Today's Papers

A Helping Hand

The New York Timesleads with word from officials that U.S. involvement in the Ethiopian invasion into Somalia was greater than had been previously reported. In addition to helping out with training and intelligence, the U.S. military used an airstrip in Ethiopia to carry out airstrikes against Islamic militants. Officials are apparently releasing details because they see it as a “relative success story.” The Los Angeles Timesand Washington Postlead, and the Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox, with yesterday’s release of the latest International Atomic Energy Agency report that says Iran continues to defy the United Nations and has stepped up its program to enrich uranium. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned Iran it will face more sanctions but emphasized that talks can begin whenever Iran agrees to suspend nuclear activities.  

USA Todayleads with the new government ratings that measure miles per gallon and show that gasoline-electric hybrid cars use more gasoline than initially thought. On a new Web site, consumers can compare how different cars fare with the new ratings, and hybrids have seen a decrease in as much as 20 percent in their MPG figures. The new ratings are part of an effort to make the number more realistic to modern driving conditions.

Although the attacks in Somalia did apparently garner some victories in killing or capturing some leaders, the officials emphasized these don’t include two al-Qaida leaders wanted for their role in the 1998 embassy bombings. The United States had apparently been training Ethiopian troops in counterterrorism operations for years and provided the country with a large amount of battlefield intelligence. After the quick success of Ethiopian troops, more special operations forces were sent to the region, and besides carrying out airstrikes (and the already known strikes using gunships) they also worked with the Kenyan military to capture militants trying to cross the border.

If Iran’s large underground facility  is completed, it could produce enough highly enriched uranium to produce about one nuclear weapon within a year. Experts doubt it is close to doing that but admit the country has progressed toward its goal. Iran keeps insisting the facility is for nuclear energy and not weapons.

The Post notes that the administration’s talk about Iran’s involvement in Iraq has raised concerns among several key countries that are now trying to get Iran to the negotiating table even if all the conditions aren’t met. “The goal is not to have a resolution or to impose sanctions … the goal is to accomplish a political outcome of this problem,” said Russia’s U.N. ambassador. The NYT points out the United States will also try to persuade banks to cut off ties to Iran.

The WP fronts word that Democratic leaders in the Senate will release a plan next week to repeal the 2002 resolution that authorized the war in Iraq to replace it with one that sets limits and begins to get troops out of the war zone. Some Democrats in the House, led by Rep. John Murtha, wanted to link further funding of the war effort to troop readiness but they have dropped the efforts after bipartisan criticism. Although most Democrats agree they want to go beyond nonbinding resolutions (“I’ve had enough of ‘nonbinding,’ ” said Sen. John Kerry) there is still disagreement on how exactly to proceed.

Everyone reports another Iraqi woman came forward and said security forces raped her. A police official said that a military officer and three soldiers admitted to raping the Sunni woman and recording it with a cell-phone camera. The Post reports that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani took a not-so-indirect swipe at Prime Minister Maliki al-Nouri by saying that the courts are “the only legitimate place to examine” allegations of rape.

The WSJ fronts a look at the “latest remarkable political reincarnation” of former U.S. darling Ahmad Chalabi. He was appointed to a new post to help maintain support for the security crackdown. Chalabi will be helping residents get reimbursement for any damage caused by the crackdown. The position is limited, and the paper makes clear that “it is to early to tell how much power” he’ll have but Chalabi is, of course, already talking about getting involved in other areas.

The Post and the NYT both stuff good dispatches from Iraq that illustrate the seemingly never-ending divide between Iraqi and American soldiers. The NYT takes a look at the street patrols in Baghdad that are part of the new security plan and says nothing much has changed. U.S. troops are still taking the lead and highly outnumber their Iraqi counterparts, who often make their sectarian affiliations clear and sometimes even warn residents of the approaching Americans. The Post spends some time in a police station in Baqubah that has both Iraqis and Americans. Again, it’s the Americans that have to take the lead, and there is not much communication with the Iraqis, who are relegated to a different part of the station and have fewer rations and inferior equipment.

The NYT fronts a look at the effect the long deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan are having on soldiers’ families and loved ones, which it says is “one of the toughest, least discussed byproducts of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.” In a similar vein, the LAT fronts a look at the story of one woman whose husband lost an arm and a leg in Iraq to illustrate the ordeal the spouses of amputees often go through.

Meanwhile, the Post reports that the Iraqi diplomatic mission in Washington is spending tons of money and its embassy is undergoing major renovations. The Iraqi government recently purchased a $5.8 million mansion in Washington that has more than 7,000 square feet of space. And, yes, it does have a Jacuzzi.