Wait-y Days

Wait-y Days

Wait-y Days

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
Feb. 1 2005 3:23 AM

Wait-y Days

The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal world-wide newsbox, and USA Todayall lead with Iraq, where there was lots of speculation about political positioning and no vote results. Iraqi officials said they might announce turnout numbers today. The Los Angeles Times fronts Iraq, specifically President Bush calling the leaders of France and Germany to gloa... encourage increased support. Meanwhile, giving itself a bit of a pat-on-the-back, the LAT leads with new regs from the National Institutes of Health banning its scientists from taking dough from drug companies or even owning their stocks. The paper ran a series of pieces detailing cozy deals between NIH scientists and drug-makers.

In the absence of real developments, the papers go high with Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's group hug. "It is time to put the divisions of the past behind us and work together," he said. "We are entering a new era of our history and all Iraqis—whether they voted or not—should stand side by side to build their future."

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The NYT's Dexter Filkins guesses that Allawi is trying to position himself as a unifying candidate who can peel away support from the election's likely big winner, the Shiite-dominated United Iraqi Alliance. That coalition is made up of disparate, often bickering groups. "Believe me, the back-room dealing has already begun," said one Shiite leader. Another Iraqi official told the Times, "Allawi's chance will come if the Shiite coalition breaks up."

Three Marines were killed south of Baghdad; no details were provided, per Marines policy. The Pentagon also announced that another Marine was killed Sunday. Also, four prisoners were killed during a riot at Camp Bucca. The military said guards only opened fire after trying other things for nearly an hour. (It would have been worth noting that Iraq's prisons have been "nearing capacity" recently, as the U.S. suspended the release of detainees. And most of them are now held at Camp Bucca.)

The Post counts 260 separate insurgent attacks Sunday, the most since the war began. The total death toll though, 45, was nowhere near a record.

With Baghdad turned into an outdoor party Sunday, the Post ponders what might have been had the U.S. put Iraq in lockdown back in April 2003. "Yeah," said one U.S. official, "maybe they wouldn't have looted the whole [expletive] place."

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The WP fronts the Pentagon giving in to rising congressional pressure and proposing to significantly increase—from $12,000 to $100,000—the money paid directly to families of service members killed in combat zones. While the WP sees the Pentagon behind the move, the NYT offers credit elsewhere: "BUSH TO SEEK RISE IN BENEFITS FOR SURVIVORS OF THOSE KILLED IN WAR." The papers agree on the facts: The plan was previewed by a Pentagon bureaucrat and will be in the military's proposed budget.

The Post mentions that Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld is looking to revive funding for a study of bunker-busting nukes, a program Congress has cut. "You can count on my support," Rummy wrote in a letter to the Energy Department, which had funded research into the aptly named Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator.

Everybody notes a federal judge's ruling that the Gitmo military hearings set up in the wake of last year's Supreme Court decision are themselves unconstitutional, since they don't allow detainees access to lawyers or to evidence against them. The WSJ notes that the ruling explicitly shoots down the legal theory pushed by Alberto Gonzales that the prisoners are by default not protected by the Geneva Conventions. A different judge in the same court gave an essentially opposite ruling recently, and the issue could be kicked back up to the Supremes.

The Post, alone, fronts a U.N. commission's conclusion that while Sudan and its attendant militia didn't engage in genocide in Darfur, they have been responsible for "widespread and systematic" abuses there. The report recommended bringing in the International Criminal Court, but that's unlikely to happen since the White House opposes the existence of the ICC. Instead, the administration wants a local tribunal.

The NYT fronts insurance broker Marsh agreeing to pay $850 million and acknowledging what the CEO called "shameful" and "unlawful" behavior by, as it happens, just "a few people" at the company. Marsh didn't admit to wrongdoing in the suit, which was brought by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

Continuing its first-rate trend-spotting, USAT flags another, this one so little-noticed: "IN IPOD AMERICA, LEGIONS IN TUNE." The article comes complete with creative section-heads, such as "This Device 'Has Changed my Life." and "It's What Everyone Wants." Also included is a quote from professional ponderer Paul Saffo. "This is all part of the shift from mass media to personalized media," he said. "With the iPod, the Buddha is in the details." So true.