The New York Times and the Washington Post lead with business owners making the weary, hopeful trip back to New Orleans on the first day they were officially allowed to return. The papers report that the anticipated traffic jams at entry points into the city did not materialize, and in some cases, those entering were more informed than those supervising the reentry. Some business owners worry about when—and if—the customers will come.
The Los Angeles Times leads with a look at problems plaguing the federal government—beyond FEMA—that have contributed to the failed efforts to help Katrina victims.
The problems that the LAT covers are deep and widespread. Months before the storm, a computer system was created to improve disaster loans, but the system has been hobbled by a lack of computers and trained staff. Displaced storm victims are having trouble navigating the regulations of welfare and other poverty alleviation programs that vary from state to state. Department of Education officials are still grappling with who will fund the educations of the many children displaced by the hurricane.
The Post agrees that three weeks after the hurricane, the government is still struggling to help victims. The paper fronts a story on how a lack of consistency and leadership by government officials has left many evacuees without essential services. This, of course, seems familiar by now, but the WP reminds us that it's still an ongoing problem. Basic questions remain unanswered, such as how many were rendered homeless by the storm.
The NYT is the only paper to front a speech by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran Saturday where he said his country would not rein in their nuclear program. Speaking to the United Nations General Assembly, Ahmadinejad resisted what he qualified as bullying by the United States, and he maintained that Iran would not give up the "right to pursue peaceful nuclear energy." An unnamed White House official told the paper, "This doesn't help Iran's case."
A car bomb killed at least 30 people in a market in a poor, predominantly Shiite district on the outskirts of Baghdad Saturday. The Post runs an AP report while the NYT has a man on the scene. Other bodies were discovered throughout Iraq yesterday, including several who were bound, blindfolded and shot.
Despite the violence in Iraq, the World Bank is considering sending staff back to Baghdad after their pullout two years ago following a deadly bombing. According to an internal document obtained by the WP, the bank is worried about its ability to administer aid in Iraq, but World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz believes the institution should have a larger presence there.
The NYT fronts a story on Najaf, an Iraqi city cited as a model of reconstruction by American officials, yet beset by bad planning, corruption, and other problems. The director of a hospital that received millions of dollars financed by the U.S. says she does not see much improvement.
The NYT reports on the ongoing hunger strike at Gitmo, where as many as a third of prisoners there have refused food in recent weeks. Other media outlets have covered the hunger strike (albeit sporadically) over the past few weeks—including the foreign press and other American papers—but unless a TP Lexis search is wrong, this is the first time the Times has reported on the growing demonstration (with the exception of running an Associated Press report). Why has this story gotten overlooked? As many as 200 prisoners are protesting their detainment in the absence of charges and the conditions of their imprisonment, and about 20 are being fed through nasal tubes.
Afghans began voting early Sunday despite an increase in violence near Kabul, reports the LAT. Guerillas attacked police officers and others in separate incidents, but citizens began lining up early anyway to cast their votes.
Meanwhile, Germans will go to the polls today to decide whether or not Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder keeps his job. The Post says voters are tired of their shaky economy and growing unemployment, but also frightened by the idea of major reform.
Speaking of voting: The NYT editorial board says John Roberts is "Too Much of a Mystery," and encourages senators to vote against confirming him as Supreme Court chief justice.
In the face of rising gas prices and worries of oil shortages, civic leaders in Southern California are considering … not improved mass transit, but building underground highways to accommodate more cars and alleviate traffic. The LAT fronts the story of how three huge "highway tunnel" projects are under consideration in the area, each of which could span several miles and cost billions of dollars.