The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal's world-wide newsbox lead with the first full day of emergency rule in Pakistan. In case there was any doubt, President Pervez Musharraf made it clear yesterday that he plans to use the extra powers to quiet anyone who might challenge his regime. At least 500 opposition leaders, lawyers, and human rights activists were arrested yesterday, and all independent television channels, including international broadcasters such as CNN and the BBC, continued to be off the air. Meanwhile, Pakistan's government announced that elections that were supposed to take place in January could be delayed for up to a year. The Post and NYT front the same picture of two activists as they are hauled away in a police van, a scene that appears to have been all too common yesterday and continued today as police clashed with lawyers that were attempting to stage a protest. Since Saturday, more than 1,500 people have been arrested.
The Los Angeles Timesfronts the news out of Pakistan but leads with news that film and TV writers officially went on strike today after they failed to come to an agreement with the studios last night. After three months of talks, it didn't look like the two sides were even close to a deal yesterday. Although it seems writers were willing to give in a little on their demands for bigger DVD residuals, they were less flexible on demands for more money from online distribution of content, among other issues. The key question now is how long the strike will last because many fear a long walkout could result in steep losses for the industry.
In a speech announcing the state of emergency, Musharraf said he needs the extra powers to fight against a rising threat from militants linked to al-Qaida and the Taliban. But the papers report that the decision was made after the government got word that the Supreme Court was getting ready to unanimously rule against Musharraf's efforts to stay on as Pakistan's president.
One of Musharraf's first actions was to fire several Supreme Court judges, including the chief justice. As of yesterday, only five of the Supreme Court's 17 justices had agreed to take a new oath of office. Meanwhile, lawyers continued to be strongly targeted as the government stepped up efforts to prevent them from organizing protests. The NYT notes that lawyers are considering taking steps to try to undermine the government in a variety of ways, including refusing to appear before any judges that have taken the new oath.
The Bush administration was unusually critical of Musharraf's actions, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice vowed that Washington would review the $150 million in U.S. aid that Pakistan receives each month. But despite these strong words, administration officials make it very clear that the White House won't let a little thing like a "second coup," as Musharraf's critics have begun to call his action, affect the fundamental relationship with a key ally in the fight against terrorism. Musharraf apparently knew he had nothing to fear from the Americans, and the NYT notes that, according to government aides, no senior U.S. official has so much as placed a call to him after emergency rule was imposed.
For all the talk of how Pakistan is such a critical ally in the fight against terrorists, the truth is that Musharraf's government has made few strides against the rising presence of al-Qaida and the Taliban. The LAT fronts a look at how Musharraf has spent much of the $7 billion in U.S. military aid to bulk up on equipment and weapons that "are far more suited for conventional warfare with India." This means the force that has been tasked with pursuing al-Qaida "remains underfunded, poorly trained, and overwhelmingly outgunned."
The Post runs an analysis piece inside that Musharraf's move is part of a pattern "in which the former commando has chosen to shoot his way out of tight situations, using force rather than finesse." But this time around, public opposition to the state of emergency could be so great that it might mark the beginning of the end for Musharraf. The WSJ notes that although Pakistanis used to respect the military, most now see it as a source of corruption and ineptitude.
In the Post's op-ed page, Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid says the state of emergency "will only encourage further civil strife" and help extremists since Musharraf has decided to target the country's "secular elite" rather than the militants. Rashid says the "key question" is how long the army will continue to stand behind Musharraf. But right now, it looks like Musharraf "once again took the Americans for a ride."
In other news, the NYT, LAT, and WSJ front former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin's appointment as the new chairman of Citigroup after Charles Prince III resigned yesterday. The resignation came as Citigroup announced it will write off up to $11 billion because of credit-related losses on top of the $5.9 billion it already took last month. The move comes less than a week after Merrill Lynch's leader was forced to resign.
The WP fronts an interesting story that details the unlikely alliance that Bush and Sen. Edward Kennedy formed on education issues, which is now strained as it's looking increasingly unlikely that No Child Left Behind will be reauthorized. Bush is now "struggling to salvage perhaps his most important domestic achievement with the help of one of his toughest critics."
Former Attorney General John Ashcroft writes an op-ed for the NYT in which he says that senators should not allow the lawsuits against telecommunications companies that cooperated with government surveillance efforts to go forward. Ashcroft emphasizes the legislation would only protect companies that were assured their actions were legal. He says the lawsuits threaten to erode a trust that is essential when dealing with sensitive issues where the companies might not know the full details of a program. If they helped track terrorists, the companies "acted as patriots, not privacy violators."
The WP fronts, and USAT mentions, a new study that found that contrary to conventional wisdom, the so-called "helicopter parents," who frequently get involved in a child's college experience, might actually be beneficial for students. Children of helicopter parents are, for the most part, "more engaged" in college, although there's no evidence that they receive better grades.