Today's Papers

Brave Nuke World

Everyone leads with North Korea announcing it successfully tested a nuclear device late Sunday at an underground site. While military reprisal looks unlikely, several nations and the U.N. Security Council will probably consider sanctions and other economic disciplinary measures.

While the U.S. and South Korean governments are unable to confirm North Korea’s claim, unusual seismic activity has been detected emanating from the alleged test site. South Korean geologists measured the activity at 3.6 on the Richter scale, while the U.S. Geological Survey pegged it at 4.2 and Japan puts it as high as 4.9. The Los Angeles Times reports that, based on the South Korean geologists’ estimate, the device produced an explosion equivalent to 550 tons of TNT, less than half the power of the bomb the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima. USA Today reports that a Russian general announced his country has confirmed the shocks were a nuclear weapons test. The New York Times points out that the timing of the test is significant, falling on the ninth anniversary of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s ascension as head of the Korean Workers’ Party. It also precedes a vote on South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon’s bid to become U.N. secretary-general. The Wall Street Journal calls North Korea the world’s ninth nuclear power, while the other paper’s count only eight, as Israel has never announced having nuclear capabilities though it is believed to possess them. The Washington Post sounds the most pessimistic, pointing out that although the U.S. and other nations talk of further diplomatic efforts to get North Korean to abandon its weapons program, no nation has ever abandoned a nuclear arms program once developing the capability to test the weapons.

On a related notes, both the NYT inside and the WSJ mention that the tests dealt a significant blow to the South Korean stock market.

The WP has the congressional-page scoop of the day, reporting that Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., knew about former Rep. Mark Foley’s illicit messages to underage pages in 2000, several years before the Republican leadership claims it found out about Foley’s proclivities. The WP claims that a source read the messages on the condition they not be reprinted. The paper reports that these early communications were “sexually explicit.”

The NYT writes that when it comes to the Foley scandal, evangelicals say they blame the man and not the party, claiming their values-oriented attraction to the GOP is undiminished by the scandal.

The NYT reports that former Secretary of State James A. Baker, co-chairman of a panel appointed to examine the U.S. occupation of Iraq. is now hinting that Iraq policy ought not be as simple as “staying the course” or “cutting and running.” The panel is expected to recommend that a gradual approach to withdrawal would be most beneficial. The WP mentions the recommendation in a story about an intensifying conflict between U.S. troops and the militia forces of Muqtada al-Sadr in southern Iraq.

The NYT off-leads with the second in a four-part series on the way religious organizations are able to circumvent many of the regulations that apply to private companies. In this installment, the paper looks at how religious groups are given a much freer hand with their hiring policies, sometimes to the detriment of qualified applicants.

USAT, meanwhile, looks  at how some cities are trying to keep churches out of their commercial districts in hopes of building a more robust, tax-generating business sector.

The LAT fronts a change in the rhetoric of anti-abortion campaigners in South Dakota that has thrown abortion-rights advocates for a loop: Instead of focusing on the life of the fetus, the new PR wave focuses on whether abortion is psychologically healthy for women.

The NYT fronts and WSJ goes inside with news that New York cable provider Cablevision may go from publicly held to privately owned status after the issue of a $19 billion buyout bid from New York’s prominent Dolan family. The story reflects a trend in businesses looking to go private, after growing tired of being driven by short-term quarterly earnings expectations and restrictive securities regulations.

Inside, USAT covers the raging debate over making English the official language of the U.S. Proponents say forcing immigrants to learn English will help them succeed in this country. Detractors say the policy would deny recent immigrants many essential services.

Under the fold, the WP delivers another in their election-year “Bellwethers” series, this one on several Democrat candidates in Upper Southern states who are attempting to avoid their party’s reputation on social issues and drive home an education, health care, and labor-related agenda.

Inside, USAT fronts its financial section with an E. coli-related recall of a popular lettuce brand in several Western states.

The WP fronts the troubling story of a woman attempting to dissolve her adoption of a boy who later sexually molested two other children, claiming she was misled about the severity of the child’s mental condition.

The NYT notes the theaters are offering increasingly cheap opera tickets in an attempt to broaden the form’s appeal.

USAT teases a story on the prevalence of childhood spanking among CEOs. The paper reports that each of the “about 20” CEOs interviewed by the paper admitted to having a spank-filled childhood. There’s some debate however about whether paddle-prevalence made these captains of industry great or is simply a relic of the bygone era that produced these primarily older executives.

U.N.-believable …

The U.N. is using popular video Web site YouTube to generate buzz for an upcoming anti-poverty event, says the WSJ. While the campaign includes a promo video from “LonelyGirl15” (a character from a series of popular faux Web diaries), getting enough quality videos for the project has proved trying. The U.N. claims it knew that most YouTube videos are on the amateurish side, but doubtless weren’t prepared for a video with an extended discussion of bean consumption and flatulence, followed by a character proclaiming, “Some folks don’t even have a bowl of beans to eat.”