Today's Papers

My Land Is Your Land

The New York Timesleads with leaked Israeli government documents that seem to show Palestinians privately own 39 percent of the land currently held by Israeli settlements in the West Bank. USA Todayleads with Pentagon documents revealing that the country’s chemical-weapons stockpile won’t be fully destroyed until 2023, 11 years after the deadline set by the International Chemical Weapons Convention. There are concerns terrorists could get access to the weapons, and those who live close to the sites worry about possible health risks.

The Washington Postleads with internal Army documents that further illustrate how the effort to train Iraqi forces has been plagued with problems. The Los Angeles Timesleads with word from Iraqi leaders that they are “seriously considering” meeting with Iranian and Syrian leaders to discuss possible ways to end sectarian violence. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with President Bush declaring, during his stop in Indonesia, he is not ruling out any options on Iraq and is waiting for recommendations from the U.S. military.

Peace Now, an Israeli advocacy group, provided the documents to the NYT, which are supposedly from an Israeli government database. The group plans to make an official release of its findings today. If true, it would suggest the Israeli government, and the settlers, are consistently violating private Palestinian property rights. According to a spokesman, the Israeli government has been looking into this issue for the last three years but it has not finished its analysis. The NYT points out that this is not the first time concern over private Palestinian land has been brought up, and in 2005 officials promised to destroy a number of settlements, although in the end only one was taken apart.

The previous deadline for getting rid of the chemical weapons was 2007, but the U.S. government had asked for an extension. Now it seems getting rid of these chemical weapons will take longer than originally thought, which does not please members of Congress or those who live next to the sites where they are held. The U.S. arsenal is estimated at 31,500 tons, and, so far, the military has destroyed 41 percent.

The Post got hold of transcripts of official interviews with officers who were involved in the training of Iraqis, conducted by the Army for its oral history archives. In these interviews, the officers criticize their lack of training and resources for the job. Iraqis were also interviewed and they often complained that those who were tasked with advising them were frequently of a lower rank than them and had never fought in a war. Significantly, the Post also points out that despite the importance everyone gives to the training of Iraqis, it is little understood and has barely been examined by Congress. 

Iraq’s president is planning to travel to Iran on Sunday to talk about the details of a possible meeting with Syria. The announcement of the trip came on the same day as Iraq and Syria restored diplomatic relations, which the two countries broke off in 1982. Talks of the meeting come at a time when everyone seems to expect the bipartisan Iraq Study Group will suggest the United States sit down with Syria and Iran to discuss the Iraq situation. Iran’s president suggested a meeting with Iraq and Syria for the first time last year, but was rejected by the Iraqi government. Interestingly enough, the LAT points out that Iran’s president renewed the call for a meeting in the last month and suggested Nov. 5, a date that was rejected by Iraq’s government out of fear it could influence the U.S. elections.

Meanwhile, violence continued to grip Iraq yesterday and the LAT mentions at least 140 people were killed. The WP fronts news that one of Iraq’s most famous comedians was killed yesterday. Walid Hassan, who poked fun at the everyday problems faced by Iraqis, became the latest casualty in an industry hard-hit by killings. So far, 133 media workers have been killed in Iraq, according to Reporters Without Borders.

In a Page One investigation, USAT reveals many matches made with the much-touted FBI DNA database were never followed through. The paper found almost three dozen cases in the last five years in which investigators failed to follow up on possible matches, which could have prevented those identified from committing other crimes. No one keeps track of how many of the matches provided by the database are actually acted on and how many crimes they help to solve. This is despite the database costing hundreds of millions of dollars and the government promoting it as an effective tool to solve crimes.

As the New Orleans courts slowly start working again after Hurricane Katrina, many defendants are being released because of problems with evidence, reports the NYT on the front page. Problems range from evidence destroyed by floodwaters to difficulty in tracking down witnesses who moved elsewhere.

The NYT notes inside that the Republican candidate was declared the winner in the House race in Sarasota, Fla. Vern Buchanan beat out the Democratic challenger by 369 votes. The losing candidate, Christine Jennings, has vowed to fight the results and filed a lawsuit claiming that voting machines malfunctioned. More than 18,000 ballots from Sarasota County residents registered votes for other offices but not the House race, and there have been hundreds of complaints from people who claim they had difficulty placing a vote for Jennings.

The WP carries a wire report revealing that, as of Monday, four House races were still unresolved.

The Post mentions in its inside pages House Democratic leaders saying they will issue a major ethics-reform package in early 2007. But instead of doing it as part of one big bill, House members are planning on putting it out “piece by piece.” This would help new House members get attention from the multiple bills and it would highlight each proposal, guaranteeing they all receive a certain amount of media attention. Additional bonus: Republican members would have to vote on each issue separately.

The NYT says on Page 1 that many Democrats are raising questions about why and how Sen. Hillary Clinton spent almost $30 million on her re-election campaign, more than any other candidate in the Senate this year. Although the money was supposed to help her get started on a possible presidential bid, some are concerned the funds were spent too loosely. Now, Clinton does not have a large monetary advantage over other possible Democratic presidential contenders, as her supporters expected.

For all those confused by the seemingly endless stock-options scandal gripping at least 130 companies across the country, USAT publishes a helpful investigation into one company, Cyberonics, which illustrates how the scheme could work. Although the company has not managed to turn a profit, a few of its directors and executives did make almost $50 million from stocks. The paper even accompanies the story with a helpful glossary.

The WP fronts a dispatch from Salt Lake City, where polygamists are making a new push to be recognized and arguing that bigamy should be decriminalized. Although it is a felony, Utah’s attorney general does not prosecute bigamy if it is between consenting adults. Strangely enough, throughout the article, there is not a single line devoted to why some might be opposed to polygamy. The closest thing to criticism is a law professor who says, “I find polygamy an offensive practice,” but he has been advocating for the legalization of bigamy.

Everybody fronts News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch’s announcing his company will not go through with publishing a book by O.J. Simpson and airing a TV special on Fox, where the former football star was supposed to tell the world how he would have committed the murders. “I and senior management agree with the American public that this was an ill-considered project,” Murdoch said in a statement yesterday. Faced with public outcry, some Fox affiliates had vowed not to air the interview, and some booksellers had promised not to carry the book. The interview is already taped, and many say it is likely to show up somewhere in the future. Although the papers say everyone seemed relieved by the announcement, it is pretty fair to say there were probably a good number of people looking forward to the television event.

Take care of the pennies … USAT fronts a piece on how rushed lawmakers can sometimes make mistakes when they insert typos into legislation. In New York, for example, lawmakers set the alcohol limit at a level below what can occur naturally in the body. And in Hawaii, a missing word in a tax increase on cigarettes meant to raise money for medical investigations, will give cancer researchers 1.5 cents next year, instead of the intended $8 million.