The Washington Post and the New York Times each lead with North Korea announcing that by the end of the month it will return to the six-party talks on dismantling its nuclear weapons program. The Los Angeles Times leads (at least online) with the announcement by British police that Thursday's bombings were much more closely synchronized than previously thought.
North Korea's agreement to re-enter the six-party talks for the first time in more than a year came during a dinner between Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill and Kim Kye Gwan, North Korea's deputy foreign minister, late Saturday night. All the pieces point out North Korea's willingness to resume talks may stem from the Bush administration's somewhat softer rhetoric in recent months, along with promises of aid from South Korea. The talks face several hurdles on the way to dismantling the North Korean weapons program(s), including determining how many weapons programs North Korea actually has. The NYT does a very thorough job of explaining what the U.S. and the North Koreans each expect from the talks and how in many cases, the aims of each nation run at cross-purposes. The LAT is perhaps most bullish about the prospect of the talks, focusing more on the diplomatic victory the move represents for each side, rather than the complications ahead.
While the families of the victims in Thursday's London bombings bemoan the speed with which rescue works are recovering and identifying bodies, investigators announced that three of the London bombings actually happened within 50 seconds of each other, instead of the half-hour time frame reporter earlier. The LAT reports that Scotland Yard is relying heavily on information on the bombs' construction and deployment to yield clues to the bombers' identities, giving priority to forensics over identifying bodies. The NYT and the WP run shorter stories inside on the latest revelations from the London bombing investigation.
Everyone fronts a feature depicting London as a hotbed for terrorist cells over the last decade. Each story traces London's history as gathering place for dissidents (peaceful or otherwise) and takes a look at why terrorists might want to attack a country that they've nested in so successfully. The WP piece focuses on specific figures who may figure into the London terrorist scene from firebrand preacher Abu Hamza Masri to Saudi dissident Saad Faqih, who has been charged by the U.S. Treasury with financially supporting al-Qaida. Meanwhile, the NYT piece focuses more on the aspects of British society (genial tolerance combined an unwillingness to detain or extradite suspected terrorists) that may make London so attractive to terrorists. Most chillingly, the LATposits that British authorities had previously maintained an unspoken truce with the terrorists and that Thursday's attack, "might have been carried out by a new generation of homegrown jihadists who do not respect tacit deals struck by their elders."
The WPcovers the countdown to the first space-shuttle launch since the 2003 Columbia disaster, highlighting the efforts that NASA has undertaken to prevent another shuttle disaster, while underscoring that the shuttles are still a long way from "safe." With President Bush calling for a return to the moon by 2020 and eventual manned missions to Mars, being able to finish the international space station is paramount, a task that would be impossible without the aid of the space shuttles. The NYT fronts its own spin on the shuttle launch, detailing the struggles of the spouses of the ill-fated Columbia crew, both to cope with their losses and with having to grieve in the public eye.
The NYT points out the while Roe v. Wade probably isn't facing the chopping block in the wake of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's exit from the Supreme Court, the abortion war may yet be stoked anew. The NYT posits that abortion opponents may be able to get a new, slightly more conservative court to accept limitations like the partial-birth abortion ban that would most likely have been struck down with O'Connor still on the bench.
The WP trumpets the rare birth of a panda cub at the National Zoo, the first born to Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, two pandas on loan to the zoo from the Chinese government. While zookeepers had suspected for months that Mei Xiang was with cub, they had been unable to confirm the pregnancy, making the birth something of surprise. While the cub will be officially named by the Chinese, who retain ownership of the cub, WP staff writers felt inclined to put in their two cents.
For those about to pretend to rock, we salute you
The NYT's "Fashion and Style" section features a look into the surprisingly serious world of competitive air guitar, as a lead-up to the U.S. Championship in Los Angeles on Thursday. The piece, written by the reigning New York regional champ, traces the admittedly short history of air guitar as a competitive activity and offers a few pointers for would-be air thrashers. TP's favorite tip: "Remember, if you hit a bad note only you will know."