Today's Papers

Baghdad Carnage

The Washington Post, New York Times, and Los Angeles Times lead, while the Wall Street Journal tops its worldwide newsbox, with several car bombs and attacks in a Shiite neighborhood that added up to the deadliest attack in Baghdad since the American-led invasion in March 2003. USA Todayleads with word that many shoppers across the country will be faced with higher taxes this year, as local governments are increasing them to fund a variety of projects.

All the papers have slightly different numbers on how many people died as a result of the attacks. The WPsays at least 138; NYT:at least 144; LAT: at least 152; WSJ: at least 160; and USAT: 157. Hundreds more were also wounded. Everyone notes the No. 1 concern now relates to possible retaliatory attacks. These attacks could trigger another cycle of sectarian killings, such as the ones that took place after the bombing of a Shiite shrine in February. Despite a citywide curfew, mortars hit Sunni neighborhoods, including the area surrounding Baghdad’s most important Sunni shrine, and killed 22 people, according to the WP. The attacks “appeared to push Iraq deeper into civil war,” says the WSJ. Politicians and clerics urged Iraqis to show restraint and not respond with more violence.

Early-morning wire reports put the death toll from yesterday’s bombing at more than 200. There are also reports of a car bomb exploding early Friday morning in northern Iraq, killing at least 22 people. 

Yesterday’s violence began when gunmen targeted the health minister with mortar shells and gunfire. This left hundreds of people trapped inside the ministry and resulted in a clash between the guards and the gunmen, until Iraqi and U.S. forces arrived two hours later (none of the papers reveal whether this kind of delay is normal).

Then the bombings began in Sadr City as five or six car bombs exploded in succession, and mortar shells also began hitting the area. It looks like there was another car bomb set to explode, but residents grabbed the driver before he could set it off. The WSJ says U.S. troops stayed away from Sadr City yesterday, and left the area to Iraqi forces and Shiite militias. 

Yesterday, the U.S. military announced three marines were killed on Wednesday in Anbar Province.   

USAT fronts word that on Sunday the Iraq war will have lasted as long as the number of days the United States fought in World War II, 1,347. But, as the paper is quick to point out, there are few similarities between both wars.

One of these differences has to do with the proportion of women who served. Although, 16.1 million armed forces served in World War II, only 350,000 of them were women. On the other hand, in Iraq, out of 1.4 million troops, 155,221 women have served. According to a Page One story in the Post, 16,000 single mothers have served in Iraq, a figure military experts say is unprecedented. To illustrate the difficulties these single mothers and their children often have to face while at war, and when they come back, the WP tells the emotional story of one woman who had to send her children to live with their grandmother in Hawaii. When she came back from Iraq, she had problems getting them home because she had given up her apartment and had no money for the plane tickets.

The LAT fronts an analysis looking at the parallels between the wars in Iraq and Vietnam. The paper says U.S. commanders are trying to implement a strategy in Iraq that resembles the tactics used at the end of the Vietnam War. The goal of using advisers to train local troops and give them a higher burden of responsibility, while the American troops prepare for withdrawal, is reminiscent of a strategy that was known as “Vietnamization.”

The LAT fronts the funeral of the Lebanese assassinated cabinet minister, Pierre Gemayel, which turned into a political rally. The WP publishes a large front-page picture of the funeral, and the NYT reefers the event. Hundreds of thousands of people filled Beirut’s streets yesterday to show their support for Gemayel and their repudiation of the Syrian government, whom they believe is responsible for the murder. Meanwhile, in the Shiite areas, shops ignored the three-day mourning period and remained open yesterday, according to the WP. After the funeral, conflicts engulfed the city once again as Shiite groups threw rocks at the windows of a Sunni mosque. By nightfall, a group of Shiites went out into the streets and proceeded to stop traffic and set fires.

The WP reefers, and the rest of the papers go inside with, news that Alexander Litvinenko, the former Russian spy who got sick after an apparent poisoning earlier this month, died yesterday. The former spy, who was looking into the killing of a Russian investigative journalist, was adamant the Kremlin had poisoned him. Russian officials have denied any involvement. Although the case had been classified as a “deliberate poisoning,” now British police say they will investigate it as “an unexplained death.” 

USAT goes inside with word there is a growing number of government whistle-blowers who claim they have faced retaliation from colleagues and their superiors. The quantity of whistle-blowers within the government has increased 43 percent since the Sept. 11 attacks, but many say blowing the whistle simply was not worth the trouble because often nothing gets fixed and the risk of retaliation is too high. Even advocates of whistle-blowing are advising government employees not to come forward. “When I get calls from people thinking of blowing the whistle, I tell them ‘Don’t do it,’ ” a professor and senior adviser to the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition, said.

The LAT and NYT note a Palestinian grandmother blew herself up near a group of Israeli soldiers, wounding three. The NYT points out it was the first suicide bombing claimed by Hamas in nearly two years. The woman, who was reported as being either 57 or 64, was a member of the group, had nine children and more than 40 grandchildren. Six Palestinians died in clashes in the Gaza Strip yesterday, as Israeli troops continue operations in the area to try and stop rocket attacks.

The NYT reefers the death of Gerald M. Boyd, the paper’s former managing editor who was forced to resign during the Jayson Blair scandal. He was 56 and died from complications due to lung cancer, an illness he had kept from most of his friends and colleagues. Boyd was the first black journalist to be named metropolitan editor and then managing editor of the Times.

Happy Black Friday … The LAT fronts a feature on a growing customer base for luxury goods: tweens. Experts say kids 8 to 12 are far more brand-conscious than even a few years ago, and are buying clothes and accessories from name brands that cost more than $100 a piece. Although the paper does point out it is rare that a kid’s closet will be full of designer clothes, it is becoming more common for children to know about brands and desire specific luxury items.