Today's Papers

Scum in Black

A suicide bombing in a Jerusalem market leads at USA Today, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times. The Washington Post gives the entire top of its front page to sweeping changes in the D.C. governance system coming with the new budget bill, (which was uneventfully passed yesterday by the House). Its coverage includes the reaction of Mayor Marion Barry, who calls the measure “re-colonization” and says it has “raped democracy and freedom.”

The Jerusalem bombing, apparently the work of two men, left 15 dead and wounded 150. The Israeli Cabinet immediately suspended peace talks with the Palestinians, and the U.S. peace envoy postponed a scheduled departure to the Middle East. The militant group Hamas apparently claimed responsibility for the attack. When Yassir Arafat telephoned Benjamin Netanyahu to express his condolences, the Israeli Prime Minister, says USAT, “responded angrily.” The NYT has a little more about this, reporting, “‘I am not prepared to be satisfied with expressions of regret,’ the prime minister told Arafat, according to the government. ‘You have to completely change what you are saying and doing. You must change your policy 180 degrees.’”

The NYT has particularly powerful on-scene reporting of the carnage: “The bodies of the two presumed suicide bombers, young men in black suits, were the last to be taken away. They were said to have carried their deadly charges in attach, cases, with the result that the lower parts of their bodies were torn away but their faces were curiously intact. The faces were shown later on Israeli television. Investigators evidently hoped that they would be recognized, giving the police a lead.” And the Times is aware of how sadly routine such events have become, referring to the episode’s “familiar agony,” and reporting that “fifteen suicide bombers have struck in Israel over the last three and a half years, killing at least 140 people and wounding hundreds.”

Under the headline, “Senator Assails White House,” the WP reports that Sen. Fred Thompson “bitterly denounced the White House yesterday for stalling the Senate’s investigation into campaign finance abuses and announced that his committee will subpoena the administration for all outstanding documents relative to its inquiry.” The paper quotes Thompson as saying, “They have no credibility as far as I’m concerned.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that the National Federation of the Blind is demanding that Disney pull the plug on its planned Christmas release of a Mr. Magoo movie (starring Leslie Nielsen), saying that bringing Magoo back implies that “it’s funny to watch an ill-tempered and incompetent blind man stumble into things and misunderstand his surroundings.” David Vogel, the president of the studio, has this response: “Magoo is not blind. We would think about it as an issue more if he were blind.”

The strangeness of the Mir mission continues as the LAT reports that NASA announced the upcoming participation of an astronaut, Wendy Lawrence, and then a few hours later said never mind because she was too small for the space suits on board the Russian craft. Somehow this hadn’t come up at any time during her year of training for the flight.