Today's Papers

Glasgow Inferno

The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times each lead with two men crashing an SUV into a Glasgow airport terminal yesterday, an incident currently being linked to two car bombs found in London Friday. The Washington Post off-leads with the airport attack and leads with its analysis of the attitudes of independent voters.

The papers all say that both men who were in the SUV survived the crash and the subsequent explosion and are now in police custody, though one of the men has been hospitalized. The papers report that between one and five bystanders were injured and no one was killed. The NYT reports that British police arrested two other men in Cheshire, England, in connection with the incidents in London and Glasgow. None of the men are believed to be affiliated with al-Qaida. Everyone says there were canisters of propane in the Glasgow vehicle, much like the cars discovered Friday in London, car bombs which the NYT describes as being “amateurish.”  Everyone also mentions that the driver of the Glasgow car was reportedly wearing a “suspicious device.” The NYT reports that according to an anonymous source the device is a suicide bomber belt; however, the LAT cites Strathclyde police saying the device was “safe and not a suicide belt.” The WP focuses on the fact that Britain is on its highest terrorism alert level, meaning another attempted attack is expected. U.S. authorities are not raising the alert level nationally, but are taking more security measures in certain cities.

Roughly three in 10 voters aren’t affiliated with either major political party and the WP’s new study analyzes the political attitudes of these independents, grouping them into five distinct categories, depending on what factors set them apart from the two major parties. Nearly a quarter of independents strongly favor one party, but disavow a partisan label. A similar number of voters are equally willing to vote for candidates from either party. The remainder are either disillusioned with both parties, identify with elements of each, or are politically disengaged. The study shows that while most independents dislike the war in Iraq and favor the Democratic Party at the moment, discontent with the status quo is at the heart of most independent’s political leanings. More than three-quarters would strongly consider voting for a independent candidate.

The NYT off-leads with its Supreme Court wrap-up, writing that the court has moved to the right during Chief Justice John G. Robert Jr.’s first full term. The LAT concurs. The term marked conservative victories on abortion, free speech in public schools, and racial factors in school assignment. The paper notes that Justice Anthony M. Kennedy was the deciding vote in all of the court’s 5-4 split decisions. The court’s caseload was the lowest since 1953, reflecting the difficulty of finding cases the minimum number of justices are willing to hear. In an interesting online sidebar, the paper tracks the agreement levels of all nine justices. While pundits have made much in the past of justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas’ high agreement rate, they are not the court’s closest minds. Thomas and Scalia have a 91 percent agreement rate, but Roberts and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. ruled the same way in 92 percent of all nonunanimous cases.

The LAT off-leads with an examination of the claims of Ken Alibek, a former Soviet scientist who raised the profile of the possibility of a biological attack in the United States. Alibek’s information and even his motives have since come under suspicion.

In the wake of scandals involving fish, toys, toothpaste, and pet food imported from China, U.S. companies are taking measures to increase scrutiny of Chinese goods, says the NYT. The paper says the story behind the story is that over the last ten years U.S. companies have become increasingly reliant on China for a range of products. The imports keep prices down, but now some companies are worried that safety concerns about foreign goods could undermine brand integrity.

The WP reports that a new survey shows married couples don’t see children as a primary ingredient of a happy marriage.

The NYT looks into the role Elizabeth Edwards has played in her husband’s run for the White House, despite her cancer diagnosis. The piece focuses on her autonomy from Edwards’ campaign apparatus and her independence on certain hot-button issues like gay marriage.

Under the fold, the WP reports on the pitfalls of private intelligence contracting in Iraq. Aegis Defence Services Ltd., a British firm, was hired in 2004 to collect intelligence in Iraq for the U.S. military by compiling data on attacks, providing threat assessments, and even doing charitable work to win the goodwill of Iraqis, among other tasks. While some in the intelligence community say such contracting is necessary to make up for a dearth of military manpower, others are concerned by the lack of oversight these firms receive.

As suicide bombers pose a growing threat to Afghanistan, the NYT tackles the question of what the Afghan government does with a bomber’s remains.

The WP runs  a story on the impact immigration has on state and national parks.

Sort of Like TP by Committee …

In the NYT Magazine, a piece reflects on Wikipedia’s place in journalism, as its writers increasingly take on current events in real time. The magazine says that even though the site relies on its content being constantly revised over time, the site covers breaking news surprisingly well, due the site’s loyal cadre of volunteer editors. The magazine thankfully doesn’t spend too much time on the question of what constitutes journalism in this case, simply noting that Wikipedia’s function in this case is to be an intelligent filter for news, rather than a source of original reporting.