Mourning and Warning

Mourning and Warning

Mourning and Warning

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
Sept. 1 2003 4:08 AM

Mourning and Warning

The Washington Post leads with the funeral forAyatollah Mohammed Bakr Al-Hakim, a top Shiite cleric killed in Friday's massive car bombing in Najaf. The Los Angeles Times leads with a preview of the agenda Congress faces as its returns from recess and how it's being shaped by the summer's events, namely the blackout, violence in Iraq, and the ballooning deficit. The New York Times' lead says that while thousands of cash-strapped parents have given states custody of their severely mentally ill children, federal officials have found "deplorable conditions in many" of the institutions where the kids are.

In the first day of a three-day funeral, Najaf was packed with mourners. The Post guesses about 50,000 people, the LAT says "about 300,000," and the NYT plays it smart and simply says "tens of thousands." Everybody agrees that the crowd, as the NYT puts it, "brimmed with anti-American sentiment." "We won't be humiliated," chanted mourners. "We will humiliate Saddam, we will humiliate Bush."

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The NYT notes that one of the Shiite clerics on the Iraqi Governing Council said he's suspending his membership until U.S. officials give the council more power over security issues.

Today's WP and LAT mention that Iraqi police have arrested a number of men in connection with the bombing. But yesterday's WP suggested that at least some of the men are innocent. "It seems these guys were in the wrong place at the wrong time," one Marine officer told the Post. "I don't think anything's going to come of that."

The Times' lead—"MENTAL CARE POOR FOR SOME CHILDREN IN STATE CUSTODY" —feels thin. It cites a few cases in which feds found bad conditions at one state hospital or another, but it has no hard numbers. The article's more legit angle, which the headline doesn'tmention, is that some parents, who have insurance that doesn't cover big mental health care costs, are forced to choose between custody of their kid or getting the child good health care.

Everybody notes inside that two U.S. soldiers were killed yesterday in Afghanistan. Four GIs have been killed there in the past two weeks. The NYT, after dilly-dallying for a while, finally fronts the upsurge in attacks. Meanwhile, the LAT's Paul Watson, who's been roaming the country recently and offering excellent coverage, today says that aid money to Afghanistan has brought "little more than a mirage of success." Watson says that's because much of the aid is being misallocated, misspent, or simply ripped off. Apparently, schools are closing because the government has run out of money to pay teachers. 

The NYT also stuffs an interview with a young Taliban fighter who was recently taken prisoner. He said the Taliban paid him poorly, didn't train him, and promised he'd get to attack U.S. soldiers, which he didn't.

The papers mention the death of coal-miner-turned-tough-guy-actor Charles Bronson. He was 81.

Doh, Adrian!! According to a correction in the NYT:"An article on Tuesday about plans by the boxer Mike Tyson for a bout in the Japanese sport of K-1, an amalgam of martial arts, misstated the given name of Muhammad Ali's opponent in a 1976 wrestling match that was a comparable venture by a fighter pressed for cash. The opponent was Antonio Inoki, not Rocky."

Eric Umansky, previously the "Today's Papers" columnist for Slate, is currently a Gordon Grey Fellow at Columbia University's School of Journalism.