Today's Papers

Remembering the Victims

Everybody leads with yesterday’s memorials marking five years since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The Washington Postleads with President Bush’s prime-time address from the Oval Office in which he emphasized the need for victory in Iraq. The New York Timesand USA Todaylead with the actual memorial services that took place at Ground Zero, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania, not to mention the innumerable services in different schools, offices, and churches around the country. The Los Angeles Timesleadand the top spot in Wall Street Journal’s world-wide newsboxfocus on both the speech and the memorial services. 

After Bush traveled to the three cities where the planes crashed five years ago (the NYT points outit’s the first time the president has done that since the one-year anniversary) he uttered his first public statement during his prime-time address. Besides paying tribute to the victims and the heroism of that day, Bush also said the country will be less safe if it loses in Iraq. “The safety of America depends on the outcome of the battle in the streets of Baghdad,” he said. Tacitly admitting the lack of correlation between Sept. 11 and Iraq, the president said, “I am often asked why we are in Iraq when Saddam Hussein was not responsible for the 9/11 attacks.” And to that he responded with a line that has been frequently repeated over the years: “The regime of Saddam Hussein was a clear threat,” and “The world is safer because Saddam Hussein is no longer in power.”

The NYT notes that the memorial services at Ground Zero were punctuated with “familiar rituals,” including moments of silence and reading the names of the dead. Bush went to the site of the World Trade Center on Sunday night and chose to spend the morning of Sept. 11 with police officers and firefighters at a firehouse on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

The WP and LAT go high in their lead stories with the criticism from Democratic lawmakers that Bush succeeded in politicizing the Sept. 11 anniversary with his address from the oval office. Sen. Ted Kennedy said the president “should be ashamed of using a national day of mourning … to seek support for a war in Iraq that he has admitted had ‘nothing’ to do with 9/11.”

The WP and NYT both go inside with analysis saying Bush yesterday spoke to a “different nation” than on Sept. 11. As he has done for the past weeks, the president tried to tie the war in Iraq with the larger war against terrorism.  

According to early morning wire reports, a car bomb exploded outside the U.S. embassy in Damascus, Syria, and local security guards killed three gunmen who apparently tried to attack the embassy.

The WP fronts a look at the difficulties of dating in Iraq, which is creating plenty of Romeo-and-Juliet stories. Under Saddam Hussein’s presidency, marriages between Sunnis and Shiites were common, but sectarian violence has now made such unions more difficult. The fear of attacks and scorn from family members have led to divorces and “young single Iraqis have concluded that it is simply easier to stick to their own kind.”

The WP goes inside with word from a representative of the powerful cleric Moqtada al-Sadr saying he is against the plan proposed by fellow Shiites to break up Iraq into a federation consisting of three regions. Sunnis are largely opposed to the plan as well, and they boycotted parliament on Sunday in protest. The LAT goes inside with a report from Iraq that says the violent groups in Iraq are increasingly working independently and not answering to their supposed leaders. The WP also talks to Mustafa Yaqoubi, a top Sadr aide, who predicted that when U.S. troops leave  Iraq “there will be a civil war” and then they will be able to institute a Shiite religious government. “Our only desire is to obey God. We want the heavenly laws to be applied, in a normal way,” Yaquobi said when he was asked what this government might look like.

The NYT off-leads an update on yesterday’s WP scoop of a secret report by a Marine intelligence officer in Iraq that says the western part of the country is in bad shape. According to the report, the situation will continue to deteriorate unless the region gets more money and more troops. Unlike yesterday’s WP story, however, the Times gets some officials to quote directly from the report. According to the assessment, al-Qaida in Mesopotamia is “an integral part of the social fabric” in the Anbar province.

The NYT fronts, and the other papers go inside with, news that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas announced he reached a preliminary deal with Hamas to form a united government. If successful, this plan could bring an end to the sanctions that have been placed on the Palestinian Authority. Details still have to be worked out, but the current plan is to create a new Cabinet. Although Hamas would not recognize Israel outright, it seems it would implicitly accept its right to exist by recognizing all previous agreements with Israel.

Everybody mentions a suicide bomber attacked the funeral of a governor in Afghanistan, killing six people (or seven, according to the NYT). Someone who claimed to be a spokesman for the Taliban said that although they did kill the governor, they did not attack the funeral.

USAT and WP front the results of a new study showing the differences in life expectancies of different groups within the United States. Researchers divided the country into eight groups, saw big differences between them, and concluded the gap can’t be simply explained by income or race. The longest living group consists of a 10.4 million Asians who have an average life expectancy of 85. Low-income Southern rural blacks and high-risk urban blacks live an average of 71 years. The WP points out the biggest differences are seen among those in middle age, a group of people who have not been a target of health programs that usually focus on children or the elderly.

USAT fronts and the WP goes inside with a survey by Baylor University about American attitudes toward religion that is considered to be one of the most extensive studies ever conducted. Among the findings is that people have four different views of God’s personality, and these opinions can tell a lot about a person’s political views. The WP focuses on how the survey reveals Americans might be more religious than previously believed because some of those who say they don’t have a religion actually attend a place of worship.

The papers mention word from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who said the United States might be willing to directly negotiate with Iran and discontinue its effort to impose sanctions, even if the country agrees to only a temporary suspension of its nuclear programs. In negotiations with European officials over the weekend, an Iranian negotiator put forward the idea that his country could stop uranium enrichment for two months, but there has been no official offer from Iran.

The LAT reports on a study by Drew Pinsky (Dr. Drew from the call-in show Loveline) and one of Pinsky’s colleagues from USC that reveals something that will no doubt shock everyone: Celebrities are more narcissistic than most people. This is allegedly the first academically rigorous study done on celebrity personalities, which Dr. Drew was able to carry out because they visit his show every night. In terms of different types of celebrities, musicians are the least narcissistic and reality stars the most. The LAT helpfully includes a Narcissistic Personality Inventory quiz on its site, so anyone can see how their narcissism levels compare to the different celebrity groups.