How will the White House address the next big threat to Iraqi security?

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
April 12 2008 11:28 AM

Irate Over Iran

The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal's world-wide newsbox both lead with the growing worry that Iran is now the dominant threat to Iraq's security. The New York Times leads with the credit crunch affecting the availability of student loans. The Los Angeles Times leads with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposing to nearly triple health care spending for California prisons.

With al-Qaida in Iraq on the run after successful U.S. offensives, attention has turned to Iranian influence in the region, says the WP. President Bush said yesterday that Iran must stop arming and supporting Shiite militias in Iraq or "we'll deal with them"—though he added that he isn't looking for a war with Iran and would prefer an international diplomatic solution.

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The NYT reports that lenders are backing away from offering student loans, leaving families in the lurch over college costs. Families still have other options, and the paper says it may be late summer before the situation becomes clear. Regardless, it's another sign that the tightening credit market isn't just a Wall Street problem.

It may be a local story, but the LAT's piece on Gov. Schwarzenegger's plan to raise prison health care spending has some national interest, as prisons across the country face similar problems: aging inmates and health care facilities that simply are not up to meeting prisoners' needs.

The NYT offleads with General Electric's stock plunging 13 percent Friday, on the heels of an unexpectedly bad quarterly earnings report. Because of its diverse business interests, the paper takes GE's faltering earnings as a sign that the problems of the financial-services sector are trickling down to the wider economy. The WSJ says that analysts expected certain parts of GE's operations to do poorly but were caught off-guard by the weakness of its health and consumer products divisions.

The WP offleads with bureaucratic obstacles to implementing alternatives to animal testing of pharmaceuticals. The interagency committee in charge of approving alternatives to animal testing has approved just four tests in 10 years, compared with 34 tests from its European counterparts. E-mails obtained by the paper seem to indicate that the panel's members are strongly biased toward animal testing, a bias that may be keeping new humane tests from seeing the light of day. Meanwhile, the LAT offleads with the uncertain fate of research monkeys in Abkhazia, the break-away region of the former soviet-bloc republic of Georgia. *

The WP fronts a panic in the Philippines over the exploding cost of rice. Rice is seen as a sign of stability in many Asian countries, so the government has resorted to flashy moves like tough sentences for rice thieves and police raids of rice warehouses. The cost of the grain is up 80 percent since January of 2007. The paper indicates that there may be little the government can do, as rice prices abroad have been primed for a cost increase for years, and the Philippines simply doesn't have enough farmable land to grow rice for all of its people.

The WSJ reports that U.N. regulators are questioning the environmental value of projects funded by a U.N. program designed to curtail global warming.

The NYT fronts a feature on the logistics of preparing for Pope Benedict XVI's visits to New York and Washington, D.C.

Why didn't Bill Richardson, with his long ties to the Clinton administration, back Hillary? In part, he says, because Clinton supporters told him he had to. It's all there on the front page of the LAT.

The WP fronts a piece on Sen. John McCain's presidential run, positing that independent of any political leanings or past actions on the candidate's part, McCain has become a sort of consumer brand, an identity to be sold to voters, "part Ford pickup, part Wrangler jeans and part Timex watch."

Under the fold, the NYT covers the stagnation of Freedom's Watch, a conservative group meant to balance the influence of groups like MoveOn.org.

Correction, April 14, 2008: This piece originally stated that Abkhazia is a former Soviet-bloc country. While it has declared its independence from Georgia, it is not internationally recognized as a soverign nation. (Return  to the corrected sentence.)

Jesse Stanchak is a writer living in Washington, D.C.

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