Today's Papers

Silicone Valleys 2.0

The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times lead and the Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox (at least online) with the FDA lifting a 14-year moratorium on silicone breast implants, albeit with a few restrictions. The New York Times leads with, and the WP fronts, the abduction of four Americans and one Austrian in southern Iraq by men in Iraqi police uniforms, the largest kidnapping of Westerners in Iraq since the U.S.-led occupation began in 2003. The fate of the men is uncertain.

The FDA ordered a halt to silicone implants in 1992 amid complaints of implants leaking and causing a wide array of side effects, including cancer and autoimmune disease. The agency now concludes there’s no evidence that implants cause cancer, but they may cause a variety of other non-life-threatening ailments. Under the new rules, women must be told implants are not meant to last forever and will need replacing. The papers agree that about 70 percent of silicone implants leak, and patients should start getting MRIs three years after getting implants to check for ruptures. No one mentions if there’s an average lifespan for implants, but one manufacturer says they will replace implants that rupture in under five years for free, along with contributing toward the surgery.

The kidnappers took the five contract workers from an armed convoy in southern Iraq, leaving several other workers behind. No group has credibly claimed responsibility for the incident so far. The kidnappings follow a larger wave of abductions targeting Iraqis, including a mass kidnapping of Iraqi government officials mentioned in the LAT earlier this week. The kidnappers often dress as police officers, as they did in this instance, possibly in an effort to undermine the credibility of Iraqi police. The NYT goes so far as to say the kidnappings may have been carried out with  either the aid or the silent consent of Iraqi security forces. The WP argues that the event is emblematic of a deteriorating security situation in the country.

Only the WP gives front-page play to Friday’s Republican leadership election, despite the amount of copy devoted to the Democratic elections. TP concedes that John A. Boehner and Roy Blunt keeping their positions in the minority is less of a shock than Steny H. Hoyer trouncing John P. Murtha with Nancy Pelosi awkwardly sandwiched in between. But as the WP points out, the story here is not the success of the old guard but the failure of the new, as the caucus rebuffed attempts by more conservative members to chart a new course for the party. The news might not be flashy, but it says a lot about how Republicans are planning to handle life in the minority. Inside, the NYT notes that while the top spots didn’t change, there were shakeups farther down the leadership ladder. The LAT, also inside, takes a more cynical view.

The WP also gives more front-page space to O.J. Simpson’s new hypothetical confession book, running a piece under the fold on the disgust accompanying Simpson’s scheduled two-part interview on Fox. The LATreports that some booksellers are either refusing to stock the book or else donating profits from its sale to charity. The NYT looks into how the Simpson story outlived some of its players and settings.

The LAT reports that the Chinese government is now acknowledging that most organs used for transplants in that country are taken from executed prisoners, as the country has no volunteer donor program. The government also acknowledged that wealthy foreigners often buy the organs to get around long waits for transplants in their home countries.

The WP reports numerous incidents of violence, misfortune and disgruntlement among gamers camping out for the PlayStation 3 release on Friday. In Connecticut, several would-be owners were mugged while waiting for a store to open, and one was shot for resisting. Meanwhile, unruly campers clashed with police in California and Washington, D.C. The paper also reports that few people in those early lines plan on playing with the system—perhaps as few as 5 percent—due to the thousands of dollars the $499 to $599 system commands on eBay.

Inside, the LAT, the NYT, and the WP mention that Universal Music Group is suing popular community Web site MySpace for facilitating users’ sharing of pirated music and videos. The NYT suggests the suit may have more to do with compelling MySpace to pursue a licensing agreement that actually stemming piracy.

Below the fold, the NYT reports on the peculiar challenges of selling free-market capitalism to aid-dependent African nations, where some argue that a shift from aid to venture capital would do much to clear up graft, corruption, and weak infrastructure.

On the other hand, the LAT reports that in Afghanistan the old maxim still rings true: You can make a warlord a civil servant, but you can’t make him disband his militia, give back his guns, or crack down on bribe taking.

The NYT takes into account how grief is affecting the latest chapter in the Ohio-Michigan football rivalry.

The WSJ looks at the family behind the Bond pictures and how their unusual level of autonomy made the series’ fairly radical revamping possible.

Palm trees along Los Angeles boulevards may soon be a thing of the past, done in by environmental concerns and debilitating fungus.

From the NYT: Do not tease the Pope. You’ll only make him angry. And you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.

… And Soon No Sweating Either …

Finally, the NYT reports that a nationwide chain of gyms not only prohibits grunting during workouts but will even revoke memberships for inappropriate noises. The best part: The chain refers to grunters as “lunks” and will sound the “lunk alarm” should someone make a little too much noise while exhaling.