Hustle and Flu
The Los Angeles Times leads with the news that experts are rethinking their approach to dealing with avian flu. The New York Times and the Washington Post lead with the news that 16 Iraqi militiamen were killed in a U.S.-led assault in Baghdad. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide news box with a roundup of news from Iraq. USA Today leads with a report about how medical innovation is benefiting from the war.
Now that avian flu has spread through 29 countries in the last seven weeks, experts are conceding that there is little that can be done to stop its migration across the world. As the LAT puts it, "There is no way to stop wild birds, and they can't all be killed." Health officials expect it to hit North America this year. Initially, scientists hoped that killing chickens and ducks could contain the virus. But now, says one expert, "We cannot contain this thing anymore. Nature is in control." One alternative to containment is vaccinating birds, but that would be a "logistical nightmare."
American and Iraqi forces raided a Shiite neighborhood in northern Baghdad, killing at least 16 followers of Shiite militia leader Muqtada al-Sadr. Iraqi security officials are reporting that the U.S.-led team entered a mosque and killed 17 Iraqis, including an imam. The American military denies entering the mosque but confirms that 16 insurgents were killed in combat with a Shiite militia cell that had kidnapped Iraqi civilians. The U.S. military is increasingly blaming Sadr for the sectarian bloodshed that is ravaging the country. The NYT calls the incident "the most serious confrontation in months," and all the papers make sure to point out that the killings are inflaming a volatile situation that many Iraqis are already calling a civil war.
The WSJ reports that Condoleezza Rice predicted troop reductions in Iraq, saying, "It's entirely probable that we will see a significant drawdown of American forces over the next year." Meanwhile, police in Iraq found 30 corpses, mostly beheaded, on a road north of Baghdad. They are the latest victims in the wave of sectarian violence washing over the country. In all, 69 people were reported killed on Sunday, the bloodiest day in weeks.
"New ways of healing are as much a product of war as are new ways of killing," says USAT. Doctors have to innovate in days rather than months to save lives on the battlefield, and the benefits carry forward. Among the innovations: a bandage made with a shrimp extract that creates a tight bond; new tourniquets; clotting drugs for victims of roadside bombs; and a heart-lung machine not much bigger than a laptop.
The NYT discovers a British memo that seems to demonstrate that President Bush was determined to go to war with Iraq while the U.S. was still pressing for a second U.N. resolution. The memo, written by Tony Blair's then top foreign-policy adviser, reveals that even as President Bush was publicly offering Saddam Hussein a chance to disarm, he told the British PM that he was determined to invade Iraq even without a resolution and even if arms inspectors failed to find weapons.
The WP reflects on a dilemma facing Congress: Everyone seems to agree that the immigration system needs an overhaul, but "it is hard to persuade Americans to perform the unskilled jobs that immigrants easily fill." Offering higher wages may attract American workers, but that would mean higher prices. Meanwhile, many businesses rely on illegal workers to be competitive. Studies estimate that unauthorized immigrants make up 5 percent of the work force.
The LAT reports that the FBI keeps watch lists of activists, including anti-war and environmental protesters. The FBI stressed that it targets people who commit crimes and does not single out groups based on their ideologies. But the ACLU, which FOIA'd the FBI's documents, said, "Any definition of terrorism that would include someone throwing a bottle or rock through a window during an antiwar demonstration is dangerously overbroad."
The NYT investigates what led the Bush administration to waive $7 billion in oil-industry royalties, employing an incentive that was meant to be used when energy prices were low. Instead, say Democrats, taxpayers are paying to subsidize oil companies at a time of record profits. The answer: "a law riddled with ambiguities," "crucial errors by midlevel bureaucrats under President Bill Clinton," "inducements from the Bush administration," and "shrewd lobbying and litigation" at every turn from oil and gas companies.
Walk the loin … Researchers have cloned a pig that makes its own omega-3 fatty acids, which are thought to help prevent heart disease. Consumer groups worry about the "double whammy" of genetically modifying an animal and cloning it, but researchers are hoping the new pork will improve health. "You won't have to change your diet, but you will be getting what you need," said one researcher. Pigs are only the beginning. Next up: cows with omega-3 milk and chickens that lay omega-3 eggs.
Jay Dixit is a writer in New York. He has written for the New York Times and Rolling Stone.