Today's Papers

Wipe Out

The New York Times and Los Angeles Timeslead with yesterday’s drop in the stock markets, which was brought on by more bad news from the financial sector  mixed in with a weakening dollar and a rise in oil prices. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 2.6 percent and officially wiped out all the gains experienced after the Federal Reserve cut interest rates Sept. 18. The Wall Street Journal fronts the news from the markets and leads its world-wide newsbox with the latest from Pakistan, where former Prime Minsiter Benazir Bhutto called on Pakistanis to rise up against Musharraf and join her rally tomorrow.

USA Todayleads with word that fatigue has caused hundreds of workers in the airline industry to make mistakes since 2003. An analysis of safety records shows that fatigue caused 750 incidents, mostly involving pilots. There were six cases of pilots falling asleep in the middle of a flight, including one where the pilot and co-pilot fell asleep while the plane was descending toward an airport. The Washington Postleads locally with news that two D.C. government employees were charged with creating a scheme that helped them bilk the city of more than $16 million.

The bad financial news keeps on coming and the stock market “is suddenly finding it difficult to put an optimistic spin on a lethal convergence of negatives,” says USAT, which has an easy-to-understand overview of the main problems that are “spooking markets.” The LAT notes that while the Dow Jones Industrial Average didn’t fall as much as last week, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index had its steepest decline since February, which means it lost more yesterday than at the height of worries about mortgage problems this summer.

As for the dollar, the sell-off was triggered by a Chinese official’s suggestion that the country would begin to buy more euros. Although the lawmaker has no decision-making power over financial policy, and later tried to clarify his remarks, it was seen as a broader sign that the world is losing confidence in the U.S. currency. Yesterday, the dollar fell to its lowest level vs. the Canadian dollar since 1950, while the euro rose to a new record. “You’ve basically got capital market jitters about the United States,” an expert tells the NYT. Although the WSJ makes sure to note that things are quite different today, there was a similar combination of a decrease in the value of the dollar and an increase in the prices of oil and gold in the 1970s.

All the papers continue to front stories about Pakistan. The LAT and WP highlight Bhutto stepping up her confrontation with President Pervez Musharraf. After several days of measured statements, “Bhutto seems to be warming to her role as the most prominent voice of opposition,” says the WSJ. She confirmed there will be a protest in the town of Rawalpindi tomorrow and vowed to lead a “long march” of approximately 300 miles if Musharraf does not agree to hold parliamentary elections in January. Her supporters clashed with police yesterday and 800 party members were allegedly arrested overnight.

President Bush finally picked up the phone and urged Musharraf to hold elections and resign his army post. The NYT fronts a look at how the United States and other Western nations are “discreetly” getting in touch with Pakistani generals and asking them to pressure Musharraf to abandon the emergency rule. U.S. officials are worried the army will turn against the president, which could breed chaos. The paper also confirms that, as was speculated yesterday, the United States is in talks with Bhutto, who is also in “back-channel negotiations” with Musharraf. Although the administration is in no rush to cut off support for Musharraf, one official also emphasized that “our verbal support is not going to last for very long” if he continues down the current path. The WSJ flips it around and takes a look at the steps that Musharraf has taken to lobby for U.S. support during the emergency rule, which have included calls to lawmakers.

Meanwhile, Pakistan isn’t alone as everybody reports that Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili declared a 15-day state of emergency last night after police used rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse a large crowd of demonstrators. Protesters have been holding large rallies for almost a week demanding new elections.

The Post fronts a detailed look at the circumstances surrounding the killing of three guards at the Iraqi Media Network by Blackwater snipers. The Iraqis are adamant that no one shot at the Blackwater guards but the State Department concluded they were simply responding to an attack. Problem is, no one went back to the scene to interview witnesses. It’s an incredible story that not only details how little interest there was to investigate claims of wrongdoing by contractors, but also illustrates the lack of respect for Iraqi life. When an Iraqi commander approached the Blackwater guards demanding an explanation, they “started toying with him” and then sped away.

The NYT fronts, and everyone mentions, Pat Robertson endorsing Rudy Giuliani. Robertson said the former New York mayor would defend the country against the “bloodlust of Islamic terrorists” and emphasized that abortion is “only one issue.” Some said the endorsement doesn’t mean much since Robertson has lost much of his power in recent years. Meanwhile, former presidential contender Sen. Sam Brownback, who has a strong conservative Christian following, threw his support behind Sen. John McCain. The Post says the endorsements illustrate the split that exists among evangelical voters.

TV fans, brace yourselves because it looks like you might have to make do without some of the most popular shows for a while. Sure, the strike had already hit the likes of Jay Leno but now it has affected Jack Bauer. Fox announced 24 won’t be returning in January as scheduled and instead it will ratchet up production of several  reality shows. The LAT fronts a look at how some so-called “show runners” (writer-producers) are siding with the strikers, which means several shows will go into reruns earlier than expected, including Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, and The Office.

In typical “haiku” fashion Rosie O’Donnell announced on her Web site that she won’t have a talk show on MSNBC after all: “poof/my career as a pundit is over/b4 it began.”