Today's Papers

License To Kill

The New York Timesleads with word that there have been at least 10 attacks  in the last two days throughout Iraq that appear to be part of a plan by Sunni extremists to assasinate tribal leaders and Interior Ministry officials, including police officers. The Washington Post and Los Angeles Timeslead with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech to the U.N. General Assembly, where he declared that the “nuclear issue of Iran is now closed.” Ahmadinejad said he will ignore demands by the Security Council to end Iran’s nuclear program and instead said the issue was a “technical” one that needs to be dealt with by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

USA Todayand Wall Street Journal’s world-wide newsbox lead with the Supreme Court’s announcement that it will hear a case that challenges the constitutionality of lethal injections. The justices announced they will consider whether the method of execution violates the Constitution’s provision against cruel and unusual punishment. USAT notes that hours after the announcement, Texas executed a man using lethal injection. The LAT and WP front news that the Supreme Court will also consider whether laws that require voters to show government-issued photo identification at polling places are constitutional. The decision will come next summer, just in time for the 2008 presidential election.

Iraqi officials say the recent wave of attacks are meant to show the world that the situation in Iraq isn’t improving, but emphasized that Sunni insurgents are choosing targeted assassinations because they can’t carry out any massive operations. But the strategy seems to be more specific, designed to bring fear to those who collaborate with the United States and as “a reminder of the insurgency’s persistence,” says the NYT.

The LAT highlights how the leaders of France and Germany warned of the grave risk for the region, and the world, if Iran becomes a nuclear power. For his part, President Bush never mentioned the nuclear issue and merely lumped Iran together with a group of “brutal regimes.” There are some hints in the papers as to why Bush might have chosen this strategy. The NYT says that administration officials believe Ahmadinejad’s power is waning inside Iran. Also, the WSJ notes that France and the United States are increasingly looking for ways to pressure Iran outside the Security Council.

While spending just a few moments on Iran, as well as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Bush did place particular emphasis on Myanmar and announced the United States would impose new economic sanctions against the country’s leaders. The Post fronts, and the LAT has an above-the-fold picture of, the latest from the country formerly known as Burma, where the ruling junta imposed a curfew and banned all public gatherings after another day of protests led by Buddhist monks. In what the Post says “could be a taste of things to come” hundreds of monks in a northwestern city were attacked by security forces. The LAT catches word that police fired tear gas at some monks who defied the ban on assembly and continued with the protests in Yangon, Myanmar’s main city. There are reports that some monks were beaten and arrested.

The NYT goes inside with a good analysis that explains how Myanmar’s military junta, which is “made up mostly of unsophisticated former field commanders,” has held on to power by cutting off the country, and themselves, from the outside world. In effect, the generals that run the country have created what the paper calls “a bunker within a bunker.” A Human Rights Watch expert says the leaders “are extremely hunkered down, delusional, paranoid, and probably afraid at the moment about what could possibly happen.”

The WP fronts word that there’s a conflict developing between the U.S. military and the State Department over Blackwater. Military officials contend Blackwater has been given the ability to run wild because of the lack of controls the State Department has placed on the private security contractor. “This is going to hurt us badly. It may be worse than Abu Ghraib,” a military official said of the Sept. 16 shootout. Although it might be obvious to the Post’s inside-the-beltway readers, TP wonders whether there shouldn’t be at least a cursory mention about the historical animosity between State and the Pentagon.

On Capitol Hill, Rep. Henry Waxman complained that the State Department was preventing Blackwater from cooperating with a congressional investigation.

The LAT fronts a must-read dispatch from Somalia that says the country “is quietly disintegrating into Africa’s worst humanitarian emergency.” According to the United Nations, the situation in Somalia is more dire than even that of Darfur and Chad, and it’s made worse by the fact that many charities don’t operate in the dangerous country. Although Somalia is no stranger to suffering, the large numbers of refugees that remain from the fighting in Mogadishu earlier this year and several natural disasters “are pushing the emergency to a new level,” says the LAT.

The NYT reefers a look at a few new studies that seem to show there’s a “growing happiness gap between men and women,” which appears to be present even in teenagers. It used to be the other way round, but now men appear to be happier than women. While men have been reducing the amount of time they spend on unpleasant activities over the last few decades, the exact opposite is true for women, which means the gap is likely to grow in the future.

If it could happen to him … The LAT fronts a first-person account of how a consumer reporter who writes about scams for a living fell for one and bought fake high-end earphones. There’s a lesson for all Internet bargain hunters out there, as he got a deal that was, simply, too good to be true. “I used to love to find bargains,” he writes. “Getting scammed was a good lesson, but it also took some of the fun out of the hunt.”