail. The Israeli Cabinet will decide today whether to vote on a series of sanctions that would cut off funding to the Palestinian government and isolate its people. The NYT has a useful graphic that highlights the most important Hamas leaders.

A NYT Week in Review piece looks into a new study by an American elections expert suggesting that a “quirk” in the election law was largely responsible for Hamas’ landslide victory. The culprit is a system called “bloc voting,” which Hamas used to its advantage.

The NYT fronts word that when the congressional recess begins next week, Democrats are planning an offensive to point out the problems with the new Medicare drug plan. If all works as planned, Republicans could risk losing one of their most reliable supporters before the midterm elections.

On the subject of midterms, both the WP and the NYT take a look at the increasing number of Democrats who are running for office and are war veterans. The WP fronts a profile of a candidate from Illinois, who lost both her legs in Iraq, and says there are approximately a dozen veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan running for office this year. Only one of them is a Republican. The NYT decides to broaden its scope to all veterans and says there are almost 100 new candidates who fought in a war. The piece emphasizes that despite what one might think of the strategy (some say that national security issues aren’t really important in House races), the fact remains that veterans are gaining a visibility in politics not seen for many years. In 1977, 77 percent of the members of Congress were veterans, today that figure is 26 percent.

The NYT and LAT front, while the WP goes inside with, the first Mardi Gras in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina. There were many fewer people than usual attending, as more than half of the city’s population has not returned since the hurricane, and most tourists decided to stay away. In a separate story, the WP reports on a strongly held belief around New Orleans that the mortality rate in the city has increased since the hurricane. Although, the article is quick to emphasize that there is no way to verify the information, anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that the stress from the hurricane continues to take new victims. The NYT says some are criticizing the technique being used by the Army Corps of Engineers to rebuild the levee system.

The NYT and LAT both rely on wires to report that Muslims in Nigeria that were protesting the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad attacked Christians and burned churches, resulting in at least 15 casualties. This was the deadliest confrontation relating to the caricatures. Also, the Libyan parliament suspended Interior Minister Nasr Mabrouk after the deadly clashes that killed 11 people. And in Italy, a minister resigned after he appeared in public wearing a T-shirt printed with one of the cartoons.

The WP’s Outlook section has an article by Flemming Rose, the culture editor from the Danish newspaper that originally published the cartoons. He says that the Danish press has a tradition of satirizing public figures, and the the drawings should have demonstrated that Muslims were being integrated into their society rather than demonized.

The LAT fronts word that the Iraqi insurgents are operating more like coordinated political groups and are attempting to separate themselves from the foreign fighters who more indiscriminately attack civilians. The number of attacks has decreased, which could be a strategy to permit the political process to work. A terrorism expert describes it as a “process of the institutionalization of the insurgency.”

All the papers stuff the latest from the Philippine village that was buried under a landslide of mud, where rescue workers did not succeed in finding any more survivors on Saturday. It is feared that more than 1,000 people died. FWIW: Although yesterday no papers had their own reports from Guinsaugong, today both the LAT and NYT do, while the WP relies on a wire report.

All the papers front a story or photograph of Shani Davis, who seems to have at least partly fulfilled Slatecontributor Reihan Salam’s “hopes of adding a drop of Hershey’s Syrup to the skim milk of the Winter Olympics.” Yesterday, Davis became the first black athlete to get a gold medal in an individual sport at the Winter Olympics when he finished the 1,000-meter skating race at 1:08.89. He is the third African-American to win a medal in a Winter Olympics. This victory did not come without its share of drama, though, and the LAT’s Bill Plaschke chronicles how this milestone was “tainted by bitterness.”

Better late than never … The NYT publishes several corrections to a T:Travel magazine article that appeared on Nov. 20. Apparently the delay was due to the complaint first being “misdirected” and then “an editing lapse.” Among the details deserving a correction? After a night of dancing in Buenos Aires, the author said he went and stood “on the shore of a very brown Atlantic Ocean.”

Here’s looking at me … The NYT takes a look at the phenomenon of self-portraiture with digital cameras. According to art historians, this type of shot didn’t really exist in any significant way until a few years ago. Therefore, without even realizing it, teenagers have probably created a new genre in photography.