Black Hawk Down

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
Jan. 9 2006 5:17 AM

Black Hawk Down

The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times,   USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal world-wide newsbox lead with the crash of a Black Hawk helicopter in northern Iraq late Saturday that killed all 12 Americans on board. Military officials are blaming the crash on inclement weather, but, as one officer noted, "nothing has been ruled out at this very early stage." The New York Times reefers the Black Hawk story but leads with New York city health officials calling diabetes an epidemic. More than one in eight adult New Yorkers now have the disease, and experts worry that the city's many high-risk residents—namely, the poor and obese—will continue to develop diabetes at alarming and costly rates.

It's not yet known how many among the dead in the copter crash were U.S. service members, but USAT notes that, at the very minimum, the four members of the crew were. (And the WP suspects that some of the others were civilians since the military, which "usually identifies the armed forces branch of fallen service members," declined to do so this time.) The crash is the deadliest since a transport helicopter went down about a year ago, killing 31 troops.

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Elsewhere in Iraq, five Marines were killed over the weekend. "Combined with the deaths of 11 American servicemen on Thursday," the NYT tallies, "the fatalities marked one of the deadliest four-day stretches for the military since the fall of Baghdad."

Everybody previews today's long-awaited hearings of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito Jr. The Post has the smartest piece, focusing on how Alito earned his conservative bona fides in the Reagan Justice Department. (Hint: That Yale Law degree was not a huge help.) The NYT predicts that Chief Justice John Roberts' September grilling will provide "a fresh road map" for Alito, helping him anticipate the questions and concerns of the Senate Judiciary Committee. And the Times op-ed page does a little anticipating of its own: The paper invited "six legal minds"—including Scott Turow—to suggest five questions for Alito.

The papers all note that doctors plan on bringing Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who suffered a major stroke last Wednesday, out of his medically induced coma today. (According to the NYT, this could take up to eight hours.) Sharon's chief surgeon gave reporters an upbeat prognosis on the P.M.'s survival but told one paper that his political career is over: "He will not continue to be prime minister, but maybe he will be able to understand and to speak." Once Sharon is revived, doctors will perform tests to assess the extent of his brain damage.

Meanwhile, Ehud Olmert, Sharon's deputy and presumed replacement as the leader of the newly formed Kadima party, continued to act as prime minister, running a Cabinet meeting on Sunday. Olmert has been widely knocked as a poor substitute for "the Bulldozer," but he has at least one fan: Shimon Peres announced that he would support Olmert to lead Kadima during the March elections. (The Israeli paper Haaretz quotes officials predicting that Peres would get "a senior, central and influential post" if Olmert succeeds in forming the next government.)

The NYT fronts how über law firm Greenberg Traurig is faring in the wake of former employee Jack Abramoff's guilty plea on conspiracy and fraud charges. So far, damage control has gone pretty well. The firm has launched an internal investigation, returned fees to former Abramoff clients, and cooperated with the federal government. Sen. John McCain even lauded Greenberg Traurig for its "dignity and professionalism in these trying circumstances."

It's not just lobby shops that are reeling in the post-Abramoff era. House Speaker Dennis Hastert announced plans for new rules to clamp down on relationships between lobbyists and lawmakers, the Post teases on Page One. Hastert's new reform-mindedness comes just as House Republicans are preparing to select a replacement for scandal-marred former Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

Below the fold, the LAT takes a look at the man Hastert has chosen to spearhead the new ethics rules: California Rep. David Dreier.

Funerals were held on Sunday for six of the 12 victims of last week's mining accident in West Virginia, the papers report.

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