Kashmir's Catastrophe

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
Oct. 10 2005 3:23 AM

Kashmir's Catastrophe

The Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal world-wide newsbox, and New York Timesall lead with the latest from Pakistan, where the prime minister put the current death toll from Saturday's quake at nearly 20,000. That does not include parts of heavily hit Kashmir that rescuers have yet to reach. "There are clearly several areas which are inaccessible," said the prime minister. A local government official in Kashmir estimated that 30,000 people were killed. The Washington Postleads with, and the LAT fronts, the GOP having as tough a time as the Army in landing recruits.In about a half-dozen Senate races, GOP-central's top picks all have taken a pass. Candidates "aren't stupid," said one Republican pollster. "They see the political landscape. You are asking them to make a huge personal sacrifice. It's a lot easier to make that sacrifice if you think there's a rainbow at the end." USA Today'slead notices that aid for hurricane evacuees differs by state. That's partly a result of states having different welfare benefits, which many evacuees are now eligible for. It's also partly a result of the federal government's decision to require each state to apply on its own for waivers expanding eligibility rules for Medicaid.

The NYT, LAT, WSJ, and WP all file from Kashmir, where many towns appear to have been flattened and government aid has yet to arrive. "Affected people have no shelter, no drinking water, no first aid, and aid agencies have yet to start activities," said one relief worker. The capital of Kashmir, Muzaffarabad, was inaccessible by road until sometime yesterday. One man who made it out told the NYT, "There is no proper rescue, no organization. The whole city has collapsed." (TP doesn't see it mentioned in the papers, but according to this Web site, Muzaffarabad has a population of about 90,000.)

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At least a handful of schools across Kashmir collapsed, with at least hundreds of students inside. The children "are alive," said one woman sitting next to a collapsed school. "But we do not have the expertise to get them out."

The LAT and NYT emphasize Pakistani President General Musharraf's plea for help. "Our helicopter resources are limited," he said. "We need massive cargo helicopter support." The Pentagon announced that it's sent eight helicopters and is preparing to send other aid.

At least 600 people were killed by the quake in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir, and the Post points out that survivors there haven't been getting help either. "Government? We have given up on it," said one survivor. "Now it is up to God to save us."

The Journal emphasizes the small, potential, silver lining to the quake, namely that it could help further dispel the bad blood between India and Pakistan. India's prime minister rang Musharraf and offered aid. Musharraf, presumably wanting to look neither ungracious nor weak, reciprocated.  

Everybody goes inside with the latest from Guatemala, where about a week after hurricane-caused mudslides, hundreds are still missing, and rescuers are giving up. "Panabaj will no longer exist," said one mayor referring to his town. "We are asking that it be declared a cemetery. We are tired. We no longer know where to dig." About 650 people are known to have died.

A front-page LAT piece points out that "panels" that helped Louisiana's U.S. senators hammer out a proposed $200 billion aid package were chock full of energy and other industry lobbyists. "I was basically shocked," said one scientist. "What do lobbyists know about a plan for the reconstruction and restoration of Louisiana?"

The papers all mention Sen. Arlen Specter, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, saying he'll press Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers "very hard" in hearings. Specter said he's particularly keen to grill Miers on her qualifications. As the NYT highlights, Specter also suggested he might haul Christian activist James Dobson in front of the committee to ask Dobson to explain what he meant when he said he supports Miers because of some secret info—or perhaps assurances—he's not allowed to share. 

About a dozen Iraqis were killed in assorted attacks, and the military announced that a Marine was killed by a roadside bomb west of Baghdad.

The LAT fronts what seems be another emerging trend from California: old-fogies ODing. In the last 15 years, the rate of overdose deaths among younger drug users has slightly declined and doubled for those 40 and older. The LAT says that in 1985 the age at which somebody was "most likely to die" (?) from a drug overdose was 32. Today it's 43.

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