The New York Timesleads with, and Wall Street Journal tops its newsbox with, the top U.N. election observer in Iraq dismissing mostly Sunni claims that the elections were full of fraud. "We at the U.N. see no justification in calls for a re-run of the elections," said the official. (As it happens, the official told the Times the same thing Monday, but the paper, unfortunately for itself, didn't grasp the significance.)
The Washington Postgoes across the top with a backgrounder on fallen lobbyist Jack Abramoff, saying he's the main character in what "could become the biggest congressional corruption scandal in generations." Abramoff is reportedly close to flipping for prosecutors on what the NYT recently reported could be a "scheme involving at least a dozen lawmakers and their former staff members." The Los Angeles Timesleads with Gov. Schwarzenegger proposing to cancel planned hikes in student fees at California's public universities and colleges. USA Today'slead does some math and concludes that 39 percent of Americans are now covered by state or local restrictions on smoking.
"We still believe that huge fraud happened in the Iraqi election and it completely changed the results," one Sunni politician told the NYT, as Sunni protests continued yesterday. A front-page LAT analysis gets downright morbid, concluding that the elections may have "finally laid to rest" the "myth of a unified Iraqi identity." To wit:
Nine out of 10 Iraqis in the Shiite Muslim provinces of the south voted for religious Shiite parties, according to the early results from the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq. Nine out of 10 Iraqis in Sunni Muslim Arab areas of central and western Iraq voted for Sunni parties. Nine out of 10 Iraqis in the Kurdish provinces of the north voted for Kurdish candidates.
The NYT and WP reeferthe administration, in a brief to the Supreme Court, ripping into an appeals court's ruling that denied the government's attempt to move "enemy combatant" Jose Padilla from military to civilian custody. Calling it an "unwarranted attack on presidential discretion," the government argued that the lower court's decision "defies both law and logic."The court, which had found just a few months ago that Padilla can be held indefinitely, had suggested the White House was looking to move Padilla simply to avoid having his case reviewed by the Supreme Court.
The WP goes above the fold with a Department of Homeland Security inspector general's report criticizing the department for, among other things, its scattered response to Katrina. But despite the Post's big play, the IG's conclusions seem fairly mild, particularly compared with the scorching DHS has received from the 9/11 commission and others.
As the WP mentions inside, two GIs were killed along with their translator by a roadside bombing in eastern Afghanistan. About 50 GIs have been killed in the country this year, the most since the invasion in 2001. Also, one Marine was killed in Iraq.
The NYT fronts Israel, faced with continuing rocket attacks from Gaza, declaring the most northern part of Gaza, a "no-go" zone. "Anyone who does not heed this warning is placing his or her life in immediate danger," said an Israeli army leaflet dropped in the area, which is currently an uninhabited patch.
The Post fronts and other go inside with a Russian government report blaming local authorities for screwing up the response to the terrorist attack last year on the Beslan school.Russian authorities reportedly had intel about a possible attack that day on a school, but the school only had one, unarmed, guard posted.The report "is an attempt to put the blame on regional and local law enforcers and not on the leaders of federal ministries, who in my view bear responsibility for what happened," said one independent member of parliament.
Proof TP isn't the only one with a weakness for bad puns ... Courtesy of the Post: "IN BAGHDAD, BROKERS STRUGGLE WITH THE REALTY OF WAR."