Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's tough talk during a visit to the rebellion-ridden city of Najaf tops the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street Journal's worldwide news box. USA Today reefers Iraq and leads with the Bush administration's claim that they foiled a terrorist plot to disrupt this November's elections.
Allawi's visit occurred amidst operations by U.S. troops and (to some, unfortunately unspecified, extent) Iraqi forces intended to put down an uprising of militias loyal to radical cleric Muqtada Sadr. The prime minister rejected tentative calls for a truce by the other side and directed the rebels to get out of town. The Washington Post reports he didn't mention Sadr or his Mahdi Army, but the New York Times quotes him specifically threatening the Mahdis. On Saturday, Allawi publicly speculated that Sadr wasn't leading the rebellion, even though he authorized a [failed] raid on his house that same day. Along with his stern warnings for the militias, he officially reinstated the death penalty—the NYT, which has the best of today's Iraq reporting, noted the vagueness of what constitutes a capital crime—and charged former U.S. favorite son Ahmad Chalabi with counterfeiting and his nephew Salem, the chief prosecutor in the official case against Saddam Hussein, with participation in the June murder of an Iraqi official. (See Slate's "Assessment" of the don't-mess-with-me prime minister.)
The violence stayed strong throughout the day, and the LAT reports Allawi had to leave Najaf early due to expected attacks. At least three American troops have been killed, a U.S. helicopter was shot down over Baghdad's "Sadr City" slum (both pilots were OK), American soldiers surrounded Najaf's Imam Ali shrine, and, depending on who you talk to, either 300 or 40 members of the Mahdi Army have been killed. Chalabi the elder is accused of making the now-defunct Iraqi dinars and exchanging them for up-to-date bank notes. In other news, the LAT notes that allies probably will not cooperate to help make John Kerry's campaign promise to lower the American military burden in Iraq a reality.
The WP off-leads a catch-all on the 9/11 commission's surprising campaign influence. The front-pager synthesizes a lot of previously "known knowns"—the panel has bipartisan approval, its members have been lobbying vigorously for implementation of their recommendations, and John Kerry has used his support as proof of his credibility on terrorism—but a piece stuffed on Page Two has some harder news: It notes Condoleezza Rice's Sunday assertions that a national intelligence director would have more control than the current CIA director and the claim by a Bush aide that the Capitol building was the subject of some recent terrorist plots. Other possible terrorist targets, according to recent reports: New York City rent-a-helicopters and South Africa.
The NYT and LAT report the arrest of a Pakistani militant who is accused of running a Taliban training camp and participating in some assassination conspiracies. The LAT plays him up as an "al-Qaeda suspect," but the NYT warns that his relationship with the terrorist group isn't so cut-and-dry. The WP doesn't report the arrest and instead runs a lengthy on-the-ground report of the Taliban's fly-by-night guerrilla attacks and threats on Afghan towns.
The NYT fronts an investigation into the Bush administration's cozy relationship with coal companies. The White House's strategy, in a nutshell: enlist the CEOs to decide industry standards.
Everyone notes that Condoleezza Rice cautioned Iran to stop its nuclear weapons program on yesterday's Meet the Press. Other than a issuing a veiled demand that Russia stop supplying the mullahs and citing international support for her stern warning, she prescribed no specific policy.
Looking at the economy, the NYT tries to figure the salary of new jobs created during the slow recovery, and the LAT uses man-on-the-street reporting in Wisconsin to the same end (replete with captions that say "unhappy," "realistic," and "concerned"). The LAT concludes that most of the new jobs are low-paying, and the NYT, while pointing out growth in some high-income fields, tentatively agrees.
The WSJ runs an economic overview that takes a different angle and points out that the Fed will decide later this week to raise rates by only a little, high oil prices are pinching the disposable income of middle- and lower-class Americans and subsequently limiting growth, and the gas prices aren't necessarily a result of terrorism or threats of a Yukos oil shutdown; instead, the culprit is probably increased Chinese demand.
Natural law advocate, mosh pit participant and former fringe Republican presidential candidate Alan Keyes announced yesterday that he would take the Illinois GOP nomination for Senate to challenge Democratic superstar Barack Obama in November's election.