The Los Angeles Times and New York Timeslead with the Ukrainian government's certification of its election, despite overwhelming evidence the results were cooked, a move that prompted a serious slap from Secretary of State Powell. Protests also picked up in Kiev, and the opposition candidate, and apparent real winner, Viktor Yushchenko, called for a general strike. There are also some pro-government protestors in the city—though the LAT says many of them, who may have been paid in the first place, "were leaving the city." The Washington Postoff-leads Ukraine, and leads with a piece doubting the ability and training of Iraqi police. "U.S. authorities" told the paper that the current two-month training course isn't cutting it. (Note: The washingtonpost.com, apparently having OD'd early on tryptophan, was having tech troubles last night and TP couldn't see most articles.)
"We cannot accept this result as legitimate," Powell said, warning Ukraine of unspecified "consequences." Channeling a "State Department official," the Times says the White House is "not ready to consider any cutoff in aid or economic cooperation."
The EU also made tough statements. Russia's lower house of parliament chimed in as well, though with a different angle. It condemned the "illegal actions of Ukraine's radical opposition forces, which may lead to dramatic consequences for the brotherly people."
For those who want a break from family-time, here's a good blog from Ukraine, complete with protest pictures.
Citing "intelligence officials," the NYT off-leads word that another two top CIA officials are quitting. What's happening between the White House and the CIA is, in the Times' telling, "no less than a clash of cultures on a scale not seen there since the Carter administration."
The WP fronts the latest from Iraq, where a State Department education specialist was shot and killed just outside the Green Zone. Also, a car bomb exploded on the road from Baghdad's airport, killing an Iraqi woman and two children. And another five bodies were found in Mosul, bringing the number over the past week to 24.
The Christian Science Monitor's Scott Peterson (yeah yeah) is embedded with a Marine company in Fallujah, where he says there is still sporadic, and sometimes heavy, fighting. Peterson describes one hours-long firefight—which was intense enough that he dropped his notebook and helped the wounded.
The LAT fronts members of one National Guard unit about to be shipped to Iraq complaining they haven't been properly prepared. They said the unit has done little to no training in everything from convoy protection to guarding against roadside bombs. "Some of us are going to die unnecessarily because of the lack of training," said a staff sergeant, who was willing to be quoted by name. "Let them court-martial me. I want the American public to know what is going on." There has long been evidence that the National Guard and reserve units—which make up 40 percent of the forces in Iraq—don't have up-to-date training or equipment.
As everybody mentions, two GIs were killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.
The NYT reminds that the deal European countries have struck with Iran leaves one avenue open for nukes development: plutonium. Iran is working on one such plant—and as one European official put it, "You don't need it for any conceivable nuclear civilian purpose." Still, many officials said they're not that worried since the best estimates are that the plant is about a decade away from going online.
A Page One piece in the Post says the EPA's Superfund program is being forced to scale back toxic clean-ups because of "a chronic reluctance by on the part of Congress to raise its budget." The program has a $250 million shortfall this year and 475 uncompleted sites.
On this day, Boston is offering thanks to Native Americans. The city's mayor has moved to strike from the books a 300-year-old law that officially bars Native Americans and "their barbarous crew" from the city. "Fortunately this act is no longer enforced," the mayor explained.