The Los Angeles Timesand the Wall Street Journal’s world-wide newsbox lead with the rising political tensions in Pakistan, where former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was placed under house arrest for the second time in less than a week. Police officers surrounded Bhutto’s house and the Pakistani government said her party would not be allowed to carry out its planned protest that was scheduled for today because it had intelligence suggesting it would be targeted by suicide bombers. The New York Timesleads with two new studies that suggest behavior problems in children during the early years of school are not necessarily a marker of academic success or failure later in life.
USA Todayleads with a report that shows U.S. troops in Iraq found far fewer roadside bombs in August and September than earlier in the year. In September, troops found 2,022 improvised explosive devices, which was almost a 40 percent decrease from March. Roadside bombs cause at least 60 percent of all U.S. casualties in Iraq and officials say there might be fewer of them around because American forces have been discovering an unusually large number of ammunition caches this year. The Washington Postleads with a look at how the U.S. Sentencing Commission will consider today whether it should retroactively apply recent changes to the guidelines for crack cocaine offenders. If the plan is approved, almost 4,000 prisoners could be eligible for release within the next year.
Bhutto said the “long march” planned from Lahore to Islamabad would still take place, but it’s unclear who would participate since at least 1,500 opponents to President Pervez Musharraf’s government were arrested overnight. According to members of her party, Bhutto was placed under house arrest for seven days. Meanwhile, opposition parties threatened to call for a boycott of the elections, which are planned for early January, if the emergency rule isn’t lifted. Early-morning wire stories report that there were more arrests today and Bhutto called on Musharraf to resign, saying she will try to form an alliance with other opposition parties.
The NYT goes inside with word that the Bush administration is sending a “high-level” envoy to Pakistan to pressure Musharraf to call off emergency rule before the elections. The Commonwealth, a group of 53 nations that were mostly British colonies, also tried to exert pressure by threatening to remove Pakistan from the group if Musharraf doesn’t release political prisoners and restores the constitution as well as basic civil liberties. The LAT cites a “well-placed Western diplomat” who says Musharraf is likely to end emergency rule and leave his post as head of the army in the next few days.
The WP fronts a look at how Musharraf hasn’t made any headway in battling extremists that have taken control of vast areas “of the country’s rugged and wild northwest.” Some say the government has been so occupied with stifling civilian protests and detaining opponents since the imposition of emergency rule that the insurgent groups have been able to gain some new ground.
One study found that kindergarteners with behavioral problems did as well as their peers in fifth grade. The other says that the brains of children who suffer from attention deficit disorder merely develop more slowly, which means it’s not caused by “a deficit or flaw” in the child and could amount to a temporary condition, says the NYT. Some experts are suggesting that the new studies could drastically change the way behavioral problems are treated, particularly since half of the children diagnosed with attention deficit disorder are treated with drugs such as Ritalin, the LAT reports. A factor that could actually determine future academic success is how well a child does on math tests during the early years.
The NYT fronts news that at least six people were killed in the Gaza Strip yesterday after Hamas militants tried to stop a rally by the rival Fatah movement. It was the largest gathering of Fatah supporters since Hamas took control of Gaza in the summer. Although a Hamas spokesman accused Fatah of firing “on the Palestinian masses in the rally so as to spread anarchy and chaos,” the Post says one of its reporters was at the scene and didn’t see any Fatah gunmen. The NYT notes that a new poll shows the popularity of Fatah is growing and the movement has greater support than Hamas among the residents of Gaza.
The WP fronts a new study that shows that African-American children born into middle-class families are far more likely to fall into poverty later in life than whites. Almost 50 percent of African-Americans who had middle-class parents in 1968 “grew up to be among the lowest fifth of the nation’s earners,” says the Post. That sort of drastic change occurred in only 16 percent of whites. Although most Americans do end up being better off than their parents, the large number of “downwardly mobile” African-Americans surprised researchers.
Everybody notes that a prominent anti-abortion group, the National Right to Life Committee, will endorse Fred Thompson. The move is a particular blow to Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, both of whom have been busy touting their anti-abortion beliefs, while Thompson has made it clear he doesn’t support a constitutional amendment banning the practice. The decision further illustrates how the Christian right is divided and how many seem willing to back candidates that may not fully support their beliefs, which is why these types of endorsements may not really be influential.
The NYT goes inside with news of an “environmental disaster” in Russia, where an oil spill on the Black Sea from a tanker that broke apart in a heavy storm will kill more than 30,000 birds and countless fish. At least 11 ships broke apart in the storm and three bodies were found on the shore.