The New York Timesleads with word that the U.S. military is currently considering a classified proposal that would increase the role of Pakistan’s tribal leaders in the fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban. Inspired by what is largely seen as a successful strategy in Iraq’s Anbar province, the U.S. military would enlist the help of locals where the Pakistani army has failed to put a stop to the growing presence of extremist groups. The Wall Street Journal leads its world-wide newsbox with news that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is intensifying the campaign against extremists in remote areas while his crackdown of opposition groups continues. Musharraf recommended that the Election Commission call for parliamentary elections on Jan 8. but gave no indication whether the emergency rule would be lifted before that date.
USA Todayleads with a look at how thousands of convicted sex offenders across the country are registered as homeless. The paper analyzed state records and found that many high-risk sex offenders don’t have an address on file. This trend is at least partly because of the strict residency restrictions that limit where sex offenders can live, and it worries some experts who say those who are homeless are more likely to commit another crime. The Washington Postgoes across the top with the second part of its series on how the FBI has failed to notify hundreds of defendants that they were convicted with the help of a forensic test that is now not seen as reliable. Today, the paper focuses on the story of a former police sergeant who was convicted of murder 12 years ago and whose case now “symbolizes growing national concerns about just how far forensic experts are willing to go to help prosecutors secure a conviction.” The Los Angeles Timesleads locally but goes above-the-fold with a dispatch from Iraq, where more Shiites are joining community policing groups under the U.S.-backed movement known as Concerned Citizens.
Although the classified plan currently under consideration would also increase the number of American military trainers in Pakistan, it is unclear whether the plan can have the same degree of success as in Iraq without the constant presence of U.S. troops. In addition, the American military wants to pour hundreds of millions of dollars over the next few years to fund a “paramilitary force” known as the Frontier Corps. Some think these efforts come too late to actually be effective and some doubt a significant number of tribal leaders would even be willing to join forces with the United States and the Pakistani government.
The LAT reports that, until recently, Sunnis were the only ones that were part of the movement to bring together local leaders in the fight against al-Qaida in Iraq. But now there are about 70,000 Iraqi men in the “Awakening movement,” which has spread rapidly to Baghdad and its surrounding areas, creating both mixed and Shiite-only groups. These groups of so-called Concerned Citizens have resulted in more cross-sectarian cooperation than many expected and is seen as another example of how citizens aren’t waiting for the government to take control of their own security. The LAT’s piece is quite positive and waits until the end to briefly mention concerns that militias could infiltrate the groups or that they could become separate militias themselves.
All the papers note that U.S. officials announced the number of attacks in Iraq have fallen by 55 percent since the troop buildup earlier this year. Overall, civilian casualties in Iraq are down 60 percent since June and the figures are even better in Baghdad, where there’s been a 75 percent decrease. But violence is still a constant threat to Iraqis and bombs killed at least 20 people yesterday, including three U.S. soldiers.
The WP fronts a look at how the Bush administration is supposed to be holding an Israeli-Palestinian peace conference a few days after Thanksgiving but no one, not even those that are supposed to attend, really knows what’s going on. A senior administration official who is “deeply involved in the preparations” admitted that “I can’t connect the dots myself because it is still a work in progress.” A date for the meeting hasn’t been announced, although the NYT notes it’s “penciled in to start Nov. 26.” Right now it seems the delay has to do with trying to ensure the right level of participation, which is seen as crucial for a meeting that would be more symbolic than anything else. The NYT says the meeting might be postponed until the week of Dec. 10.
Everyone publishes wire reports that note the death toll from last week’s cyclone in Bangladesh is now more than 2,300 and the Red Crescent Society estimates it could reach 10,000.
The WP publishes an op-ed piece by a Pakistani “artist and social activist” who says that although Benazir Bhutto “has managed to hypnotize Western liberals,” she “is the queen of hypocrisy.” Bhutto says she favors democracy but has appointed herself head of her party for life, and when she was prime minister, there were massive corruption and censorship.
The WSJ takes a look at how a school in a Dallas suburb is one of many around the country trying to ban dance styles that are seen as too sexually explicit. “This is not just shaking your booty,” the school superintendent said. “This is pelvis-to-pelvis physical contact in the private areas … and then moving around.” But banning “freak dancing” is a difficult proposition. “If you’re dancing to a song that says ‘shake that, shake that, shake that,’ it’s kind of hard not to shake that,” a choreographer tells the WSJ.
Go ahead, have that third piece of pie … Worried Thanksgiving dinner is going to ruin your diet? Don’t be. The LAT reports that studies seem to suggest those who overeat because of “external cues,” such as a special event, don’t really have to worry about gaining weight. The problem is when you eat more because of how you’re feeling (“internal cues”). So, the moral of the story seems to be that you can eat all you want at Thanksgiving dinner, just don’t get into an argument that will have you reaching for that pie until Christmas. But wait, don’t take that advice too seriously because it turns out that a little argument “could be a good thing” for children, “especially if it involves current events or history,” says an op-ed in the LAT.