Today's Papers

Mourning in Mumbai

The New York Timesleads with emerging questions about how the Mumbai gunmen evaded security forces and whether the government could have heeded warnings from last year that showed the city was vulnerable from the sea. The Washington Post leads with more details about how the attacks went down, as told by several American survivors who were fired upon with no defense but to play dead. The Los Angeles Timesoff-leads the latest from Mumbai, while the top slot goes to possible future repercussions of today’s bailouts. The government’s deficit could top $1 trillion next year, and analysists warn “the nation’s next financial crisis could come from the staggering cost of battling the current one.”

The WP’s lead story is full of Mumbai attack survivors giving their gruesome, tragic play-by-plays, including one group of Americans fired upon in the “posh lobby café” of the Oberoi hotel. Nashville resident Linda Ragsdale at first pretended to be dead but was shot when she pulled a 13-year-old American girl to the ground, hoping to help her escape the gunfire. The girl died on the floor next to Ragsdale, who spoke from a hospital. (The general death tolls vary, but all three papers report six American deaths.) Outside the hospitals, the city is slowly beginning to stir again: The LAT notes that Mumbai prides itself on being a city that bounces back quickly, as it did after a 2006 bombing. That optimism is leading many to resume their normal activities, though some are referring to the attacks as their “9/11” and remain leery of crowded public places.

Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony told the country’s parliament in 2007 that he had received intelligence about attacks from the sea, the NYT reports, based on details in the Indian Express. A subsequent investigation showed the Indian navy and coast guard lacking in long-range surveillance equipment. (None of the papers catches the overnight news that Indian Home Minister Shivraj Patil, facing heavy criticism for the attacks, has resigned.)

New initiatives ranging from $600 billion spent to lower mortgage rates to $200 billion handed off to stabilize Citigroup have ratcheted the government’s bailout costs to $8.5 trillion—half of the United States’ total economic output this year, the LAT reports. Both the Bush administration and Obama’s economic team are approaching the current situation as direly as a war, “vowing to spend whatever it takes to avoid a depression; they’ll worry about the effect later.” Not all of these staggering figures are direct government spending, and the government even stands to make money on transactions like the purchase of equity in troubled banks. But at the very least, Bush’s and Obama’s aggressive responses to the crisis may threaten Obama’s expensive policy proposals like middle-class tax cuts and a health care overhaul.

We need a health care overhaul more than ever, experts tell the WP in a front-page story on the system’s wastefulness and inefficiency. The United States spends 16 percent of its GDP on health care, but the numbers show Americans getting a poor return for their investment: We’re “29th in infant mortality, 48th in life expectancy and 19th out of 19 industrialized nations in preventable deaths.” The consensus among insurers, physicians, and executives on the direction the industry should go is “remarkable” for people with so many competing interests; most of the experts suggest dramatically increasing efforts to promote prevention and wellness.

The NYT reports that, as part of an agreement with Barack Obama, Bill Clinton will release the names of 200,000 donors to his foundation to “avoid any appearance of conflict of interest with Mrs. Clinton’s duties as the nation’s top diplomat.” Releasing the donor list was one of nine conditions Clinton agreed upon with the Obama transition team, a detailed pact that also allows Obama’s State Department to review the former president’s future speeches and business activities. Known controversial donors to Clinton’s foundation include the house of Saud and “a tycoon who is the son-in-law of Ukraine’s former authoritarian president.”

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine’s in Manhattan, the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, will be reopen today after the completion of a $41.5 million renovation, the NYT reports. The cathedral’s massive pipe organ, which was dismantled after a 2001 fire, will be played for the first time in seven years at the rededication service.

The WP fronts a story on the complete absence of acorns in the D.C. area this year, a mysterious act of nature that has botanists abuzz and squirrels starving. The acorn drought seems to be part of a natural cycle for the area’s oaks, and similar conditions have been reported as far away as upstate New York and Nova Scotia.

Lucille Two  is back! After surviving numerous tabloid marriages, “loopy” interviews, and a debilitating brush with brain disease, Liza Minnelli is returning to Broadway in a new show titled Liza’s at the Palace. Along with the usual celebrity new-beginning pleasantries, Minnelli tells the NYThow she took control of her life’s drama and why she’s decided to stay single.