The New York Timesleads with news that a truck containing explosives and chlorine blew up in Baghdad, marking the third time in a month that insurgents used chlorine as part of an attack. Some military officials say this could signal a new insurgent strategy. The Washington Postleads, and the Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox, with British Prime Minister Tony Blair officially announcing that 1,600 British troops will leave Iraq in the coming months. Although U.S. administration officials tried to put a positive spin on the news, saying the withdrawal demonstrates how some areas of Iraq are improving, opposition leaders and military analysts disagreed. The Los Angeles Timesleads locally but goes high with a look at the British withdrawal, which the paper says is a recognition that the country’s military can’t fight wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
USA Todayleads with a look at the way many retirees who moved to Florida in their 60s are now moving back north as they get older. Experts say these retirees usually end up making the switch when their health worsens, they lose a spouse, or they run out of money. The paper says that this “wave of ‘boomerang’ seniors” will only keep on increasing as baby boomers get older.
There is some disagreement about the bomb with chlorine in the papers, from where it went off to how many people it killed. The NYT says it was set off in southern Baghdad and killed at least two people. The WP says the bomb went off in western Baghdad and killed at least three people. According to the USAT and WSJ, it killed at least five people. The NYT makes clear that attacks using chlorine could become more deadly if insurgents succeed in dispersing the chemical agent rather than burning it. As the LAT makes clear, one of the biggest dangers is that a properly executed bomb would probably cause mass panic.
Also yesterday, an American Black Hawk helicopter was brought down by a group of insurgents. There were no injuries but it was the eighth helicopter brought down in a little more than a month. The U.S. military disclosed that an American soldier was killed on Tuesday.
While Blair was speaking in London about the withdrawal, the Danish prime minister announced his country’s 460 troops will leave Iraq by August. Countering the good-news claims, the LAT cites the Pentagon’s recent quarterly report to Congress, which listed Basra as one of the cities where violence was still “significant.” USAT cites analysts who say the British withdrawal could lead to more violence between Shiite groups. In an analysis piece inside, the Post says the news came “at perhaps the worst moment for the White House.” Democrats emphasized that the announcement further demonstrates how President Bush is taking the country down a lonely path to failure.
The NYT, LAT, and WP front yesterday’s back-and-forth between the campaign offices of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama over some comments made by David Geffen, a music and film producer. As the NYT points out, things had been relatively polite between the candidates. Geffen, who was once a big Clinton supporter, harshly criticized the Clintons, which led to the Clinton campaign calling on Obama to repudiate the statements. They also said he should give back Geffen’s donation because the statements went against Obama’s pledge to run a positive campaign. The Obama camp shot back and said the complaints were “ironic” and pointed out the big money Geffen had given the Clintons in the past. This went on for the rest of the day and largely overshadowed a gathering of all the Democratic candidates (except Obama) in Nevada. Some think the Clinton campaign overreacted, but Slate’s John Dickerson says the New York senator won this round.
As the NYT mentions in the same story, and other papers bring up inside, there was also some “intramural warfare” within the Republican Party as Vice President Cheney responded to some criticism that Sen. John McCain had lobbed at him and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
All the papers go inside with the latest developments in the alleged rape of a Sunni woman by Iraqi police officers. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki fired a top Sunni official who had criticized the government and had called for an investigation. Meanwhile, the prime minister’s office said it will sue the woman for making up the story and released what it claimed was a portion of the woman’s medical record, which supposedly proves she wasn’t raped. McClatchy showed the file to some rape experts who said the medical file doesn’t prove that at all, and, in fact, some of the injuries reported are consistent with reports of sexual assault. USAT says the U.S. military will launch its own investigation. The LAT says the allegations threaten to increase sectarian violence.
USAT does some man-on-the-street interviews and one 29-year-old Sunni tells the paper he has doubts about the rape allegations. “We don’t have such a culture. We might kill, behead or do torture, but rape—I don’t think so.”
The WP fronts a story on the harsh treatment some Internet addicts are receiving in China. The picture the paper uses on Page One is the same one the Associated Press used for a similar story back in 2005.
The NYT fronts a look at how South Korean men are going to Vietnam to search for brides. The LAT had the story in September. But speaking of fairy-tale weddings, the WSJ notes Disney has joined forces with bridal designer Kirstie Kelly to create a line of wedding dresses. Dressing up little girls in princess outfits has been quite profitable for Disney (almost $3.5 billion in annual sales) and now they want to target big girls. The designer emphasized the dresses merely capture the “mood” of the Disney character rather than the whole look. So what’s the mood exactly? Cinderella is “classic glamour,” while Snow White has “sweet elegance,” and Ariel has a “sultry allure.”