The Washington Postand New York Timeslead with a new report released by the United Nations that says 3,709 civilians were killed in Iraq in October. This figure marks October as the deadliest month for civilians since the war began in 2003. The Los Angeles Times fronts the report, butleads with an analysis piece about the crisis currently facing Lebanon, which the paper sees as a sign of the fading U.S. influence in the country and the region as a whole. Last year, the Bush administration was praising Lebanon as an example of democracy in the region, but now the country is on the verge of a governmental collapse, and perhaps a civil war.
The U.N. report points out the largest number of civilian deaths occurred in Baghdad. As has happened with previous reports, Iraqi government officials were quick to say the count is inaccurate, and accused the U.N. of getting its data from unreliable sources. Regardless, neither the Iraqi nor the U.S. governments release their own figures on civilian casualties. In addition to the killings, the report also says approximately 100,000 Iraqis a month flee their country and go to Syria and Jordan. Approximately 1.6 million people have left Iraq for one of its neighbors since 2003.
If the Lebanese government were to collapse, it would probably mean a return to pro-Syrian forces, and officials admit there is little the United States could do to prevent this from happening. The United States has lost influence not only because of the Iraq war but also as a result of its support of Israel during the recent conflict. The LAT notes Iranian officials gain support in Lebanon by passing out money on their visits to the country while "U.S. officials have no inducements other than slow-moving programs to help rebuild the country."
Yesterday was Lebanon's Independence Day, but both the WP and LAT report there were no celebrations or parades as the country prepared for today's funeral of slain minister Pierre Gemayel.
The papers mention Vice President Cheney will be traveling to Saudi Arabia on Friday to discuss Iraq with King Abdullah. This meeting will take place the same weekend as the presidents fo Iran and Iraq are scheduled to meet in Tehran.
The NYT and LAT report the IAEA is likely to deny help to Iran in building its heavy-water nuclear reactor. Although Iran insists the reactor is for peaceful ends, it would be able to produce plutonium as a byproduct. According to the LAT, the IAEA would continue to support seven other civilian nuclear projects in Iran.
The number of children taking multiple psychiatric medications for a handful of problems keeps on increasing but there is little evidence of the effect all these combinations might have on them, reports the NYT on Page One. Last year, approximately 1.6 million children and teenagers in the United States were prescribed more than one psychiatric drug.
The LAT goes inside with word that a Guantanamo prisoner is seeking a court order to allow him to have a heart operation either in the United States or Pakistan. The U.S. military has said it is willing and able to carry out the medical procedure, but the prisoner said he had been left shackled during previous examinations and treatments, so he would rather have someone else perform the operation.
The WP fronts the Environmental Protection Agency declaring it will begin to regulate what are known as microscopic "nanoparticles" of silver. These bacteria-killing particles have been added to a number of different products, and until now they did not have to meet any sort of regulatory standard. According to experts, this is the first time a federal control has been imposed on nanotechnology.
The WP's Robert Novak has been talking to Republicans about their feelings on how Donald Rumsfeld was fired, and all say they were in some way surprised by the way the president treated the secretary of defense. The president's action toward Rumsfeld "connotes something deeply wrong with George W. Bush's presidency in its sixth year," writes Novak. Although the secretary of defense has always been loyal to the president, "loyalty appears to be a one-way street for Bush."
The WP and NYT publish an Associated Press story that quotes O.J. Simpson saying he knew any compensation he received from the book would be "blood money." He also insists he never considered the book a confession. Simpson says he explained to his kids what he was planning on doing, "I made it clear that it's blood money, but it's no different than any of the other writers who did books on this case." Simpson declined to say how much money he got as an advance for the book, although he insists it was less than $3.5 million, and says he already spent it, partly to meet tax obligations.
Instead of writing a traditional holiday editorial, the LAT decided to publish highlights from its Thanksgiving editorials of the last 125 years. Some are humorous (from 1912: "pumpkin pie is the one thing that a French chef cannot cook. The pastry part is all right, but "de pumpkin" is flabby and flat, and resembles sweetened sawdust more than anything else."), while others are quite serious (from 1943: "For years before 1941… peace was a standing item on our Thanksgiving agenda. But if we had known then what we know now — that the enemies of civilization had long been plotting our destruction and were ready to strike — would we have called it peace?) but they're all an interesting glimpse into what the country's mood may have been like on the fourth thursday of November throughout the years.
As households across the country prepare to cook their turkeys today, the Post publishes a feature on the people who work for the Agriculture Department's meat hotline. This week, the specialists answer about 400 questions a day relating to all matters of meat safety, from the funny to the serious and emotional. So, if any last minute questions pop up, and the question isn't answered on their Web site, feel free to give them a call (888-674-6854). Specialists will be around until 2 p.m. Eastern today.