Everyone leads with North Korea announcing it successfully tested a nuclear device late Sunday at an underground site. While military reprisal looks unlikely, several nations and the U.N. Security Council will probably consider sanctions and other economic disciplinary measures.
While the U.S. and South Korean governments are unable to confirm North Korea's claim, unusual seismic activity has been detected emanating from the alleged test site. South Korean geologists measured the activity at 3.6 on the Richter scale, while the U.S. Geological Survey pegged it at 4.2 and Japan puts it as high as 4.9. The Los Angeles Times reports that, based on the South Korean geologists' estimate, the device produced an explosion equivalent to 550 tons of TNT, less than half the power of the bomb the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima. USA Today reports that a Russian general announced his country has confirmed the shocks were a nuclear weapons test. The New York Times points out that the timing of the test is significant, falling on the ninth anniversary of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's ascension as head of the Korean Workers' Party. It also precedes a vote on South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon's bid to become U.N. secretary-general. The Wall Street Journal calls North Korea the world's ninth nuclear power, while the other paper's count only eight, as Israel has never announced having nuclear capabilities though it is believed to possess them. The Washington Post sounds the most pessimistic, pointing out that although the U.S. and other nations talk of further diplomatic efforts to get North Korean to abandon its weapons program, no nation has ever abandoned a nuclear arms program once developing the capability to test the weapons.
The WP has the congressional-page scoop of the day, reporting that Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., knew about former Rep. Mark Foley's illicit messages to underage pages in 2000, several years before the Republican leadership claims it found out about Foley's proclivities. The WP claims that a source read the messages on the condition they not be reprinted. The paper reports that these early communications were "sexually explicit."
The NYT writes that when it comes to the Foley scandal, evangelicals say they blame the man and not the party, claiming their values-oriented attraction to the GOP is undiminished by the scandal.
The NYT reports that former Secretary of State James A. Baker, co-chairman of a panel appointed to examine the U.S. occupation of Iraq. is now hinting that Iraq policy ought not be as simple as "staying the course" or "cutting and running." The panel is expected to recommend that a gradual approach to withdrawal would be most beneficial. The WP mentions the recommendation in a story about an intensifying conflict between U.S. troops and the militia forces of Muqtada al-Sadr in southern Iraq.
The NYT off-leads with the second in a four-part series on the way religious organizations are able to circumvent many of the regulations that apply to private companies. In this installment, the paper looks at how religious groups are given a much freer hand with their hiring policies, sometimes to the detriment of qualified applicants.
USAT, meanwhile, looks at how some cities are trying to keep churches out of their commercial districts in hopes of building a more robust, tax-generating business sector.
The LAT fronts a change in the rhetoric of anti-abortion campaigners in South Dakota that has thrown abortion-rights advocates for a loop: Instead of focusing on the life of the fetus, the new PR wave focuses on whether abortion is psychologically healthy for women.
The NYT fronts and WSJ goes inside with news that New York cable provider Cablevision may go from publicly held to privately owned status after the issue of a $19 billion buyout bid from New York's prominent Dolan family. The story reflects a trend in businesses looking to go private, after growing tired of being driven by short-term quarterly earnings expectations and restrictive securities regulations.