Today's Papers

Al Qanada

The New York Times leads with, and everyone else fronts, Canadian authorities arresting 17 men for plotting to carry out a series of terrorist attacks in Ontario. The men, mainly of South Asian descent and ranging in age from 19 to 43, “appear to have become adherents of a violent ideology inspired by Al Qaeda,” said a Canadian intelligence official. The Los Angeles Times leads with a looming shortage of doctors in the U.S. that “threatens to create a national healthcare crisis.” Medical schools, which capped enrollment in the past to avoid producing too many doctors, aren’t churning out enough physicians to keep up with the growing demand of an aging population. The Washington Post devotes most of the area above the fold to the latest installment in its series on being a black man in America. The wide-ranging piece, based on a survey of nearly 3,000 people, adeptly conveys the “deeply divided” way black men view themselves and their lives.

The arrests in Canada “represented one of the largest counterterrorism sweeps in North America” since the 9/11 attacks, says the NYT. The Canadian police moved in on the potential terrorists after the group took delivery of three tons of ammonium nitrate, a key bomb-making ingredient. (The bomb used in the Oklahoma City attack was made with one ton of ammonium nitrate.) The authorities declined to identify the group’s targets, but the Toronto Star reports that the Parliament buildings in Ottawa and the Toronto headquarters of Canada’s spy agency were on the list. Canadian officials said there is no evidence that the group is linked to al-Qaida.

While not quite as alarming, the LAT lead does raise concern. Twelve states either are currently suffering from a dearth of doctors or expect to be within a few years. The Times says medical schools are feeling the pressure to boost enrollment, and lawmakers may lift a cap on funding for physician training and ease limits on immigration of foreign physicians, who already make up 25 percent of the workforce. Meanwhile, expect even longer waits, higher fees, and lower quality of care.

The NYT fronts, while the WP stuffs, similar behind-the-scenes looks at how George Bush came to change his mind on Iran strategy and agree to direct negotiations over the country’s nuclear program. The decision appears to have been driven by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who concluded that the international effort to halt Iran was on the verge of failing. The dynamic between the State Department and the White House has changed since Rice took over for Colin Powell, says the Times. Unlike Powell, Rice dominates the policymaking process, says the Post.

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told Kofi Annan on Saturday that he welcomes talks with the international coalition that now includes the U.S. over their latest incentives package. But in a speech later in the day, he reiterated Iran’s refusal to cease enriching uranium, a key condition for the U.S. to begin formal negotiations. Ahmadinejad also seems intent on ignoring a request by Annan to keep the process confidential—he has promised to publish details of the incentives package.

The NYT fronts a report on how insurgents and criminal gangs in Iraq are using attacks on the country’s oil pipelines to aid a moneymaking smuggling scheme. The pipeline attacks have resulted in the increased use of truck shipments, which has led to more opportunities for smuggling. Drivers use all sorts of trickery to steal the oil they are supposed to be delivering, while gangs charge truckers for the use of public roads. The smugglers then sell the oil for a profit either in Iraq or in neighboring countries. One survey found that 40 percent of the gasoline consumed annually in Iraq was purchased on the black market. To its credit, but to the detriment of the story, the Times admits that it is “unclear where in these operations the simple urge to make a buck ends and schemes to finance insurgent activities” begin. The story also fails to mention what seems like an important fact: Attacks on Iraq’s oil pipelines have decreased substantially over the past two years.

The WP fronts a report on the killings in Haditha that acts as a great summary of events but does little to advance the story. As the Post puts it, “considerable mystery remains about how Marine commanders handled the incident and contributed to what some officials suspect was a coverup.”

Meanwhile, it was another violent day on the ground in Iraq. A suicide car bomber killed at least 27 people in a market in Basra. In Baghdad, gunmen ambushed five Russian Embassy workers, killing one and kidnapping the others.

In a surprise to no one, President Bush called for an amendment banning same-sex marriage in his weekly radio address. The president’s advisers said Bush was picking up the issue now because of several recent judicial challenges to state bans and because the Senate is set to debate the issue this week. Electoral politics had nothing to do with it.

The LAT fronts a fascinating piece on the AIDS quilt timed to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the official discovery of the disease. The one-time symbol of the fight against AIDS is now collecting dust in a warehouse in Atlanta. The NYT, meanwhile, devotes half its op-ed page to talk of the epidemic.

Annoying AnonymityBack to the behind-the-scenes reports on how Bush changed his mind on Iran. One thing TP finds ridiculous about both the NYT and WP versions is the anonymous sourcing. The White House obviously wanted the story of this internal debate to be told and sent out a number of “senior officials” to tell it. So, can someone please tell me why these officials must remain nameless?