The New York Timesleads with Howard Dean becoming essentially a sure thing to head the Democratic National Committee, as his main rival dropped out of the race. "It's a fait accompli," said one powerful union leader. "Dean's going to be it." The final vote will be in about two weeks. Dean has promised he'll focus on, or least won't neglect, meat-and-potato issues such as channeling lots of dough to candidates. The Los Angeles Times' lead announces: "SHIITE ALLIANCE CLAIMS VICTORY."It's an interesting choice since, as the piece notes, whatever the alliance is claiming, international observers insisted there are no solid numbers yet. "My feeling is there isn't anybody in the country who knows how to calculate a statistically reliable estimate for this election," one "expert" told the Washington Post.
USA Todayleads with Pope John Paul II being hospitalized for breathing trouble, apparently after coming down with the flu. The Post leads with the National Institutes of Health banning all 18,000 of its employees from consulting for or investing in drug companies. While the LAT flagged the new regs yesterday, the Post emphasizes NIH employees griping that the ban is too wide. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox (online, at least) with a preview of tonight's State of the Union address, where President Bush is apparently going to tease just a bit more of his plan for Social Security.
The WP says there's been a "sharp drop in attacks" since Sunday's vote—and lingering happiness on the street. Meanwhile, four Iraqi soldiers were killed in Mosul, and two police officers were killed in the Kurdish city of Irbil.
The NYT says the U.S., as has long been discussed, is now shifting some GIs from combat and to training and advising Iraqi troops.
Everybody mentions that Iraq's interim, Sunni, and largely ceremonial president, Sheik Ghazi al-Yawar said it would be "complete nonsense" to ask for the U.S.'s withdrawal.
The papers all mention the photo insurgents released of an apparently captured GI ... doll. The Pentagon said no soldiers are missing. And a toy-maker said the "hostage" looks just like the action-figure they make, complete with goofy, non-standard vest. Here's a blog that seems to have figured it out first. (The NYT doesn't quote the manufacturer; instead it cites the "Drudge Report, a Web site that specializes in media issues.")
The NYT goes inside with a few "claims of elections irregularities." Most prominently, Kurdish Christian leaders complained that about 200,000 of their supporters were effectively disenfranchised after ballots didn't arrive. The electoral commission said it will investigate any protests.
USAT profiles an Iraqi policeman who, when he spotted a suicide attacker at a polling site, "threw his arms around the bomber and drove him backward ... into an intersection." The attacker blew himself up, killing only himself and the policeman. "Suicide bombers are not the only ones willing to give up their lives," said one of cop's commanders. Voting continued after the attack.
The NYT off-leads government scientists concluding "with near certainty" that North Korea has sold processed uranium to Libya.And now the U.S. is running around trying to figure out if Pyongyang has been selling the stuff to others too.The Times says the White House has previously argued there was no rush to solve things with North Korea since there was no evidence it was pawning nuclear goods.
The Post says inside that Egypt is cracking down on opposition politicians asPresident Hosni Mubarak mulls a potential referendum that would rubber-stamp his rule for another six years. The WP doesn't mention the White House's reaction. But a WP editorial says the administration has actually "forcefully" complained about the case behind closed doors—and, says the editorial, should do more.
The LAT notices that much of what's on the White House's domestic to-do list would not only further the GOP's agenda but also probably help benefit the GOP itself. For instance, as one Republican senator recently put it, "If we could succeed in getting some form of tort reform passed—medical malpractice reform or any of part of that—it would go a long ways toward taking away the muscle, the financial muscle" of Democratic-supporting lawyers.
The Post fronts "turf battles" that have been adding to the Department of Homeland Security's already well-documented problems. One "former official" referred to "a civil war" within the department that has caused paralysis on, among other things, shoring up shipping container safety. Meanwhile, DHS's investigative branch got in some sort of funding tiff and has been operating with so little money "that use of agency vehicles and photocopying were at times banned."